Grateful Blog: Day 49: About 4 years ago today, keeping a promise I made to myself 5 months earlier when turned 40 on September 11th, I played my first open mic. It was let’s just say a perfect storm of awful and terrifying. When I got up on stage the MC said ‘where are you from?’ so he could announce it as such. I think I mumbled ‘Vancouver’ until I was up there myself and then I explained to the audience of 2 that actually I wasn’t ‘from’ Vancouver, I was from New York. And specifically I was from ‘Western’New York. If you know me it may not surprise you that I followed that with a 7 minute story (I gave ‘em the abridged version—seriously!) of how I got from Western New York toVancouver. Then the guy running it came up and said ‘You only have 3 minutes left, you should probably play a SONG right NOW. And make it a short one’. I remember what song I played. I remember I played it too fast (and yet it was STILL too long), forgot some words and generally sucked. It was terrifying. I was awful. And I vowed to never play in public again.
But then I met this guy named Dan Dover and with our wives we had dinner and he brought his guitar and we traded some songs. Turns out he was another closet basement songwriter. Soon enough we went on a spree of open mics together, sometimes 2 in a night. By then I was hooked on the adrenaline, the strange and magnificent people you met like my good friend Lyman Louis, and the sheer ludicrousness of bearing your soul in front of perfect strangers and occasional hecklers. It made no rational sense why anyone would expose themselves as such but then again nothing else in life made sense either, so it was just OK. In fact it was better than that. Suddenly it was fun too.
The thing is, tonight, Saturday night, about 4 years since that beautiful open mic debacle, I’ve got a sold out debut CD release show in front of a whole bunch of friends and fans who I never, ever would have had the great fortune of meeting had it not been for meeting Dan and his wife Cheryl Mitzlaff tat night. I don’t know about you, but it’s often true that as you get older it get’s harder to make real and lasting friendships. But I feel like ever since I got past that first 7 minutes of that first open mic, the point of the distinction about being from ‘Vancouver’ vs. ‘Western’New York, that my life has opened up exponentially because I’ve allowed myself to open up. There’s this large, thriving, talented, and endlessly creative, beautiful music community here inPortlandand the surrounding area. And I only occupy a tiny corner of it. But my tiny corner is chock full of Amazing People: Gentle Souls, Poets and Healers, Priests and Clowns.
There’s not a lot of THINGS that I believe in. But I believe in the goodness of people. I believe in community. I believe in falling in love. I believe in connections. I believe that music and songs along with people and community and love have the power to heal and change the world. I know they changed mine. I’m not even sure how anymore. But I do know that at some point Saturday night, up on stage, I’m gonna tell that story how I got here, starting in ‘Western’ New York, and somehow it’ll all make sense. I am so, so, so Grateful for that. And one more thing, don’t forget to believe in yourself. Trust me when I say this, if I can do it, ANYBODY can do it!