Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Musings - Cheese and Glitter

The bus is out of food and I don't feel like going to the store. It's cold, I'm a wimp, and I am stalling with a Monday Musing.

Wait. That first sentence needs revising. The bus does not require food. We require food in the bus, but it is cold outside - South Texas style cold. That means very wet, humid, and chilly, and I know that is far different from Colorado cold right now, thank you, having spent the previous 40 winters there, but I will remind you all that I am a wimp.

Yesterday we survived our first winter show in the Rio Grande Valley. It was a near thing, as mentioned in the previous grumpy post, but we decided to debut our new after-intermission-levity medley. We only had one big hiccup when Sean couldn't get his mask on before he started playing the Lone Ranger, dropped it, readjusted, it wasn't on straight and his playing suffered for lack of sight. Chords were dropped here and there, but over all it went far better than it probably should have!

Of course, right now it still has that "cheesy high school show choir" feel about it, (no offense to high school choirs - I was in the cheesiest of them all once), and it's not quite to "professional level performers", which is where it needs to be if we expect people to pay to see it. And let's face it, we expect people to pay. We have to smooth that out, fix the wonky chords, and figure out how to get a Lone Ranger mask on Sean's face in 10 seconds flat before we lose the momentum.

So here we are on a Monday, having survived last week, which was a doozy. Bookings didn't go as we hoped at the showcase, which means more work for us to make sure we have enough on our schedule next winter. I got to thinking about why that was and I think it was a combination of things. First, we came right after 2 very good family bands, so people looking for a family band already headed to book them before we even got up on stage. Next, we were right before lunch, and as research has shown, people don't look at you as kindly when they're hungry. I remember reading about a study where judges were far more likely to grant parole after being fed, and closer to lunch or dinner, they almost never did. Timing is everything and it wasn't on our side this year. Not a big deal, the booking season isn't over.

Anyway, after lunch, we sat there looking pathetic when hardly anyone came to our table to book us, hoping that we'd pick up more before the end of the day... when a very pink band got on stage. (Meaning, they were dressed in pink, except the boy, who wore black.) We played good stuff, but we didn't do our glitz and pretty-shiny stuff, like Orange Blossom, or our patriotic hat-tip. Big mistake, especially when you are on right before lunch. The pink band yodeled, did some tap and swing dancing, dueling banjos, then they pulled out the big guns on patriotism, complete with some Lee Greenwood and a waving flag. They had a line out the door with people wanting to book them. Shoot. I wanted to book them and I don't run an RV park.

We were doomed.

I wanted to get up on stage and tell the activity directors, "Wait! We can do dueling banjos, we sing America the Beautiful, and I bet we can wave a flag too! You probably don't want to see us tap dance, but the attempt would probably be hilarious!" No good. The job was done. We learned something though. I am certain, had our after-intermission-levity medley been ready, we could have salvaged the whole thing, even before lunch, but it wasn't to be. I will never again do a showcase without Orange Blossom Special, America the Beautiful, and I am trying to figure out how to teach Mary to dance and yodel. Cheesy, yes, but the little kids think it's fun, and Alex puts up with it as long as she gets a cut in pay when we can, and a chance to sing the good stuff sometimes. Katie, as usual, doesn't particularly care either way. Seriously though, we are entertainers, and as long as none of this compromises our moral convictions, give the audience what they want. True artists who stand their ground and refuse to compromise by playing to the audience better have a day job.

I like doing the glitter and cheese ball routines, to be honest. Life is serious enough. Let's just have some fun when we can and make people smile, shall we? However, next time let's do it after breakfast but before the pink band.

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