So I sang at the Sidewalk Café tonight. I was number 20, so I went on at a little before 11. Tim, Murphy, and Carlos all turned out, while soce, the elemental wizard offered experienced advice and moral support over the phone.
I played If We Were on a baby grand so out of tune that it sounded like a barhouse upright. Needless to say, my creamy rich sonorities and liberal pedaling technique did not go over well on this instrument. I also somehow managed to place the microphone about 2 inches to the right of my face, so I was continually leaning to the right to be heard. I made it to the end of the song though, and when I was done, people clapped and cheered. The cynical sound guy who seems to have the run of the place said that I sounded great, and that they definitely wanted to see more of me - this is of course not the same as being offered a full-length show, but my performance was clearly too spotty for such a thing, and, frankly, what would I have played?
The thing I marvel at is how, after so much buildup, so much pre-performance nervousness, the experience itself was so unexciting, or more importantly, unfulfiling. I guess the drive to perform is largely based on the continued search for the perfect transcendental experience, and not achieving it keeps me going. But it would be nice if some of these performances came a little closer, if they didn't always feel so mundane.
But all in all, a very valuable experience, demonstrating to me a number of things. That I can sing the pants off of a number of people (but not all of them) without really trying. That my perfectionism during the compositional process is not quite as important as I make it out to be. That I cannot expect any single experience to change my life, but that my goals can be achieved, as I have seen on these past nine Tuesday mornings, through persistent action. I would do well to apply this to other spheres of my life.
This was a milestone day. My first time performing my own music in public. I think that's pretty huge. I can now consider myself a performing singer/songwriter or whatever I decide to call myself.
This is only the beginning. There is always more to come.