I am sitting in the airport in Houston, waiting for a flight to Los Angeles. I flew down here on Wednesday and then played Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and home today.
The gig Thursday night started out looking like it was going to be really grim. A country club trying something new…a real concert in the far end of the cocktail lounge, separated by a very large fireplace, so the stage was somewhat set off from the bar.
Folks came in, smiled at me, sat down at tables and then got up to check out the happy hour treats layed out. Then they sat back down and proceeded to talk as though no music was going on.
At first, I was going to do my usual and capture this room no matter what. Stop these folks from doing what they were doing and make them listen…be outrageous, engage them, interact, maybe even push the insult envelope a little bit.
But then I thought, I am going to simply play music so great that they stop talking and it took me about an hour, but I did it. And they asked me to come back for the same guarantee, so I’m doing it.
At first it wasn’t gratifying to do a show like that after doing concerts in rooms where folks have paid to get in and are sitting in theatre rows awaiting a concert. This was more like an education process or wrestling an alligator, but the club manager and the board members that were there want to do this and make it work, so I’m game.
There is no denying that it is most definitely humbling to play a situation like that after playing for 6000 people at the Universal Amphitheatre or 7000 people at the BYU orientation day.
What you have to remember is that a pro makes every situation work…to his advantage and to the audiences advantage.
And I recall something that I read, attributed to Alexis Lichine, the wine connoisseur. He said if you only drink the very finest wine, you do not expand your palet. You must taste all the varieties and all the levels in order to maintain that palet.
Tasting only the finest wines actually narrows your palet. And playing only ideal situations does not make you a great performer. It’s easy to have a great show when every single thing is lined up in your favor.
You actually need all these situations and you need them periodically the entire length of your career. This is how you keep your game and how you strengthen yourself as a performer.
Take the gig and then make it work, dammit.