Practice Makes Perfect (or in my case, a little less bad)
“If I miss one day of practice, I notice it. If I miss two days, the critics notice it. If I miss three days, the audience notices it.” Ignacy Paderewski
I doubt it comes as a shock to you when I say I'm not a naturally gifted singer, writer, or guitarist. What good art I've been able to create is because of the enormous amount of time I've spent practicing and refining the ability I do have. Although I starting being a musician in order to meet girls (and I've met lots of nice ones... and their equally nice husbands and boyfriends), it was soon apparent that this was going to be a lot of work. So I practiced and practiced and practiced constantly. And I still practice a great deal. Sometimes for 3-4 hours a day, sometimes for only 1 or 2, depending on when my next show is. Not only am I always trying to improve my skills, but I also have to work my body and my mind daily to mitigate the effects of allergies, reflux, and ravages of age (carpal tunnel syndrome, joint stiffness, and senility). I persist by telling myself that if I practice long enough, I just might get good at it someday before I die. Probably 15 minutes or so beforehand, but at least I'll have that.
Now, writing is a WHOLE other process. It takes even more hours, days, or sometimes weeks for me to write and edit a single song. And even then, I've had songs I thought were finished (maybe even good), only to realize after awhile that they really suck. Sometimes I don't realize it until after I've spent time recording a demo of them or in one case, after I sent the demo on to my producer. If a song isn't "working," I'll scrap it entirely, or perhaps save the lyrics and scrap everything else. You know, I've heard other writers say that they listen to their muse to get creative ideas. My muse usually says things like "I've heard Walmart is hiring." She's full of helpful suggestions like that.
For my live show, I put songs in the set list that I hope you'll enjoy and that make a statement of some kind. I also include ones that sound good when I play them as a solo acoustic, or at least work out song arrangements that sound good when I'm playing them by myself. As you may know if you have my CDs, (if you don't, GET SOME NOW from my website. After all, you're here already, so you may as well make good use of your visit.)... Anyway, on my CDs I always have a rockin' band backing me but in my live show I don't have the luxury of other players or even technology to make me sound good. When I do a show, it's just me up on the high wire without a net, and laid bare for all y'all to see and hear. Being vulnerable can be a good and healthy thing, but I prefer to think of it as terrifying.
Anyway, when you hear me play (and I hope you do - repeatedly), I hope you remember that it took years and years of hard work for me to be in front of you, banging on my guitar and wailing like somebody who just peed on an electric fence. And despite how frightening I may look and sound, no one is more afraid and anxious than me...