I arrived early; with my open-mic slot guaranteed, I wasn’t too worried about not getting in, but I wasn’t sure about the parking situation and didn’t want to have to rush. When I got there the long queue already reached to the road, so, in a very British way, I joined it – only to be thoroughly confused by a guy in a Bluebird Café T-shirt coming up to the end of the queue and saying ‘Who’s playing and who’s audience?’ None of us could answer ‘Me’ as that would’ve meant we were both… so I didn’t answer anything and waited to see what would happen. What did happen was that he told us at the back of the queue to start another one next to that queue. I assumed they were all performers because nobody had answered anything to the ambiguously worded question and at that point I didn’t realise how huge the audience would be for what was just an open mic. It turned out they were all potential audience members, and I was then directed to the thankfully very much shorter line for performers right outside the café entrance.
The night is hosted every week by songwriter Barbara Cloyd, whom I had got to know when she came with Elizabeth and me to the Halloween party on the Saturday night. She ran the evening like clockwork, with a list of do’s and don’ts at the beginning that made me think it would be best not to attempt to plug my little travel guitar in as it would cause too much kerfuffle and disrupt this well-oiled machine, so I opted to mic it when it came to my turn – not the best decision as it turned out, as I could hear a kind of low hum throughout my performance coming from the guitar and that distracted me – though when I spoke to people in the audience later, no one else had been able to hear it. If only I’d realised!
Twenty-nine acts were down to perform that night, and I was number 9. There were people from all over the world there to play at this prestigious venue – a chap from Australia, one from Nova Scotia, someone from Wisconsin, quite a few who had moved to Nashville to pursue their dream – and li’l ol’ me from old Blighty. Oh, there was another Brit there too, a chap with a memorable furry pink guitar strap…
It turns out the open mic night is the only night at the Bluebird when you don’t need to make a reservation to go as audience, which explains the long queue of folk outside. Many of them were tourists, just wanting to be able to say they’d been to the Bluebird.
Because it was November – just – I chose to play my song ‘In My Arms’, about the old lady found wandering on a road in the dead of night, as it’s set in November. It went down well, despite my concerns about the hum emitting from my guitar, and one chap said it had an Irish folk song feel about it – especially because someone dies in it! Funny how people in the US hear what they call a ‘Celtic’ influence in my songs, yet in the UK they hear the American influence.
Anyway, it was a great evening and a thrill to play on the Bluebird stage – and naturally I also now have the T-shirt as a treasured memento! :)
Last night, my final night in Nashville, Elizabeth, Anne E. DeChant and I played at a writers’ round run again by Barbara at Blue Bar, located more centrally in Nashville. Lovely to see Anne E. again – I met her previously when I was last here four years ago. My plan now is to get some of these female fabulous singer songwriters over to perform in the UK – big plan, but it can be done!! Then Elizabeth showed me her soon-to-be-gorgeous kitchen-in-progress and I got a chance to see her dear old boys Butchie and Piglet again before heading back to my digs and packing ready for the off early this morning.
My journey down to Austin has ended up like that movie Trains, Planes and Automobiles… I’ll save the gory details for another blog, but suffice to say I’m now very unexpectedly sitting on a Greyhound bus in Dallas when I should have landed – by plane – in Austin at 1.32 this afternoon. I’m too knackered to go into it at the moment and am getting ready to doze my way down Interstate 35 for three hours before arriving, at long long last, in Austin at about 9.30 this evening… :-/