The guitarist playing at Birthday Bash. Shannon came up with the idea of an open mic to help celebrate my turning 30. So we posted a sign-up and told everyone to bring songs and instruments. We had six acts, three of which were duos (for at least some part of their set). I played right about in the middle. Matt A. recorded the performances on a digital recorder set up on a tripod across the room. He has sent me the portion of the recording that contains my playing, and I am debating whether to edit and post here.
My impressions on the performance: it was surprising to me how nervous I managed to feel playing for friends in my own living room! I say managed to feel because it was clearly a fair bit of effort put forth to work myself into a state where playing guitar was barely possible. Nonetheless, I managed to get through County Down and the 2nd Law. There is a terrible meme/spirit/dysfunction/sickness lurking about in my brain that comes to the front every once and a while to say: "Ok, now you're on and the stakes are high. Screw this up and you're finished. What people think about you, what you're worth as a person, the validity of all the work you've put in up to now all depend on your performance in this moment. It'd better be good." Imagine for one second that it is my birthday party, and that there were two Tonys up there on the chair at the end of my living room, and one is saying such things to the other. What would any stranger think (much less a friend of Tony)? What a jerk! That guy putting all the pressure on is telling lies, doing something really terrible. Get out of there! Shut up! Take your pressure and your guilt and your high-stakes non-sense and LEAVE.
If only it were that easy. I borrow this little thought experiment from a very good book, "The Inner Game of Tennis" by W. Timothy Gallwey. It is full of insight for anyone engaged in any sort of real-time physical activity that requires technique, creativity, and is subject to performance critiques.
Thanks to everyone who came out and played; please come to see me on Saturday June 14 at Amazing Things in Framingham (www.amazingthings.org). Also, come out to the Atwood's Dark Side of the June music festival at their home in Fall River, MA (post here if you need more info).