What a fine day it was yesterday. Rick and I had two gigs... one at the Schenectady Farmers Market (RAIN!!) and one, a labor day party at someones residence.
My first house party for a total stranger. It never occurred to me to be worried about it until a friend said, will you please give me the phone number and address so if you don't reappear, we have something to tell the police.
Ok, well, in todays world, I guess that would be something to think about... but I would prefer not to think that way.
Nevertheless, I drove to the place a little earlier than I had to, to check it out. All the neighbors had long roads back into the woods, and I did get a little weirded out by that. But then, yes, here is the house, with tarps up in the back yard and lighting like a place that is planning to have a party in a little while. Whew!!! OK, they sure don't look like axe murderers!!!
We pull in, get our guitars and head to the back door. (At every new place I play, I always get my guitar out of the car and carry it with me to find where to set up. It acts like a calling card. I don't have to say, I am the musician. People take one look at you and point the way.....!) There is a gentleman there cooking and yep, he is the host. He directs us where to go and there is that absolutely, terribly, uncomfortable few minutes when all the guests are eyeing you while you set up. You try to be nice and answer questions, but you are really thinking about, Where did I put that cable now? Or... how did that A string get THAT far out of tune? Or...whatever.
Then, set up and ready to sing. We start our usual set list. We get a little interest in Folsom Prison, but, in short order, we have cleared the room.
Oh oh.... We made sure we were quiet, background music sort of thing, and of course, that is not the best for sound quality. People are filling plates of food and leaving the room... for where? I don't know. Finally, the hostess comes in and says, come outside with us, grab a plate and eat....we are having a blessing and a bagpipe player out back. So we do that. Everyone listens intently to the player and there is a moment of silence while Amazing Grace is played. Then he breaks the somberness with a joke song and everyone laughs and goes about having the party again.
We go into the living room and eat and chat with folks. Now people are warming up to us. A young lady comes over to ask us to back her up while she sings for everyone. Sure. We chat about that and get our plan and I hand her a mike. It is not too loud, and and we turn up, and she has a great voice and a good manner to her and she does a wonderful job on Me and Bobbie McGee. Yeah. We leave the volume up and continue to play for the next 90 minutes without a stop. Now, I can hear people saying, Oh, I love this song! There is often a smattering of clapping after songs. People stop what they are doing and grab someone for a little dance at the next one. Some smile and sing along. Lots of foot tapping. Even more smiles. What a good feeling!!!
As the party wound down, we are left with just the hosts and more time they have already paid for....So we played one last Neil Young song for the host, (who had given me permission to sing as many Neil songs as I wanted throughout the night), and packed up and went home, feeling really fine. Really fine.
Thinking about the evening, I realize that I love making music and making great sounds... but what i really LIVE for is the response I get from the audience. I can stay home and make beautiful sounds and feel real good. But what makes me rocket to the moon is ENTERTAINING an appreciative audience. Now, to do that well, I have to play songs that are meaningful to me so I can present them genuinely, so it is still true that my first responsibility is to play for ME-- what I like and feel good about. But then.... my next job is to make YOU feel good, and in doing that, *I* feel even better. Wow, what a perfect thing... and how grateful I am that I have the privilege to go into someone's home and make things a little more fun for them for a few hours. Wow.
Yes, this is something I really love to do. And I can't wait until the next time.....