Stage Fright

To be a successful musician, I think you have to be able to take the good with the bad.  You aren’t always going to have good nights; you’ll suck sometimes. The question is, how are you going to take that suckage? Are you going to take each humiliating moment and internalize it, letting it stew into a heady brew of mortification, or will you let it roll off you like water off a duck’s back?

Good question. I guess the very fact that I’m writing about it means that I’ve been stewing, but I’m trying hard to get a lesson out of this.

When I first started going to the open mic nights at Fitzgerald’s, it was about the music. I wanted—and still do—want to know what it’s like being up on that stage.

To be sure, I’ve definitely learned a few things.

For instance, the microphone is a fascinating piece of equipment that I have yet to master. I can’t hear myself over the band, cause the band’s real loud.

Furthermore, if you’re not singing, and you’re just there to enjoy the music, men will come up and talk to you. Well, me. And I suppose that’s a nice thing, but if I’m not interested, I’m not very good at deflecting. So I suppose I’ve also been learning to turn down men at Fitzgeralds.

Thirdly, I am a jazz singer. That is what I love. And I’m not going to stop singing just because this isn’t the right open mic for me. It just means that I’m not going to sing there every week—and I would love to find someone who can play along with me. When I first went, I brought along a guitarist thinking that I would need him since they wouldn’t know what songs I want to sing; but then I thought maybe I could swing it without my own accompanist. But they don’t know how to play any of the songs I like to sing, and, simply put, I don’t know any of the songs that they like to play; so I’m in a pickle. Dan, the guitarist I hired for that first trip, lives in Hamilton and I don’t even know if he’d be interested in getting together to jam, but I suppose it’s worth it to ask. He was awesome. And frankly, I’ll sing with anyone who will let me.

God, I love those open mic nights, even when I feel like I’m just haunting them, like I did last night. Stayed until the bitter end because the music was so good and the crowd was loving it. It’s nice to go somewhere to listen to good music.  This guy came in last night, I think his name was Tony.  He pulls out a harmonica.  He starts off with a short introduction that ends with something about “bitches” that I remember finding vaguely alarming and rude, but I stayed to listen. And I’m glad I did. When he started wailing on that harmonica, it was intense. Frank sat behind the drums and played a simple beat while this guy brought out the dirtiest sound out of a small tin instrument I’d ever heard.

Before he went up on stage, he asked if I’d like to say a poem. I told him I didn’t know any.

I really want to fit in at Fitzgeralds, but I feel like an outsider looking in.


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