It’s been a week since The Troubadour Concert at the Ice House and I’ve had time to distill how the project looks as a whole. I’m still waiting for a check from Brown Paper Tickets so I haven’t gauged the financials yet, though it turned out better than I thought.
I was particularly proud that I paid folks professionally: the sound crew, the musicians, the caterers, as well as the box office manager and photographer. I wasn’t at the break even point when I headed over to the venue on Saturday afternoon, and I hoping for walk-up sales. I didn’t let the $$ get in my way, though. But, I was delighted to see a relatively full audience in the sections facing the stage.
I thought I did a good job constructing the sets, the ebb and flow of the material and players on stage. I put my mind to the production weeks ahead of time, while sending out song charts to everyone. It didn’t hurt that these folks are pros and they did their homework. I was relatively calm come showtime.
The pre-show run throughs were crisp and effective; we got things prepped efficiently, and it served as our sound check as well. Terry Mutchler remarked that it was a great way to work his way through the instruments and vocals. Organic is the word.
I was also glad that I had worked on a daily basis in my kitchen on the songs, running through all the material, honing the bumpy parts, and, eventually, rehearsing in my hallway (without cheat sheets and standing up). It actually worked well to get out of my standard zone, and I found out that it sounds really good in my hallway! No surprise there. I felt my guitar playing was much stronger from the time I put in.
Perhaps the most striking impression I had was the backstage gathering of the musicians, close friends but often strangers to others in the green room (and on stage). Thanks to Bake Door Bakery’s food spread (paid by Working Dog Press), the atmosphere made it so that folks mixed freely, swapping gig stories, talking instruments, music philosophies and more. My people!
Things were percolating nicely, and did I mention “organically”? It also made it possible for me to disappear to check on box office with Dave Reiber and merch with Mike Duck and the Duckettes (his sons Seth and Thomas), say hello to folks as they came in. Viola, Dale and Georgia were handling the lobby flow. I’m very grateful for these folks stepping up to help me out.
The band was taking care of itself, the house was filling in and things were running smoothly. Phew.
The show flowed wonderfully, and thanks to the set list set out in the green room, people knew when to come on stage and I could concentrate on working the audience. There was a flow, indeed, and the audience picked up on that.
I’m glad I made space for Piper’s Request and Craig and Nyke for spotlight sets. They got to shine (and they did!) but it gave me (and the audience) some respite from me being on stage. I needed the space, as did everyone else. It was good theater, as well.
I was personally glad that my son Jaimie and his girlfriend Chelsy made the trek up from Philly. They arrived mid-show (in time for his favorite Ten Men) due to Philly traffic. I have lots of friends but only one son. I hope to make him proud of his pop. He was in my spotlight for the rest of the show always in my eye stage left.
I was glad for the standing ovation, but it remains uncomfortable for me, partially because I can only see it as a mass instead of individuals. It still takes eye-contact for me to feel the empathy.
I picked out the perfect encore with Song for the Life. It was effective in grounding the audience and myself, simple guitar and vocal with a reflective slant on my life. I planned it this way and it worked beautifully. In the theatrical parlance, I posited my landing. I Like Peanut Butter was a good way to loosen everyone up at the end. A good script for a solid show.
This whole shebang may have some shelf-life. Craig and Nyke, as well as other folks in the band are willing to do it again. There may be some brand recognition from the Troubadour Concert title (sans my name) and we could do some more takes on this concept. We will have a decent recording of the show for a future CD release, airplay, etc. I’ve processed some of the videos for Youtube and passed them on to the players. And, we are all now really good friends, connected by the experience. That’s mighty stuff.
All in all, the concert created a nexus for friends, an appreciative audience and a larger respect for a high quality production I produced by the seat of my pants. It was an historic night for me and I’m glad I could share it with so many of my friends.