Man. What a summer. I could on and on about how amazing this last open mic was, but essentially, it was one amazing night spent with the great friends that I have made. We each sang along to each other's original songs, and it was a great wrap-up of the summer. When I update this next, I will post videos from tonight, and videos of us all chilling.
What a family that has been created :)
Tonight was my last show! It was technically a "featured act," but it went swimmingly! (I've always wanted to say "swimmingly." Maybe because I think British people are awesome). The show was at a place called Supercollider, which is in Brooklyn. Even though this was a show, this is one that I did not book ahead of time. I had attended an open mic at Supercollider earlier this summer, and after my set, the gentleman who ran the open mic asked me if I could come back a perform a featured set later on in the summer. This, by far, was my most amazing show yet. Why? Well, I think I connected with some people! There were at least three people who were actively listening, and during a couple of songs, there were like nine people who were silent, and who were listening to me. I achieved my goal! These weren't people who were obligated to like it because they were friends or family, and these weren't just other musicians who had to give courtesy claps. These were complete strangers who stopped what they were doing, to come over and sit in front of the stage for thirty minutes. I know that some people classify a great show as bringing in a lot of revenue, having the whole crowd like you, striking a deal with another great musician, or having the right person hear you, (and all of these, even for me, are amazing things that could happen at a show), but for me, to leave a show and be content, I want to have been able to resonate with at least a couple of people. I only need a genuine clap or two. That way, I know that they believe that I touched them in some way. I guess one day I can have crowds go crazy for me, or have audiences who will seek my music out, but for now, I feel success once there are a couple of people who genuinely enjoy the performance. I feel success when, as I am playing, I am able to look into they eyes of audience members and know that they are actually following the story that I'm telling. People asked for my CD's tonight, and they were drilling me on questions about my songwriting, and my piano playing. I feel like I planted a seed tonight :)
Today we went to Adam's house in New Jersey! Sadly, not everybody could be there (Quincy, Elliot, and Kim weren't able to make it), but we had a fun time! James and I met up in Manhattan to board the PATH train (the subway line the goes to New Jersey) at 9 a.m., and we arrived at Adam's place at about 11. After meeting Adam's mother (what an amazing lady), Adam, James, Adam's brother (I completely forgot his name) and I went to a nearby diner to get some brunch. Aside from singing songs and making jokes, the highlight of brunch was probably James's shenanigans. Towards the end of the meal, Adam's brother asked James, "Hey, are you going to eat that toast?" And without a word, James calmly placed his toast on Adam's brother's plate. James then proceeded to calmly squeeze ketchup on the toast, then pour syrup on it, then put A1 on it, then pour milk onto it, and so on. By this point, we were all cracking up, but James never even cracked a smile. He kept piling items (edible and non-edible) onto the stack of toast, and we couldn't stop laughing. After we left, we all went back to Adam's and began to write a song together. We were able to compose a pretty solid beginning to it! Towards the end of the night, we went to a nearby bar, hung out for a little bit, and then James and I took the train back to New York. On the train back, as I was describing how delayed my flight to New York was when I first arrived here, James asked, "Wait, so you arrived late at night, on June 1st, from DIA to LaGuardia, on a plane that was delayed because of rain?" I shook my head yes. James continued, " . . . I think we were on the same flight."
Today I was able to record some harmonies! Paze (who happens to be the brother of the woman mentioned in my last post) is recording a new album, and asked me to come in the studio and sing the chorus, and then add some harmonies! It's so fun to be able to work with and learn from other musicians.
What a great Thursday!
This morning, I went with Ms. Pene to a famous theatre in Manhattan to watch her instruct a room of 400 children! What a great experience! I was also able to witness some amazing professionals who executed some breathtaking dance routines. I have a completely new respect for modern dance. Tonight, I went to The Path Café for my last (I think?) open mic at The Path Café this summer. As always, there was a slew of talent, and I met some really cool people. I performed a cover of "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men, and then I played "In the Rain." I don't think I sounded good at all tonight, but that's alright. For one, not every performance is good, and two, practice helps to make perfect.
Tonight was my 9th show in the City! I would go into detail, but I feel like it would be a better story if I explained it in person. Be looking out for my upcoming Vlog, tomorrow afternoon, which can be found clicking on the "New York Vlog" tab!
Tonight I went to the Sidewalk Café! Everybody else was busy, so I went by myself. Guess who was there, though. Eisely! Eisely Constantine! My good friend from England. I have run into him every day for the past four days. None of these run-ins have been scheduled, either! It was a good night to perform. There were a little over 100 people there, and there were all very attentive as I performed "In the Rain." At the Sidewalk Café, instead of signing up when you arrive, your name is placed into a hat, and you have the chance of getting a number between 1 and 70 (Number 70 probably goes at about 3:00 in the morning). I got number 43 (which is at about 1:00 am). As the announcer was starting off the evening with his greetings to the audience, he told the audience that tonight would be his last night. He told us all that it has been seven great years, but that it is time to move on. He then made a joke: "The person who ran this open mic before me ran it for 15 years, and I did it for 7. I guess we're just cutting it in half. *Audience Laughs* The person taking over after me will host it for 3 years, and so on and so forth. *Audience Laughs* I wonder, at what point would the time be cut in half to the point that people would literally be fighting over the microphone to host? *Audience Laughs* If anybody can figure that out, I'll bump you up 5 spots. *Audience Laughs . . . I open up my calculator* Guess who figured it out? Yep, yours truly! After 20 minutes, with all of my work shown, I figured out that (I'll cut to the end of the equation) the 11h person would host for roughly 2 days (from the figure of 0.013671875 of 12) and that by the 12th person, successors would literally be fighting over the microphone. This would occur in July of 2022. Guess who got bumped up to spot number 16!?? Me! Determination folks, Determination. :)
Today I had planned to perform at two open mics, but the day ended up trailing down a completely different route haha. The open mic at Pete's Candy Store began their signup process at 4:30. I left the house 40 minutes early to make sure that I would be there on time. Guess what David did? TOOK THE WRONG TRAIN. I know, I know. In short, I showed up far too late to perform. Instead, I hung out on the back patio of Pete's with Michael Persall, Graham, and Allie. We had so much fun talking back and forth, making jokes, and having fun with "Instant Party." What is Instant Party, you may ask? Well, I'm still not completely sure. I guess it is something that the venue offers, where buyers can, for $40, buy 10 beers, and reserve a party of 10? Yeah, we ended up being the group of people that the venue asked to pose as the fake people who were drinking beers and taking shots at an Instant Party. Since I don't drink, I took shot of Coca-Cola, and pretended to sip the beer haha. Not gonna lie, we had a fun time pretending to engage in conversation and playing fake cards. While we were hanging out, Michael told me to check out a venue called, "The Village Underground." He told me that we could leave in like 30 minutes and make it in time to perform at the venue. I was down! Although I ended up getting hustled (not hustled, it's just that with a cover cost of $15 and a two drink minimum, with a bottle of water being $5 with) it was a great night! I was able to perform in front of at least 200 attentive listeners. The hosts were amazing too. Not only could they sing, but they started out the night by thanking God! I love when people openly give love to Christ and thank God for everything, ESPECIALLY in a diverse, secular city. The hosts also had some PIPES!
What Did I Learn Tonight?
Tonight, at Pete's, I was able to have a very in-depth conversation with Allie. We began to talk about why we do music, and our backgrounds. She then began to hit a key subject. She began to talk about how she doesn't understand why people want to be wanna be gangsters, to sing about a struggle that happened long ago. Of course, musicians can pay homage to the sacrifices that we given by those who came before them, but what she said really nailed it: "You see all these musicians doing drugs and rapping about being an original gangster, and some of these people were never even a part of that scene! Some people think that to produce genuine music, they have to "go back to the roots." No. Musicians fought those battles, and fought gender battles, and poverty battles, and race battles, so that we can be where we are, today. They did this for us. They overcame those hard obstacles to that we would not have to. So that we would not have to sing about that."
What a JAM. PACKED. DAY. The day started off with Open Mic #16, at The Bitter End! Thank the Lord that Israel signed me up when he got there, because I had taken the wrong train and got there late. The crowd this afternoon was amazing! It was a very dense crowd, and people were listening attentively. When a big crowd is silent, I know that they are being attentive. Sometimes (this may sound cocky, but whatever), I like to add in pauses after a large build-up in a song of mind. I do this so that I can literally hear the silence in the room. As I was playing my second song, I thought to myself, "Hmm, they seem quiet. Let me see how quiet they really are." After a build-up, I lifted my hands from the piano, and listened to the 2 second silence. You could hear a pin drop :)
As you can probably guess, this is a continuation of the last post. In case you are wondering, YES! Two open mics in one day! This second open mic was at 7pm at Paddy Reilly's Music Bar. Since I was not able to bring my keyboard, I borrowed a guitar from a really cool guy that I met. I proceeded to play my original song, "Dark Notes," on guitar, even though it has been at least two months since I have even tried to do that haha. Israel and Quincy played their songs, and then we all headed over to Bryant Park. It was such a chill night! I'll post a video of us at the park soon :)
Today I explored the City! I went to 34th Street, and visited Madison Square Garden! Madison Square Garden!! I went around it, inside of it, and took pictures of everything. I'm going to perform there one day. I will be 24 years old, and I will take a picture right where I took a picture this afternoon, in front of the sign.
I then walked around, and I found this area called the "Beer Garden." It was so cool!! I walked around the patio, listened to the music blaring, and walked down all the outdoor strip malls. What a great place!
Towards the end of the day, I went to Chinatown. Until today, I had not explored all of Chinatown. I went there to meet up with Elliot, but I guess his phone had died or he had to leave early. But it was cool to be able to walk around for a couple hours and experience a completely new culture!
Being that today is Thursday, can you guess which open mic I went to tonight? You guessed it, The Path Café! What a great night for music tonight. Tonight, Adam performed, Quincy performed, and Israel and Elliot came later to show their support. Adam played "Daydream" (my FAVORITE song by his), and it sounded great. While he performed, his guitar began to cut in and out. In this moment, I was able to see how great of a performer Adam actually is. Even though his guitar was clipping in and out, he covered it up like it was part of the song, As some points he would sing a capella, and at some moments he would improvise an alternate guitar pattern for sake of the quality not sounding too choppy. Great musicians can improvise if need be. I got to see one perform right in front of me! Quincy played some originals, and as always, the crowd at it UP. I played an original off the album, called, "Let Love Die." Oddly enough, this is the first time that I have played this song in the City. I don't know why I have not played it sooner, because it is being received well. After I finished performing, I received some great compliments! One man (who had an AMAZING performance), told me that my voice was mellifluous. I've never even heard of that word before! I guess it means "soothing" or "peaceful" or "pleasant." I was so excited to hear that. Adam told me that I remind him of Imogen Heap. WHAAAT!? I love her voice! Although a good 65% of my mind tells me that they were just saying that, it still felt nice to hear the encouragement :) The most amazing thing that I witnessed tonight was a woman who sang and played the piano. She had an amazing voice, and her piano skills were oh so smooth. Also, she did not have a right arm. She played the piano with her left hand and a nub that ended right below her bicep. I have no clue how she did it, but it was breathtaking.
What Did I Learn Tonight?
As mentioned before, I learned that being a great musician means that you have to be ready to improvise at the drop of a hat. If your sound goes out, can you sing the song a capella? If you play the wrong note, can you spontaneously adjust the song so that it sounds as if the mistake never occurred? Tonight, I also learned that excuses are, most of the time, a bag of nothingness. This woman did not have an arm, and my piano playing skills are no where near the level of her skills. We often give ourselves reasons and excuses as to why we can't do something, but tonight, she showed me that if we really want to accomplish something, we have to go for it.
Tonight was a pretty chill night. I was able to collaborate with a fellow musician on a project of his! His name is Paze Infinite. Please go check him out on Google or Instagram! He produces beats and he raps. He came to me because he needed some help forming/figuring out what harmonies he wanted, and how he wanted the bridge to sound in his new song. We spent about an hour experimenting with different things, and finally came up with something. What a great experience it is to be able to collaborate with other musicians!
Why hello there, readers and listeners! Tonight I had my eighth show at The Shrine, in Harlem, New York! Although I could barely hear myself on the microphone, I think I did pretty well. I am seeing further progression in my comfortability with performing with a microphone. Guess who showed up for my show tonight?? My cousin PATRICK!! Our family grew up with their family back in Colorado Springs, and they are essentially extended-immediate family. (Our mothers are sisters).
Tonight's open mic was at the Nuyorican Poet Cafe! SUUUCH an amazing night. This is one for the books. Although I don't know much of it, the Nuyorican Poet Cafe is filled with so much history. Tonight, pretty much everybody was a rapper haha. These people had CHOPS. Like, mad chops. Quincy performed his new song on guitar, and it was FIRE! he featured Israel on a verse or two, and they sounded amazing. The crowd was gettin' hyped, and the tune was catchy. Israel performed a couple of original raps of his own, and the audience loved him too. Everybody had had their own beats made, and then they would begin to rap to the instrumental that they had created. Of course, being David, I'm the one that stands out like a sore thumb ha. When I went up, the MC asked me if I already gave my iPod to the DJ so that he could play my beats, and then I said no and pointed to the piano on stage. The MC looked at the audience and was like, "Oh, he gonna play piano!" The audience started to cheer. I went up, and began to play one of my new songs. It was a little scary, because not only is this a new place, with a new audience, but I was playing a completely new song of mine, that I have written in a completely different style than what I am used to (I am trying to add some spoken word to my new songs). I took the stage, and for the most part, they were silent. It was packed, too! Also, I got snaps! SNAPS! When I would say something that they would like, they would snap during the song! Ahh it was so cool!
I was tentative to play this song, because of the message. This song is about my faith, and about how Jesus is the only way. I felt weird, because most everybody else who performed rapped, and the rapping consisted of their life, or their street cred. Not only that, but these dudes could spit. Soooo much talent was in that room. Here are these rappers who are spitting rhymes and turning up the audience, and here I am playing a song on piano about Jesus. Although I think I did alright, I feel like I messed up so many times. I was lacking a lot of breath flow, and I fell flat a couple of times. Admittedly, I was pretty nervous. Hopefully I'll make it even better when I continue to perform it. As I played, the response surprised me. There were "oo"s, and there were snaps. After I finished, I received my first standing ovation from about 4 or 5 people that I could make out. I could barely get a word in edgewise, after I finished playing! I was amazed at how many people felt the message that I was trying to portray. As I walked off the stage, the MC took the mic, and said to the crowd, "God has also blessed my in many ways. He has. But he sure didn't give me a voice like that."
It was a really inspiring night tonight :)
Show #7! This afternoon, I performed a show at Branded Saloon, in Brooklyn. This show was an afternoon set, and I was able to play an hour and a half of original material! I sang healthily, and my voice didn't even get tired! Admittedly, my back began to hurt. Still, it was great! I was able to perform in the front bar, so people were flowing in and out of the cafe. Although nobody was listening, I feel like I performed a great show. I introduced myself, gave some background, gave a back-story on specific songs, promoted my album (which was on the main table in front of me), made some jokes, and tried to be personable. It was a little bit of a damper to scan the cafe and see that nobody was listening, but that's okay! When playing in a public place like a bar or cafe, people didn't necessarily come to "see David perform." They came to eat a meal, and I happened to be playing a set. There was one lady though, who was listening to my first song, and she clapped! That was the only clapping that I would hear throughout the set haha. One cool thing that I was able to do, was put out a tip jar. I was set UP! I had my table with my CDs, I was in the front, and I had a tip jar in front of it all. Admittedly, the jar stayed empty haha. I guess the real stinger came when I had finished my set. Once I finished, the bar-back turned the radio back on for the cafe.. Once the radio began to come on, people in the cafe started cheering, along with a couple of "YEAH!!"s. They could have very well been cheering because they all coincidentally loved the song by Cher that was starting to play, but keep in mind that this was three of the five tables, including the bar haha. But hey, it was great experience! The venue itself was welcoming, and people were so, so nice. The food looked great, too!
I've learned that a performance can come in all shapes and sizes, and regardless of the shape or size, you get experience!
Today was a great day! This afternoon I went to an open mic at The Bitter End. It was my third time going, and each time I go, the performers get better and better. James was there, Elliot was there, Israel was there, and Quincy was there. James performed his two electric/guitar songs, and they sounded amazing as always. He didn't feel like he did too great today, but I don't know if it's possible for James to have a bad day. Elliot performed two originals on piano, and he did WORK. His stage presence, I repeat, is great. He's pretty much talking with the audience as he performs his songs. The second song he performed was a song that I had never heard him play before. Between the piano playing, the flip into falsetto, or the lyrics, I don't know what I enjoyed the best. He seems to doubt himself a lot, but the level of musicianship in this kid is phenomenal. Israel rapped an original, and then sang a cover of "Your Body is a Wonderland" by John Mayer. Israel has a strong accent, so when he raps, it is sometimes hard to understand him. But today, I understood EVERY word he said. Pretty clearly, too. His growth is evident. Quincy, smoooooth Quincy Holiday went up and sang two originals, and as always, it was soulful, smooth, and the crowd was silent.
In short, I have found that one of the most amazing experiences that has come with performing with these guys, has been seeing their growth. Since we sing at open mics together every other day (at least), it all starts to sound the same. But there comes that one day when they go up to the stage, and you think to yourself, "Wow. They were good before, but their stage presence, their comfortably, their sound, or their English, has come such a long way. And this is only from performing continuously at open mics! People say practice makes perfect, and I think that phrase can be misunderstood. Yes, intentionally practicing will help you hone your skill. But performing over and over and over again, will do the exact same thing. Practice can simply mean the "doing of the art," over and over and over again.
After the open mic, James and I went to a bar to meet up with some friends, hung out there for about two hours, and then went to go see some of his friends at a nearby Starbucks (James used to work at Starbucks). You know a really cool thing that comes with knowing people? FREE STUFF! When we went in, I was introduced to James' old co-workers, and James hopped behind the counter, and they made my favorite drink, FREE OF CHARGE! It was a large, vanilla bean frappicino, with 5 extra scoops of vanilla. He then added hazelnut into the drink to give the drink that birthday cake flavor. So gooood!! Then James' friend Isabel met up with us, and her friend met up with us too. The rest of the night consisted of us singing in a bathroom, walking down streets, laughing until we were on the ground, trying different flavors of Starbucks bubble gum, trying blue cheese popcorn, walking to the Washington Memorial, and then going to Fat Cat jazz lounge.
Tonight's I had a show at the Greenhouse Cafe! (This was the same place that I played a show on the 25th on June). The turnout was a little bit better! There were probably 12 people in the audience. To be honest, they didn't seem too responsive. They were paying attention, but after songs they would kind of stare, as opposed to clapping, even though many of them clapped and cheered for the other two acts. But that's okay! Different crowds prefer different sounds, and I'm learning that you have to be okay with that. On a personal note, I feel like I'm starting to sound a little bit better! I felt like a was a little bit more comfortable with the presence of the microphone, and I sounded alright.
Hello, homies! Last night's open mic was held at Paddy Reilly's Music Bar! There was a pretty small turnout, but there was still some great talent tonight. Israel was there, Quincy was there, and Michael Persall was there. Israel performing was probably one of the highlights of my night. Why? Because laughter. Yes, that's a fragment, but, because laughter. As he started to perform his set, Israel started to chuckle. That chuckle turned into a laugh, and it got to the point where he could barely sing. I was recording him, and I kept trying to make eye contact with him, and give him the "What is so dang funny?" eyes. The second we met eyes, I start falling over laughing (and I didn't even know what he was laughing at!) because I knew that if he couldn't compose himself on stage, something must have been really funny. His last song was a cover of "Your Body is a Wonderland" by John Mayer, and 10 seconds into it, he put the mic down and could not stop laughing. Eventually, he looked at the audience and was like, "Sorry, I just... I just can't," and walks off laughing. By this point, I'm on the floor. I have no clue what he's laughing at, but between his laughter, and the fact that he just walked off the stage, I couldn't even handle myself. After, he told us what he was laughing at. It's kind of a long story, and may not make sense if I simply type it, so just know that it was funny, haha. Quincy performed two originals, followed by an Ed Sheeran cover. As always, he laid down that smooth voice. I performed a couple originals. Although my first song was a bit rough to get into, the second and third were better. Definitely not a great performance, but I think I'm getting more comfortable hearing myself through the microphone. To be honest, the hearing of the feedback from the microphone while performing is something that I have struggled to get used to. I'll start singing, and then I'll hear my voice booming loudly, so then I'll back off, but then I'll have a lack of breath support, causing me to fall flat, then I'll over compensate, causing me to go sharp, and then I'll get closer to mic, but in doing that I can hear my open vowels clearer (and I don't like how open my vowels are), so then I'll lean back from the microphone, but then I'm not being picked up, and so on and so forth. I need some more practice haha.
What Did I Learn Today?
I learned A LOT today. It was one of those nights where you learn so much, that you listen to each piece of advice attentively, and hope that it ends up sitting in your brain somewhere, and that it will either come out later, or that you'll subconsciously internalize it, and that you will have understood it without consciously making a mental note of it. I just sound confusing right now. Hmm, I must have learned something.
Oh! Michael Persall taught me something great tonight. He told me that when people are looking to promote an artist, they are not looking to see if they "sound good." He said that you have to be a purple elephant. You have to stand out. You have to be a purple elephant, because in a world where there are millions of people who are VERY talented, it comes down to your individuality. It doesn't come down to if they sound good (because there is plenty of that), it comes down to the question of, are they a purple elephant? He told me that the easiest (and only) way to be that purple elephant, is to be yourself. He didn't mean to say that in a cliche way, but meant it very logically. These are the facts: you, are you. Nobody else can be you. Therefore, only you, can do you best. Find out what makes you an individual, find your style, commit to it, and hone in on it.
Well, after going out almost every night to perform for the past couple of weeks, I am finally exhausted. My resilience and my optimism kept telling me "No way! Keep truckin'! You won't get worn out" but alas, exhaustion snuck up behind me and knocked me out with a two by four. I woke up this morning at about 7am, read for about 20 minutes, and then began to practice some of my songs. After practicing, feeling like I had so much energy, I sat on the couch to watch an episode of Family Feud, and the next thing I know, I am groggily opening my eyes an hour and a half later. After "waking up," I proceeded to sit on the couch with my eyes half open, staring at the google homepage on my computer screen for the next hour. This is all including a good night of rest last night! As I began to type this blog post, I came to realize that this groggy feeling is probably going to hang out with me for the duration of today, and I'm okay with that haha.
Tomorrow though, it starts back up again! Paddy Reilly's open mic on Wednesday, I have a show at the Greenhouse Cafe on Thursday, and so on and so forth!
It's not out of the ordinary that my body and I have ongoing debates. My body usually has the most convincing, and most valid argument on why I should take it easy, and I'm that person who yells "YOU'RE WRONG" and keeps on going with my life. You know, like that stranger at a party who talks with you about deep social issues, and when you begin to have a solid point, they realize that the only way that they can hold any ground is if they are yelling how wrong you are, repeatedly? Yeah, that's us.