A Eureka Moment at 51 North Brewery
I find it immensely gratifying that, more than two years after having gotten back into this crazy business called music, I pretty much always come away from a gig thinking, “That was fun!” Case in point: I had a great gig yesterday at 51 North Brewery, in Lake Orion, Michigan. It was an afternoon performance on their new patio; the weather was fine and the owner, Don Gindhart, was most accommodating and supportive. (That may have anything to do with the fact that he’s a musician too. He also picked up on beer references in my first two songs, “In My Element” and “I’m A Hop Head,” and delivered glasses of both his brown ale and IPA for points of reference.)
It had been a rough week leading up to this particular performance. Our basement, along with thousands of others in southeastern Michigan, was flooded by extremely heavy rains on August 11th, and my wife Kim and I have been busting butt with cleanup and disposal of ruined possessions in the days since. I’d only been able to allot what I refer to “maintenance” time for rehearsing; that is, keeping the guitar, harmonica and vocal skills in decent shape, without trying anything new or even giving much thought to some songwriting ideas that have been percolating for a while now. I was usually too tired to do much more after slogging up and down those basement stairs, and figured that would probably get me through the two sets alright.
I made a point of sleeping in late, because I figured I needed as much rest as possible. My two sets were from 3-5 PM, so I wouldn’t be able to take my usual nap at 2:30 or so. (I’m getting to be an old dude, and naps are simply a fact of life now.) I was rather slow coming around, even with two cups of coffee and a nice breakfast, courtesy of Kim, but by the time I was in the car, headed for Lake Orion and swigging on a large cup of green tea, my energy and confidence was on the upswing. I arrived ready to play, and I was really pleased with my performance. So, apparently, were quite a few of the people in attendance, because the feedback was very positive. Despite the fact that it was a paying gig, I also did pretty well with tips and sold some CDs, always a bonus. The nicest part of all of this, though, was the many compliments I received from both clientele and staff. I was “on,” and just about everybody seemed to pick up on it, which is really what it all comes down to, for me.
I had a kind of a “Eureka” moment in the middle of my second set. There I was, really focused on singing and playing, when a part of my conscious thought process was suddenly struck with what now seem obvious ways that I can up my game to another level, involving more structured rehearsals focusing on promising songs that I’ve spent time with in the past and blocking out specific times for song writing. Perhaps this is a natural progression from devoting at least 45 minutes to an hour almost every day to just blowing harmonica since early June, whereby my creative process has found its most significant outlet this summer. I’m playing things that I couldn’t play just last May, as I’ve not only dusted off and improved my blues technique, but also, started to seriously investigate some old time country fiddle tune-type playing. This paid big dividends yesterday, as I’ve worked a few more harmonica solos and songs with just harp and vocals into my repertoire, and they went over extremely well.
It’s hard to explain exactly what went through my mind at the time, but it all boils down to being a matter of finding inspiration from within myself, rather that some outside source. This “Eureka” moment stuck with me strongly enough that I’m writing this blog entry at 2 AM on the following morning. I aim to follow up on the thoughts noted above, and see where it takes me. It can only be a good place, wherever that might be. In the meantime, if you’re in the vicinity of Lake Orion, stop in to 51 North Brewery and have a brew and a bite to eat. It’s all good, and I’m looking forward to playing there again, hopefully sometime soon!
I’m going to bed now.
Over and out of it,