Friday, October 20, 2006

Thursday 10/19 - Survived first open mic feature. Set list:
  1. County Down
  2. The Dance of the Capricorn
  3. The Day after the Feast/Kadourimdou
  4. Bright Field
  5. Castle's Call/Pilgrims Flight
  6. Fare Thee Well
  7. (encore) A Smile
I put my strongest pieces at the beginning and end, with the dicey stuff in the middle. And was it ever dicey... I am starting to think that Kadourimdou needs to just be reeled in for a while and polished in the shop before I parade it around town any more. It is just too hard for me in front of an audience right now. It is a pretty avant-guard crazy kind of tune anyhow, and when you aren't 100% on top of it, I fear it does not come across at all!

I think that The Day after the Feast would have gone alright, but at that point I was battling heavily with the sound, which was less than ideal. At first, I couldn't hear anything coming from the mains or monitors, which really threw me on Capricorn, because it is such a punchy rhythmically driving piece. THEN, when I turned my preamp up, this buzz appeared everywhere, so I just killed my pickup and used an instrument mic. So, shaken from my second tune, it was very difficult to try to regain composure for Feast, which requires, as I've mentioned before, a high degree of right hand control.

After that, everything went pretty well. I originally had Chasin' the Groove in there, but bailed because I was still feeling a bit freaked about the sound. I think that was the right decision. I worry that it cost me some energy later in the set, but the response from the audience was good.

This experience was a good one also in terms of tuning my expectations for an open mic feature. The key is that people aren't there to see you, by and large - they are there for the open mic. This is a good thing to keep in mind so that a proper set of expectations can be built.

Other things to work on: my interaction with the audience is very sparse, and I would like to talk more to them, and draw them in more.

That's it for now. Thanks to everyone who came out last night... it was great to see you and play for you!


Lynn Desmarais- cello said...

Hey Tony,
Sorry I couldn't make it out to hear you play last night. I hear what you're saying about how little mess-ups can throw you off, but the good thing about Amazing Things is that just about everyone there plays an instrument as well, so I think everyone understands how hard it really is and what a nearly impossible thing we are all trying to do- make beautiful sounds with a hollow wooden thing and some strings. It's crazy when you think about the number of hours of work that it takes to be able to play well, but I can tell you from the audience perspective that you are a very talented and clearly very dedicated musician, and it's really a pleasure to listen to you play. ( :
I'm working on the stuff we figured out on Wed, so keep in touch and we can plan another get together.

Rob Brandon said...

Re: interaction with the audience - It doesn't take much - Listen to and watch the CD/DVD "Music for Two" by Bela Fleck that I mentioned. He has a light touch, but very engaging. Or watch Kottke on Youtube or read some of his transcribed stage anecdotes. Talk to relax (yourself and the audience), but don't ramble.

By the way, classical players don't talk a lot, they let their playing and the pieces talk for them - that's what I thought you were doing. You talked about as much as a serious artist would, and that reinforced your image as one.

By the way, you were definitely the feature of the evening - the quality of the music you played and the tone and nuance with which you played it placed you in a very different category from everybody else. (It's a good thing you were presented as the feature, otherwise everybody else would have felt bad/blown away.)

Rob Brandon

Tony said...

Firstly, thanks Lynn, Rob, for your kind words.

Rob - thanks for the suggestion. I really love watching concert videos because you start noticing how they carry themselves, not only while playing, but in between. Kottke might be a good guy to check out in this area. I've also heard that Michael Hedges (off stage at least) is kind of a shy guy, and pretty soft-spoken, despite the rather dramatic and energetic quality of his music (ditto Kottke). I'll have to check on YouTube.

It is really interesting to hear your comment as to how I came across the other night. I don't mind projecting the image of a serious musician playing serious music, but it is really important to me that the audience not feel alienated. This mostly plays into choice of repertoire, but also I think into how you conduct yourself onstage.

What I really want to try to avoid is best summed up by a quote from the album liner notes for a certain classical guitar recording: "Challenging for performer and audience..." ;-)