Every so often, I play a gig and it reminds me why I play music in front of people. As well, the older I get the more introverted I become; this is an odd duality of my personality.
Simultaneously, I love and hate large crowds. I love playing for large crowds of people because when the mood is right and everything is firing on all the right cylinders, the energy that comes off a room full of people is the greatest high you’ll ever feel; the give and take is a symbiotic dance that feels as intimate as any one-on-one relationship you’ll ever feel. Conversely, if you take me off of the stage and put me into the crowd, you’ll likely see a different person entirely. For sure, swaying side to side in the front row, I’ll be staring at the stage, but also you’ll find me in the back corner of the venue, and you’ll see doing the same thing. Likely, what you won’t see, is me engaged in any real conversation; the reason is two fold: years of playing music and seeing shows has rendered my hearing subjectively bad (I can hear a slight feedback or buzz in the room, but I can’t hear the sentence you just said to me while six inches from my ear), and I’d much rather be paying attention to the music, with my sight and hearing (this is not to say that I don’t want to talk to folks or engage in meaningful interaction with everyone I meet…I just came to watch music). Thus, if given the chance, I will watch an entire show without speaking to another soul, other than to say…”that song/solo was amazing!!!”
So, this past Saturday, I found myself (and my band mates: Eldred Hill and Jade Tremba) opening for long-time friends and collaborators, Kate and Eric Avey alongside the band they are in, Mountain Ride. I’ve know and been playing music with the Aveys for a little over ten years now, and every time I get a chance to spend time with them, I absolutely cherish it for it’s quality and rarity; being a musician means connecting with new folks all the time, but sacrificing the time with old friends and family at the same time because there is only so much time in a day. Mountain ride has a dedicated following of folks that are willing to travel to see them; their fans are also gracious and accepting of new music. So, along with Mountain Ride’s crowd and folks that came to see my little trio, we had a fertile ground in which to dig in and get the party started. Eldred, Jade, and I set out to start it off right, and with the help of the wonderful crowd we got everyone to ready to dance the night away with Mountain Ride. Before I knew it, I’d gone from basking in the glow of love emanating from crowd to joining the crowd and showing the love for Mountain Ride. As mentioned above, this was difficult for me, but it was made easier by old and new friends who were there to congratulate me on a good set and party down with me for the next set, and then, after what seemed like only a minute or two and an entirely unrehearsed sing along, I found myself talking the night away with very dear friends (and me staying up till 4 am…hours after I’d turned into a pumpkin).
These are the reasons I play music; these are the best times of my life. It’s the give and take of singer and listener and the bridge of music in between. The memories are hazy, but the love is clear. The uncomfortable almost always gives way to comfort in these situations that I find myself, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I look forward to seeing all of you out on the road, whether it’s when I look out from the stage or cheers a beer with you in the crowd.
Come catch me on the road on the following dates (full details on my schedule page):
02/08-The Blue Side (Frederick, Md.)
02/09-The Mecklenburg Inn (Shepherdstown, WV)
02/10-Liberty Mountain Resort (Fairfield, Pa)
02/11-Canaan Valley Resort (Davis, WV)
02/16-Roy Pitz Brewing Company (Chambersburg, Pa)
02/17-Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers (Roanoke, Va)
02/18-Monk’s BBQ (Purcellville, Va)
02/23-Escutcheon Brewing Company (Winchester, Va)
02/26-Valerie Hill (Stephens City, Va)