Shannon McMahon

Wishing On Planes

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Midyear Report Card 2013

Here it is June already - almost July, even, and yet this is my first blog post. Shameful, I know. If this were a true midterm report, I guess I would be failing, starting with my promise to write more regular blog posts.  I set a lot of goals for myself, none of which have been realized...yet. I submitted to several festivals via Reverbnation and SonicBids, to no avail. I entered each with hope and submitted my songs with pride, but received the ubiquitous "Thanks, but no thanks," e-mail on all of them. However, I did get one yes from http://www.mvyradio.com/local_musicafe/, allowing me to post Emotional Vampire and Anyway on their site. Both songs are available for free download for as long as the songs are posted there.

Second Life has given me many fans and friends from all over the world. I am amazed at the wide range of talented musicians there, and I am lucky to count them as my friends. I was honored to be asked to participate in a project that commemorated the 4th anniversary of a band named SOAR from Australia. I recorded two songs, Brindabella and I Fall. The songs I recorded as well as the songs done by other musicians can be found here: http://www.brightoh.com/Bright/ANNIVERSARY.html.

April and May were crazy months full of shows at places like SoNo Caffeine, Two Boots, The Outer Space, Klekolo World Coffee, Huntington Street CafeNeverending Books and the All-American Valley General Store. I don't think I ever had that many gigs in one month, but I enjoyed it. It's usually feast or famine around here.

I have enjoyed being part of the Singer/Songwriter night at Two Boots. I have played there three times in the last couple of months, including last night, which was a great night, even though I missed game 6 of the Chicago Blackhawks - Boston Bruins Stanley Cup finals. A reporter from Fairfield County Weekly was there writing a story about the series. Maybe I'll get a little publicity...

Sadly, I have not done any songwriting. I wish I could find the inspiration, but nothing has come. I keep trying. An idea did spring to mind the other day, and I wrote it down. Perhaps I can make that into something. When I write songs, there is an endless pressure for each song to be good, so fear can sometimes deter me. Speaking of songs, I submitted The Test to Sandy Hook Songs for Hope. They had six slots open for songs to appear on their CD, and I would be so honored to be chosen as one of those. They will announce the chosen songs on Sunday June 30th at 8pm on Jon Stein's "Hootenanny Radio Cafe," WTBQ, Warwick, NY (1110 AM, 93.5 FM) and www.WTBQ.com.

Upcoming Shows:

July 1: Horseshoe Cafe, Southport, CT 9pm (open mic featured performer)

July 23: Klekolo World Coffee, Middletown, CT 7-9pm

October 18: Artsquest/Steel Stacks Creativity Commons Bethelehem, PA 8-11pm

November 5: Klekolo World Coffee, Middletown, CT

 

I am hoping the second half of the year will provide me with more opportunities to reach the goals I have set, or even introduce some new ones. As always, thanks so much for your continued support. I couldn't do any of this without you!

2013

Happy New Year! 2013 is unfolding around us, and as it's traditional to think about change, and starting fresh, I am looking at what I would like to see happen in my life of music. I refuse to call my goals for the coming year resolutions. They never come true. I'd prefer to call them wishes. These are things that I want to achieve. Looking back at 2012, I see that I played open mics at some new places, had a few more gigs than in 2011, and made some new contacts. I did not write any songs in 2012. I only wrote one blog post. Not exactly what you would call a productive year, musically, but the experiences do grow, as time goes by.

So here's what's on my wish list for 2013:

*Write songs! (Good songs, of course.) *Record Lost in Montreal *Push harder to get my music out where it can be heard *Connect with fans locally and globally via social media, e-mail, at shows and writing monthly posts of this BLOG (Yes, I know this year was a little short on blog posts), to remind them how very important they are to me *Get a slot as a performer at Musikfest 2013 in Bethlehem, PA *More gigs, of course, if I can

Did I leave anything out? Most of these are doable, I think. All of them are steps required to take my music to another level.

It has always been a dream of mine to make something out of my music, to get to the point where people want to hear it, buy it, and come to live shows, even pay to see me play. I feel like I'm dipping my toe in the water, but the water is ice-cold. I am invested body and soul in this endeavor -- have been since I was young. It's in my blood. My story isn't any different from the millions of talented others who want the same thing, but I keep going...I keep chasing that tumbleweed.

 

Singer/Songwriter Night

This Sunday, I'm going to be playing an all-originals set for singer/songwriter night at The Outer Space.  I'm the show opener, and will be setting the tone for the whole night. I love to play originals, and yet there is a thread of trepidation. I always wonder if the audience will connect with any of my songs. It goes back to the writing, I think. For me, songwriting is a painstaking process. Some songs are easier than others to write, but each song needs to be coaxed and cajoled out into the open, and finding that conduit is the tricky part. Ideas do not come as quickly as they once did. What could I possibly say that hasn't already been said? The truth is, there's nothing new. With the billions of songs out there, spanning continents and time, everything has already been said...or sung. How the idea is expressed makes it unique. What personal inflection and individual story do I bring to it?

The ultimate test is whether the song strikes a chord in the hearts of others. A very tall order, but nonetheless the goal of each and every song I write. Hence, the fear and perfectionism that most likely hinders my progress. This creates a vicious circle of procrastination and avoidance, which is the opposite of what's necessary. In order to really succeed, I need to push myself to write more, not less.

So, in preparing my all-original set for Sunday, I think of the songs of mine that may have the most impact or universal appeal. I put my words and ideas out there, hoping they will be received and accepted, hoping that my voice and guitar offer the perfect delivery, and praying that they make a connection.

 

 

Mixed Reality Show

I know, it's been a few months since I posted a new blog...Call me a slacker. Last night I did something I have never done before. I played a live show at RW's BBQ in Brookfield, CT and streamed live video from the show into Second Life. I'm no video star for sure, and I'm always self-conscious about being filmed, but I guess people thought it was okay. I was worried about the technology coming together, but we managed to figure it out. Since we don't own a laptop, we actually brought in my desktop computer so we could stream into Second Life as well as on ustream. I thought it would be more of a bother to set up and break down, but it was easy.

Seven of my friends came to hear me play and for the yummy BBQ.  Having them there made the atmosphere so much more relaxed, and I enjoyed that. About a dozen people from all over the world showed up at Nitida Ridge, the venue in Second Life.  They made comments and requested songs. Rich manned the keyboard and kept me informed so I could thank them and honor their requests. It is very hard to explain the scope of Second Life without people actually seeing what goes on.  The real life audience was fascinated with Second Life--the avatars danced, made requests and commented on the music, which brought the two audiences together. My two-hour set passed by rather quickly, I thought. All too soon, it was time to pack up and go home. Streaming live video into Second Life was a lot of fun. I know I will do it again sometime in the near future. Thanks so much to everyone who made it possible!

My next live show is January 13, 2012 at SoNo Caffeine in South Norwalk, CT.

 

More Open Mics

I've been trying to play one open mic a week as much as I possibly can. I have missed a couple of weeks, but got back on track this week with the Thursday night open mic at Hideaway Cafe in Newtown, CT. I had originally planned to play the Georgetown Saloon, but realized their acoustic open mic is on Tuesdays and their open jam is on Thursdays, so I was in search of another open mic to play. Some open mics are better than others, and it can be hit or miss from place to place, and even from week to week.  I'm so glad I found this one! Hideaway Cafe's open mic is hosted by Michel Rae, a singer/songwriter from Brookfield. Most of the musicians playing that night were regulars, except for my friend James and me. I started my 3-song set with Anyway. When I play40 Years On, I always scan the crowd to see if there is anyone old enough to be a Vietnam veteran, and if there isn't, I send it out to all veterans. There did happen to be a Vietnam vet in the audience, as well as a veteran from a more current war. At the end of that song, he stood up and applauded. I thought he was standing for my song, but he was playing next, so that's probably why he got up.  He did thank me for writing the song when he opened his set. It really means a lot to me that my songs reach people. I cannot explain what that feels like -- to be able to make that kind of connection with people through my words and music -- there's nothing like it. I closed my set with Angel From Montgomery, a John Prine cover.  The audience was great. It's so nice to play for people who are there for the music.

In between sets, Michel announced that a band had canceled for Saturday night if anyone was interested in playing for tips. Jeff Smith and I both raised our hands, so we decided to split the bill and share the night. I immediately made announcements all over Facebook and the Twitterverse to  get the word out to bring in an audience. It's so hard to build a fan base. I have a global audience through my shows in Second Life, but procuring a local one is more difficult.

On Saturday, Jeff opened the show, playing an array of originals on guitar and ukulele with a few covers sprinkled in.  He did a great job. I enjoyed his set very much. He called me up to sing harmony on Damien Rice's Delicate but I just couldn't find it. I was a bit embarrassed, but oh well. I opened my set with Emotional Vampire. Having broken the cardinal rule of singing by having a grilled cheese sandwich just before I sang, I was worried that my voice would be affected.  Thank goodness my voice was okay. The crowd was sparse at the beginning of the night, but people started to trickle in. I recognized several people who had been there on Thursday night, so maybe I'm starting to get some local fans...I played an hour and a half or so of originals and covers, including There's A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths, that I think sounds better in theory than when I actually play it, but it was fun to play. All in all, it was a good night. I really enjoyed myself and hoped the crowd did too. I sold one CD, and there was money in the tip jar too. Jeff and I were invited to come back and play whenever we want.

That's what I call a successful open mic. Great crowd, networking opportunities, CD sales and a gig. They certainly all aren't that way, but you never know who's in that audience. Could be a new fan, a venue owner, a fellow musician or a new friend.

 

© 2018 Shannon McMahon Music