Yes, tonight I'm playing a final show of this year with Rob and JJ at the 318 Cafe in Excelsior, MN.
I hope people will come to this.
I'm looking forward to having those guys together again.
And we'll try a few Christmas numbers as well.
Numbers, that's a fun old expression.
The last two days I played the cheesecake holiday fundraiser.
There ain't nothing glamorous about that.
It's held in a big conference room at a less than five star hotel in a suburban area of Minneapolis.
There are folding tables set up all around the room and craftsmen and women set up their wares and people walk around deciding what to buy.
I sat on a stage at one end of the room and tried to play unobtrusively.
I had a small table set up too with my merchandise.
I sold out of my novel completely.
That's a surprise to me that the novel is still selling so well....maybe better than ever.
Maybe I can still get the second book published!
The big news is that I think I'm burned out from playing too many solo shows for the survival money.
I'm glad I cancelled the winter residency.
I don't think I could have played one more of those.
I might have become irretrievably jaded from that.
I see now how cynicism can creep into a person's psyche.
And it's like an invasive species.
I's like poison ivy.
Very hard to eradicate once you've let it in.
Rob Genadek came to play the second set with me last night.
He was like a knight on a white horse riding in to save me.
I was getting tired, I was losing my own care for the songs and my voice.
My own guitars, my own vocal abilities, it had all gone stale for me.
Sitting in that hotel conference room on a folding chair.
I cannot play my music sitting down, but it's hard to play standing for five hours.
So I tried sitting down, but it's no fun.
And it sort of makes my shoulder ache or something, it makes something ache somewhere faintly.
Rob arrived and he just seemed enthusiastic and calm and ready to have a little music fun and suddenly we sounded great and people were smiling.
I couldn't do it on my own there.
Maybe we needed the drum beat to lift up the mood.
I was not doing it.
In fact, another of these blog story moments occurred before Rob arrived.
A woman who says she's a big rock music appreciator in town, came up to me after I had played maybe my first four songs solo.
She didn't know how long I was playing or that Rob was coming to join me for a second set.
She came up to my little stage and said that she was the only person working there who was honest enough to tell me that everyone was getting mad because I was playing too loudly and they were having to yell to talk to their customers.
She explained to me that they were the vendors and this was for them and that they were trying to make their sales.
The musicians were only there as background music, we weren't supposed to be anything more than just atmosphere.
This wasn't supposed to be a concert where people are listening to you and clapping.
I told her that if the woman who hired me had wanted background music she never would have asked me to play.
She knows me and she knows my music.
I told her that if they wanted background music they would have hired a pianist or a holiday ensemble.
They wouldn't hire someone like me who is an original music artist.
And I literally had my tiny little amplifier box turned up to the number two out of ten....one and a half maybe.
So, of course, I asked a trusted friend in the room, who laughed and said I was doing great.
Okay, well, I turned down my amp and I sang with very little emphasis after that and I announced on the microphone again later that I wanted everyone to have fun and be happy and to please tell me if I was too loud or too anything and I'd change.
This is a boring story that I don't want to tell ever again.
People telling the musician to be less noticeable.
It's like the live music is too noticeable compared to piped in recorded music.
Like when you have a radio turned down low.
The greatest rock song recording of all time can come on, but turned down to a low volume on a sound system, it all sounds like grocery store music.
But a live band playing that song to get it to sound like that, just the vocals alone would be loud.
Humans generating pop and rock sounds, even classical music, even bluegrass, anything performed in a hotel conference room even without amplification, is going to have volume around it.
You can turn a recording down as low as you want, but not a person.
Otherwise you just hear them whispering their song and plunking their guitar.
Okay, well all of this was resolved somehow when Rob arrived, with his drums even.
I told the complaining lady that the head of the event had not only hired me but that she had also paid extra for me to bring in a drummer and second vocalist for the second set and that things were going to be twice as loud undoubtedly.
There was no escaping it.
I told her she should go talk to the head of the event and let me know if the second musician should be told not to come after all.
I never heard again from her.
But Rob amazingly made it all okay.
The music had to have been twice as loud or louder, but no one complained and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
I don't know.
I think I shouldn't play in these half listening environments.
When it was just the crafts people and myself, they sometimes didn't clap at the end of the songs at all.
I thought that was so weird.
I see now that they felt like I should be like a radio playing in the background and that I had some kind of attitude if I expected them to applaud after each of my songs.
Oh my God.
This is something I have never considered.
Me standing up there expecting to be applauded for each song, and them not applauding, thinking that I should just play in an endless innocuous stream of pleasant white noise.
Life is too short to be little.
I love the woman who owns the cheesecake bakery.
She was so lovely the whole time.
She smiled, she applauded, she came out and danced around with her friends, she thanked me, she paid me, she complimented my music.
I watched her at the end of the evening go around to each of the vendors and talk to each of them about their wares.
More impressively, she bought something from each and every one of them.
Her children were there and they were helping her choose things and carry them out to her car.
Impressive, very impressive.
The kindness and generosity she showed was inspiring.
She's a great person.
I'd play my music for her any time anywhere.
The way to end this somewhat unpleasant blog post is to say that at the end when I was driving home I called Rob.
I asked him what he thought of all that.
He was going back to his studio to finish somebody's new album mixes.
He told me that I should do my gratitude thing.
Start listing all the bountiful things that happened.
For one thing, we got to meet new people and got to see a lot of fun people we already know.
People bought my novels and albums and my holiday t shirts I made.
I bought candles for our dining room table that were handmade of one hundred percent natural bee's wax, and they're gorgeous.
We got to sample some of the delicious holiday flavored cheesecakes.
We helped fundraise and collect toys and collect dog food and dog treats for non-profit shelters for humans and for dogs.
We made money too.
All in all, a fun way to spend a day.
And I got a lesson again, the age old lesson, that it isn't about you, it's about what you have to offer.
If the people in the room want a concert experience, you can give them one.
If the people in the room don't want a concert experience, you cannot make them want that.
You cannot get up on a microphone and magically win everybody over even if in some situations you are the kind of performer who can win people over.
Get over yourself Courtney.
I'm so glad that I have a long period of quiet coming up.
My Christmas gift this year is the gift of not having to play any shows that are just for the money.