Recitals: Chatty and Otherwise

Remember me? Then stop questioning your heart and follow me, because it’s time for another newsletter! 

One of the most important things a musician does is play in front of people. In my last newsletter, I discussed how I was acquiring new skills in the area of solo fingerstyle guitar, and recording YouTube videos of various jazz standards. The next step, therefore, was to showcase my newly acquired chops in a live setting. 

This is harder than it sounds. However well you can play a piece on your living room sofa… you need to play it that much better if you’re going to be in front of an audience. If all you want to do is record YouTube videos, you just need to practice a song until you can play it right. But for a live performance, you need to practice until you can’t play it wrong. 

Furthermore, the live music scene did not rebound from the pandemic as well as I had hoped. My solution to this was a series of short “chatty recitals” presented on Facebook Live. To get an idea of how these went, here’s an example of one: 

Eventually, I was contacted for an in-person gig: a three-hour performance at a private party. I had four weeks to prepare for it, but even so, this would be “baptism by fire”. (The longest chatty recital I’d ever given was about 20 minutes.) 

Moreover, I would be spending one of those four weeks on vacation in New York City, where I most likely wouldn’t touch a guitar. Rock and roll will forgive you if you go a few days without practicing; jazz won’t. 

I needn’t have worried. While in New York City, I saw a number of performances by excellent jazz guitarists. It taught me a lot and sufficiently motivated me to redouble my efforts once I got back. The gig went well, a number of guests complimented me on my playing, and the hosts sent me home with more food than I could eat in a week! 

Earlier this month, I played another jazz guitar gig at PACA (Performing Artists Collective Alliance) in downtown Erie. Again, I was nervous, but for a different reason. At the private party, I was basically background music. This time, people would be paying attention. 

Erie has 95,000 people. Eight of them came to see me play. Now let me be perfectly clear: I have absolutely no problem playing for a small audience. Never have. My attitude is that of Melvin Franklin in the 1998 Temptations miniseries: 

Otis: The house is half empty. 

Melvin: Well, half the house paid to see a good show. 

In spite of that, the overall vibe was tense. Towards the end of the show, I figured it out: The people in the audience were embarrassed for me. But it was a great show, overall. For a video of the performance, check out 

Finally, I hope everyone reading this has a happy, healthy holiday season. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just a day off of work… Whatever your notion of December 25 is, I hope it was a very good day for you. 

Rock long and prosper, 


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