Last night I played and sang at Tommy Doyle’s in Hyannis. It was a late night, and a very early morning. I’m exhausted but happy, still riding the buzz I always get after performing in front of a crowd. Boy, I really did miss that feeling. It didn’t take me as long as I thought it would to regain my self-confidence, even though I was playing my 28-year-old “starter” guitar, with an acoustic pickup in the sound hole instead of a plug-in acoustic/electric, and a guitar strap I had to repair with twine. May not have looked good, but it sounded great. About a third of the way into my first tune my confidence suddenly returned, as I looked around the pub at my audience-mostly 20-somethings, mostly male. Ordinarily that would intimidate me, but the looks on their faces caught me by surprise. They were actually listening, and smiling, and looking pretty darn impressed. As I continued to sing, I grew more comfortable, and let myself go with the music. I knew they didn’t know any of the songs I was doing, and that was my plan. I didn’t want to just do cover tunes, I wanted to give them something new. Next I did one of my own songs that I had only written about a week earlier, but I did not mention this. I just told them the name of the song and dove right in. Turns out they liked it. A lot. Another boost to my confidence as a songwriter, which was sorely needed. When I was done, the guy who is in charge of the open mic night asked me to do more. I told him I couldn’t, I had only come prepared for what I’d just done. Always leave them wanting more. So he asked me to come back again next week, with a longer set. That made me feel good. I’m guessing if I wasn’t any good, he would have just said “thanks for coming, NEXT!” I felt a little like Sally Field accepting her Oscar- “you LIKE me! you really LIKE me!”
I went back to the table where my husband sat watching and listening, and got his assessment of my performance. According to him, I “rocked it”. He was very proud of me, and I think a little surprised. It’s been almost twenty years, and for the entirety of our relationship he has heard me sing only a handful of times. I don’t sing around the house, which I suppose is odd for a singer. While I sat with him and drank a pint of Guinness in celebration, two of the 20-something young male musicians who were going to play later in the evening came over. They each told me how much they liked my set, how great they thought my voice was, etc. I think I blushed, and thanked them sincerely. They have no idea how they made me feel. It felt so good to have a younger musician appreciate my music. When I mentioned that I was just getting back to performing after almost twenty years, they were astounded, and told me they hoped I would return next week and sing some more. I assured them I would be there, with a longer set. I think I floated home.