It was July 19, 2009 when I performed my worst show ever...
The gig took place at a film festival in Bethlehem, PA, right after we did a featured showing of Max Shores' award-winning cigar box guitar documentary, Songs Inside the Box. The attendees at this concert had just seen this magical film that was centered around me... and when it was finally my turn to perform a live show for them, I totally blew it.
The songs were strained and my delivery was amateur at best. I looked tortured and lost on stage. I still cringe when I remember back.
Oh, they were nice to me after the show. (The Bethlehem art community is a really supportive crowd.) However, you could see in their faces that they just wasted an evening with poseur. I was crushed.
But something major happened on the two hour drive back home that evening: Instead of wringing my hands and lamenting the gig (as was usually the case), I started asking myself, "what are the specific details that went into making a bad performance?" I turned the radio off, set the cruise control on the car and went thru my whole act, song by song.
I then asked myself the most important question, "What are the more successful musicians doing?" I had seen other cigar box guitar one-man-bands perform and do great. Ben Prestage. Richard Johnston. The mighty Seasick Steve. They all played so effortlessly and could tear the roof off a joint.
Find the successful people and study them.
When I got home, I completely abandoned my entire set list and they way I performed it. I studied the masters and took notes. Every part of my playing was changed, transformed and improved. Most importantly, I started going to open mics so I could try these new things out in front of a live crowd. If the crowd liked it, the song or technique stayed. If it tanked, I'd rework it.
Open mics are perfect incubators for new material. Allow yourself to play horrible in front of an open mic crowd and you'll eventully play well in front of them.
It's four years later and I can now tear the roof off a joint. I'm still improving, still studying the masters and still trying new things, but when I have a sub-par gig, I just go back and analyze it.
Are you struggling with your playing...or maybe something even bigger in your life? Shane says DON'T GIVE UP! Step back, take a look at things and learn about the people who were successful before you.
“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” -Winston Churchill
CONCERTS THIS WEEK:
Wednesday 9:30pm - Shane's Open Mic
First Capital Dispensing Co., 57 N. Pershing Ave., York PA
FUN FAMILY EVENT (Shane performs twice and will be selling cigar box guitars) Sunday 10am-5pm - Spoutwood Farm Harvest Moon Festival Glen Rock, PA