Shannon McMahon

Wishing On Planes

Filtering by Tag: folk

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!

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.

 

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...

© 2018 Shannon McMahon Music