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Archive of ‘Music’ category

Listen to my old Band: Quill

I have just popped up a new page featuring some music and details about one of the few good bands I was ever in: Quill.

Go have a listen!

Hoping to get hold of some photos to put up later but that’ll have to wait.

Musician 2.0 – Redefining Your Self-Identity

This is a rambling account of how I came to redefine what it means to me to be a musician and so become Musician 2.0. To do this I had to redefine what success means to me. I spent many years fluffing about in the “wilderness” instead of getting on with it and that’s ok, it all added plenty of character! Regardless here some suggestions for how you can avoid the same “mistakes” (if that’s what they are).

When I started out in music I had some pretty simple goals, make awesome music, get wildly popular, have a blast. That was about it and pretty soon I had accomplished this to a big enough extent that I suddenly found myself feeling empty inside and aimless. I then succumbed fast to all of the usual cliches of the young popular rock musician: drugs, booze, cheap sex.

Which was fun to an extent but was also dissatisfying.

Well fast forward 15 years and it seems I have really only now, as a musician, finally found my way out of the darkness and back into the light (to put it in a cheesy way).

I don’t mean I haven’t made any great music or enjoyed playing any great gigs, but I certainly do mean that my non-career as a musician since my early successes has been a direct result of first a misguided sense of entitlement, then a despondency that waking up to the falsehood of the former brought about.

By the time I was in my late 20s I started to believe that I was too old and had missed the boat. I felt bad inside about my self-worth and my music career chances in general.

It was a weird thing, because inside my heart I have never stopped being a musician (and have always continued to compulsively write songs and play gigs). And neither have I ever stopped (privately) nurturing the dream of becoming a professional working muso, but this dream has for years been held at bay by other factors, namely:

  • lack of focus and work ethic
  • lack of self-worth (due to a faulty self-identity model)

Lack of Focus

When I publicly started out in music, at the tender age of 18, I was very focused and there was little to distract me. I barely drank at all, I didn’t smoke weed, didn’t do harder drugs at all, and I was content with my steady girlfriend. I could also live off a very low income quite easily, due to life being cheaper then plus just being young and easy to please (i.e. wasn’t as soft as I am now, could sleep on a filthy old mattress on the floor in a damp and drafty old house and eat beans on toast and not mind a bit).

This keen focus brought me a lot of initial success but then as I said above, the lack of a deeper meaning in my life left me with an empty feeling that I tried to fill with drugs, drink and one night stands. Predictably the band and my relationship with my girlfriend fell apart and my life descended into a very feral stage. I was having lots of fun and adventure on the surface but underneath it lay a shallow sense of despondency.

Yet despite this lack of focus on the work I should have been doing, being a musician (who was focused) I still thought that my early success was all the proof I needed that all I had to do was get up on stage and sing here and there and I would eventually “be discovered” and rocket to true success and glory.

Sounds naive now … and indeed, it was.

Eventually, around the age of 27, I found a deeper meaning in my life. At this point I might have gotten things back on track, but no sooner had I pulled my head out of one pit did I promptly plunge into a different hole in the ground.

Lack of Self-Worth

I used to have a very strong sense of self-worth, but then as I pushed thirty and still hadn’t “made it” as a musician (read: Rock Star) my sense of self-worth as a musician deteriorated rapidly.

Why? Well, because my paradigm was all wrong. The model I had based my self-worth on (sad as it may sound) was the young-rock-star-in-the-making model.

I have always enjoyed the first part of the rock star (movie star, entrepreneur, etc) biography where the young star-to-be had to struggle and fight and hope and pray that one day their talent would get noticed and they would make it to Easy Street. And this is how I saw myself, as the young star in the making, who could happily look forward to hitting thirty as a well known and wealthy musician. Sounds stupid I know, but this fantasy kept me going and made me feel secure. It was in fact my whole self-identity.

So when I left my twenties behind and this fantasy hadn’t materialized (due to point above about lack of focus and work ethic, duh) I found myself at the wrong end of a defunct self-identity model and I quietly stopped telling everybody that I was destined for musical greatness. Even though a little voice inside me still claimed it was possible if I would just readjust my parameters, a louder voice inside me pointed out the fact that I had missed the rock n’ roll boat. This fearful voice said I should shut up about it and try to find other ways to make some good money.

Then five years went by very quickly. Fine years, happy years on many levels, but not on a career level.

Then one and a half years ago almost to the day, I was holding my brand new baby daughter in my arms, marveling at the miracle of Life, when a voice – a higher aspect of my own voice – spoke to me quietly (in my mind).

“What are you going to teach her? That it’s ok to just give up? Or that dreams can come true for those who persist?”

Well, I knew the answer straight away and recommitted myself to achieving success. BUT I had to go back and construct an entirely new model of success because the old one (young David Bowie style rock star) was completely out of date.

So I was thinking about this, soon after the baby holding incident, and was thinking about the age thing and suddenly, sitting in the sun one day eating my lunch, I suddenly thought “What if my goals took me another fifteen years to materialize? What if it took me another 30 years? Would this be so bad?” and the answer was “No – not as long as I enjoy the process.

And I do enjoy the process, and you are never too old to be a successful musician, and success is something that you get to define your own way anyway.

Analyze what’s going on inside your mind and see if you are holding yourself back with your own lack of focus or with limiting self beliefs.

And here I am one and half years later, well into a protracted, inspiring process that has brought me nothing but deep satisfaction. I am not the musician I once was, I am a new model, Musician 2.0!

Hope this helps somebody out there!

Cheers,

Seamus

Rediscovering my Inner Cockroach: Dream Nights, Hecklers and Two-Bit Gigs

This year has so far been characterized by my return to the music scene. Not unsurprisingly this momentous occasion has been heralded with the kind of fanfare usually reserved for the delivery of new text books to old fashioned libraries, but nevertheless, I got back on the horse and have been off the couch and gigging consistently since December last year.

This has been a colourful time then as a result.

I’ve gigged enough to have enjoyed some amazingly wonderful dream nights. Nights where the stars have aligned to introduce me to new and (hopefully mutually) beneficial relationships, to seat me in front of lovely audiences who were apparently on the same bizarre wavelength that I transmit on, where every word I uttered or sang was understood and appreciated. Nights where my voice was golden and my fingers just did what they are supposed to do and otherwise left me to it.

On the flipside, I have had some Hell-gigs, although more often (thankfully) just hell-moments. I tried to throw the biggest night of the year so far to end up slightly embarrassed at the smallest ever turn-out of friends and, for that matter, strangers. The same night I got heckled every time I tried to kick back and explore the dubious realm of the humorous monologue. (“Play us a song Mr Piano Man!” … “Yeah, thanks for that, Mr Tattooed Bogan. Give me a sec – I’ll just get the old baby grand out of my bag.”) And I’ve followed the microphone south during the odd song until I was singing bent over almost double, unable to rectify the situation without stopping the song, pleading with my eyes for a friend to hop up and adjust the stand to no avail, wondering if people were smiling ‘with’ me at the funny lyrics or ‘at’ me and my predicament.

And then there were the nights where my hands shook, the nights I played 100% sober.

That sounds really bad so I need to explain that my hands don’t shake in the absence of alcohol normally, just during gigs when nervous energy seems to make my hands go all crazy and, well, with apologies to spastic people everywhere, spastic. One or two drinks really calms them down. But I must repeat that I don’t drink to make my hands stop shaking at any other time … I just drink to get drunk (ha, ha)

So here’s a quick round up of the gigs so far this year:

Tuesday 20th January – Ruby’s Lounge, Belgrave

This venue is local to me, or has been for the last two and a half years, so it was cool to finally play a gig here. I rocked up on time and was pleased to discover that the sound guy was Jeff Springfield, who sound-engineered my CD. My business partner Steve Mills, also a local, came along but apart from that I knew nobody.

I was pretty sober and out of practice. This meant my hands were shaking and also they simply couldn’t remember what they were supposed to do. Also I had done so few gigs in the last couple of years that I found that everything I was doing was too subtle for a noisy bar. I soon pulled out some good songs that I knew would cut through the noise, but I certainly remembered at this gig that an unknown musician needs to forget subtlety when playing in a rowdy pub and just bust on through the wall of indifference with something exciting, humourous, or at least LOUD.

After the gig I hung around and got quite drunk and met several locals. I also met a couple of musicians who were on that night. I gave away a bunch of CDs.

Yes, that’s right, I give CDs away at gigs. Maybe I will explain why in a separate post one day.

Wed 28th January, Empress Hotel, North Fitzroy

A lovely venue to play and only the third or fourth time I had even played here. I organized the gig and got two others, my mate the talented Shane Walters and a friend of his, the equally awesome Faye Blais, to play as well.

I went on first, because my friends are a bit old 😉 and so I figured they would be more likely to come along on a Wednesday if they knew I would be onstage by 8pm or thereabouts.

Turned out to be a fantastic gig, it was incredibly hot (bushfire season here in Victoria, Australia) but not too bad inside the very dark pub. A good little crowd were there and they seemed to dig what I had to offer. It was the first gig where I deliberately told some pre-written comedy material and it went down a treat. It just seemed to come out of my mouth (for the most part) as if it was spontaneous, which I am discovering really makes all the difference. And of course I threw in some off-the-cuff funnies as well; to various degrees of success (the funniest joke of the night always seems to be one of the better spontaneous remarks). You can view some of the songs from this gig here at YouTube.

Songwriters in the Round, Vibe On Smith, Friday 20th January

This was an unexpected gig (and a pleasure) that came my way via a recommendation from Frank and Robin who organize the Empress Hotel’s open mike night, which I played at in December last year.

I had no idea what the night was going to be like but it turned out to be fantastic. The ‘songwriters in the round‘ is a really interesting concept. What it is three solo acts ‘in the round‘ onstage (well, on chairs in the middle of the room) at the same time, taking turns
to play, with chairs and couches all around the songwriters. Sounds odd but it really works. Lots of funny repartee, and in fact this was the first time I gave some extended and several short comedy bits a go in between songs and realised that I was ‘home’, that this is the missing element from shows. I had known I’d wanted to do this for ages, but it took me a long time to actually do it, but so worth it. Mind you, it wasn’t and still isn’t easy, as the following tales will outline, but this night it went smoothly and I got lots of laughs plus the songs went over well also.

Sat March 7th – Brunswick Hotel, Sydney Road, Brunswick

This was kind of my Hell gig. In actual fact there were several good things about the gig, one being that I got paid for once but as a whole the night was a stinker.

For starters I really put a lot of effort into promoting it as a CD launch to my friends, but weirdly, less of them showed up on this night than the usual smattering of random friends. This sounds so sad but it is in fact a sign of the age that my friends are at now – when you are twenty and you throw a CD launch, everyone comes, when you are 35, nobody really cares. Sad but true.

And the fact is, I don’t care either. What I mean is, I don’t care about getting my friends to come to gigs. What I care about is developing an audience of people who are interested in what I do enough to come and see it.

So I tried my best to be Zen about the no show factor and enjoy hanging out with the few people that did some along. I had to stay sober to drive home too, which in fact exaggerated my down mood, because not drinking when I am in a pub is frankly, depressing for me. I don’t know how people who abstain can even stand going into pubs at all, but that’s just me.

So yeah my hands were shaking because of non-calmed-down-by-beer nerves and then to really make it fun, some bogan up the back heckled me severely when I was trying on a comedy routine and I discovered that I need a little practice at dealing with that. I wasn’t upset, I just forgot where I was and the bit was ruined. Thankfully, unlike most regular comedians, I have cool songs that I can launch into and hide behind.

Friday March 13th – Vibe On Smith, Songwriters in the Round

In direct contrast to the last gig, my second go at Songwriters in the Round was a fantastic and nearly perfect gig. It just all went so smoothly, the songs, the comedy, and the guys I was onstage with were awesome too. I just want to replay that gig every night for the rest of my life.

Wednesday March 18th Ruby’s Lounge and Scarab Bar

Back to my local area, I started this gig to a massive crowd of Jeff the sound guy, the bartender and my best mate from when we were teenagers, Peter (who just suddenly appeared in my life again).

Thankfully by halfway through the set a few people did arrive who were keen enough and so I ended up extending my set to play the songs they had missed earlier. The music went well, but the comedy on this night went down like a lead balloon, except for the spontaneous comments.

Two girls gave me a piece of paper with some lyrics for me to sing. They were certainly very talented at songwriting I must say, and this was probably the best song of the night *cough*. Was a good laugh though.

After the set I hung out with the people who had been listening to my set and gave them all CDs. Then we went across the road to the Scarab Bar, a tiny bar that stays open late. I was relieved to discover that despite the way I had carried on there the other week (like a mad, hairy Irish boozehound) my arrival didn’t raise any eyebrows amongst the staff. I guess it’s just that kind of joint.

I got speaking to the band, and they asked me to get up and do a set, so being quite sober still (but not hand-shakingly so) I got up and did a nice little set and in fact the sound was lovely. It seemed to go down quite well, although again my comedy bits were off.

I then proceeded to hang around and get utterly smashed seeing as I was just up the hill from my house and all.

In the morning this excuse didn’t seem as convincing as it had the night before, causing me to write this song lyric:

An Interesting Life

It’s one thirty AM,

I’m at the Scarab Bar again,

Drinking and carousing with my new friends.

Legends,

One and all,

None of whom I will recall,

Tomorrow,

When I’m writhing ‘round in pain.

It’s the cost,

It’s the price,

Of an interesting life.

You take off into the air,

Just like a plane.

You climb higher,

And higher,

Until your wings catch on fire,

Then you plummet,

Back to the planet,

Once again…


Never Gonna Be A DJ – A Ghost Story…

I wrote this years ago but it is still the best song I have to end a set with.

The story is about a young guy, Steve, who I was working as a kitchenhand with at a restaurant called Torlanos on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda, Melbourne back in the mid-late 90s. The head chef was Iain Hewitson who Aussies would know from TV. (By the way, on TV he is very jovial, but my memory of him – not necessarily reliable – is of a tough-as-nails swear-bear who really used to rip into the apprentice chefs … having said that he never gave me a hard time at all, in fact he barely spoke to me.)

Although Steve held a full time job as a kitchenhand and had done so for some time, he was apparently homeless, I can’t remember if it was by choice or not. He was a great guy and an incredibly hard worker.

He used to talk a lot about becoming a DJ but in fact he never did because he suddenly died.

He never used to miss any time at work but one day he didn’t show for a few days in a row until it was eventually learned that he had turned up dead in the Yarra River.  And this is where it gets weird… Shortly after learning about Steve’s death, which was reported as accidental (the police said he slipped and fell to his death while urinating in the river), I was visited by Steve’s ghost.

(I  should point out here that I am not particularly interested or frequented by ghosts, in fact if not for this incident I would probably poo-poo the idea, but this definitely happened – call me crazy.)

One night I was minding a friend’s house and dog, a doberman. I was awoken by the dog going crazy one night, and I just knew somehow that Steve was with me. Steve proceeded to tell me about how he wanted everybody at work to know that he didn’t die accidentally but was deliberately pushed. He told me some details, which have become hazy with the passing of time, but from what I remember he said he had been walking into the city, all the way from St Kilda (a long walk) with some people, one of whom was a young homeless lad who was giving him a hard time about something. Steve described the guy’s clothing to me, and later I was told by a co-worker that they had seen Steve shortly before his death, walking up Barkly Street in St Kilda, towards the city, with a young guy wearing clothing that matched Steve’s description. According to Steve (or his ghost anyway) it was this guy who pushed Steve to his death while he was “cracking a whizz” over a steep riverbank edge.

I told people at work this story, and if it hadn’t been for the corroborating evidence, I am sure they would have dismissed my wild tale out of hand. As it was they just sort of said “wow, trippy” and left it at that.

Steve had two other things he wanted to tell me. Firstly, that he regretted having never made the time to properly pursue his dream of becoming a DJ (he used to work long hours). He pleaded with me not to make the same mistake; timely advice seeing as I was treading water at the time instead of getting on with my music. These were his actual words:

“If you’re going to do it, then go ahead and do it before it’s too late.”

As a result I walked out of the kitchen half way through my double shift one day soon after, and went out to have dinner with some friends of mine who were in a band called The Mavis’s. We ended up partying with Kylie Minogue that night which I took as a sign that I had done the right thing. (In retrospect it would have been wiser to go and do some work on my music career rather than get pissed – but 20/20 hindsight and all that…) I have always kept this advice close to heart, and whenever I find myself off track, I make sure to correct my course and just get back to pursuing my dreams, rather than worrying too much about money and security.

The third thing Steve wanted to tell me was that death is ok; it’s nothing to be afraid of. This has been an issue in my life, despite all my Zen posturings, so I like to remind myself of this when I am succumbing to fear (on airplanes, for example).

Bushfires, Stand Up Comedy and Making Your Own Luck

Well this last week or two have been bloody hectic and challenging to say the least. For starters the deadly bushfires have been raging here in Victoria, Australia and seeing as me and my little family live about 40Ks from the action, and are ourselves in an extreme bush fire danger zone (we basically live in a suburb that is also a forest), it has been playing on our minds to say the least. It’s not just that we are feeling cautious for our own safety but our hearts have also been moved by the tragedies our less fortunate fellow Victorians have been going through.

The Monday after the worst fires had started was a weird day in Melbourne, and I was not sure what to do with myself. We’d given money but it felt like we should get in the car and go help, but when we called around a couple of organisations to ask if they needed help they told us that all they really needed was money. This left me with little choice but to go to work as per usual. 

Now according to my public goals challenge for 2009, I am supposed to be working on three things, and I have to say I have been doing so but to varying degrees of application. Namely, I have been working on the music goal extensively, the speaking French goal sporadically and the losing weight goal abysmally!

BUT the year is young!

In the last two weeks I have lined up some more gigs for myself and have also been working very hard at improving my act by building on the humourous spoken word element of the show. Namely, in order to really get my head around making the bits between songs as entertaining as the songs themselves, I have started moonlighting in the foolhardy realm of … stand up comedy … that’s right my friends, call me insane but last night I did my first 5 minute stand up comedy routine in front of a pretty damn hefty crowd at the Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy, Melbourne. I think I am going to write about this experience separately and in more detail so I will leave it at that for now but for to say that it was a freakin’ trip my friends, a freakin weird and wacky trip.

Meanwhile, in a classic case of what is probably the closest I get to woo-woo Law of Attraction type beliefs, traditionally called creating your own luck*, I got a call the other day from a guy about doing a pretty cool sounding gig this Friday night, once again in Fitzroy. This chap, who’s name (I kid you not) is Ziggy, invited me to an “artists in the round” gig which is apparently a thing where three singer songwriters sit in a semi-circle (a triangle?) and take turns to play songs. The opportunity for exposure to new audiences and a bit of fun abounds so I am really looking forward to this gig this Friday 20th at Vibe on Smith, 123 Smith St, Fitzroy. The really cool thing is that Peter my old musical comrade and best mate, will be in town that night so he doesn’t know it yet but I am going to pull him up on stage with me for a guest spot. You can see a Youtube video of me and him gigging together here.

After that I have a belated CD launch for the Dogs May Bark disc which is at the Brunswick Hotel on Saturday 7th March. This is going to be an awesome night, but I will write more about this soon. 

So yeah, really gung-ho about the music but need to apply myself a little harder to the French lessons and the weight watching. Not that I haven’t been doing anything about them, just not enough. I will report back soon, oh ye breathless masses and ye will be able to sleepeth at night for knowing all about my progress on these vital fronts! 

*The reason I say this, about making your own luck, is because I got the call about the gig when a bloke I met recently recommended me to somebody else. What happened was a few weeks ago I drove all the way into town (a 45 minute drive minimum) to do a fifteen minute gig. This was hard to do, as in it seemed a bit of a big effort to drive all that way just to play three songs and also I went alone and this is never easy (I get nervous and fidgety out-and-about on my own and tend to avoid it) BUT I want to get my music happening again so bad I did it. What happened was the night was fantastic, well worth the drive, the people who ran it were lovely, and they helped me to get the “real” gig I got at the Empress Hotel happening (well they told me who to ring) and then this bloke calls me because the organisers of the initial 15 minute (open mic) gig passed my name on. This is what I (and others) call making your own luck and frankly, I don’t reckon ANY amount of Law of Attraction style New Age Twaddle makes up for the “luck” that ACTION and HARD WORK and BALLS brings you. 

 

2009: off to a giggin’ good start

This year (as I wrote about here) I am all about music and in particular, live gigs.

I have razzled up a few gigs already and have performed twice so far this year, which isn’t bad for January seeing as I only started organising the gigs in January itself.

The first gig (Tuesday 20th January 2009)

was at Ruby’s Lounge in Belgrave, (Victoria, Australia, The World, blah blah) which is just around the corner from where I live. I had a half hour spot from 8 – 8:30 and when I got there there was basically nobody in the band room at all. By the time I started there was about 10 people watching, including the mixers (there were two for some reason – one of whom turned out to be the co-producer of the my latest CD), the other 2 other solo acts for the evening, (weirdly) the man who cut my hair that afternoon, and my one solitary friend who made it along for the night, Steve.

Now this may sound a bit sad but it’s not – it’s totally cool. Firstly, I am a seasoned campaigner and I have no juvenile misconceptions about what to expect, and secondly, despite my many years of experience in live music, I am basically starting all over again, with no real profile to speak of, certainly not in Melbourne.

The fact that I am starting out all over means this:

  1. I can’t expect all of my friends to rock up for all of my gigs – they have their own lives and to expect more than an occasional turn out would be unfair on them.
  2. It is going to take time for me to build up an audience for my music. In fact I am allowing two years of solid gigging before I expect to be able to sell out a modest 150 head room. This would be a great achievement and I know that those first 150 heads are well harder to draw than the next 1000 and the reason why is because a crowd draws a crowd – been there, done that, know that it’s true.

But despite the tiny audience, there were a few more peeps hanging out over by the bar and I made sure to try to project over to them. Singing (and music in general) is a form of energy and I believe something a bit woo-woo which is that if you “send it” out directly to individuals in an audience like an imaginary laser beam, it somehow stands a better chance of moving each individual that you “aim at”.

I actually was quite disappointed with my set, but I made sure to try and keep this disappointment to myself as the last thing you ever want to do is insult your audience by telling them that you are no good, because this negates their own enjoyment of the music you are playing. Just because you know you’re off doesn’t mean an audience member does.

I was off because I was out of practice, because it was insanely hot, and because of silly things like not securing the mic-stand properly (so it was travelling south during my first song, most irritating) but on the other hand, there were some fine moments where things went just fine.

On thing that went well was my between-song banter, which I am determined to make an integral part of the my show this year, including an element of comedy. Humour runs right through all of my tunes (some more than others)  so this is not out of place with my style.

The reason I want to improve my between-song banter is to be more entertaining. As a solo acoustic artist I can’t really dazzle with saxophone solos and wild drum rhythms so I need to work with what I have, and one thing I have is an element of easy humour born (as a coping mechanism) of years of soul-crushing day-jobs and other such drudgery 😉

I was happy to sell a couple of CDs after the gig, and also to swap with some of the other musos. I got some phone numbers of the other musos to organise more gigs together, if it works out, and then I proceeded to hang around and drink too much while chatting to the regulars. I gave away a few CDs which I am happy to do this year as it seems to be an awesome way to get the message out there, although I will from the next gig ask for an email in exchange when I offer to give away a disc.

The second gig (Wednesday 28th January)

Was at the Empress Hotel, Fitzroy North, which is miles from my house but closer to most of my friends. I invited everybody I knew along to this one, but when it became apparent that the temperature was going to be 43 Degrees Celcius (110 Fahrenheit) I didn’t expect as many to turn up as said they would.

I was given the whole night to put together, albeit at late notice after a cancellation the week before.  I organised for my mate Shane Walters and a friend of his, Faye Blais to play a set each as well and made it so that I was on first because I am well older than them, therefore so are my friends, which means they were more likely to come out if I was on earlier. So I went on at 8:15 to 9pm.

A nice little crowd filled the intimate space, which is just a gorgeous room to play solo acoustic in, and after a slightly shaky start I soon warmed up and played one of my best sets in recent memory, spurned along by an encouraging crowd who kept laughing at all my jokes (well most of them) and generally being the kind of audience you would seriously consider paying to be there for you.

Thankfully they weren’t all just my friends either, but about two thirds strangers, which is just what I wanted. My prediction about the heat coming true, there were only about ten mates/family there (which is ok – see above).

It was plainly obvious to me that the amount of practice I put in between the first gig and the second really paid off. I made myself get out into my little one room bungalow (The Office of Imagination and Procedure) out the back and rehearse my set right through without too much ado. I was just so much more in control at the Empress gig as a result. (Duh. Yes, Seamus, practice helps.)

I also really pulled my finger out and didn’t just rely on off the cuff banter but also dropped in two pre-prepared jokes, one of which bombed dismally and one of which floored ’em, so that was an experience.

I have over the last two gigs noticed that some songs might be great in my studio and on record, but they are a little too subtle for an audience that doesn’t know my material, and most of these are the songs on my current CD, so I think I am going to have fairly quickly put out a sister disc to “Dogs May Bark” which features more of the “party” songs, which are the tunes that tend to get a better response from audiences who don’t know my tunes already.

After my set as Shane and then Faye did their respective thangs, I was again stoked to sell a couple of CDs and be plied with free beer – the latter which was just so refreshingly cold on such a disgusting hot night that I was silly and got way too pissed. I can hold my alcohol (usually), so I am sure I didn’t make an arse of myself, but the next day I felt as shit as a shit thing. I am really going to have to self-moderate the after gig beers if I am going to be gigging regularly (which I am). Easier said than done though, as my adrenalin is usually pumping hard after a gig, so I will report back on what I believe will be a major challenge for me this year.

Why?

Well, the truth is, I drink a little too much (like a lot of Aussies). I’d like to tone it down a bit, as I am not getting any younger and I am getting a belly and the hangovers are a bitch, but then again, I am an artiste, and maybe I will always have my foibles? See how we go…

If you read this far, you deserve a dollar for perseverance. I could never read this much about some obscure musician’s rather un-incredible musings myself…

Seamus and Peter (ex-Reckoning) doing “Naked”

Ok – Seamus is me (blue shirt), Peter Owen is the handsome guy on the drum. We used to be in a band called Reckoning and this is us on December 4th 2008 doing one of our old Reckoning songs “Naked” at the Grace Emily Hotel, in Adelaide.

There was a small but appreciative crowd that night, maybe 50 or more in that small back room … so it was cozy. The laughing at the beginning is because I was cracking jokes about the lyrics (most of the people there would have known the lyrics back in the ’90s). The joke was that (as the song says) if ‘we’ were to “sneak out at 2am” these days then we’d need to get a babysitter… well, I guess you had to be there …

Anyway, me and Pete will be recording and gigging some new music this year plus wheeling out golden oldies like this so stay tuned…

Why booking gigs by email is better than the phone (and how to do it well)

I have noticed that a lot of venue bookers are more than happy to organize gigs by email these days.

And this is great…

Because it saves calling, getting an answering machine, getting no call back, calling again a few times until you catch the booker but he or she has had a bad day and you’re nervous and they smell blood and it all goes really badly and because you’re the artist you feel personally rejected when it doesn’t go so great and then you want to give up and slit your wrists…

I’m sure you know the drill.

BUT

If you have bad email skills it can still go pear-shaped so here is:

A Simple Crash Course in Emailing Venue-Bookers about Gigs

1) Be Polite – “hope this finds you well”, “thanks for your time” etc.

2) Be brief – get in and get out.

3) Get a name, spell it correctly and use it like this “Hi Fred,” not “Dear Fred” (it’s not a letter to your grandma).

4) If you can’t find a name or aren’t sure just start with “Hi,” (Not “to whom it may concern”).

5) DON’T USE CAPS (it’s shouting), and proofread over your spelling, grammar etc before you press send. They aren’t going to grade your use of the Queen’s English but you don’t want to come across like some semi-literate moron do you? It amazes me how many perfectly intelligent people don’t realise how bad excessive spelling mistakes and other typos make them look.

6) Keep all details to a minimum, don’t bother talking about money or anything too presumptive just yet.

7) Briefly point out your experience level, but don’t tell your life story.

8 ) If you think it’s appropriate (it usually is unless your applying to get on some kind of pre-existing bill), come prepared with a ready made line-up (i.e. other musicians to play the night with you).

9) Point out that you will do your best to promote the gig, i.e. find an angle like “it’s a CD launch” or “I have a lot of friends in the area who I will invite”, etc.

10) Link to your music on Myspace, Facebook, or even better, BandCamp.com. Alternatively you could link to a youtube clip but only if you have one that doesn’t suck. (Ok so you should probably have a fancy electronic media kit right? Well, sure, but most gig bookers won’t read them so don’t worry if you haven’t gotten that organised yet.)

11) Give a phone number in case they prefer to follow up by phone. And once they email you back with some kind of positive interest, take a chance: wait a day or two, then call them on the phone. Seriously, once you’ve made a positive connection, phone is more efficient and will usually get you better results. Why? Because it is easy to ignore or forget about an email, and easy to go with the pro-active guy who follows up by phone (and is polite about it). See what Derek Sivers says about being persistent and following up.

Anything to add to the list? Drop it in the comment box below.

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