As an unknown full-time independent musician, there is struggle that goes on in my mind of insecurities verses a love for creativity that I’m sure other artists can relate to. At a time when one thing after the other was going wrong and I found myself questioning why do I even bother to continue to do this? Then I found a note in my tip jar that reminded me exactly why.
Friday and Sunday afternoons I play a somewhat noisy restaurant near home. I stopped performing this instrumental version of Don McLean’s song “Vincent” (also known as “Starry Starry Night”) because of one of the managers at the restaurant actually had the nerve to complain to me that he didn’t like it. The idea that he would do this is bad enough but he took it one step further by voicing his dislike for it loudly while I was playing it. “Hey Jim, you’re putting me to sleep with that one! How about putting a little pep in my step?” To many of you reading this, this might seem like no big deal but this was the first of a series disheartening events to happen that had me questioning everything I was doing musically. Some were worse but this one relates to what happens in the end.
So, long story short, I’m back at that same restaurant with Mr. Pep in My Step and I haven’t played “Vincent” there or at any gig in over a month. Even though he might voice his complaint again, even though it’s loud as hell with all the people talking in here, even though I’m so out of practice with this tune.. I like it and I’m playing it! I start it up and I instantly see this manger’s look of disapproval as he stares at me. I’m filled with anxiety. What’s he going to say now? But, half way into the song I notice the room has gotten eerily silent. Surprisingly most people were fixed on listening. There was even a number of tables in the far back of the room that a large family had put together to sit at and they even went as far to stop eating and turn their chairs around to see me and listen. Needless to say this was inspiring and I played that song probably better than ever before. At the end of the song, I received much needed spirit lifting applause. Any clapping at all is rare for this usually noisy venue. It felt good.
What felt amazing was reading the note I found in my tip jar (that originally I thought was garbage.. yes that really happens) after the gig. I can only assume it was left by the woman of that large family in the back of the room. I started to tear up as I read it. All the bad vibes from before, they’re gone. I LOVE PLAYING MUSIC.
(Read note below)