I've been hanging out at a few music jams over the last several months, getting to know some of the local talent and sharing mine with them. (Which is a silly way of saying, taking turns playing guitar and singing with them.)
And this week, one of those fellow musicians asked if I wanted to play a set at a local craft fair. There were several other folks there performing before me, and I knew them all -- knew their style, was comfortable with it -- and figured, hey, a small-town craft fair can't be that busy, especially toward the end of it. So I said, sure, I'll play and sing for a half-hour or so after you all are done.
I walked in and realized, there's vendors. and people eating lunch. and more people. Since when did so many people hang out at small-town craft fairs?
Anyway. For me, it's one thing to play guitar and sing in front of people I know, like at church. It's one thing to play guitar as backup for another singer, musician or group. It's something else entirely to be up there with a mic shoved in my face, expected to sing and play (simultaneously!) with some measure of excellence before an audience of strangers.
But that's just what I did.
It was actually kind of fun. I flubbed a bit during the patter between songs... mostly because I was flipping haphazardly through my songbook, picking out the next song on a whim (and the next, and the next...). But hey, once I started singing each song, the music drew my attention away from the strangers, from everything going on surrounding me, from the fact that the Chamber of Commerce director was sitting right in front of me -- and redirected my focus to the songs, the stories they told, the beauty of the chord progressions and the wordplay.
It was only between songs that it hit home how narrowly folksy (and predominantly melancholy!) my repertoire is. But hey, it's a small-town craft fair. It felt appropriate.
Several people -- friends and strangers, performers and spectators -- told me afterward I did well and should keep singing. Not that I had any intention of stopping altogether. But maybe I'll do so more often in rather public venues, not just at church and at friendly music jams.
P.S. I didn't even play my own guitar. One of the earlier guitarists offered to let me borrow his acoustic -- and the sound system it was attached to -- for the set. I'm quite grateful!