I was listening to my friends Danielle and Jenee’s podcast this morning at work and they were talking about gigs, your attitude about certain shows, showing up, missed opportunities, and all that good stuff. One thing that really struck a chord with me was them talking about the battle of branding yourself without compromising who you are. This has been something I have always struggled with in a way until recently.
Being a guy songwriter in what people brand as “Americana” music…though I have come to love and hate the term as of late…has its ups and downs. On the bright side, I am in good company with folks, we have a wonderful and supportive community here in town within that vein and its been beneficial to be very much a part of it. On the other end, there are a lot of us. Guys with guitars and plaid yolk shirts seem to come out of every nook and cranny in this town. Some of them are great, some of them are not. In the past I have felt like I need a beard to fit in and to rock my cowboy boots to shows to fit in. Don’t get me wrong, I love my boots and western shirts, but thats not necessarily what my songs say about me. I don’t yodel, plough the field or ride the rodeo after all and I don’t sing about it. I play what I would consider and have been calling “sadgrass”, which I guess is a blend of sad and haunting sounding folk tunes mixed with bluegrass instrumentation. I still love picking a good bluegrass tune too!
It hasn’t been until very recently that I have shed the thought that I need to be anyone but myself on stage. I mean sure, there is a hint of confidence I try at least pretend to have on stage that I may not have back in the green room, but for the most part I am “me” and my (often times terrible) banter is the same as you would get talking to me on the street. I often times wear what I would wear on a Friday to my day job to gigs (a suit jacket and jeans) so I guess that “Americana guy” brand is out the window. I have also become more aware that maybe just a good song should be enough if you have the right crowd for it. Which has also prompted me to take less gigs, but better gigs. If I play one or two killer gigs in a month while I am recording my own new record and producing another, that’s ok if I went out there an truly enjoyed myself and played my songs with the most heart that I possibly could. I think I am in a good place in that aspect or mindset about music. I think that if you pour 100% of yourself into your music and are honest and sincere, that is absorbed by your crowd. Granted, I’m not going to go play a bar gig and sing sad folk songs ALL night long, but still, put in what you want to get back. I am hoping that at least some of the time that pays out. I just want to enjoy creating music with good people and hope that 5 times out of 10 someone in the audience can latch onto that as well.
What do you all think?