Sunday, November 19, 2006

Report From The Traffic Chopper

Have you ever watched someone perform or present something to a group, and everything go horribly wrong? Perhaps they were extremely nervous and speaking almost nonsense, or they tripped walking on stage, or even were just plain not-good at it. Something like a bad wreck on the side of the road happens. And the audience is the rubber-necker.

At the Curb CafĂ© last night I saw the koo perform a set after a young aspiring songwriter/guitarist/vocalist did an unnecessarily long opening spot. If you have happened to read my posts the last two days, let me stop here and assure you I don’t normally go to multiple clubs and live music performances in a week. Or even a month. This week has definitely not been normal.

The opening act (Nick was his name, I think) had a bunch of spirit. He strutted boldly and confidently from table to table in the small club introducing himself to patrons and mentioning his name and that he would be performing soon, and thanking us for coming out. I must admit- in all my years of attending live music performances that was a first.

He started to play at 9PM. Just him, his guitar, and 2 bottles of water. Immediately, a 3 car pile-up happened on stage. God bless him- he couldn’t hit any high notes (he actually sounded just like me and a million other guys singing in the shower with a luffa for a mic wailing out the high notes in off-key falsetto), flubbed his chords, and on a two occasions even put a song in a holding pattern mid-chorus while he tried to tune his guitar.

He seemed to think he was nailing it. Very confident on stage, trying to conduct witty between-song stage banter, and eliciting nervous laughter and wide-eyed glances between friends at tables. It was just plain awful. But he tried, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy.

I don’t know what his goals are, or why he was performing last night. Maybe he just loves to play the guitar and belt out a tune, and for the same reason millions of people around the world go to karaoke bars, really enjoys inflicting his talent on others.

Let’s assume though, that he wants to make it in music. At what point will he either practice and play himself silly and hit a level of quality, or finally figure out that he isn’t that good? Will he realize it himself, or will someone, like a merciless panel of judges from American Idol, whack the machete of “feedback” right through his skull?

On the way home I turned on the radio…interesting…in a matter of minutes I heard two bands (actually one band, and one solo artist) perform that I know very well, and also know couldn’t sing a good lick just a few years ago. For various reasons both had been thrust into a position of leadership within their respective units, and had to pick up the reigns of lead vocalist from a departing member. Within a relatively short period of time, and after diving headfirst into the work of vocal training and development, both have emerged as quality vocalist each with their own unique sound, and both leading the way to multiple gold records.

So…is that within each of us? I am not speaking about music specifically- it could be anything. Can anyone grab hold of a dream, and even if performance or track record is just average (or in Nick’s case, bad), drive themselves to greatness with good coaching and a real commitment of time? How does this impact Nick? Should his friends, several of which were at the show last night and rooting for their buddy, not let him know how bad he sounds right now but just encourage him? How does this impact me? Or you? What dreams have we put on hold, or dropped, that should be picked up again?

I think the potential for greatness is in everyone. I truly believe that anyone- any ordinary person- can do extraordinary things. I hope Nick keeps at it. I also hope he keeps his day job.