Last night, I played at the Lizard Lounge solo and it was the first time I can remember being nervous before a show. Even during our biggest shows – Kings of Leon, Superdrag, etc – I can’t ever recall this kind of anxiety. Then again, when playing with the full band, stuff that you've rehearsed endlessly, I feel like the other guys act as a protection buffer, as you do for them. Plus, playing loud doesn't hurt. But last night, I was so nervous that I paid Matt $10 to come. OK, that’s only half true. So, why the butterflies? Well, the show is part of a series where musicians come up in two forms, as I understand it: 1) Friends and 2) The Stranger. The idea being that after you come and jam with these folks once as The Stranger, you become a Friend. It’s definitely the most organic form of music I’ve ever taken part in. The players just watch your hands and try to pick up on the song as you go, a song they’ve never heard. A few of them are from Session Americana, who are the best at this type of thing. Either way, they called me up as The Stranger and I played a few songs (“The Rain’s Not Far Behind” (just wrote it the other day) / “Like Secrets Beneath” / “Broken, Beaten & Blue”) and admitted to the blasphemy of not liking “Indiana Jones” or “Star Wars.” It was pretty darn cool, to tell you the truth. The whole thing feels so incredible – that people really try to capture the vibe of the song as its going. But it wasn’t just the unknown aspect of the songs that got me worked up – I was nervous because everyone there is a musician! But, to my extreme delight, they were all very complimentary, despite the fact that there was truly excellent talent in the room that completely squashed me, I think. But, man, what a cool idea. Hopefully I get invited back as a Friend.
In band matters, there have been a few shows going on behind the scenes. On May 19, we played a prep school in Connecticut. It rained in the morning, but it cleared up later on. Mike wasn’t allowed to smoke on school premises, which almost brought the show to a halt (kidding), and Scott proved that he is way more in-shape than me when it comes to moonbounce obstacle courses but way less skilled at American Gladiators jousting than the rest of us (not kidding). There were lots of dogs walking around, and games and cotton candy, but really, the most amazing thing to me is where these kids go to school! I’ve never seen a fancy prep school before, and it was something out of a movie. Like a mini-college campus set in really green surroundings. Beautiful. The highlight of the show for me, personally, was when a young aspiring singer-songwriter took the stage and played one of her tunes. You could tell she hasn’t performed publicly a whole lot yet, but it was really special to see her getting her confidence going. And she was good! Matt, Scott, and her teacher backed her up (Mike was changing a string, and I was taking it in). I wish we had a set list, but the show was two long sets and I fear we don’t have it anymore.
The next show was this Tuesday, May 27, a.k.a. my sister’s birthday. We played Great Scott as part of a showcase for the Milkhouse Studios, where we cut the live albums. Since we can’t promote shows now, there wasn’t much of a crowd, but it was still a pretty fun time. There were a lot of kinks (two false starts, no flow to the set list, and too much stopping time between songs), and it was definitely one of our sloppiest shows in recent memory (though Scott vehemently denied this), but whatever, man, it was a Tuesday night. What do you expect? I don’t think we brought a whole lot, but the folks who were there seemed to enjoy it. We shared the bill with TAB the Band (Joe Perry’s boys + 1) and a group I’d never heard of, but wished I had, Quixote. They both were awesome. So, it was a good night after all!
SET LIST: Don’t Get Me Wrong / Shotgun Wedding / Madeline / Golden Fleece / Better Than This / On the Lam / Loose Lips / Lights On / Carolyn, Don’t Leave Like This / Shine A Light
Well, that’s all I can write for now. I’ll keep you filled in on other recent developments: A new practice space! That alleged scam! And the ongoing problems with Nimbit and “Animal Friends” – which will hopefully end soon!