It was the calm before the storm preceding my first show at a very iconic venue with an internationally recognized brand: The Hard Rock Cafe. I had allowed myself to cut loose and have fun with my sound check (as much as my reserved personality is capable of), then retreated to the green room to relax and spend a few moments gathering my thoughts and calming my nerves before people started to arrive. Then, as I sat there, deliberately setting aside the notion that this show was any different than any other show, the talent buyer walked in and confirmed to me that in fact it was different … but not in the way you might expect.
See, weeks prior, I had read and signed a rider contract full of very corporate sounding legal jargon, which in my experience is typically accompanied by detailed expectations about what type of music I must play and how I must interact. And everything about the brand recognition and the reputation of the company suggested that this was the type of gig where I should take care to make a good first impression. So imagine my surprise when he says “Play whatever you want!”.
What happened next is I completely relaxed, I went out and greeted people who had been seated at the bar and in the dining room, followed by one of the most confident performances I’ve had in a long time.
I’ve learned to handle pressure fairly well in this business, but it’s still very nice and refreshing to have complete control over the artistic statement I wish to make from time to time.