originally published in Sound Waves Magazine September 2019
At live performances, it only takes one person to start paying attention, then it spreads, like a really cool virus seeping into everybody’s beers throughout the club. And if that one person who gets it started happens to be sitting with a big group of people, it’s even better. It catches on: “Oh I get it. These people are performing for us. We should be paying attention and appreciating them, and clapping and hootin’ and hollerin’ and stuff!”
Sometimes it could be an hour in, maybe two hours into the show. Sometimes it never happens, and you just silently whisper “Good Night” when your time is up.
But on a good night, when that one person gets it started, that silent “Good Night” can turn into shots all around, bravos, standing Os, screams for encores and you feel propelled to shout a resounding “THANK YOU! GOOD NIGHT!”
This is what dreams are made of people.
But most of the time, while pretending like you’re a jukebox in the corner, you play for yourself, hone your skills, that sort of thing, so that when the scenario above actually happens, you are completely ready.
And you must be ready. People are paying attention so your usual screwups can no longer be hidden under a cone of silence, muffled by hundreds of conversations and clinking glassware.
On a recent night, once I “had them,” I turned up the heat (as it were.) Smart phones were pointing at me (for what reason I have no idea, but it’s a thing people do. I mean, I ain’t no Taylor Swift but whatever.) It was go time. The whole place was singing along. Even if I did screw up it didn’t even matter. It was glorious.
But heed my warning: This rarely happens. You need that one person you’re making eye contact with, and that one person has got to have a loud voice and influencing skills in order to get the rest of the place into the groove. It’s never me. It’s always them. We can’t do any of it without an audience. That audience must be on a mission to have fun, determined to forget about the humdrums of their day, forgetting about maybe their quiet desperation.
Live music can be the cure to all sorts of things. And that’s how we get ’em.