It’s 4am and in feels like 10am and I am back in NYC after a long commute back from Linz, Austria – you know, one of those good ol’ 14 hour treks.
Well all I can say is THANK YOU to those that helped, hired, drove and hung out with me overseas. The tour was an absolute success, and ridiculous fun. I am on Weiner schnitzel overload, but some NYC chinese food and Starbucks will balance out my body’s PH.
I did want to do some road blog entries, but time was too short, and I was in “tour zone”. It ain’t like sittin’ at home with my ibook! Here is a quickie video greeting, and an in depth review follows…
ABOUT THE PERFORMANCES
I have only toured Europe with a band, and going solo I must say – there were certain aspects that were MUCH easier (sorry guys, I still love you!). Coming and going when I wanted and less overall managerial functions made it easier. Also, no one to egg me on to stay out until the birds chirped kept me in better shape physically 🙂 Fitting in a taxi also made things comfy. (Yes, I have done a whole jazz trio with upright bass in a German taxi….that’s a good way to practice swear words in a foreign language)
Oh, and did I mention one plane ticket, train pass and hotel room on off nights instead of 3?
Hey – that’s just gravy though…the music is what led me to solo playing, but it is a nice perk to have lower expenses. 🙂
I did miss having some other musicians to “lean on” sometimes, and the intensity of playing solo was, well…intense! Of course I will play with bands, but this is what is happening now!
Fortunately I had more than enough material to do 2 long (1 hour plus) sets. That’s with pretty much no improvising, so it’s quite a lot of music.
I really re-learned an aspect of practicing music, which is “practice the tune you think you know” because just when you think you’ve got it covered – that’s where a brain fart can happen!!! I was shocked at where mistakes happened. I knew, and I am sure no one else did.
As well, I found that early in the tour I had concentration problems and difficulty being “present” while performing. I was concerned with the show’s flow and often thought about “what tune will I play next” while playing a tune.
That’s ok – a few musical brain farts in the music would zap me back into the present moment, and all would be well again.
Audiences were of 3 sorts: 1) a hushed concert audience that had to be shmoozed to an loosened up. 2) a cigarette smokin’, beer swillin’ audience that had to be attacked 3) and something in-between. All 3 types are expected and totally cool. A performer should be able to deal with all those situations. Just don’t play a sentimental ballad for the beer swillers.
ABOUT THE TRAVEL
Well, at least now I know I can actually move across an airport and train station with 2 guitars, a suitcase and a laptop case. I was a little unsure about the sheer physicality of moving around, but it worked out ok.
And, kudos to Bruce Lamb of http://casextreme.com – guitars did get thrown around, but survived. The only scratches on my Taylor are due to my percussion!
ABOUT THE PEOPLE
One of the success / self help people I have been checking out lately is a guy by the name of Joe Schroeder (I got hold of an interview done by Mike LIttman) and he made a comment “people first, money second” and really beat the drum of the spiritual approach to business, as opposed to the “money first, people second” approach.
You can’t TRY to do this because that’s like saying “once you fake sincerity, you got it made”. It’s only in hindsight that you see what attitudes take you through life happily. Dare I say maybe a smidge of wisdom is dawning? 🙂
I came to realize that touring and playing music can be summed up in one word: LOVE. That is just where it is at! Sounds easy and as if it is regurgitation of someone else’s principle – but I realized that it is all about “people first, gigs second” and NOT “gigs first, people second”….which is an easy trap to fall into when you are booking a tour.
I enjoyed my time with the people who helped me organize and helped schlep PA systems, and all that. I enjoyed connecting with parents of kids who enjoyed that concerts at schools. I enjoyed shmoozing with the audiences. People first!!!
Funny how it works. There was just way less ego involvement than I have had in previous years, less self importance. There I was, just wanting to turn people on with the music…and when faces would light up, and there’d be a buzzing energy in the room. One club owner told me after the gig “I do 100 concerts a year here and can see whether or not the people REALLY dig it or not – and man, they loved this!!”
And I realized, this is about people, whether it is a student, a club owner an audience member, an old friend – whatever. All the yummy stuff surrounding success comes second. All the books say this, but to experience it first hand is POWERFUL.
I am not an articulate enough teacher in this subject to tell you how to do this, all I can tell you is that when my mind shifted to LOVE and PEOPLE, the world shifted to SUCCESS!
I guess another way to say this is when one shifts from GIVING instead of WANTING the world opens up and actually gives the giver even more!
ABOUT THE MUSIC
Playing solo is much more akin (at least to me) to being in a rock / pop band than playing jazz guitar with a band.
Every tune is planned, and the evening is “crafted” with dynamics, highs an lows, covers and originals. Contrast is vital to making solo guitar interesting for a long time.
In the vein of my hero, Tommy Emmanuel – I strove to make it enjoyable for non musicians as well as musicians…and it worked!!!
WHAT, SO WHAT, NOW WHAT ?
Well it is over and in the past coming home from tours has been a downer. Not this time, I am psyched for the next one. I have some Kentucky gigs in May, some summer stuff, and a festival outside Prague in November 2008, so I’ll be busy filling in dates.
Time to catch up on some sleep!