I had a gig in Louisville on Sunday. So, rather then return to work Monday, since I was three hours from Nashville, I decided to call and get a slot on The Bluebird Cafe‘s Monday night open stage.
It’s my understanding The Bluebird Cafe is the most prestigious listening room on the planet. Because of that, every seat was full to witness a Monday evening open stage.
The way The Bluebird Cafe’s open mic works is: Monday morning they take the first 25 callers. Anyone is eligible – just be one of the first 25 to call between 11am and noon. All 25 show up by 5:15 with the show starting at 6:00. Everyone gets to play one song then the host picks random numbers for six or so who get to do a second song. I got to play one song – Woe Is Me – from my EP.
The participants were comprised of people from such disparate places as Iceland, Ireland, London, Oklahoma City, Boston, Albuquerque, New York, Los Angeles and of course Columbus, Ohio.
I have to be brutally honest here. Of the 24 other participants, very few have even a remote chance of ‘making it’ in Nashville. It’s my understanding Nashville is where the best of the best come. I don’t know if it was an off night or what, but most of those folks were not the best of the best. I was very surprised.
The performers would tell their story before they played their song. Most had put all their eggs in the move to Nashville basket. Most had only been there a short while and for many it was their first live performance in Nashville (me included). I appreciate they are trying to go after their dreams. But I feel pity that they think Nashville is where they should do that.
The best of the best make it in Nashville. The rest, to get anywhere in music, need to find a smaller pond with smaller sharks. Boston, New York, Boise … where ever you’re from, take a decent assessment of your talent. Ask those who aren’t friends and family for honest opinions. Maybe you’ll find out before you waste a lot of time and energy and money and frustration that Nashville, Broadway, Hollywood or where ever stars are born, is not where it’s going to happen for you.
I’m talented. I play piano, guitar and harmonica really well. I have a wide vocal range. I write fun appealing songs. I’ve been complimented enough by unbiased people to know music is not the wrong thing for me to do. But, I’m not deluded enough to think I’m among the best of the best. Even with my above average talent, I know Nashville, for me, is a place to visit and sometimes play. No way this little fish is even thinking about living among the biggest and baddest sharks.
Please don’t misunderstand. DON’T GIVE UP on your dream. I’m saying steep your dream in reality. I’m speaking from experience. I’ve rented theaters to play in that no showed up to (that’s plural theaterS). Learn from my ego-maniacal follies. I can totally understand why Simon gets so angry at some of those people ‘Did you know this was a singing competition?!?’
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