Wow, it's been a carnival of a week. (insert parking lot carnival music here) This is the week of The Escalante Arts Festival. I'm writing from the Cowboy Blues Bar and Restaurant, where I'm playing later tonight. It’s a big weekend for playing music. Along with the many 'jam' sessions this past week, I'm playing five different gigs this weekend. Today, we played on the main stage at 3p for the fest. I had Matt Thorn on guitar, Nate Way on mandolin, and a wonderful fiddle/violin player named Anastatia we just hired for this gig last night. She was great. With one hour of rehearsal, she picked up the ten or so songs we were playing, and did a beautiful job. It was a great set, except for a strange mistake on 'Ring of Fire', which I botched enough to be able to hear Johnny Cash groan from the hereafter, "Oh well, sorry Johnny," the vocalist laments. Even though I can do 'Ring of Fire' in my sleep, sometimes, well, sometimes things get a little weird. I 'G'ed' when I should have 'D'ed, and the car careened off the ledge. Sometimes you have your best stuff, and sometimes you don't.
I've noticed and said before, sometimes, even with the best preparation, things can still go wrong during the performance. For example, our third song in, a Tex-blues song called 'T for Texas', my b string broke near the end of the song. I've never broke a b string before, and although I've broken many a string in the years of playing, I've rarely broken one in performance. Matt Thorn stepped in and did one of his own songs, while I changed (under pressure) the string. Matt is a really great songwriter. Last week, as he was playing a song with his wife Vikki during a performance, I had that click in my head that says, "That's a hit song…" I used to get this same click with several of Camille's songs. I actually think my opinion is accurate, but for a song to become a hit, there are several more variables that have to happen in order for this to become a practical reality. Its difficult enough to write a song, but to get it to a place where it has the advantage of being listened to by the 'hitmakers', it is virtually impossible. Two nights ago, I was playing in Salt Gulch with a group of musicians. Standing right behind me was a woman I know who is not a musician, but is often at these jams. Because she was behind me, I could hear her quietly singing. The difference to me was that she was singing along with my songs, and she knew the words to all of them. For a songwriter, this is one of the little things that you watch for, or rather, listen for, to tell you something about whether a song has legs. I asked her how she knew the songs, she said, "I guess because I've heard them enough to remember them…" Of course, I always think the worse, I think, " If I've played these songs enough for this person to know all the words, I need to write some new songs…"
It's time to slog out to the truck and bring in the equipment, and start to set up. For your information, tonight's band will be another four piece, similar to the one we had today. I have to set up a PA system, four microphones, a guitar amplifier, and make sure the musicians are set up appropriately, (either to my right or left), so that if they need to 'see' what I am playing, they will be able to do so. It should be a lively night, as the town is full of people here for the festival. Anyway, a little taste of the recent events.
Thank you so much for the great comments and response to the last post, its always encouraging to hear from you. Have a great weekend, and just so you know, someone may know the words to all or one of your songs. Keep singing them.