Sunday, June 05, 2016

"Mainstay Mondays" saw an opening night that exceeded expectations on every level, and personally, was a demonstration to me of just how much love I receive around here. When Rory Trainor approached me about "a steady gig" at the Mainstay, he was offering something unheard of, and nothing any musician would ever even imagine to expect. The Mainstay is a coveted performance venue for musicians regionally, nationally, and even around the world. Rory was certainly breaking new ground in this move (among others he has initiated in his new tenure as Executive Director), but not until the first performance, on Memorial Day, did his perspective on this begin to sink in with me. In our initial discussions; of weekly shows where I would bring a new guest each time, I blew right past the emphasis Rory was placing on my own participation. I was given total freedom, even to the point of being encouraged to shine significant light on myself. As our discussion continued, though, my mind went straight to how featuring the guest each week would be the focus, and not me (or at least not too much). First of all, I know what a performance at the Mainstay would mean to whoever I invited to share the stage. Secondly, folks around here see me all the time (or at least have the opportunity to). This concept fell right into my inclination to take the supporting role; finding that particular space to be in the other's expression and space. So, leading with that was a given; a no brainer. Not that I wouldn't feature myself. I planned to open with a solo feature, then introduce the guests, and be, of course, an active participant in the process. 
By the conclusion of our first night, I was shown, or perhaps reminded of the deal. A performer sees from where they are. Sees out, yes, but from our eyes. It's like a gig with a sound engineer. You really don't know what the sound is like out in the room. All you can really work with is what it is like where you are sitting. An effective sound person manages both spaces; the artist, and the audience. It is kind of like that; I know what it feels like to have the connection with those around me (on stage and off) when I play. And I know that this community is amazingly supportive. But while I go on in the place where I am, Rory spent his initial months on the job (beginning the first of the year) being out where everyone else is, and learning the landscape. What became clear to him is something I know, but was brought to see with fresh (and grateful) eyes: that, as I said earlier, I get a lot of love around here. Of course, so did Mike McShane and Paul Midiri on that first night. The people here are wonderfully supportive in general. But the depth of rapport and connection that I am blessed to have here was quite on display in our "Mainstay Mondays" kickoff show last week.  
In our performance that first night, there is this happy place that I think we immediately fell into, where all of us on the stage poured it on, leaving our egos wherever it is that we saw them last (as best we do); sharing a strong connection that was felt, even shared, by everyone in the room. Yes, this is what it's all about, Charlie Brown.
We knew Mainstay Mondays would be a good thing. Now that we've opened the box, though, this ride may teach us all a thing or three. Hang on ....     :) 

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