The past 16 months has seen me log tens of thousands of ocean kilometres and over a thousand hours of stage time. I have met countless cruise ship passengers and visited about 20 beautiful ports from Miami to Aruba to Cozumel to Long Beach. I weathered hurricane Matthew and a few other tropical storms, visited Mayan ruins, strolled the Hollywood Walk of Fame, toured the Queen Mary, wrote 30 songs and saw way more lizards than I ever thought I would.
But while that was exciting, it is not quite as exciting as my returning to performing in Nova Scotia with a fresh new perspective.
As some of my followers on facebook will have noticed, playing cover songs 6 nights a week (i.e. being a “human jukebox”) wore heavily on me. Though I always felt deep gratitude and kept up my professional face, sometimes the thought of playing Piano Man for the millionth time filled me with dread.
I’ve had conversations with musicians and listeners many times about playing what the audience wants to hear. And opinions vary wildly. Some believe entertainers have a duty to play what a crowd wants. Some believe artists should play whatever they please and let listeners take it or leave it. And that’s the rub: as performers we are some combination of “entertainer” and “artist”. The entertainer entertains and the artist makes art. (The venue also plays a part in this, but I won’t get into that too deeply)
I have always aimed to balance entertainment and art. As such, I always felt that many of the venues I played called for a balance of original materials and cover songs. And because I was limited geographically and wanted to play lots of shows, I took gigs that called for lots of cover songs.
However, after my experience of playing almost exclusively cover songs for tourists, I realized that I was selling out my art. And so, I have decided to focus entirely on my own music.
This may mean fewer shows, but the bottom line is that if an “audience” does not want to hear my songs, they are not really MY audience. But they are probably someone else’s audience. So, if I play a show and the venue doesn’t want me back, it just means that is someone else’s audience.
By being more authentic in my art, I hope that I will build an even more authentic army of friends, supporters and co-creators that will propel my music forward!