Back in the Swing

About three months ago, I played my first open mic night in eight years.

Friday, I’m going to sit in with a buddy who’s playing a show up in New Braunfels.

Saturday, I’m meeting with a guy to set up a show at his brewery in Bandera.

It looks like I’m getting back into the swing of things.

It’s terrifying, if I’m being perfectly honest. When the owner of the Pigpen looked back at me and waved me up, my stomach flew up into my throat like a group of startled pigeons. I looked out at the crowd of people, pulled down my sunglasses, closed my eyes, and started to play. After a while, it felt good. It was good to get back up there playing. But damn it I was scared.

I don’t know why. I don’t know what causes the paralyzing fear of stage fright. Is is the fear of messing up? The fear of hitting a wrong note or messing up time? Or is it just the fear of having more eyes on you than you’re used to?

Whatever it is, it sucks. But when you’re done and you’re finished and people are clapping for you, whether or not you sucked, it feels good, man. It feels really good.

And I want to. I really want to get out there and play. Now that I have a job and I have a steady paycheck, I don’t have to worry about wasting gas to get somewhere and only getting paid $2 because ‘Sorry, man, you just didn’t get enough people to come to the show.’

God I wish I could remember that fucker’s name…There was a dude that used to book here in San Antonio. He would book all the gigs for local musicians. The tiny shows at the White Rabbit, Cafe Revolucion, the places that held tiny shows during the week so they could keep the lights on on the weekend.

Man, this guy would fuck people like it was going out of style. He was a goofy lookin’ guy, too. Thin, long hair. A bald spot right smack dab in the middle of the back of his head. A big ol’ nose like he’d been in one too many boxing matches. An aging hippie who realized one day that he could take advantage of young musicians like he used to be, pay ’em a couple of bucks and pocket the rest just because the gig ‘wasn’t as successful as they were hoping.’

That, along with the closing of my favorite venue, was what really put a sour taste in my mouth for performing. You can only get shoved to the ground and have the shit kicked out of you so much until you can’t take it anymore.

But things have really changed now. At least it looks like they have. There’s so many smaller venue spaces opening up all over the place, so many more bands playing wherever they can get a gig. And I think that these places are actually starting to make money now. At least you’re able to pay your talent something for coming out. At least enough to pay for gas to get there.

And now I’ve got a job. I’ve got a 9-5 that pays enough for me to actually go out and do things that I enjoy, so now I can afford to get fucked at a venue when I play.

I just want to get out there and start playing music again.

But if they try to give me a check when I’m done…I won’t turn it down.

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