I got sent home early to work today (nothing I did, it was just slow at Dave & Buster's) and I passed by the local cafe that has open mikes on Thursdays. As I passed I though about how I haven;t had a chance to perform in a while, but I also though about how much work I have to do (my costume contest at Wicked Faire, my "Redemption" video project, my Captain Marvel Culture work, etc) but I also though about hoiw I do need to get out more often, meet new people, get more people to know me, and how I did not know when the next time I would get to perform would be.
So as soon as I got home I pulled out my old Alvarez guitar (my newer one has a broken string that needs replacing) and made sure it was in tune (it was) and grabbed my harmonica and headed out.
I got there just as they were standing up to leave. I asked if I was too late, and the owner of the cafe, Jose, said now, to come on up, and he re-plugged in the microphone. Everybody sat down as I began to play.
I was on FIRE! The guitar was clanging, the harmonica was in tune, and my voice sounded out loud and clear (it helped that the venue was small and everyone was paying attention). The audience laughed at my jokes, bopped to the music and gave all the right responses.
Then, after playing "Bound for Brooklyn, telling a story about an ex-girlfriend that led into "too Crazy for Me," then doing my "M&M Song," I asked how many more songs I had, and they said a couple more. So I slowed it down.
I did the Blasters/Dave Alvin's "Little Honey." it is a song about a man who's girl is going out, possibly to see an old boyfriend, possibly not coming back. It has personal significance to me, and when that song was done, I continued into an instrumental on the harmonica.
I discovered, after not playing for months, how I can really tell an emotional story with the harmonica. I felt my emotions of the situation coming out through the notes and the rhythms. The emotions change, as I resolve from an angry boyfriend into one who has decided to move on, and that launches me into the Blasters/Dave Alvin's "So Long, Baby, Goodbye." That's when I opened my eyes.
I had completely lost the audience. Here I had thought that they were hanging on my every note, were hi[p enough to follow me on my emotional journey, and that they would be transfixed by my sincerity, but one person had walked out and the others were just kind of sitting there dumb.
So as soon as I got through "SLBGB," I launched into one verse of "Johnny B. Goode for the Lower East Side." That got them back.
I was invited to do one more song (it turned out that the guy who left just had to answer his cell phone). So I first warned them about, and then played, "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins in the Style of Arlo Guthrie." I tore the house down.
To be more precise, it was what I have come to expect from a crowd that size (about 8 people). One guy got every single reference and was in tears all the way through. About 3 other people got most of the references and died every time they came up. The rest did not quite understand it, but enjoyed the good naturedness and sheer bizarreness of it. And they were a little slow picking up on the "Bilbo" call-backs.
If I don't have work on Thursday night next week I will go again, otherwise, well, ti was fun. I do hope to go again. I need to get out more often and make new friends.