Are You Making Connections?
Have you ever found yourself in a good situation by seemingly random chance? Then, when you look back at it, you realize a connection led you there?
The people I've met have determined the course of my entire life, and my music career is turning out to be no different.
This past Saturday night I got to sing for a SOLD OUT crowd at the Blue Chair Cafè. I was there – and the place was sold out – because of Rob Heath.
Rob Heath is a local songwriter who graciously opens up his home one Monday night a month for a songwriters' circle. 15 of us or so gather around, share music, listen and offer feedback. It's a beautiful gathering and I've improved my songs because of it. That would be enough for me, but the story doesn't end there.
Rob saw potential in me and Kaeli Morris – another member of the group – and invited us to perform with him at The Blue Chair Cafè. Working together, we sold out Saturday’s show with a room full of wonderful, deep listeners. It was such a gift for me to play a room like that.
It took years of hearing about Rob Heath's songwriters’ circle before I attended. If I hadn't, I would not have played the show on Saturday. That small decision to show up led to a big break.
I met some fantastic folks at the show. Some are likely reading this now.
Because I met them I was encouraged to play a ‘rockier’ set than I'd planned. I stood up for my final song. Because I did that, I got some fantastic performance photos.
Some listeners told me about the music of Parker Millsap, which is pretty great and has some overlap with my own bow tie rock.
Because I played some Parker Millsap I discovered the Spotify playlist The New Retro, which you can guess I'm pretty into. Maybe one day I'll land on there. Who knows where the connections will lead?
I've got a few more incredible examples that have led me to a radio hosting gig and some recording time in Vancouver at no cost to me.
I'm a regular arts columnist on CBC Radio's RadioActive afternoon show. I got that gig because I was interviewed for the show years ago as the curator of a community arts space. The interviewer suggested I'd be a good fit for their InCrowd segment. It's been nearly three great years now and I'll be back on tomorrow afternoon.
The Big Dreamer
I've been recording some tracks for an upcoming release with Harry Gregg, someone I met by sticking my neck out and playing the Big Dreamer Jam here in Edmonton. I showed up, we met and eventually started working together on a collection of songs I can't wait to share with you. I've met dozens of other excellent local musicians because of Harry.
I met Tim LaRivierre while working on a project called Bridge Songs through a church I attended more than 10 years ago. We've stayed in touch, kept working together and now he plays bass in my Small-Tones band. Through Tim, I met Mark, our drummer.
This summer I was in a songwriting workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I sat next to Roy Salmond, who was doing sound for the conference and decided to sit in with us. I found out later that he's a renowned Vancouver record producer who has worked with Steve Bell and others. Through the workshop, Roy heard my music and liked what he heard. Roy has been blessed with the ability to record an artist each year at no cost to the artist, and we might be working on such a project in the near future. I head out West to start the process of working together.
Of course, none of these is the end of a story. Each connection is a step, perhaps even a new beginning.
All of these connections have taught me to show up. I never know who is listening. I never know who is in the room. So I'd better be there with the best I can offer.
Put simply, keep showing up.