Playing Live Again

It’s so nice to be getting out again after so long. I can’t express how much my upper arm injury had limited my goals, and, although I could just switch emphasis and concentrate on other stuff, having to protect the arm really did put a dampener on my enthusiasm.

That said, it’s easy to fall into bad habits. Although the arm has been recovering for a while now, it was easy to tell myself to “protect the arm, protect the arm!” as an excuse to not go back to playing regularly too early.

Anyway – it was time… blow off the cobwebs, and get back out into the unsuspecting world.

My first plan was to aim to play at least once a week… somewhere.

Straight off the bat I have the offer of a gig from Scott Doonican of The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican at the Old School House in Barnsley. Good on yer, mate, and thank you. It’s now been pushed back till January due to a scheduling issue on our original date, but I’m looking forward to it.

Then I literally went onto the Open Mic Finder site (link) and made a list of all the nearby open mics, and made contact by email/facebook.

Playing Live Again

Next, I contacted a total unknown… A venue known simply as Small Seeds, in Huddersfield. I did wait a few days to get a response from the email, but they were very encouraging. They invite all musicians locally, as well as poets, to come on down and play/read their material at the aptly titled Acoustic Club every Tuesday evening after 9pm.

It’s a lovely spot, very rustic looking stage, and there’s no mics or amplification, so this REALLY IS acoustic only. The nice thing too is they provide an acoustic guitar for those who simply want to turn up and play; and there’s an upright piano there as well if you want to play that too. 

Next up I contacted Pete Long, whom I’d met through Andrew when he ran the Acoustic Circus open mics at the Taproom in Batley. He’s moved on from the Taproom, and is now hosting Acoustic Circus open mics once monthly from the West End pub in Gomersal. He also runs another Acoustic Circus Session once a month in St Mary’s Church in Gomersall too. 

Playing Live Again

Pete himself is a really good guitarist and songwriter by the way, just check out VanRay on Spotify or iTunes…

Anyway – as soon as I made contact, Pete offered me a half-hour guest slot at the West End. This kinda threw me in the deep end, but I was glad of it. It blew out the cobwebs and got me thinking about a set again, rather than just the usual two or three odd songs that you get to do at a ‘normal’ open mic.

One thing I have realised though: playing ‘Whispers of Home’ with its drop tuning is a difficult song to put in the set, wherever you put it. I’ve tried retuning the guitar mid-set, and, unless you’re a good raconteur whilst you’re re-tuning, you’re asking a lot of patience from the audience whilst you mess about. The only alternative is to swap guitars. Here’s where my poor old EKO E20 lets me down, as the old Barcus Berry piezo bridge pickup I fitted 25+ years ago really isn’t up to it any more. Feedback from the audience is that it just wasn’t as good sounding as my Taylor 214. So – at some point, to do this justice, I’m going to need to change the E20 for something better, or just get better at re-tuning the 214 mid-set.