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Thoughts of a Thirsty Troubadour Part 5: Gig Day

Gig days can be hard. From the moment I wake up, all I think about is the gig. Gig gig gig. How do I feel today? How does my voice feel? Will people come? Are there reservations at the bar? Gotta send invoices, gotta make social media posts. How’s my contact lens supply? What if people think I’m bullshit? What if the sky falls? The list is never-ending. Seriously. It may seem as though all we do is show up and play for 3–4 hours but, in my case at least ( I can’t speak for others), the gig is more of a 24 hour affair.

Am I a Stressor?

Fuck. Yes. I am a stressor. Ask my wife! I want everything to be perfect even though it seldom ever is…ok, it NEVER is perfect. Seeing as I have promised to be 100% transparent in these writings, I am on some medication to help with the stress and anxiety level of this job. I live and DIE by this job. To be clear, I am not looking for sympathy or unwarranted pats on the back, it is just my personality, and medication and talking to professionals has helped me immensely over the last year (in all things, not just music). I know I am just a bar singer but I am still expected to “deliver” every night. I expect it of myself, the bar expects it and the crowd deserves it. So, no matter how I feel on any given night, the songs must be sung. Got a sore throat? Sing. Back pain? Sing. Panic attack? Sing. Feeling lack of confidence? Sing. Tired? Sing. It is a very emotional job and I find that the smallest amount of stress can creep in and try to hijack a performance. I’m trying to get better at shutting that shit out, but sometimes it still gets me.

I truly marvel at the superstars of music. They seem to never have an “off” night. Their voice and performances are always pristine. Honestly, I don’t think I could handle that level of responsibility. People coming from all around the world to see you perform. Spending huge dollars. Hotels, plane tickets, etc. What if I let them down?

Tonight (July 17, 2022)

It’s summertime. Always a slow-ish time of year for a gigging musician. There’s lots going in people’s lives. Cottages, patios, decks, pool parties, sports, concerts, the list goes on. Heading into a show in the summer, I never really know what to expect, except that it will probably be a bit slower than usual. No problem, it comes with the territory. Really, I’m grateful for bars that keep their entertainment going all summer.

The night I had tonight was just off-the-charts . I had the most amazing people come. The singing along, and their engagement with me was just SO perfect and beautiful. Yet still my brain says, “you don’t deserve this”. Stupid brain!

I recently saw a David Letterman interview with Billie Eilish. She talked about some of the same things that I have mentioned above. She was very honest and forthright about her state of mind. She believes she has a condition called “imposter syndrome”. When she described what it was, I was like, wow. That’s EXACTLY how I feel.

Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.

Not that I am “high-achieving” (I do ok!) but all the same, the above definition fits me to a tee. I have such a weird and non-sensical relationship with my job. A lot of times this work terrifies me but there is literally nothing else out there for me so I stick with it and find ways to keep on.

These days I’m working on getting better at accepting the highs and using the “lows” as an opportunity to think about how I can improve.

Sometimes though, life is only as good as my last gig….


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