Gig Report – the Last Hurrah

Last night went well at Lemonjellos. I played on five tunes. Jonathan seemed please with the way the evening went.

The way it went was that Jonathan basically just pulled different people up on stage throughout the evening to do different songs with him. He started off with a young woman whose name I keep missing and don’t remember meeting. Then me. The bulk of the evening was performed by he and his high school/college buddies and brother, Mike.
I found it very interesting to observe the crowd. There were (according to Jim Sullivan who seemed to be taking notes for an article or something) around 120 people there, 80 inside and 40 sitting outside. At any given time, the performers only had the attention of maybe half the people. And most of the listeners sat very still and watched closely. No body movement.
Before the evening began, a congenial looking man came over and introduced himself to me as the father of Matt Scott, the owner of Lemonjellos. He was very enthusiastic about my music. He and two other (ahem) gentlemen of my generation seemed to be very interested in my songs and had come to hear them as well as Jon’s stuff. This is very flattering.

I had many nice comments from members of the audience. But as far as I could tell, there were no people from my emailing list there. I even had one person on my mailing list (which is made up strictly of people I know personally) request that I not mail him any more mass mailings since we were not even communicating on a regular basis. There was no one from my church or choir. Also, I saw another blogger friend of mine early in the evening who sat and chatted but did not stay for the music.

This morning feels like retirement from one phase of my life. The gig last night was Jonathan’s last Holland gig. This week he leaves for the west coast. With him goes most of my audience potential I think. Jonathan and I have had many discussions about music and listeners. He disagrees with me about the fact that I think my music has very little commercial appeal. He keeps telling me that many of his friends admire my work. I believe him and I believe that he in particular appreciates my work as I do his. I actually think we have a shared aesthetic about our work together. While Jon’s audience seems to like my material, I’m pretty sure that if Jon had not been performing last night the audience would have been up of my wife, the three men who seem to be interested in my songs and possible some of Jon’s fam.
Poor me observation: I have been thinking more and more that I really don’t have much of an audience for my work as a composer/ musician. As far as I can tell very few people download my mp3s. When I play in public, people do not make a point of coming to hear me. I am beginning to think of myself as the Holland Moondog. For years Moondog played on the streets of New York and only afficionados of street music and the avant-garde knew who he was.  Eileen thinks this totally doesn’t matter. I agree with her, but can’t help but notice the phenomenon.
I was watching Jon’s high school buddies last night. When they were on stage, they were full of energy and seem to revel in the moment. When they got off, their attention immediately went somewhere other than what was on stage.

The energy was palpable last night. But Jonathan’s energy differs from most of his contemporaries. While they have energy, Jon’s approach to what he does represents the willingness to take risks and be truly spontaneous. I think this is what makes his performances so engaging. At least that’s what I like about them. Those qualities are very important to my own aesthetic. I think this is why Jon and I are friends and colleagues.

At the end of the evening, Jon seemed exhausted but happy. He had a good number of family there. His Dad ran the CD/T shirt/bumper sticker booth. His mom was there. His brother Micheal played a lot and was totally engaged the entire evening. His uncle Joe was there and came up on stage and did a number with him. Very cool. I was glad that contrary to our original plan I had brought my yamaha for him and other keyboard players to use. Jonathan had only brought a yamaha organ unit. His uncle (and Chris from his high school band) wailed on my keyboard. I think Jon was pretty satisfied with his last Holland Hurrah. Heh.

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