|A promo piece for The Channelside Restaurant in Clayton that I posted on Facebook.|
So tonight was the third Thursday I have played guitar in the dining room of The Channelside Restaurant in Clayton, N.Y. I find it helpful to write down a critique of my performance when I play gigs, but alas, I don't always do it. When it comes to photography assignments I have been in many situations from photographing presidents (George Bush, Bill Clinton) and other celebrities to criminals in courts, hard news situations, natural disasters, weddings, and on and on, I am supremely confidant in what ever is thrown at me. Guitar gigs are another story. I am still working on reaching a similar level of confidence. I will get there. I just need to get out there and perform more.
How did it go tonight at The Channelside? Well first a little background. About 5 or 6 years ago I started playing a lunch time gig at Teaism in Clayton. This was my first time playing out anywhere in at least 20 years. The first day there I was a wreck, wrought with stage fright. All I was was background music. But I was terrified. Also at this time when ever I tried to video tape myself playing I would make a mess of whatever song I was trying to record. The video camera was a an evil Cyclops that sabotoged my playing when I turned it on. However, I have pretty much overcome being distraught in those situations. I play background music at partiws, weddings and the like and I am fine with it. BUT, if someone suddenly come s near and pays close attention to me, I begin to falter. I have a tough time with such close scrutiny. (However, it is getting better, but SLOWLY). OK, with that in mind let me review the last 3 weeks at The Channelside.
Week ONE: I played two hours. I did pretty good. The owner could not decide where exactly to put me. I started in dining room, changes places in there a couple of times and then was moved out to the deck overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It was a warm evening and my long sleeve shirt was more than I needed for comfortable playing. I was hot and my playuing suffered a bi tfrom that. But overall I would give myself 3 and a half out of 5 stars for a rating. I got a few nice comments from diners and 3 dollars in tips. Tips were totally unexpected because I had no tip jar out.
Week TWO: I played three hours, 6-9. I was in the dining room the whole evening and used a remote speaker to broadcast my music on the deck. Later I moved the remote speaker in and used it to broadcast into the bar room. I also used a music stand read through a few solos that I did not have memorized. I used to do that in the old days but in recent years have not felt confident to do that. It went well so another boost in my confidence. Also, wore a long sleeve shirt that made me way to warm, more so than the first week. Still no tip jar, but got $5.00
Week Three (tonight) I wear a short sleeve shirt and am comfortable. I am playing OK for the first 40 minutes. As I am playing Augustine Barrios' Estudio Inconcluso I notice two men standing in the dining room about 12 feet from me staring at me intently as if I somehow stopped them dead in their tracks. They were not moving, not going to a table. I fumbled in the piece. I regained my composure and finished the piece. I said Hello to them and they gave me a slight applause with no comments. One man had a beard and glasses, The other gut had glasses and sharp features, Both were well dressed, casual, but well dressed. They struck me as not being locals. The beard then asked me what I could play that was really intense and Spanish. Then asked me several other questions. All the while they both stared intensely. It was unnerving. That sat down to a table and waited for the next song. With what seemed to me like piercing eyes. I have never really felt so under a microscope in my life. They had no drinks, the waitresses did not approach them, it seemed peculiar to me. If they were gonna be there like that for the next two hours I was in trouble. So I played several "safe" pieces by Francisco Tarrega which I managed to get through. At the conclusion of each piece they did not comment. Just sat there waiting for the next one. So then i began playing Chet Atkins arrangement of Mr. Bojangles. I am doing OK with that when It suddenly occurs to me that I think the bearded guy just might be Vigo Mortensen! He is from northern NY and his family has lived in the Clayton/Cape Vincent area. Then I hear the beard say to his companion, "One more tune and then we are out of here." By then I got my wits about me and started playing a couple of Beatles songs that I am confident with. I look up from completing Eleanor Rigby and the beard (Mortenesen?) was gone but his companion stayed to the end of the song. He started to leave and I quickly put down the guitar and stopped him to introduce myself, hoping I might discover the true identity of The Beard in so doing. He said his name was Jim ?? something, I forgot the last name. He said he & The Beard were from Buffalo and in Clayton building a dock. But the way he said it was not convincing. It seemed like something he came up with on the spot. These two were not talkers, they were reserved, reticent to say anything. I am pretty darn sure The Beard was Vigo.
Oh, one more thing: $25.00 in tips.