Shannon McMahon

Wishing On Planes

Filtering by Tag: Second Life

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.


Five States in Two Days

I'm writing this post in the stupor of near exhaustion after a few days of circumnavigating the Northeast. I  passed through five states in two days--Massachusetts for an open mic, Pennsylvania for a birthday party, through Connecticut, New York and New Jersey to get where I needed to go, and then back home for a two-hour stint volunteering at the Milford Oyster Festival. I guess I need a better event planner. Thursday evening I played an open mic night (Hootenany) at the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Nestled in the Berkshires, Great Barrington is a beautiful town two hours north of here. We met up with friends from Second Life, including Alex Whitmore, (Capos Calderwood in SL) and had dinner at Gypsy Joynt Cafe, a family owned restaurant and live music venue with a colorful hippie vibe.  It was great to finally get a chance to eat there after hearing about it a year ago when I was playing FODfest. Jordan Weller, who also played FODfest last year, books the musical talent. I really wanted to go introduce myself to him, but shyness got the better of me. I am really lousy sometimes at speaking up about myself.

Signup for open mic started at 7pm, but we had heard the list fills up amazingly quickly, so we finished up our dinner and headed over to the Guthrie Center. Housed in the Old Trinity Church (the place where Alice lived in the movie Alice's Restaurant), the Guthrie Center serves those in need in the community and offers educational, spiritual and cultural programs.  We were lucky enough to arrive just before 7, and even though they weren't officially open, we were invited in. Alex and I signed up for the fourth and third spots, getting our names on the list before anyone else did.


While we were inside, a storm was brewing outside. Flashes of lightning and echoes of thunder created the backdrop for our show inside the church. Open mics bring a range of talent, and the spectrum was covered that night.  My own voice was weak due to a sore throat I just couldn't kick. As a result, my three songs didn't have the strength and energy they usually do, so I was disappointed in my performance, but the crowd was appreciative.  Alex played three songs after I did and the crowd really enjoyed them.  After we listened to a few more musicians, it was time to go. We were worried about the weather and how treacherous that might make the long drive home, but we were graced with  some beautiful lightning illuminating the sky and a few sprinkles of rain. By the time we finally pulled into our driveway, it was midnight.

Friday dawned, bringing with it the task of a three-hour drive to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for my sister-in-law's surprise birthday party. The sun was shining and it was hot and humid, but it was clear, which made it perfect for driving. I left the house just before 1pm, hoping not to get stuck in any traffic. My wish was not granted, however. There were pockets of traffic all along the way. Nevertheless, I arrived three hours later. The weather forecast for the next several hours was not good. I had seen some nasty looking clouds gathering on my way in.  The thunder, wind and rain came as we were outside setting up for the party. Luckily, it only lasted an hour, and then the sky brightened. It was a nice party. My sister-in-law was truly surprised and everyone had fun. I had brought my guitar and was supposed to sing, but the moment for it never happened.  The party had a good groove going and sometimes it's hard to introduce something like that without breaking the rhythm. I'm not sure my voice was all that good anyway--it was still recovering from the sore throat/cold thing.  By the time the party ended and all the guests had gone home, it was 2am. So much for a good night's sleep. Saturday came too quickly, and I woke up anticipating the day's three-hour drive home.

At around 10am I made my way back home, making good time till I got to Connecticut. The turnpike was backed up much of the way, and I was running out of time. I needed to be at the Milford Oyster Festival at 3pm for my two-hour volunteer shift scooping kettle corn for the Perry House, and I was  in desperate need of a shower. I managed to get home about 1:30, and arrived at the kettle corn booth at 3:15.  By 5:10, my shift was finished and I was dead on my feet.  I received a large bag of kettle corn for my efforts. Afterwards, we went out for dinner with friends and I got home in time to get ready for my only Second Life show of the day.  I was truly exhausted right before my show, but somehow the crowd kept me going. What a great way to close out the day. Needless to say, I've got nothing on my schedule for the next few days...

The Song of the Stolen Guitar, Part 2

Back in January, I wrote a blog post about a song I was going to write memorializing my stolen guitar. I finally started work on that song, creating the first verse a few months ago. Strangely enough, this song has taken forever to materialize. As I write this, the song is about 85% done, I think. For some reason, it has been very difficult to express the story without sounding like a sentimental fool. I'm not sure there's any way around that. In my early days of songwriting, the songs would come a heck of a lot faster. If I couldn't finish the song in one sitting, I would trash the remnants. I'm not so quick to do that now.  This is the first song I've written since 40 Years On was finished back in November of 2009. EmmyLou Harris talked about her fear of songwriting in a recent interview. I can surely relate to that. I am lucky that many seem to connect to my songs -- that is such an amazing feeling. I want to make that connection EVERY time, so that puts pressure on me to create a song that people can understand and believe in.

I have been playing the new song, in its fragmented and experimental state, to my Second Life audiences for the past week or two now. I'm not sure whether it's helped or not, in regards to feedback or whatever. In the past, I used to play the song over the phone to a friend when I was finished, just to get someone's opinion. Playing an unfinished song is uncharted territory for me--drawing the listeners into the songwriting process and allowing them to see the song evolve.

This song is moving SO slowly. I'm not sure what's keeping the words and music from flowing, but I truly hope to finish it by the end of this week. The working title is Lost in Montreal, so be on the lookout for it, and let me know what you think.

When Songs Leave the Nest

I am a songwriter. I wrote my first song when I was 10 or so. Of course, it wasn't any good, but that's not the point. That song was the beginning of a new way of expressing myself. A number of years later (too many to mention), I am still writing songs, despite a 12-year gap that made me wonder if my songwriting was a fluke. When I was writing these songs, I never stopped to think what the end result would be. I assumed I would perform and record them, and that was pretty much it. So when a Second Life musician friend came to me and asked if he could play one of my songs in his set, I said no. I never really thought about what it would mean for someone else to play my music -- my thinking didn't go that far. I had to revisit what my goals were for myself in regards to my music. My dream has always been about performing, recording and writing. And what happens if I let go of one of my songs? I don't mean give it away, but what would happen if I lent it to someone else, for them to put their own stamp on it? I wasn't prepared for that. The word mine kept popping into my head.  After I thought about it a bit, and talked to other songwriters, I decided to say yes. The person who asked is a musician whose talent and skill I respect, and I could imagine that his version of the song would sound really good.  It was a strange feeling to hear one of my songs sung by someone else, but also interesting to hear another interpretation, especially since it was a great rendition.

The upside of letting other people play my songs is the possible broader audience and wider exposure it might garner for my music. It is also very flattering to have written songs that resonate with other musicians and songwriters. Other musicians have asked to play some of my other songs, and I am still a wee bit tentative. I do draw the line on songs I myself have not yet recorded or released. Even if Elvis himself, or anyone topping the charts asked, I would have to say no. Maybe it's selfish, but I want to be the one that gets the first shot at it. The songs I write are like children to me -- little pieces of me that I unveil and scatter into the world. They develop and grow in my heart, and I become attached to them, making it ever so hard to let go.

© 2018 Shannon McMahon Music