Friday 30 March 2012

When the world is against you...

Still gigging on Thursday nights and still enjoying it.  Last night it seemed the world was against me - I'd fallen off my bike while riding home from work two days prior and banged up my knee and left arm on the road. I was wearing gloves at the time but still managed to smash blood blisters under 3 out of 4 left hand fingernails.  Not to mention breaking a nail on my right hand :(

I was tempted to call in sick, but instead I popped a couple of painkillers and headed in.  I knew I'd regret it if I didn't go.

It was quite a windy night threatening rain, only ten people were there.  I sat down as comfortable as I could with one knee I couldn't bend and got stuck into it.  I chatted between songs with a nearby table of four, who graciously filled my glass with wine :)  It turns out they'd heard me while walking past a few Thursdays previously and decided to come down to have a listen.  Yah! That's the thing I'm hoping for.

It turned out to be a good albeit quiet night, left fingers hurt but I played through regardless.  I even put out my less-played more difficult songs, to keep them fresh.  There was nobody left by 8:30; Joel who organises the kitchen made me a delicious pizza and I shot through.

When the world seems to be against you, that is most definitely the time to keep going - with all things!

Friday 9 March 2012

A Gig!

I've played twice now at the café down the road from me, and they are still keen to have me back.  I'm enjoying it - sure, to 90% of people you are just background music, but the 10% of people actively listening give you the audience interaction that makes it nice.  I find my brain scrambles up a bit due to performance anxiety; stuff I'd play okay by myself in a relaxed environment doesn't come out as clean in a proper performance situation.  But, play through.  That's why I always encourage you to play a song from start to finish, playing through your mistakes, it teaches you how to play through your mistakes when you need to.

I also need to slow down, performance anxiety causes speeding issues!

I discovered that a few songs in my repertoire are too rusty to play, and some are a bit rough.  There is a bit of re-learning and practise to do.  However I found that I could play non-stop for 1 hour 50 minutes without repeating anything.  Not bad.  And it's all good stuff, there are no "fillers" in that.  It does include just short of 25 minutes of Dark Side of the Moon too :)  But it would be nice to polish up a few rusty ones, and learn a few more easy ones from tabs just to extend out the song list; Blackbird and Mad World spring to mind.  Just to have good coverage for different audiences on the night.

Speaking of, so far the audience have been primarily "an older crowd" (ha ha)  late 30's early 40's, but also a lot of 50+.  Some kids, but not many.  That works out alright for me, my selection of music ties in with the late 30's early 40's :)

I have been asked for a business card once per gig by someone from the audience.  Weddings, this point in time it's still a hobby for me and I'm avoiding weekend work (I play Thursday nights) so I've been politely declining.  My day job pays a lot more than a gig does!

From the café owner's point of view I've been good for them - the first night they had advertised "local acoustic guiarist" and packed the joint, 70 people, and had a record takings.  The second time they didn't advertise, smaller crowd, which was nice because I felt less pressure; boost confidence.  It will be interesting to see what happens, crowd wise, whether me being there makes any difference.  The café is near the entrance to a shopping centre, there is a lot of people walking past; will it create interest?  We will see.

Safe to say that folding stuff has been pressed into my hand at the end of the night; not to mention a glass or two of red wine along the way.  Just the way I like it :)

I was asked about my amplification by one of my mates, I'll repeat it here.  Very simple.  It's just the little Ashton Busker amp (BSK158) that I bought a few years back to replace my home brewed amps...because it sounded so much better. It has a 12V battery in it but I'm playing it plugged in. It has a surprisingly clean and crisp sound, it gets muddy if you start to crank it or the acoustics of the area are not nice, but I guess that is the case for all amps.

Ideally I'd like an AER compact 60 acoustic, the best amp I ever tried on nylon. However since I'm only running my little 15W amp at 75% volume tops, I hardly need 60W. And I don't have a lazy $2k to spend on an amp. The sound I can get out of the little Ashton is not that far off what I got out of the AER when I was comparing them, so it will do for now.

I think the key to sounding good is a good foundation - I started with a quality classical guitar (Esteve 1GR-11) and I put in what I thought was the nicest sounding pickup for a nylon that I could find (B-band A6T). Amplified I'm only after a "true" sound, that is what the guitar sounds like unplugged. No reverb, no delay, no effects, just some EQ to make up for any environment imbalance. If the lay of the land is nothing but concrete I sweep out the mids, if it's open and grassy then up the mids. Trebles and basses generally stay flat.

So the gig is going to keep me busy - I'll give you updates if anything interesting happens...or anything uninteresting happens!  For now, it's good to interact with an audience, it's what I've wanted for quite a while.