“Art is not a pleasure, a solace, or an amusement; art is a great matter. Art is an organ of human life, transmitting man’s reasonable perception into feeling.”—Leo Tolstoy
Summer weekends tend to find me performing multiple venues each day. I take gigs for various reasons. Yes, sometimes, the money is good. Sometimes the cause and people involved are great.
The day started off with a set at Earth Fare to celebrate their birthday in Fairlawn. It was an outdoor celebration, and the weather wasn't sure whether it should support us or not. My set had no power as the ground was still wet, and puddles were on either side of the stage. But I played on anyway. roaming and troubadouring around the parking lot, singing to patrons and dancing with the Menchie's mascot. Sometimes I enjoy this sort of performing more than being up on a stage separated from folks. People live in blinders and fall into a set routine. This is not inherently dangerous, but it does lead to less risk taking and can lead to shutting off many brilliant aspects of life and many wonderful people. In my own little way, singing to people in random locations and following them around as they shop, is an attempt to awaken people to the unexpected joys life can bring if you are open to them.
As I danced over and around a family in line to get some face-painting, singing "Perfect," I came to be aware that the young daughter was deaf. She seemed to enjoy watching me dance around, but the family said they wished they'd brought a balloon so that she could feel the music. This is an amazing idea to feel music through the air of the balloon! With the day being a celebration, we were able to find a balloon quickly, and it was promptly in the arms of this happy little girl.
Her face lit up.
Completely lit up.
She stood there, grinning a mouth a teeth and spaces, holding that balloon with both hands, watching me sing. She started dancing a little.
"I could be perfect if I was someone else. Maybe I'm perfect as pieces of myself."
At that moment, there could be no better job in the whole world.
We've built up this large elaborate society. At the end of the day, all that matters is that we bring a little joy to someone else's day. To someone's minute.
To help someone hold a balloon and dance to the joy of the Universe.
If only for a minute.
My set ended, and I had a delicious lunch of vegan lasagna, with a little mock chicken salad and Asian noodles. And a cupcake. The lasagna and cupcake came from cooking demonstrations going on that afternoon, and were a perk of performing.
From there, I helped a friend who is moving into a new apartment before heading over to Thorncreek Winery.
Thorncreek has beautiful grounds. There's a flower-filled patio and a great second patio area surrounded by shrubs, trees, and a field. With the weather overcast and chilly, I played in the heated patio area, covered by a large tent.
The downside to the winery is that is can get loud from conversations. Music is a part of the atmosphere there. It is not the main attraction. The roar of voices, laughter, and the like compete with the music on occasion.
This is the risk that comes with performing there. I acknowledge and accept that or I wouldn't perform there. Over my shows there, I have had good night and bad, but overall, I've met a lot of nice people who liked the music and what I do.
I like wineries. Much more than bars. Folks at wineries tend to be a little more calm, and not as crazy drunk as I have seen in bars. The idea of the music and atmosphere are in general a little more important to the patrons. One of the main reasons I stopped playing in most bars is because of the drunks and their attitudes. My music is about compassion, and I do what I do, mostly original music, with only a handful of other tunes that are important to me. Bar crowds typically don't get it. They want the cover band, the human jukebox.
That is not me.
People at wineries still ask for requests, but they usually ask for one or maybe two. If I cannot play their song, they generally understand and go about their evening.
And this brings me to this weekend.
A group of four folks were sat in the closest table to me. They were having a boisterous conversation, but after a few songs, began listening to the music attentively. They applauded after each song, even. Smiles were on their faces, and even when they went back into conversations, they seemed to be enjoying my music.
And then one of the ladys asked me for You've Got A Friend, the James Taylor tune. Great song. That I do not play. I kindly thanked them, but told them I was unable to play it. After my next song, they repeated their request, which I again politely told them I was unable to play it. To which, she got slightly angry, saying "Really? I can't believe you can't play it. Why won't you play it?" Again I politely said I don't do a lot of other people's songs, and I did not play that one. From there I promptly went into two back-back originals, allowing no time for banter in between. As soon as the second song ended, she shouts out "Eagles. Play the Eagles." Again, I kindly told her I do not play any Eagles. This angered her, and she scowled some sort of death stare at me the entire next song.
Once again, I finished my song and went right into another original.
She started shouting out "Kid Rock! Play f#@$in Kid Rock! Play Eagles! Bon Jovi! Kid Rock!" throughout the entirety of the song.
What bothers me most about this situation is that her three other friends, who all seemed to really like the music, did nothing to calm her down, remove her, anything. They just sat there like she wasn't doing it.
As I was finishing the song, she started saying quite loudly, "I hate him," as she was looking at me.
Luckily their bill came and they left shortly after this, but this was the closest I've ever come to stopping my show to deal with someone. My luck has been good (knock on wood) that I haven't had a lot of unruly folks at my shows. The few times people have gotten a little out of hand, either the club or their friends removed them. So, this was a new sort of experience.
When did it become completely acceptable for people to behave in an unacceptable manner in public? She obviously thought she was acting as the situation called for, but her friends went along with it. One near-by table left because of her rudeness, though they did not inform the winery of this woman.
Things ended fine, and most people were very happy and inspired by the music I played all day.
Have you been in a similar situation? Share your stories and solutions.