Help a struggling musician out?

Hey Oregon peeps! I have a July 12th show in Redmond, Oregon! I’d love to have a second somewhere in the state within a couple of days of the 12th so I can call it my Oregon Tour! (lol musical cannibalism) I’ve been poking around, but so far, venues all say it’s too late to book anything that soon, call them again in October (omg). Help a struggling new musician find an audience, anyone? ^_^

oh, i almost forgot (setlist)

Setlist; I went a bit over my hour with it, but not a lot; all songs mine unless otherwise noted in italics:

(World Trapped in) Amber
Something’s Coming
Cascadia (How I Have Missed You) (Instrumental)
When You Leave
Stay Away
Shout at the Desert
Where is your Heaven?
Let Me Help
Come to the Labyrinth (S.J. Tucker; plugged the Tricky Pixie show in Kenmore)
Thought You Knew
Goin’ Up (Great Big Sea; plugged the Woodland Park show in Seattle)
Life in the Underground (New arrangement and ending, instrumental)
Thought You Knew

my better half

So Folklife was definitely the better half of the long weekend wrapping into Tuesday. I already posted about Folklife, which was awesome. The gig in Renton was… fine, really; technically okay, as far as I could tell; my playing was decent, if not really inspired. I couldn’t tell how I sounded because the monitor system didn’t work. I kept the audience around well enough, which is apparently one of their yardsticks; the music manager told me a lot of the musicians they bring in finish up playing to empty seating!

Frankly, I find that terrifying and was glad not to share that fate. It happens for a reason more or less built in to the venue: if you’re playing there, you’re also closing a farmer’s market. The organisers in fact announced market closing right before my last song, and about a third of the audience left then, even though I had one more song on my setlist.

I wasn’t able to get anyone to run a merch table for me (because Renton, because 5:30 start time), which meant I didn’t even get a chance to try to sell CDs. Amusingly, while I didn’t put out a tip jar, a couple of people found where I’d left it (behind the stage, on a table, under a tent) and put money in anyway. That’s determination, and I salute them for it!

But the big thing I learned was that a setlist that really gets people engaged and interested at Folklife isn’t necessarily going to carry over to other venues. I mean, sure, obviously; I knew that; but I was surprised at the degree. Even “Stay Away”/”Shout at the Desert” didn’t really engage the crowd, and that’s never happened before. Since I didn’t know the venue beforehand, I just tried to put together a set that sounded really strong to me, and tested it against a real audience beforehand, so I thought I was on good footing. I went in optimistic.

But down in Renton, turns out that didn’t mean anything. Much of the crowd was older (a lot of 60-somethings) and interested mostly in music of the 1950s. I can appreciate that – I know and often like that music – but it’s not what I do. I tried really hard to reach out and engage them, and honestly, without a lot of success. But I soldiered on.

Fortunately, there were also a few families with children, and their kids bounced up and down and danced in front of me the entire time, which always helps. Then they stage-rushed me demanding stickers afterwards, which I am always glad to hand out, and that was just fun. ^_^ I got a real case of giggles seeing one of the moms a few minutes later walking out with a big SKETCHY CHARACTERS sticker stuck to her sweater. I’ll need to make more!

NEXT SHOW: Well, actually, I’m thinking I’m gonna do the Soul Food Books Open Mic on Saturday, in Redmond. I’ll premiere new songs, like I always do; come down if you want to hear ’em! But my next official show is Everett Market for 4th of July, Everett Marina, Washington. I’ll be loading up with traditionals for that one, I think. We’ll see.

always a good sign

Tested out tomorrow’s setlist at Folklife, street-performing along one of the main drags, fighting for audio space against the south lawn stage, a band across the street, steel drums to the north, and a piano to the south. I brought crowds and sold CDs and got tips and got photographed a lot which is a good sign. (SEND ME COPIES, PLEEEEEEEEEASE! THANKS!) Tomorrow should be a pretty good show.

It was totally awesome seeing SarahK and House Cerulians and Betsy and Katie and Betsy’s friend whose name I forgot (sorry sorry sorry!) and all the people who came up to talk. That was fun! I should see you guys out more often! I played Dryad’s Promise for Betsy – at least, once I recovered from “oh shit this needs F minor how does that work?”, lulz. I’m planning on playing that song at the Oregon show, but wasn’t planning for it today or tomorrow, and there’s a big difference in feel between having ramped up for it and not – I was in performance space most of the time, but for that song I was having to pay too much attention to the technicals of playing and kept falling out.

I put myself into it f’srs tho’. And for all the other songs! I was highly kinetic. And I went at it rather longer than I meant to without a break (and without enough water) and got a pretty seriously achy neck – an ache that turned into CHARLIE HORSE IN THE NECK for a solid hour after I decided to quit. That stayed I calmed it down with my muscle relaxant of choice, three shots of peppermint schnapps. Now I feel much better.

(Okay, my real muscle relaxant of choice is two Skyy kamikazis, but schnapps will do in a pinch.)

NEXT GIG: TOMORROW! Or possibly today, depending upon when you read this. That’s June 1st, at Renton Piazza, Renton, Washington, Cascadia! Show starts at 5:30! To quote Pizzicato Five, “C’mon, y’all!”

busy busy busy

Hello, merch! Have you seen a table, by any chance?

And if you missed it; that CD in the green slimline case is the new track I uploaded to Bandcamp yesterday, “Let Me Help.” You can listen to it here:

<a href="">Let Me Help by Crime and the Forces of Evil</a>

You could download it from there, too, even. I put singles in slimline cases, with rather minimal cover art burned straight into matching LightScribe discs, matching disc colours to cases. Each single has one of the characters off the Sketchy Characters cover. (IT’S A THEME GODDAMMIT! A GRAPHIC THEME! WORK WITH ME HERE!)

I’m not at all fond of the L in that face I’ve been using for titles. Not even a little. I should’ve checked over that face more carefully before going with it. Oh well, I’ll reset everything after Dick Tracy Must Die finally comes out. ^_^

Oh, what's this then?

Yeah, that’d be a single.

Sure, I put that one on the bandcamp site a couple of weeks ago, but now there are physical copies too. And keep watching, there’s gonna be another one. ^_^

Don’t forget the show on Tuesday: Renton Piazza, 5:30pm!

gosh that's a lot of seating

So I finally got the contract for the Renton gig next Tuesday – that’s Tuesday, June 1st, Renton Market at the Piazza – and signed it. Yay! And I’ve got a look at the seating area and venue stage; from other photos I think it seats about 45, which is a lot.

I wish the stage area was closer to the audience seating. It’s harder to reach out across a big empty space like that, but I’ll work with it. Maybe it’s not as far as it looks and it’s partly the photo making it seem so far apart.

I’m gonna have a new single out in the next couple of days, for the show. Watch for it~! ^_^

sleepy from the sun

I haven’t done much busking this summer, but I got out there today in Woodinville at their little Farmer’s Market and played for a few hours. It’s interesting because it’s such a different experience – tho’ less so at the start because I grabbed a few chairs at one end and pointed them at me and ended up with a real live audience for most of my first set, a few sitting, several standing to watch. But with no sound system and no mics and no cables, it’s a singularly raw experience – there’s nothin’ between you and them. And I sold a CD and a bunch of people took my miniflyers and I really need to put my actual concert dates on those things, don’t I? Damn, I need to get ahead of this curve!

Studio studio studio! It’s been another distracting week (particularly with power surges – it sounded like goddamn Old Star Trek in here during the last storm what with those rrRRRRvRRvvvRRvRRRR!! burning dynamo noises) but I have some more musics in the can, which is awesome.

There’s nothing new finished (sigh) but I’ve made some really good progress, particularly on “Shout at the Desert,” which I want to get on the website soon. It’s one of the songs from this past winter that I’ve moved forward onto Dick Tracy, mostly because, well, it’s kinda awesome. YEAH I SAID IT. I should just say “I’m really excited about it” or something but fuck that, it’s awesome, particularly when paired with “Stay Away,” which will also be on Dick Tracy.

I made room for these by deciding “Life in the Underground” really is an instrumental (it has lyrics, but fuck ’em, it’s better off without) and moved that and “The World Falls Down” (which was to be the second instrumental) onto Distractions, leaving Dick Tracy with just one, “Cascadia (How I Have Missed You).” The result will be a stronger and higher-energy album – “Life in the Underground” is kind of an old-school folk-dance tune with the slight rewrite I’ve given it since ditching the lyrics, but “The World Falls Down” is all introspective and contemplative, and thematically works but musically didn’t belong there, in the end.

I still like it, tho’, and you’ll still get it on Distractions. You can hear a little snippet of it that I stole for an extended outro on “Thought You Knew” – everything after the last line of lyric is borrowed and transposed from “The World Falls Down.”

Distractions is going to be more robust than I realised, I think. Originally it was gonna be pretty short, a real side-project kind of thing, but at this point… it’s getting kind of long. That’s not a bad thing.

NEXT CONCERT: June 1st, in Renton! See you at Renton Farmer’s Market at the Piazza for opening day! I don’t know what the stage is like but they have a PA for it. Stage time 5:30pm.

So how'd it go?

Artistically: pretty good. I’m difficult to please, but from behind the mic? I was happy with that. Despite the fact that I seem to have picked up a little bit of a head cold, I felt like I was in pretty good voice. I accidentally moved the bridge in Artefacts on the fly – I jumped to the chorus early and did kind of an improv mini-bridge instead. If you didn’t know the song, I don’t think you’d know. Also, live, I’m still playing my fast songs too fast.

I brought my minidisc recorder (anybody remember those? ^_^ ) to record off the speaker. What I got off that makes me feel pretty good about how I felt while playing; I was in pretty good voice – all up and down my range, really – and the instrument mix did sound good. So I can maybe trust my ears at this point.

Lesson of the day: Artefacts is a duet and I can’t ignore that. Having worked with it enough in the recording studio to really figure out how I should be playing it (and recording it that way for Sketchy Characters), trying to perform it solo just feels… odd. And wrong. Maybe I could do the second voice with some sort of microphone effects pedal. Would that be too weird?

Technical notes: The new-to-me sound equipment performed admirably. The basic sound balance coming out of the instrument preamps sounded really nice (thanks again, John!), so the venue sound guy and I left that output totally alone. He brought up the midrange on the vocal mic a little, then helped me make a couple of small graphic-EQ adjustments to deal with the cement floor and wooden roof of the gazebo (mostly a slight dip at 1khz, a hint of high-end trim, a little very-low-end punch down – picking up resonance, I think). I wish I’d written down his name! Thanks, sound guy with the one syllable first name I can’t remember but might have been Bill but probably isn’t! If you read this tell me your name and I’ll fix it!

My amp has separate monitor outs. I think they’re line level. I’m gonna see whether I can run that as a line in to a recorder of some sort and skip the microphone stage for live recordings.

Recording: Just as I was thinking, “wow, this sounds really good! Maybe I can release a couple of these as donation-or-free live downloads!” the player started belching up garbage. There are bad sectors all over the disc. I don’t have one intact song on the recording – not even enough to edit something together. I have enough to tell me what I sounded like, but the rest is useless.

Stupid minidisc. I’m so mad. I coulda had live tracks. p >_< q Audience reaction: I heard very good things from the venue manager, which is important because she's also the manager of the venue I'm playing in Renton, and the sound guy, and I spotted a couple of market vendors and several children bopping about, which is always a good sign. But I'm not the audience! And at least one of you were there! Possibly more, I don't know! Only one person from here introduced themselves. What'd you think? NEXT SHOW: June 1st, 2010: Renton, Washington! Renton Farmer’s Market at the Piazza. Opening day! Stage time 5:30pm. See you there!

Show reminder!

4-5pm, today! Kirkland Marina Park! It’s downtown, by the water, with the Wednesday Market! Come by!

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