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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
blt Power and Performing (73* d) RE: Power and Performing 18 Dec 00

My experience is a combination of the altered state that has been described (which hit me from the very first time I was on stage, in high school); a kind of thin joy while performing every week in a crowded coffeehouse which ended up as not-so-thin scorn (due to similar complaints as Spot the Dog mentioned, sans alcohol); cycles of performing/not performing while pursuing a so-called income/day job and thus always feeling too rusty to relax on stage; jealousy that other singer/songwriters always seemed to get gigs and have recordings of one sort or another while I was stuck with my chaotic family issues or financial woes (and jealousy really gums up the works, let me tell you); and a kind of cooling off and growing up period when I just played when and where I wanted to, doing a lot of open mikes (much more difficult to do than two hour-long sets)--which brings me to my present state of being. I really love to play guitar and sing, either my own stuff or not, and I also really like to be on stage doing that. I think that the moments when performing is ideal are few, if only because the performing moment is based on so many things: my energy level, the type of venue, the energies that the audience brings to the gig. I don't think this ever wears out because it's not the kind of energy that wears out, but it certainly can change shape, intensity, and direction. As artists, we are naturally sensitive to how others feel, so it makes sense that if the audience is feeling good (no matter how big or small), is present, and able to reflect back to the performer these feelings in a clear way, the performer shines brighter. It also makes sense that when this doesn't happen (especially when audiences are drinking excessively and/or abusing drugs) that the performer feels murky or annoyed or numb. I haven't played in a bar for a long time, but that's meant that I've restricted myself to small cafes, often playing for tips, with very small audiences. I'm not sure that, for me, this is a bad thing, but at times I've wished I were somewhat less rigid about it. After playing in this half-public way for almost 35 years now, I still struggle with my dream of being the star of the show, even though I really know that's not why I play my guitar or sing. This discussion is exactly what I've hoped would surface at the Mudcat, and I appreciate that Jeri began it.

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