I went to my first FAR-WEST conference in 2015. I was 44 years old, had just recorded my first album, and was in search of guidance on how to do the musician thing.
I studied up (Paul Barker’s Handbook & video), booked as many guerrilla showcases as I could and went to Oakland with my guitar, newly printed flyers & CDs, nervous but determined to keep my heart open and learn as much as I could.
It was an incredible, truly life changing experience.
I sat in the lobby hallway next to an impromptu jam involving 7 musicians from 4 different bands, so transported that I didn’t even want to pull out my guitar. I learned what a hammered dulcimer is & what it sounds like in the hands of a master. I gave an exhausted stranger my room key so he could nap for 2 hours before the night’s showcases began. I handed out flyers & CDs, played my showcases and went to every presentation & workshop I could. I traded songs with strangers.
I tried to keep this advice from my research in mind: “I am not here to get gigs, I am here to build relationships.”
Hoping to get into the house concert circuit, I attended the “Booking From the Venue’s Perspective” panel. I took copious notes, asked questions, listened carefully & left with the most valuable piece of information from the entire weekend: I wasn’t ready.
I had recorded one album and hadn’t toured outside my home county, and any savvy venue would take one look at my website & know that I was not yet the seasoned performer & accomplished songwriter that I aspired to be.
After attending that panel, I knew that if I reached out to house concert venues before I was ready, I would burn those contacts. It was the right information for me at the right time, and I left committed to do the work: Write more songs, perform, record, build a foundation based on the music and the relationships.
I drove home Sunday afternoon, tears streaming down my face, feeling forever altered & grateful, with these lyrics on my mind: “Fare thee well, dream weavers & believers. Fare thee well my friends, may we meet again - and the music never end.”