May 162010

I had a nice little gig at the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival yesterday. This was a quick 25-minute set at Reston Town Center. The stage was set up in a park right on the cement under a tent, with grass and cement terraces where folks could sit and listen. We were also within earshot of a lot of the festival’s artist booths. The park is surrounded by office buildings, condo high rises, restaurants, shops, and some low-rise condos too. It’s really a nice spot to play–not a lot of traffic noise, a natural amphitheater feel, and the sound bounces off the surrounding buildings. Feel The Wag played at this spot last summer and had a fun time.

I played my originals, and my friend Marcy Cochran played fiddle and mandolin. Marcy broke a fiddle string while taking her instruments out of their cases, so that was a bit inconvenient. Once we got started, the sound system was good. My voice felt great, and the folks who were listening gave us some nice applause and cheers. I felt great singing, not having trouble getting my voice warmed up at all. Marcy’s fiddle tone is tremendously rich, and she plays an old-timey improvisation style that is a lot like mine. She also sounded good on the mandolin, plus threw in harmony vocals on my “I Don’t Have Friends Anymore,” which was a nice surprise to me. Hopefully we can do some more duo things like this in the future.

And now comes the nerdy self-analysis. It seems I’ve started a trend that needs to stop. Like a performance back in February, I blew out the bottom of my vocal range after about four songs. This never used to happen to me. Robin thinks that I need to watch what I eat and drink before I sing. I used to eat anything salty or sugary before singing and could just go for an hour or two, so I wasn’t buying it at first. But then I thought about it, and of course she’s right. So next time I will watch the coffee, ginger ale, salty food, etc. before I sing to see if that helps. I also need to try to warm up a bit more if possible. Usually you just run up there and sing, with no chance to warm up. But I could aways walk off somewhere and do some vocal exercises for three or four minutes to help. I’ve been thinking the past winter was pretty hard on my voice, so maybe it’s just some weak vocal muscles that are causing the blow-outs. Maybe it’s age. But it’s small stuff that should be easy to solve.

And the blow-out didn’t hurt the music much. Folks still liked it, and I sold a couple CDs. We also got to see Richard White with his groovy ensemble: a guy on bass and another guy on hand drums with Richard playing his spiritual electric guitar. I’ve seen Richard a lot solo, and this group thing really brings out his tunes in a great way. Bernie Muller-Tyme played after us, and he was just exploding with energy and coolness. He did a funky folky version of “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” and had some other good originals with beautiful singing. The Second Wind Bandits played last, and they were a treat. They did some nice folky country rock originals that sounded real good.

The only negative thing I heard about the festival was that some folks had trouble getting a quick bite to eat. It seemed like there weren’t many options to grab something on the run, and a few folks said they missed our set because it took so long for them to get some food. But we did have a lot of friends there to listen and say hello, which is the best part of it all. This was a really nice day, and I’m looking forward to the festival again next year.

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