My Performance Manifesto

Last week I wrote about my music teaching manifesto. This week I’ve created my performance manifesto. This list feels like a work in progress, but it’s a peek into how I approach my gigs which is as much about being prepared to deal with people and unexpected situations as it is about playing music. Feel free to share any of your gigging guidelines in the comments.

1. Dress appropriately for the venue and style of music I’m presenting.

2. Have any written details (contracts, directions, emails, etc.) of the gig in hand.

3. Find my contact person and be friendly with the staff at the venue.

4. Soundcheck and tune at the beginning of the gig and constantly reevaluate.

5. Be the version of myself that I want the audience to experience. Leave any negative vibes at home.

6. Have as much material memorized as possible.

7. Present a variety of accessible music but challenge the audience with some more unusual pieces.

8. Engage with the audience (verbally and non-verbally as appropriate) from the stage.

9. Be open to unexpected requests but know when to say no.

10. Remain grateful for the opportunity to present my music to live audiences.

Photoby Marc Mennigmann HANDS Project

Christopher Nolan on Silencing Your Phone

Taken from Adam Grant’s interview with Christopher Nolan for Esquire magazine, this is the single best reasoning I’ve ever seen for turning off your phone in creative situations:

Nolan: “There’s a mass belief that if you’re texting, you’re somehow not interrupting the conversation – you’re not being rude.

The person doing it doesn’t realize they have taken the energy from the conversation. If you have people in a creative environment where they have to concentrate on what they’re doing, you can’t have them wandering off in their minds. You can’t be texting somebody else and paying attention to what’s going on. If you call people on it, they’ll repeat the last thing you said. They repeat the words with zero understanding of what they meant. And then over the next minute, you see them start to understand the words for the first time. You can absorb audio information just at the level that you can repeat it back, without understanding.

It’s an illusion of multitasking. I started film-making when people didn’t expect to have a phone on set, when it would’ve been seen as unprofessional to pull out a phone. Phones have become a huge distraction, and people work much better without them. At first it causes difficulty, but it really allows them to concentrate on what they’re doing. Everybody understands. I’ve had a lot of crews thank me. With a set, we’re trying to create a bubble of alternate reality.

Johnny Guitar

Johnny Guitar from Lucas Reilly on Vimeo.

I was recently chosen as the subject of a photojournalism project by Ohio University student Lucas Reilly. Lucas is a former student and it was great to reconnect with him and have him shadow me for a few days. Not only did he impress me with his photos, but he was amazingly professional and discrete while capturing these images.

New Year, New Website

I’ve been doing a lot of decluttering around my home over the past several weeks and that activity has now spilled over on to the website. I’ve updated to a more modern theme and worked to keep the primary menus and pages minimal – focusing on only on the most basic information visitors might be seeking. More detailed articles will be included in the blog. It feels pretty good on this side of the monitor.