I recently recalled an episode from several years ago — a man and woman came to one of my performances and purchased a CD afterward. They related that they had my previous CD release and the woman added “We love listening to your music during dinner”. My knee-jerk reaction was to respond by snatching their recent purchase from their hands and tell them how my valuable performance, stunning technique and sublime arrangements weren’t mere backdrop music to accompany meatloaf and potatoes. However, from many hours of Buddhist chanting I was able to draw upon a higher instinct and realize that they were, indeed, complimenting me. They weren’t heavy-duty guitar aficionados; neither one played guitar at any level. Yet, they felt something when they listened to my playing and for them, to listen while they dined was, indeed, a special thing. I told them how delighted I was that they enjoyed my music and I really meant it. This was a major turning point for me as an artist and as a human being.
I’ve performed in a broad range of settings during the past month — from the very laid-back Paris Wine Bar, to the boisterous Reading Terminal Market, to two winery tasting rooms, to a parking lot during a farmers’ market. In each setting I was able to bring the music to different people, few of whom would actually appear in every one of these venues. I don’t do this range of venues out of desperation or necessity — I realize I am communicating my musical performance to a wider variety of listeners than I could if I played only one type of venue. And while it’s a good thing for me (obviously) to broaden my exposure and fanbase, it also serves the ‘bigger picture’ for performing artists — by making people aware of music being played in my unique way I call attention to other solo instrumentalists and widen our market a bit more.
I also feel that I’ve become a more focused player and I am achieving a bit of a long-term career goal — having a recognizable style no matter what setting I play in. Whether it’s with Tony Hughes in our guitar duo or JayKatz in our guitar/voice duo or with the Philly Blues Kings, I am beginning to sound like myself. I do play appropriately for whatever setting I’m in and never ignore the music in order to gratify my ego. That’s part of my style, after all…..