Solo Residency on Wednesdays

I started doing a solo residency at the Underground Music Cafe in St. Paul, MN before I left for Europe.

I have picked it up again now that I'm back. This time it's four Wednesdays in a row 5-6:30pm.

I am so grateful for this opportunity.

There's a lot I think is important about doing these shows.

One thing is that I get to look forward to it every week.

I think live performance art is addicting because there are so many factors that impact the success of the event.

One great thing about being on tour is that you are playing the show all through every night, often in a new city to a new crowd.

When you know you're going to play the show again the next night, your mind is constantly aware of improvements that can be made in the performance.

When I'm back in Minneapolis my live performances become less frequent.

Every show feels like an isolated event. There's no chance to perfect it the next night.

The next show might be a week away, which, after the exquisite privilege of playing to a crowd every night, feels like an eternity.

I am so grateful to be able to look forward to returning next week to the Underground!

Last night I didn't have my small acoustic amp for my acoustic guitar because my gear is so different for touring in Europe.

I've played for a month relying on an Orange Amp simulator going direct into the house system, and it was great, but for the Underground I get a better sound for the audience if I bring my two amps for my two guitars.

I didn't like the acoustic guitar sound I had last night at all so I skipped some of those songs and stayed on my Guyatone the rest of the show.

Next week I will for sure have my acoustic sound right.

Another thing about the solo residency is that there is this fun continuity with a listening community when you get to say "see you next Wednesday!"

That is such a joy!

I wish I could always say that at the end of every show everywhere I go.

I love love love the people I play to.

The people are everything to me. The people and the songs.

When I sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", I always look into the faces of the people when the lines come, "I used to live alone before I knew you".

I used to live alone before I knew these beautiful people, of all ages, in so many different places, who all love the communion of the live performance, the words standing out to all of us, anointing all of us with their beauty. 

Again I think of the Peter Mayer song I quoted in an earlier post, a much less famous but arguably just as beautiful expression, as he startes the song with this verse:

"When I was a child each week on Sunday we would go to church

pay attention to the Priest and he would read the Holy Word

Consecrate the Holy bread and everyone would kneel and bow

today the only difference is that everything is Holy now"

Damn straight Peter Mayer!

So the next thing I think of about this Solo Residency I'm doing is that playing solo is another discipline.

When I play with a full band it's a certain type of animal. I often play with an all male backing band and I can feel their testosterone at my back on the stage like a hurricane blowing. There's a lot of force in a four piece rock band set up if it's super tight and everybody's really good at what they do.

I often end up dancing and shaking my ass and waving my arms in the air a lot because they don't need my guitar on the verses hardly at all.

It's super fun to just get up and party like a rock star during your own performances.

And it's so much easier!

Then there's the beautiful duo arrangement that I have been touring with for the past two years.

Music producer Rob Genadek brings a stripped down drum kit with electronic triggers that give a beats-in-the-house vibe to my shows.

Playing as a duo with Rob's drums and his excellent backing vocals is a revelation for me musically. 

The songs are made important by the way they are arranged in the duo.

And when I play with Rob Genadek I am playing up to his standards of excellence.

He has no patience for inaccuracies in my guitar work.

He has no patience for fumbling around between songs.

He has no patience for poorly delivered stories between songs, or poorly delivered lyrics during songs.

When I am on stage with Rob G I am bringing the best I got to give.

If Rob ain't happy nobody's happy and only if the music is great is Rob happy.

So, my solo residency every Wednesday is like playing my same show after the bottom has dropped out.

It's like playing my same songs with nobody there to save me.

I can watch the people in the audience at this small Underground Music Cafe.

The lights on the small stage are not blinding. I see everyone perfectly.

I have just played every night for a month as the duo.

I was cheered on to do many encores on those nights.

We were all in Holy communion those nights.

I am excruciatingly aware of what the shows can me..and to the listeners.

Can I bring what I know is the way and the truth and the light when I play solo every week at the Underground?

Is it possible?

There are things I can still control.

I can continue to be precise in my storytelling, to be accurate and concise in the delivery of the songs.

I can bring the same burning intensity to the words, the same driving determination to the grooves.

There is a lot more to distract me and there is very little to support me in doing a performance at this level of Belief.

The casual nature of the situation, playing for only a tip jar in a place with a fairly low expectations vibe, is not easy to rise above.

And I don't want to rise above, I want to bring everyone in the house with me!

Can she do it?

Stand and deliver.

Stand and deliver.


Cindy April 12, 2018 @02:31 pm
After experiencing your first performance in Feb. @underground, we became captivated with your musical presence. We listened to your CD while you were gone on your tour. Last night, we hung on every word of your stories, they are richer in word choice. Thank you. I was a vocal music major in my other life, so your musicality is so appreciated. Now I get to read your book and you continue to be courageous.
Vernon. norwood April 12, 2018 @12:31 pm
Well said --!!!
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