Saturday, July 9, 2011

So, How'd It Go?

How Was The "America Show"?

Just about everyone I know who wasn't there has asked me this question.

But first, a little background. The Britt Festival is our premiere music venue here in the Rogue Valley. Major national touring acts, beautiful outdoor setting, great sound system. On June 24th, 2011, I got to open for America on the Britt Pavilion Main Stage.

OK, so how did it go?

The answer is: It went really, really well. As well as I could have hoped for. I chose a set list that leaned towards my more clever and sweet side as America's fans are on the older side themselves these days, and they were always such a sweet band anyway. They also bring so much musicality that I thought something a bit more lyrically cerebral would contrast nicely and be a good set-up for the band.

I was nervous the night before and I'd had a couple of cokes at a friend's gig so I was kinda wired and couldn't sleep. So I just ran through my whole set in my mind, making sure the lyrics were all there and more or less what I wanted to say between songs...

Then the day came. I taught a partner work T'ai-Chi class which was nice. The physicality of it burned off a bit of the adrenaline. It was nice to get on the grounds 3 hours early and feel into the space...I hung out a bit with America's guitar tech and the sound people and then did my sound check. I plugged in and after playing about 10 seconds the sound guy on stage said, "How's that?". I said, "Dude, that's the best monitor mix I've ever had in my life!"

Then I hung out on the grounds, caught some of my friend Jeff Kloetzel's set on the smaller lead-in stage, checked in with Samarra, my friends and videographer, and just bopped around.

By then I was excited but really ready to go. I wasn't tight nervous or anything by then, just READY. I played my big Martin (1977 D-35S) which I just brought out of retirement recently. I had my 000-15 on stage in case I broke a string, but I didn't need it. And then I just went out and did it. Played a 9 song set with no glitches to a crowd of about 1500 people! To be honest, I get to play to concert type audiences, maybe a total of about an hour a year. Usually, I consider it kind of amazing if even a handful of people are listening at one time. So, this was a huge jump for me.

I had a good feeling about doing this show. I thought I could do it, but really, I wasn't sure, since I so rarely get to play for seated, listening, or even potentially listening, people. I've done my share of it over many, many years, but it was never even close to a regular thing in my life.

Well, now I know I can do it, which feels nice, even if I never get another chance like this. And due to my not being officially in the business, not being interested in traveling or the entertainment "industry", being 54, not being very current or fresh musically, there is a distinct possibility that this was, and will be, the best and biggest show of my life. I had a great time, the Britt sound system was awesome, everyone treated me really nicely and the crowd seemed to like what I did.

My set list, including links to mp3's of the songs:

Nothing's Impossible Now

Brand New World

Free Range Chicken


I'm So Married

Tourist Town


For Now

Make Something Beautiful (new one, sorry no link yet)

At the break before America went up, there was a line of people waiting for me to sign CD's! Very fun. Never done that before. I brought 100 copies of "Clever~The Best Of Gene Burnett Volume One" and sold 66! Crazy! I did price them to move at $5, but still, 66 for me is a huge sale. It was a blast.

After my set, Michael "Woodsy" Woods, their long time electric guitarist, came up and told me he really liked my set and invited me to come up and "Na, Na, Na" with the band on their final encore "Horse With No Name"! So I got to do that too. Very cool. I will have that song in my head for the rest of my life.

Here's my facebook post about the night:

"Thanks everyone! I had a great time and did everything I hoped to do.

My priorities were 1. Play well (check) 2. Enjoy myself (check) 3. Be liked (check) and 4. Sell some CD's (check~66!) Thanks to everyone at Britt for taking a chance on me, to "America" for inviting me on stage to "Na, Na, Na" with them on "Horse With No Name" (!) and for being such a class act in general. A great night all around. I signed a whole bunch of CD's. Never done that before. I don't know how many people were there but it had to be between 1000-2000 people. Biggest crowd I've ever played for, by far. Now to get some rest. I'm back at The Downtowne Coffeehouse in Talent tomorrow, I mean today, Saturday morning, 10-Noon. ;~)"

And then the next day, I went to my regular coffeehouse gig and played my usual semi-background set. There were a few people who came because they'd seen me at Britt which was nice. I sold more CD's than usual and did better in tips so that was nice too. But I'm so over myself. I had a nice time playing the coffeehouse just like I always do. The Britt Show was just a really nice gig and it was great to play for a listening audience. But I felt not even a twinge of superiority towards any other local musicians, even ones I don't like. No status boost or whatever. It was just a very nice gig. I know that I can do this sort of thing and so do a lot of other people around here now. That's all it was. Now it's back to my regular life.

We did get to video the set and we got a CD from the sound board. I hope to get then synched up and posted on youtube before too long....Meanwhile, here's a picture of me and America just before or after the final bow. It still blows my mind. If I wasn't there, I'd swear it was CGI'd!

Nothing's impossible now...