(Written Sunday night after We Love Songwriters…….)
Can I speak earnestly? Today was a whirlwind of a day. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes venues double book performers and you are left with quite a puzzle to solve. Although I wouldn’t wish a double booking disaster on anyone, I strangely learned a lot from the experience. Although my event is a regular monthly event, to my dismay, there was another band booked on the same night as my regular event. I still don’t understand the reasons for the misunderstanding but nonetheless, it happened. The stuff that actually matters though is what happened after.
After realizing I was out of options to suggest the booker, I realized it was indeed my event that was to be cancelled for tonight. I was honestly in shock. 15 plus songwriters were planning to perform and they were bringing their friends and fans as well with them. How do I contact everyone and let them know not to come tonight? Would I even reach everyone to let them know? Not everyone is on social media everyday, AT ALL TIMES. I hung up the phone with the booker and headed to the internet to make the announcement that We Love Songwriters was cancelled for tonight.
Something didn’t feel right.
I felt so bad letting all these amazing songwriters down who had been excited to perform tonight and had all been promoting their participation in tonight’s event all week. Cancelling on 15 or so songwriters felt harder than I thought and so I decided I was not cancelling my event, and that I would find another way.
I called the booker again trying to negotiate and find a solution but still nothing was grabbing. I stayed calm as more and more ideas started coming on trying to find a solution. With the help of a couple friends, I started thinking more clearly, and had the idea of perhaps finding another venue to host the event for tonight. Right as I had this idea, I had a friend simultaneously texting me recommending I call two other venues to try to host my event there tonight. Brilliant I thought! One of the venues he recommended to me was the DEAD POET and it immediately struck me as a very possible solution. The Dead Poet was only 2 blocks from the original venue and The Dead Poet only hosts live music on Tuesday nights so I thought they might be open to hosting us. I made some calls, waited a little while, checked my phone off and on a good few times, till I got a confirmation text saying they would be able to host We Love Songwriters at The Dead Poet tonight. I couldn’t believe it! I had found another venue for tonight’s event.
What hit me is the fact that I didn’t give up, I was surprised honestly. I wasn’t gonna get paid either way at this point, so it would have been much easier to just cancel the event and take the night off, no? I realized just how much I care about songwriters tonight, especially the ones who have been a part of We Love Songwriters. I realized how much they and We Love Songwriters has meant to me. I felt like I was fighting for THEM today. I didn’t want to let them down cause whether they know it or not, their presence in WLS means so much to me, and being a host and “hub” of sorts of such incredible talents is a true honor. These songwriters fill me with so much joy, and keep me grounded in all the right reasons to keep doing music. I didn’t want to say no to all these songwriters who planned to come to my event. They had planned to come to the event not for money, or any kind of glamorous reward, but just to share their latest tunes with us, and meet, network and hear other songwriters.
Fast forward 2 or 3 hours and you find yourself on the Upper West Side of Manhattan arriving at The Dead Poet with your acoustic guitar, mic, and cables walking into the venue. Right before arriving inside the venue, you see a woman with a guitar on her back looking lost, and you smile at her asking her if she might be looking for We Love Songwriters. She nods yes, and you laugh realizing she was indeed. You both squeeze into the tiny door of the small thinly shaped bar, and see the built in crowd and buzzing energy of the bar. This is gonna be a good night.
You walk to the stage area where you find a small amp, a mic stand and a cable. You don’t need much. You start to set up and look around the room for other friendly faces. And it won’t be long, because here comes David Lyons, host of the West Park Open Mic (Friday nights at the West Park Church on 86th and Amsterdam), AKA the most awesome volunteer soon man in the world. You smile and realize it is not too late to wish him a Happy New Year, and start to feel the incredible warmth that usually comes out at these events. The night rolls on and bit by bit you will see those guitar cases one by one walking though doors as the songwriters find there way to the stage and all start to mingle and group up in one area.
The show is under way. I sing a couple tunes, one about choosing love over money, and the other about the social pressures of growing up and not being as young as I used to be. I am happy to open the night with some of my original music because I am a singer-songwriter just like they are, and my desire to perform my original music claws at me the same way a dancer starts to go crazy if she cannot move her limbs and dance to the beat of her favorite songs. I want to express myself, feel something, and release at least some of the emotions that have built up after a difficult week.
Songwriter after songwriter goes up, and I am floored by the eclectic variety of genres that have come to sing for us tonight; their guitar skills, piano techniques, the types of chords they chose to play, the simplicity of their chord progressions, the complexity of their chord progressions, their rhythm patterns, their vocal ability, how they move their voices, make them dance over the chords, the words they say, and the topics they have chosen to write about. I am amazed by everyone’s talent and in that moment consider myself to be one of the luckiest humans alive. These are my colleagues, my friends, and I consider myself truly fortunate to know them. Yes life is hard sometimes, yes the music business is an ever changing grueling industry that we can never quite predict, sometimes gigs are double booked, sometimes our gigs are cancelled and we don’t get paid, we lose out on some things, but in the end, it is all worth it once you look up and see all the. incredible songwriters coming together in one beautiful way and spending an evening sharing their music and souls together.
A few of Sunday night’s performers:
It was so nice seeing all of you tonight! That was so fun! Can’t wait till the next event. See you all there!
Your grateful host,