Tonight we went to a place called Avagadros. Even though it looked small on the outside, the inside was huge. Skyler and I arrived first, and then Nolan came about an hour later. The way that this open mic worked was similar to a raffle. Instead of showing up and signing up on the "who goes next" list, we all pulled a number out of a hat. The numbers ranged from 1-12 (or so).Whoever pulled "1", got to pick his or her time slot first. They got to pick if they wanted to perform first, middle last, second, second to last, etc. Then "2" would draw from the hat, and then so on and so forth. Assumedly, "1" would pick to go first, "2" would pick to go second, etc. Thank the Lord that Skyler and I and Nolan happened to pick 2, 3 and 4. When I went up, I played two songs. I played one that I have consistently played all tour, and one that I have not touched in weeks (if not months). Thankfully, I didn't mess up at all! After, I went to sit down and watched everybody else perform.
One thing that I have learned while on tour (or specifically tonight), is that one's emotional state (specifically mine) can be like a rollercoaster. Although playing my original music for people is enthralling to me, it also throws me into a mild state of desolation. This is how I would best describe my emotional state on the average night of performing:
Nervousness - Anticipation of performance
Anxiety/Excitement - Anticipation of performance
Nervousness/Anxiety/Excitement - Anticipation of performance
Immediate Regret/ "What the [insert] am I about to do" - As I walk up on the stage
Slow Onset of Sense of Calmness - As I start to play
Joy - As I play
Assurance - As I play
Embarrassment - As they applaud
Self - Conscious - As I walk off of the stage
Sadness/ Depressive Mindset - As I sit in my seat for the next half hour or so
Acceptance/ Sense of Calmness - As I realize that I actually did fine (Depending on if I really did, or didn't do well)
Until this Winter Tour, I was not fully aware of the last chunk of feelings even existed. I mean, I had experienced them before, but I would shrug it off. I would say that these feelings stem from how I view the audience. As you perform, and look out into the audience, the audience does not realize that their faces look stoic and uninterested . And that's completely fine, because they are not obligated to like it. It just puts my mind in a whirlwind of self-doubt when strangers look bored or borderline disgusted when you're performing personal memoirs from the heart.
It's a weird dichotomy though: I really do love to perform in front of strangers, because their reactions are pure. They have never heard you, and you know that their faces are genuine, because they really aren't concerned with putting on a face because they know or love you. At the same time, there is a discouragement that overtakes me (out of my control) when their eyebrows are raised as if saying, "Are you done yet?"
Once they applaud, I walk back to my seat, and sit in silence. I think to myself, "What could you have done better? Were you loud enough? Were your vowels too open? You were so flat on that note."
When performing classically, or even doing a cover, I don't really have the strain of thoughts that are mentioned in the previous paragraph. That is because when singing or playing pieces that others wrote, it is not about you. You are simply a vessel that is giving said art to the world. In the cases of original compositions, I find it different because not only am I the vessel, but I am the actual composer.
When all is said and done, though, I start to view my performance in a completely different light. I play it through my head as if I were on the stage again, and I ask myself, "Did you do the best you could, and was that a great performance?" Usually, I can agree that I did to a good job, and that I did it well.
The rest of the night consisted of other guitarists who did AMAZING! Then Skyler and I headed back to Chris's place, and we called it a day. Today, was an alright day.
Well, we're up in Fort Collins! Haha this was no where in our plans, but sometimes you have to ride along with wherever the wind takes you. This morning, we woke up, and Skyler asked Nolan and I what we were going to do today. I told him that I may as well head home for the rest of the week. Seeing as there was not anything else to do in Denver, my plan was to go back home. Skyler then asked if I wanted to come with him and Nolan to Fort Collins. I told him "thank you, but I don't want to inconvenience who you are staying with, and it is last minute." It was then that he held up Chris's key, and said, "David, we're just staying at Chris's place in Fort Collins that he gave me the key to last night." I looked at my cell phone, and I looked at my sleeping bag. I looked back up at Skyler, shrugged my shoulders, and said "[Forget] it, we're on tour. Let's do it." So we all decided to head up to Fort Collins and find some open mics. We thanked the people that hosted us the past two nights, stopped by Chipotle, and then started our journey to Fort Collins. The snowstorm was so treacherous, that it took us almost two and a half hours to get up there. By mid afternoon, we made it up to Chris's house in Fort Collins. We went in the house, and man, it was pretty nice! It was a basement/two bedroom/ college student type flat. We brought our belongings in, made some soup, and turned on some Netflix. After deciding that we all wanted to do an open mic that night, Skyler found a venue by the name of Mulligans Pub in Fort Collins. At about 6:30ish, we headed out to Mulligans. When we got there, it was COMPLETELY empty. There was one guy with a guitar, and one guy in the audience. Man, the atmosphere was dead, and nobody was there. I thought to myself, "Well, this is stupid. I don't even want to play here. Let's just go back home." But we stayed and played. The man with the guitar (who happened to also be running the open mic) played first, followed by a man from overseas who read poetry, followed by Nolan, and then Skyler, myself, and our friends Ben and Lance. Throuhout our open mic set, the audience stayed low. It was only two people, and then this old couple walked in too. When I went up to play, I couldn't even work the sustain to the keyboard properly. I know, you just step on it, but for some reason, it just was not working tonight. Then Ben played, and then Lance played. They both have amazing voices, and amazing guitar skills. After they finished playing, I was ready to go. The audience looked ready, too. There was just one man left, and then the old quiet couple. As we were packing up to leave, Skyler and I courteously asked the old man if he was wanting to play anything before everybody closed up for the night. He was quiet, as I assumed he would be, and I was pretty much ready to go. Skyler then asked him again, and the older man said, "Sure, could I.. [as he looked towards me]....could I borrow your keyboard, young man?" In my head, I was like, "yeah! I would happy too. Buutt.....let's make this quick." Skyler and I went up to the stage with the keyboard, and set it up for the gentleman. What happened next, could not have been recreated anywhere except for a movie, or a dream. He sat on the stool, placed his hands on the piano, and looked up at us (who were now sitting in the audience). Never looking down at his fingers, this man played improvisational jazz tunes with lightspeed-fingers. I have seen few pianists' finger's move faster than his. He played a mash-up of popular jazz pieces, and popular Christmas tunes. As the minutes went by, he held eye contact with each of us, and proceeded to play his heart out on this piano. Everybody was . . . floored. As he played, his wife kept walking around the bar, looking uninterested. I thought to myself, "Wow, her husband's playing piano, and she does not even care to sit down and listen." But he kept playing. He then leaned into the microphone and asked us all, "What songs do you all know? You guys sing and I'll accompany you." Nolan went up to the stage, and played "Georgia on my Mind", while the elderly man played along with his improvisational style. I then went up to the stage and sang "The Christmas Song" while he accompanied me on piano. With every repeat, and every run, he would follow me on piano. It was almost as if he had played piano alongside of my voice thousands of times before. How magical. Then I saw his wife again. This time, she was making her way up to the stage near him. She started to grab the microphone from him, and push it and pull it. I thought to myself, "What is she doing!?" It was then that I truly realized what was going on. Lance said to all of us guys, "Now that....that is a beautiful display of true love."
She was senile
But the elderly man treated her as if she was just like everybody else. He told us that him and his wife go to retirement homes to play music for the residents, while his wife walks around and "makes new friends" as he put it. He proceeded to play, as she stood on the stage next to him, confusedly rubbing her cheeks and licking her lips. It was the saddest, and the sweetest, relationship that I had ever witnessed. I was not able to get much from this man, but I did gather that his name was Jim. Jim, is a beautiful soul, an amazing musician, and a truly amazing husband.
As I was singing "The Christmas Song", and man that looked to be in his mid-50s walked in. When I went to sit down, he came up to me, and showed me a picture of his girlfriend who had been missing for the past couple of months. She had run away from the halfway house. He asked me if I had seen her, and I told him that I was sorry, but I had not. We then got to talking about life, and family. His sister, as he told me, used to be strung out on a couple of bad drugs. Her life was not going in a great direction, and she was spiraling downwards. But then one day, she found God. Now, her life is completely turned around, and the only high she gets, is the high from the Holy Spirit, at church. She calls the rest of her family to tell them about Jesus, and to tell them about what God has done. Oh, it was so beautiful. Then David (this was his name, too) began to tell me that he had been in and out of jail throughout his lifetime. During one of his times in jail, he said that his cell mate told David that every morning, he says, "Thank you God for my eyes, my ears, my nose, and sense of touch. Thank you for the body you have given me." After hearing this, David began to say this every morning. This is now how he starts his day.
Before the night unfolded, I wondered why I was there. I learned that sometimes.....you just have to understand that everything happens to for a reason. Tonight, was a pretty amazing night.
Tonight was our show in Denver. We spent the day practicing our rep, and getting ready for the show. When we showed up to the door, at 6, for our show starting at 7, the owner of the coffee shop leaned out of the door and said, "I'm sorry, but I am going to have to cancel on you guys tonight." It was one of those moments where you just stand there, and look at the person. There really was nothing to say in the moment. This was a show that had been on their calendar (and ours) for over a month, a show that we had our cars packed with equipment for, and a show that we had invited dozens of people from the area and from Colorado Springs to. As we held our gear out in the cold, the lady propped open door and said, "I am sorry, but I just cannot work a performance tonight." She told us that she had had a medical emergency, and that she was also left to her own devices by working the shop alone for the night. So, I was not mad at her at all. Things happen that are out of our control sometimes. I mean, I was bummed. I was very disappointed in the situation. I was bummed that we had to start to call and facebook and text everybody who we thought were on their way to our show, and tell them that it was cancelled. As far as we know, we stopped everybody from coming who was coming up to the show. Then (it was about 6:25 at the time), we decided to start vigorously calling coffee shops in the area and asking if any of them would be willing to have us perform at their place for the night. Although we were not successful, it was a very exciting idea, and it was fun while it lasted. After sitting by our cars for about 30 minutes, we were sitting there in silence thinking, "Well . . . what do we do now?" It was then that we decided to go chill at a nearby coffee shop, Leela's. After parking in the parking lot at Leela's, we drivers had to pay a $10 parking fee. I put a $20 in the dispenser. After putting in the money, I saw the fine print in the middle of the machine, that read, "Please give exact change. Change is not returned." So, I lost $20 dollars. Again, sometimes things just happen.
Then we went inside Leela's to hang out for a while. We ordered some cheesy-fries, sat, and talked for a little while. Soon after we arrived, one of Skyler's friends, Chris, came by to catch up with Skyler. During a conversation between Skyler and Chris, the subject of CSU Fort Collins came up (which is where Chris goes to school). On a whim, Chris took his apartment key out of his pocket, handed it to Skyler, and said, "Since your on tour, if you happen to go up to Fort Collins, here is the key to my apartment." Yeah, Chris is a pretty cool guy. We all talked for a little while longer, and then went back to the house that we were staying at. Tonight was an alright night.
Tonight went well! Tonight we performed a private house concert in Denver, Colorado. Nolan went first, I went second, and then Skyler went third. When we started our set, everybody was still talking. At first, I found it kind of rude. I thought to myself, "Why are they still talking, when we are obviously performing?" I was then humbled when I remembered that it was not a concert about us. Seeing as it was a house concert, we were simply background noise. Once that mentality set in, I was fine, and played and sang like there was no tomorrow. I played one cover ("Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men), and then did about 4 or 5 original pieces. After the show, Nolan and I ran to Jimmy Johns to bring us all back some sandwiches. When we got back, we all scarfed down our sandwiches, and then we stayed up and talked for a couple of hours. Today, was an alright day.
Man. I have updated this blog in ages. I believe the last post was back in October sometime. So, so, so much has happened in these past few months.
School - This past semester, was by far, the TOUGHEST semester that I have ever had. I was pretty much ready to fail a couple of my classes. By the grace of God, I ended up ending my semester with A's and B's! (Except for a C+ in Music Theory II, but hey, I am still stoked that I passed that haha). My student teaching project, in Voice Pedagogy (where I taught a student a classical piece of music, and gave them a private voice lesson for 30 minutes a week, for 8 weeks), went so well. I got an A on it :)
Music - Goodness, what all has happened since October? I finished a song or two, and was able to get into the recording studio and make progress on my album, We Tell Stories. Starting in late December, Skyler Choice, Nolan Smith, and I are embarking on our winter tour. We have a total of five shows that span between Denver, Fort Collins, Manitou Springs, and Pueblo.