Shannon McMahon

Wishing On Planes

Filtering by Tag: The Outer Space

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!

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.

 

 

Open Mike Night

My steady stream of gigs has seemingly dried up, and I'm left to my own devices, hawking for gigs like a Girl Scout selling cookies. Unfortunately, I don't have the Thin Mints or the green uniform to boost the deal.  A wise person (my live-in roadie and sound man, Rich) advised me to get myself out there by playing weekly open mike nights. A great idea, of course.  I wish I had thought of it, but that's why I pay him the big bucks. The Outer Space in Hamden, CT was the first stop on my Open Mike Night Tour.  We arrived after 7pm, which was signup time and found the prime spots were taken, leaving only the very first slot at 7:30 and the third to last slot at 10:00.  I carefully weighed my decision, deciding against the first spot, because in my experience, the crowd is at its thinnest earlier on. In this case it would have been better had I chosen it. By the time my turn rolled around, after the featured act and one person ahead of me, the crowd had depleted considerably.  Lesson learned: Get there just before signup happens so you can get the slot you want.  I've been playing open mikes since I was 15, and I know the rules, but five minutes can make a huge difference.  I played The Sum of My Years, Anyway and Lost in Montreal (the new song about my stolen guitar).  The crowd was very appreciative, and I managed to sell one CD, get a tip and hand out a business card, which made it a success in my book.  Next stop is C.J. Sparrow in Cheshire, CT this Thursday, July 15th. Come on out and cheer me on! :)

Video Podcast

Last night I was part of a video podcast shoot to promote our upcoming show at The Outer Space in Hamden, CT.  The night didn't get off to an auspicious start when I got lost in the wilds of Naugatuck, trying to find  Vision Recording Studios. Thanks Google Maps! At least I wasn't the only one to get lost with those directions. After two calls, I finally made it there an hour later, only to find that in my rush to get on the road, I'd left my purse at home. It didn't make much of a difference that I was late, however, since the crew was working with one of the other acts, but I didn't want people to think I was ditzy because I couldn't find my way. Four other acts besides me will be appearing on Saturday, April 16th: Mojo Magnus, Sarah Lemieux, Tomorrow Just Started and Little Ugly. Last night's session included me, Little Ugly and Sarah Lemieux. A PBS crew working on a show about Connecticut musicians was there doing the filming and interviewing, and will add footage from the April 16th show to their final cut.  Each of us had an interview that lasted about thirty minutes and played two songs.  I played The Test and 40 Years On, since I talked about them in the interview. The video podcast will incorporate some of  the interview and most likely one of the songs. I am not a fan of myself on video or in pictures, so I'm not sure whether I want to see it or not, but of course I will watch it. It was an interesting evening, and even though it was long, I really enjoyed it. By the time I left the studio it was just after midnight. Thankfully, I didn't get lost on the way home.

Thanks to David Vignola, owner of Vision Recording Studios and half of Mojo Magnus, for giving me the opportunity to play at this event. The mix of musicians and styles are diverse, but each is very talented and I'm honored to be among them.

The video podcast should be out sometime next week, I believe...

Two Shows

Somehow, the god of live shows has been smiling down on me. Where there once was drought, there is now fruition. Starting in February and reaching all the way to May, my live show dance card is full. I'm playing SoNo Caffeine on Thursday, March 17, Maggie Mcflys in Middlebury on Wednesday, March 30, and The Outer Space on Saturday, April 16. Beyond that, who knows? On February 19th, 2011, I was part of Frank and Friends Saturday Night Special at the Huntington Street Cafe, in Shelton, CT. Frank Pergola, our host, kicked off the show with a couple of songs. John Hoyt, a banjo player from Indiana, played next, and then it was my turn. I played a 35-40 minute set of mostly originals to a very appreciative crowd. One woman in the front row was crying during my song  40 Years On. I'd like to believe it was the song that moved her to tears, but I'll never know for sure. I closed out my set with John Prine's Angel From Montgomery and Bob Dylan's You Ain't Going Nowhere so I could call Frank up on stage to add some guitar and vocals to the mix. The whole audience sang along on the last song, which was a great way to finish my set. The Zuzazz String Orkestra ended the night with a lively and eclectic set of classic tunes.  Here's a bit of video from the show: Greenwich Village was the locale for an hour set I played on the Window Box Stage at Manhattan Theatre Source on Saturday, February 26th. Amelia Blake, a fellow Second Life musician was in town from Louisiana, and we had made plans to get together that day. She mentioned the Window Box Stage, and I thought I would see if I could get a gig there on Saturday, since I was going to be in the city already.  I figured it would be a long shot, but lo and behold, the spot was open. As we had plans to roam around the Village all day, I had to find someplace secure to stash my guitar. A good friend of mine offered to let me keep my guitar at her place for the day. The caveat: she lives on the upper west side. Needless to say, we spent a good amount of time riding the subway in and out of the Village. We had plans to have lunch at Katz's Deli, but when we got there the line was too long, so we found Pulino's, a gourmet pizza place which was unexpectedly delightful.

Arriving in Greenwich Village 50 some-odd years late for the folk movement and culture that thrived in those days, I still felt a little like I was perpetuating history--just me and my guitar, singing my folk songs on MacDougal Street, steps away from Washington Square Park. The room was fairly empty when I began, save for the few familiar faces of friends, who came out to hear me and give support.  I was the opening act for the Manhattan Theatre Source production of Oscarpalooza, a show of film parodies. As the crowd of actors and audience trickled in, they found seats where they could and started paying attention. I did see people intently listening as I scanned the room. My last song was Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi and I'm told that folks sang along, but I didn't hear them.  After the show, we grabbed dinner with Amelia and JW at a nearby diner and talked till we had to catch the train home.

I'm very happy to have had an engaged crowd for both shows. I know that doesn't happen at every gig, but it gives me hope that my music is somehow reaching people.

© 2018 Shannon McMahon Music