The Importance of Having Fun as an Emerging Artist

I'm between gigs at the moment. Last night I played at Fritz's Place in Keene, NH and tonight I play a Three-way co-bill with Steve Allain and Ashley Root at the Brooklyn Coffee and Tea House in North Providence, RI. As I sit here writing this entry, I am struck by something one of the audience member said to me after my set. He apparently saw me play before because when he greeted me, he shook my hand and told me that he "always loved watching me perform because he could tell I was having so much fun on stage".  And it's true, I do! But why? Why do I find stage performance so enjoyable when some many other people would rather have a root canal without anesthesia than be the sole focus of attention on a stage?

I have never really suffered from stage fright although I know many people that do. Part of it is certainly practice: you do something long enough and you become at ease with the activity. But I believe there is more to it than that with stage comfort (the opposite of stage fright). Knowing your material well is certainly important, but everyone makes flubs now and again. I think that the activity has to be, indeed, needs to be, fun for you to be comfortable. I simply love playing guitar and singing. I always have as long as I can remember. Because of this love, the activity, the performance becomes my inner focus. People who are not "stage comfortable", tend to focus on how they appear to their audience, rather than being present in the moment with their performance. Indeed, it's possible for people who are not "stage comfortable" to be too inward looking when performing and "shut out" the outside world. So there needs to be a dynamic balance between engaging an audience on the one hand and focusing on your actual performance on the other. 

So I'm really looking forward to tonight's gig at the Brooklyn Coffee and Tea House. I've played there before with the Rhode Island Songwriter's Association and it was simply wonderful. But for me, why people come to see me and my co-bill companions is our collective enjoyment of our activity. Because when we have fun on stage, the audience has fun as well. And isn't that why we emerging artists do this in the first place?

Food for thought. 

Yours in DADGAD

Rick Gottlieb