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Backwards | Onwards

Mar. 10th, 2009

Welcome to Tuesday's post, where, having finished a large portion of my workload for today, I give details about: the fifteen scariest minutes of my life.

Last night, I followed the good example of my good friend Nate, and decided to play at open mic night at Frazier's on the Avenue, in Baltimore. To give everyone some frame of reference, I'd like to explain a few things about myself.

Thing the first: I write a lot of music; enough that I often forget stuff that I already wrote, because there isn't room for everything in the front of the mental filing cabinet. Nonetheless, I am pretty shy about sharing most of it, especially that which I did not write specifically for work. Very few people have heard my stuff.

Thing the second: I really love to perform, when I can disappear into something else. Sometimes that's a group, though most often these days, it is a dress, a hairdo, a hat, and some affected way of speaking. I like to vanish, and I am confident in doing so. Among the worst of my nightmares is to stand, by myself, in front of anyone (particularly amplified), dressed like me and just being myself. It's not that I'm scared that they won't like me. I really don't care either way. I can just be so painfully private with my inner life that the idea of throwing it all out there is more than a little horrifying. Also, I don't like to be the center of attention, even when given the opportunity to vanish into some character. Left of center is always better for me, which is why actors like working with me. I am happy to direct attention at all of them. Look! She's shiny!

Thing the third: I am not very good at the guitar. I can get by, but I am no Guitar Hero. I do not like to stand up in front of people and do anything in which I feel my skills are poor. However, I came to a place of peace around the fact that I was, by far, the least talented guitar player present. I was there to sing songs, not to shred. Thank god, as any attempt at shredding would have led to abject failure.

Ultimately, I decided that I need to get over some of these ridiculous hang-ups. The best way to meet people to play music with is to play some music on your own, and the idea of collaboration, musically, is always appealing. I also write some decent songs, and I ought to have the good sense to share them. Nate does this with his band IGwAD, and they are just lovely. Unpretentious, goofy fun. Odd originals. Passionately rendered covers of songs that you didn't know should include a muted trumpet and/or soprano sax. So, last night, I followed IGwAD (and their stunt guitarist Justin) with a four song set: two covers, two originals.

Straight Up was fun (yes, that Straight Up), and funny for the nostalgia quotient. Something about "unplugging" a Paula Abdul song entertains me to no end. I also wanted to sing something people would know, as it puts people at ease to hear the familiar. Thank you, Table of Scientists, for always singing the "Oh Oh Ohs." My inner nine-year old girl is very proud of me for singing that. About halfway through this song, my left knee started shaking. A lot. This continued for the rest of the set. Frakkin' nerves.

Next up: I Will Hold On, which is a positively sappy love long, but it still manages to be clever. My favorite line: "I'll hold your breath if that won't make you blue." Hooray for Moxy Fruvous. I wish that I could see them in concert again, but I think this shall not be.

The final two were both songs I've written. Lots of people write breakup songs, and I am no exception. That held the third spot, and hopefully it washed some of the saccharine from its predecessor away. It's a song about when you are still with someone, but it's become apparent that even though you want it to work, it's not going to happen. Note to self: playing a song that has a bar chord, like...every other chord...is not a great way to keep from sucking at the guitar. I hung in there. The best thing about singing songs that nobody knows is that it is far less likely that anyone else will notice when you play some chords incorrectly.

The last song is a song I wrote as a joke for my friend Matt Harvey, a song that I imagine on the radio as the top hit for some semi-whiny pop band that wears a lot more eyeliner than is necessary. The title of this song is Ruin Me, as in "Take my heart and... ruin me." Yes, it's meant ironically, and a little earnestly at the same time. Many of my favorite poppy songs live in this strange grey area. Where Have All the Cowboys Gone did a good job of this, I think. Some people get the joke, and some people don't.

That was the set, and it went okay, which is what I expected. My singing could have been a lot better. I'd like to think my playing could be better, but unless I can totally relax in front of people, that's not really likely. Despite the overall just okayness of the performance, I was received really warmly by Frazier's. Clearly this was helped not only by the presence of IGwAD (a Frazier's favorite!) and their small but generous fan base, but also by the novelty of Girl with Guitar, which, from what I understand, is not the most common thing at Frazier's Open Mic. Lots of man with guitar. Very little other. For my XX chromosomes, I am decidedly other in that regard. Oh, and thanks are due to Nate for constantly trying to balance my sound, and for being a friendly face up front.

So, will I do this again? Probably. If I go in again, I'd like to either sing and play, at least for part of it, with someone else. I'd also like to get my hands on a keytar....or maybe one of these days, I'll just haul the giant beast with me and play the keyboard, which will go better than the guitar. Probably.


( 5 best shots — Fire Away! )
Mar. 10th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
I would love to accompany you in some fashion. It'd be so much fun! Furthermore, anytime that IGwAD is also playing we will most likely have a keyboard there (either Steph's nice one or Sundar's crummy one), which I will volunteer for you... until you get a keytar!
Mar. 10th, 2009 06:36 pm (UTC)
Wow: good for you. I love to sing, but gave it up as a career aspiration when it became obvious to me that a) I'm not driven enough to live that life, and b) my stage fright was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too cranked to perform regularly. I wore floor-length skirts at every solo I every did - I majored in vocal at an arts high school, and solos were frequent - so that I could stand on the leg that wasn't shaking too badly to hold me up. I never cease to be impressed by people who overcome any level of stage fright & make themselves that vulnerable. Especially in open-mike situations. Go, you. And I love that song by Moxy Fruvous; I'd love to hear your version sometime.

Which reminds me that I saw audition notices go up for Sterling recently: do returning BTM players audition, or are they there as long as they want to be?
Mar. 10th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
I think that it depends on the actor whether or not there is an audition. Because I have always wanted to return as the same character (so far), and because I am pretty easy for the long time courtiers to work with, I have not been asked to re-audition. Were I asking to do something drastically different, it might be a different story.

And that's all I've got on for intel on that front.

Mar. 10th, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC)
Mar. 11th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
I can almost hear your version of Straight Up - Unplugged (at least as I imagine it) in my head, and it makes me smile. Hopefully when we reside permanently closer, I will be able to catch you and Nate live sometime!
( 5 best shots — Fire Away! )


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