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Gig Day

I’ve got a gig tonight at Savona’s, a great Italian restaurant in the Rondout of Kingston. We’re just performing for two hours in the bar, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, but I’m nervous. I guess I always get a little nervous on gig day. But for some reason, I’m a little more nervous than usual.

Gig days are weird. I try to focus on work and what needs doing, but there is always a part of my internal energy that is shooting out ahead of the present moment to anticipate what’s coming. Am I prepared? What about the verse on that one tune? Do I really want to do “I Concentrate on You” as a duet with the bass player? What am I going to wear? How much time do I need to get ready, haul equipment, warm up and not feel rushed?

I’m singing with jazz guitarist Dennis Winge, and bass player, Jim Curtin. I’ve only performed with Dennis once before and it went really well. I’ve never performed with Jim, but he’s a player; he knows what to do. Yet I can’t help but feel antsy, uncertain.

Sometimes, like today, nervous anticipation disguises itself as fatigue. I get tired, sleepy, and I feel exposed and vulnerable. I tuck myself inside to hide a bit before I need to come out in performance.

I was talking to my friend Terese Genecco who performs regularly at the Iridium in New York City. She never gets nervous. She gets amped up, but not anxious. But at her last performance at the Iridium, there was a talent scout coming to see her, and while she claims she wasn’t nervous, I was with her just before she left her apartment to go do that show, and she was nervous.

And it was one of the best nights she ever had. She told me her voice would do anything she wanted it to. She was wild, alive and free to go full out and beyond. Her band was hot and playing their best in order to impress her guest drummer, Michael Berkowitz. It was magic on steroids.

I guess that’s it. As singers we wonder, Will my voice let me do whatever I want tonight? What limitations or compromises will I be presented with? The performance space? The ability to hear myself? The moodiness of my instrument? It’s these unknowns that spark the inner jitters.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight. I never do. My intention is to show up, be fully present inside each song, listen to my boys and ride the music. Meanwhile, I need to get back to work.

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