Music for the Messes

My Sunday night gig at Mickey’s has been a great experience for me. Friends of mine who had done this sort of thing had a wide range of opinions about playing week in and week out: some grew to loathe the obligation; some said they were bored after a certain point every week while others said they loved every minute. I was nervous for the first few weeks as I wasn’t sure I could actually sing and play for two hours without losing my voice/sensation in my fingers/sanity. But I was immediately up to the task and now the first hour whips by and suddenly it’s time to break and have another drink and talk to the crowd. Sunday is not necessarily the best time of the week to play as there aren’t that many folks out after 10pm but the intimacy often makes for a better show. Joe Lambert is usually working behind the bar and he keeps me on my toes with great requests–as do the faithful patrons, who often come up with songs or artists I’d learned but never played on stage. Sometimes the requests transcend the moment and something amazing happens: a few weeks back Bob Koch and I did our standard cover of Don Gibson’s“Sea of Heartbreak.” Someone in the audience was trying to remember what Gibson song Neil Young had covered and suddenly I broke out my cover of his version of “Oh, Lonesome Me” which I had learned years back but hadn’t ever played in Madison. I was shocked that I recalled all the words and the odd chords in the bridge and the person who requested it praised me for my “jukebox-like effiency.”

This gig has been good for my voice and guitar playing, both of which were ok before but now are instantly accessible. And on the odd occasion that I do a show outside of Mickey’s I feel instantly at home as soon as I start playing which is a place I’ve always wanted to be at in front of crowd. My first experiences on stage were me with my crappy guitar nervously covering Beatles and Who songs and now ten years later I’m up on stage doing the same sort of thing, mixing in my own stuff and finally feeling confident about going solo.

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