This sounds much worse than it actually was, but it was definitely a trying time!
The premise was simple: my first show in Arkansas since the Pneumatic Girls played there in 2013, plus a chance to get one of my best friends (Robert M. Jones) back on stage one more time. It expanded some to include my longtime musical collaborator Matthew Trisler, which was quite welcome as I was really nervous about playing a solo acoustic show.
My girlfriend and I made it to North Little Rock without incident, stopping briefly to drop the kids off with my parents. It was good to see Robert and Jamie again and we had a great visit prior to the show. Robert and I ran some CDs to the Arkansas Record & CD Exchange – it's good to have allies in every city you visit. While there, we touched base with our buddy Reade Mitchell whom was helping out with the show (on stage with percussion, as well as helping us secure a PA). A little later we made our way over to Reno's Argenta Cafe. The vibe in the place is pretty cool, as is the service and food. We were pretty excited. I assisted Reade with the PA and hooked my Tascam multitrack up in an effort to get a good recording of the show. We ate and I ran about hamming it up with the regulars. Reade's wife, Carla, made it out to the show as well as a number of old friends from my college days.
Robert's set was great – brief, but I like to think he made a great impression on people. I got onstage and played melodica on "You Will Cover Me". Matthew followed and his set was great, but the bar had me stop him short (time, and also the regulars supposedly weren't sticking around – a "running people off" thing) – talk about super super awkward. I think that probably rattled me.
So it was time for me to play and I, uneasy about the end of the previous set but appropriately fueled by Shiner Bock, cranked it up in earnest. Then it hit me: I can't hear anything. My guitar, my vocals, Reade's perc, NONE OF IT. "Motivational" came and went, roughly, then "Ampersands" … "First Episode" … "Sundaydrunk" … all rough. Someone ran up to address the problems – no one could hear me sing. I could relate. I began to deflate. I was a little too tipsy to have a full-on anxiety attack. I started cutting songs, really rushing to get the energy in the room back up (and also so I could get the HELL off the stage). Robert jumped onstage to sing the big finish of "(If I Held You) Close To Me" and that was pretty awesome. The only song I felt genuinely good about was a manic cover of Bob Dylan's "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine". We finished and I was really glad it was over. The staff at Reno's (even considering the awkward moment with Matthew's set) were exceptionally gracious and kind, and took good care of us. I'd love to go back. Maybe with a band.
We went back to Robert & Jamie's house, did a lot of laughing, and I sort of finished myself off with rum and a memorable visit to the restroom to exorcise some spirits. God bless my girlfriend – I've no clue why she puts up with me.
We drove home, picked up the kids, and proceeded to have car trouble so after an obscene amount of time we made it back to town. I'm surprised I didn't kiss the ground.
Happily, Robert and Matthew's sets recorded nicely, and mine did not. All the easier to forget it.
SET*: Motivational Poster / Ampersands / First Episode / Sundaydrunk / For Old Friends / We Died Laughing / If This is Forward / (If I Held You) Close To Me / Most Likely You'll Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine (Bob Dylan)
* From memory, which may be very spotty.