One afternoon following a three-hour performance, a rather attractive young lady stepped out of the audience, walked up to the stage, stared me straight in the eyes and flat out asked me what it is like to sing and play in front of all these people.
“Aren’t you nervous? How do you do that and look so calm and comfortable?”
The truth is, after nearly a thousand gigs and sitting in with hundreds of bands, I still get those pre-performance jitters.
I must admit, I have always had a weak stomach and quite often I have to chew a Rolaids tablet just to get me through what I call my twisted tummy. I always feel a little shaky when I step onto a stage to play. But every time, after just a few bars of music, it all magically goes away. I am glad to know those feelings subside at the beginning of the show and not throughout.
I had an episode one time while doing a gig at the Almaden Country Club in San Jose. It was a mild summer evening and the club was throwing a huge western-themed party for their members. Although the band was a true throwback from the ’60s, playing mostly vintage rock we were able to make it work. The first set was totally happening then we took our entitled break. They treated us royally and fed us quite well, chicken, steaks, burgers, beer, wine anything we wanted, then came the dessert.
In keeping with the theme it was a bourbon-laced freshly baked pineapple upside down cake. I didn’t know it was made with bourbon and I am highly allergic to that stuff. Then the break was over and time to play. We got back on the bandstand and started our first song.
In the middle of the song my stomach began to freak out. I started feeling like I was going to lose it right there on the stage in front of the entire audience. So I left, thinking if I take a walk I will feel better.
I walked into the darkness all the way to the far corner of the property near the tennis courts feeling dizzy and even sicker. I could hear the band in the background. That is when I started to lose it. Ten minutes turned into 20, and after 45 minutes I got everything out of my system and started feeling strong enough to make it back to the bandstand.
I got to the band and they were in the middle of what turned out to be their final song. I still felt a little queasy and considered asking the guys to pack my stuff. But I got a second wind and grabbed my harmonica just in time to play through and closed out the night with the band.
Of course, my band mates were downright worried. They had been looking for me, wondering why I disappeared. They had checked the bathroom, the bar and even sent one of the staff members to look around.
The song ended and I felt better than ever, packed up and went home. And to this day, I believe it was the energy of the music that healed me and allowed me to make it back onto the stage.
Got a music tip? E-mail ‘Fenny” at firstname.lastname@example.org
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