Wow Tony another inspirational instalment from your Log, thanks for sharing! You are getting closer to OM 100, any special Anniversary performance in plans yet? all the best!
Thanks, not sure about the 100 milestone. I had hoped to reach it in my 9th year of playing just before the 10 year anniversary but covid and all the cancelled open mic opportunities put paid to that. I know a cool bar that has a great open mic, it might be a good spot to do it, or at the music club where I’ve done so many before.
After battling performance anxiety for some time, it’s nice to be able to jump on stage without nerves. I still get them before some performances, but not the crippling, painful levels of times past.
How fantastic to arrive at really feeing so at home on stage. It really comes across in your body language above, sat on the stool.
(Btw - the title can be edited once you’re scrolled to the very top of the page. A small pencil will arrive to the right of the title sentence which can be clicked on.)
Thanks for your comments. After fighting performance anxiety big time, it was a great feeling.
I did scroll up after reading your comment, the edit pencil arrived but not to the right of the title and it wouldn’t let me edit it. This is using firefox on mac, will try it with chrome.
Not editable with chrome either. It lets me edit the original posting, but the title section can’t be changed.
Figured I’d add a link to the thread on the repair I carried out to my guitar as it was a significant learning process. I debate whether it should have just been an addition to my learning log but since it was a different topic on it’s own, I posted it separately.
Onwards to 100 open mics. For some reason I started a diary with the details of the songs I played at my first open mic back in Feb of 2013. I had hoped to reach the 100 milestone by the time my 10th anniversary of starting playing happened. Covid had other ideas, no open mics at all for a while.
Played 2 open mics in the last 2 days, #92 and #93. Woo hoo. Both were very different. Justin has talked about having various songs in your back pocket for when the chance to perform happens. Ensuring there is a variety of songs is also very good.
My nerves did concern me a bit as I’d played a couple of songs for friends at home after a dinner party we hosted the weekend before and was surprised to see the old performance anxiety creeping in when I least expected it.
First was an amateur night hosted by a local musician and beekeeper. It was at a local hall and was standing room only. A draft version of the programme was emailed out a week before and after reading it I changed what I was going to play significantly. The programme was mainly high school students playing piano or fiddle. And the programme was very full. So I switched to a couple of shorter and more recent songs. They are also 2 of the easiest songs I know. Both were songs from recent movies, trying to cater for the younger audience. Maybe it’s time and Don’t let the old man in. Finger style and played slowly.
The performance on the night went very well, felt relaxed and confident and the audience was excellent. A good friend who was in the audience said you could have heard a pin drop during my performance, they were all paying attention and I could feel it on stage in spite of the spot light meaning I couldn’t see any of them very well. Walked off the stage feeling on top of the world, like I was walking on air, it felt really good. The sound was also very good, the foldback was superb. Here’s a picture taken by my friend in the audience.
Second was an open mic at the local pub, just 1.5 km up the road from our rural property. It’s the only pub in our small village of about 500 people and the next closest pub is a good half hours drive away. It’s a popular place and on a friday night was very full. A very noisy venue.
The open mic was being run by a musician who’s performed at the pub as part of a duo a number of times recently. While the pub has had open mics before, they’ve not been happening for well over a year and as such I was a bit nervous about how the setup would be. Earlier this year I played at a pub open mic where it was the first open mic by a new host and it was a ghastly experience. I tend to be reasonably confident so I’m happy to be the first to perform. In that case it was a mistake as the sound was ghastly. Muddy sound with terrible feedback in spite of me using. a feedback buster in the sound hole. He moved all the performers after me to a different part of the stage. So with this open mic my plan was to be the 2nd performer.
As it turned out, I was the only performer there so being 2nd wasn’t an option. The host played a couple of songs and then it was my turn. Thankfully the sound was good. I also chose a much different set of songs to play. More up beat and sing along songs. Stuck in the middle with you, I can see clearly now and Lodi. Strummed (using Justin’s thumb and finger technique) and easy to play. These songs worked well and a small number of people were singing along including a particularly drunk young woman who at first situated herself about an arms length from my face just to the left of me. Sigh. After the first verse she went and sat down beside my wife who was sitting at a table on her own nearby. My wife was not impressed with her either. More sighs.
A minor distraction and a bit funny. The host asked me to keep playing after those three songs so I continued with Have you ever seen the rain followed by Maybe it’s time (finger style) and I finished up with Signs, another song that I got help with from a local Justin Guitar community member when I was learning.
I was very happy with how that performance went as well so as you can imagine my confidence level is quite high. Here’s a photo taken by my wife.
Open mics certainly are a great learning experience and I encourage others to play them as well. They can be a bit daunting so don’t force yourself to do it no matter what if you are struggling with either the motivation or the confidence. Go along as an observer and see what the vibe of the place is. I’ve been to open mics where the predominant style of music was vastly different to what i do. And I’ve been to plenty where i fit right in.
Hi Tony I’ve really enjoyed reading through your learning log, thanks for sharing your story
Good to read and nice that there are photos… looking great… just teach those people how to press the video record button next time
Hi Tony. Good you have enough repertoire to fit different open mic audiences.
Minor epiphany for me this weekend. I’ve had a pickup fitted to my new Kallquist guitar and had a small gathering of muso friends. One of them is a luthier and he was interested to hear how the pickup (LR Baggs Anthem) sounded with my acoustic amp (AER). I had played it briefly and was happy with the sound.
When I played it much more over the weekend with my friends, I noticed how sloppy my playing was when amplified. While I live for the chance to perform publicly at open mics and such, I normally rehearse unplugged except when I know an open mic is coming up.
So today I rehearsed for well over an hour plugged into the amp and was amazed at how quickly it improved my playing. Because the sloppy bits were much more obvious, it was easy (relatively) to tidy up my playing and concentrate on playing cleaner.
So my epiphany was that playing unplugged made it easier for me to be sloppy.
Going forward I’ll be rehearsing amplified a lot more than previously.
Another thing that it helped with with is related. The Kallquist has a slightly narrower nut and string width at the saddle, correspondingly I was getting string buzz with my fingers at times crowding the adjacent string when fretting various chords. I had expected that to mostly be gone by now as I’ve been playing the new guitar almost exclusively for about 2 months now, yet I’d noticed it was still a problem. The amplification highlighted it much better so it made my playing cleaner overall.
A different and most enjoyable learning experience started for me about six weeks ago. We have a local group that plays Old Time Appalachian - we call it Old Timey down under. A good friend of mine has been playing with this group for some time and she’s often raved about what fun it is.
I’d been to some Old Timey jams a few times and while the music is enjoyable, it never really grabbed me.
I went to my first rehearsal with this group six weeks ago and it was heaps of fun. The leader of the group is a retired professional musician and he puts up large chord sheets for each song on an easel. This helped a lot as the other Old Timey jams I’d been to relied on you being familiar with the songs. We typically have 15 to 20 musicians show up for rehearsal, it’s once a week.
Two things make the experience there really great. First is the vibe of the people, it’s positive, enthusiastic and up beat. They enjoy being there and are reasonably social. Several times some of us have gone to lunch afterwards.
Second is the speed of the music. We have typically 3 fiddles up the front and they keep it moving along. The chords are all very very easy cords, D A G Em E, that sort of thing, only once has a song had a barre chord in it (I’m very comfortable with and able to play barre chords). Old Timey songs tend to have 2 sections, A and B. Each section typically is 8 measures. Each section is played twice and this repeats numerous times till the song is over.
What makes the Speed so good is many times the A section with be simpler with each chord played for one or more measures (4 beats per measure). But my fav songs are where the B section is full of chord changes every 2 beats. Really gets the heartbeat going and feels so good.
This scenario wouldn’t be suitable for the early beginner. If you have to look at the fret board for every chord change, you lose track of where you are in the song. The songs move fast. Since the chords are all pretty easy and you can initially just strum once every other beat, beginners shouldn’t avoid Old Timey.
Last night we played at a “15 minutes of fame” open mic at a community hall with a great audience.
It’s FUN FUN FUN
Wonderful Amazing , and a healthy form of jealousy takes me again when I read or see one of your stories … I wish you all the best
Hi Tony, That sounds like great fun. Well done on finding this group.
this reads and looks like great fun! Surely, a lot to take away for yourself on top of all the enjoyable time spent with other musicians.
Just for my curiosity: Is this some kind of Folk music being played? Looking at the instruments in the pictures, I get some Irish Folk or Bluegrass/Country vibes, both genres I love listening to. Maybe someday we get lucky and have a bite to listen to?
Old-Time music is a genre within folk music, here in Australia it gets called Old-Timey
Here’s a video of our performance playing a tune called Porters Reel. The lead instruments are fiddle and banjo, the guitars are rhythm, at least in our group.
Not sure if that will be visible to others, so here’s a youtube video of a much smaller group playing Porters Reel
The melody you can here in Porters Reel is just one example of the ear worms I have for hours after we finish playing.
Thanks a lot for clarifying, Tony!
That’s kind of what I had in mind! Love it!
Unfortunately, it’s not visible, but thanks for trying.
Must be so amazing being part of a group playing such joyful, melodic tunes! I’ve had a lot of worse ear worms
Oh it so very is. One thing I didn’t mention in my post about the group is every afternoon after our morning sessions (they go for 2 hours), I just have all these delightful melodies as ear worms. This weekend I had them going through my head all of the next day after our performance.
I had gone to an Old Timey session near here about 4 years ago and while I enjoyed myself, the genre didn’t really grab me all that much. As someone who’d never played old timey an wasn’t familiar with the tunes I struggled a fair bit as they didn’t have someone leading the group with chord charts the way fiddle faddle does.
That time, my ear was developed just enough so on about a third of the song I could anticipate where it’s going. Another third of the songs I struggled, particularly the really fast changes, and the last third I had no chance.
The one thing I do miss about old timey (at least with both of the groups I’ve been exposed to) is that there’s no singing at all.
Another comment I’ll make about it is a big part of what’s made this group quite joyful and interactive is the influence within the group of my very good friend Leonie. I met her through another music club and both of us served on the committee of that club at the same time.
She’s just absolutely a delight to be around, joyful, welcoming and what I’d call uber optimistic. I’ve been an optimist for many years and I complimented her recently on how her level of optimism makes me a better optimist.
Reminds me of a fav saying of my wife and I: “I wish I was the sort of person my dog thinks I am”, same goes: “I wish I was the sort of person Leonie thinks I am”