Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Rattling Off Some Gigs . . .

What follows is a whole slew of gigs that I didn't write anything about. For those who enjoy reading about my shows, I'm sorry, I will try to do better. For those who don't, (1) Why are you even reading this right now? (2) I guess you're glad I didn't report these shows, and (3) I'm sorry, I will try to do better. Seriously, does anyone have any suggestions about what would actually be worth reading in this blog that doesn't involve my badmouthing any of the venues who kindly make me feel like a somebody?

Also, a note about upcoming shows: we're playing a deconstructed Outlandish Landsharks show at the Rendezvous in Turners Falls, MA, December 19, 2010, 8pm. It's a free show. No excuses. And also, I just booked a show for January that I am EXTREMELY excited about, but I'm not going to write it here in order to have something to blog about later. (Yes, the show is posted on my Web site, facebook, and myspace [which is so close to being dead, but whose music player is still the best], but still. . . .)

In August:
Gig 19: The Black Moon in Belchertown, MA (co-bill with my dad, T. Fredric Jones)
Gig 20: Pliny Park outdoor music series in Brattleboro, VT, with the Outlandish Landsharks
Gig 21: Guilford Fair in Vermont with the Outlandish Landsharks (I almost typed "Guilford Fail"--this would have been a Freudian slip, except we didn't fail, so it wasn't)

In September:
Gig 22: Sam's Pizzeria in Northampton, MA

In October:
Gig 23: The Starry Plough in Berkeley, CA (my hometown + some of my favorite people came to this show + a stranger told me he liked a song I thought no one liked = score!)

In November:
Gig 24: Burrito Rojo (I did a terrible job promoting this show, and people still turned up, including a very epic friend who sat through the whole two hours, with an avocado taco as a consolation prize [I should have paid for said taco as an investment in her attendance at future shows, but I'm a Scrooge])


Monday, 16 August 2010


Grumble! I don't want to go into it now, but I once played a horrible, horrible gig (in the room shown to the right). Despite the organizer's claim that the show would have musicians from lots of genres, it turns out it was a classical music concert in which, by some cruel joke, I was expected to perform. And because the program (What shows have programs? Classical shows. It should have been a tip-off.) listed my set, I couldn't cut it short or choose songs that would not appall the dressed up, overwhelmingly smug audience.

Having done a good job repressing this memory for almost a year, I had it dredged up again at gig #18 at the Rendezvous in Turners Falls, MA. I was under the impression that I was opening for a group of very talented folk/roots musicians, who were going to play a technically accomplished, folk jam session. I found out only a few days before that they thought we were all just going to play round-robin style, myself included. I dropped hints that I'd thought I was the opening act, and that I certainly don't jam (I just don't; every time I play with a bunch of guys I feel railroaded [I say "guys" because I feel like jamming is more of a guy thing, maybe that's sexism]; and when people jam on my songs without practicing first, the songs get messed up.) Long story short, I sat with my hands folded on stage for 3/4 of the time while the other musicians played and jammed on their songs and I felt like a failure, and then for 1/4 of the time I played incongruous music that was completely out of keeping with the show's roots music theme.

People told me afterward that I didn't seem incompetent or look upset, but I wanted to throw up the whole time. Lesson learned--I'm going to communicate my needs before getting into shows from now on. I don't mind playing with other people, I just like to practice first. On a lighter note, I have a website now, It's homegrown, and definitely needs more work over time (it would help if I had something other than paint to edit my pictures). But seriously, thanks for sharing in this little rant with me. I feel a little better now. Sniffle.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Western Mass in July

Jet-lagged and irritable, I played an experimental show at Burrito Rojo on July 2nd, 2010, with Dave Dersham and Steve Nelson. As I remarked at the time, I felt like I was playing with the big kids . . . they're both v. accomplished songwriters, and I just wouldn’t refer to myself that way (maybe they wouldn’t either. Humility is a virtue).

Hmm, what next? Sam's Pizzeria, Northampton, on the 7th. Some people special to me turned out for that one, which was nice. Good to feel loved. And I got free pizza. Promoters, if you're listening, please don't take advantage of me come contract time. You know and I know that if you dangle free food before my eyes I will probably sign away everything. Sad but true.

July 11th. A private party (I awkwardly don't know how secret it was supposed to be. Probably not at all. But I'm still in the third-grade mind-set . . . if there's a party you NEVER talk about it, just in case the lame kid who didn't get invited is within earshot.) Yeah, this party was top secret. So, who's cool now? Take that Jenny! I don't need to go to your stupid Chuck E. Cheese party anyway.

Erm . . . July 17th, People's Pint in Greenfield. This was a wildcard show, to the extent that the Green River Music Festival was going on concurrently. There were actually a number of people there. So many that because my PA system doesn't have monitors the din made it surprisingly hard to hear ourselves (Lillian sang with me for a bunch of songs). And to think I called the Beatles wimps for whining about the noise at Shea Stadium. I mean, now I've been there. Also, someone actually requested my song “Pictureframe” at this show. Someone not in my immediate family or friend circle. I'm basically Lynyrd Skynyrd. (Speaking of which, if I had a dollar for every time someone requested Freebird . . . I'd have like $9 dollars.)

Those were gigs 13, 14, 15, and 16.

Oh, and 17: benefit for the Brick House at the Rendezvous in Turners Falls--( Good cause, lots of talented Valley-area musicians. And, selfishly, good promotion for my upcoming show on the 29th at the Rendezvous, opening for Peter Siegel and Friends. Feel free to contact me for details, or check out the full calendar at Oh, and who’s an awesome tween now: I hate Facebook—and for using it I hate myself.

[[Photos are from the Glasgow Art Bar, Scotland, June 2010]]

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Scotland Tour II Is History.

I'm back from Scotland! Wait, that was almost two weeks ago. Oh dear, no one is ever going to follow this blog if I don't actually see fit to update it regularly. This will have to be a partial update--no one likes a stupidly long post.

Gig 11: On Sunday, June 13, 2010, I was the featured performer at the Listening Room open mic in Edinburgh, at the Blue Blazer. The room where the open mic is kind of reminds me of Henry Higgins's study--a fireplace, books, stories of how you can look out the window into people's hotel rooms and how once a Listening Room performer got distracted by a nudist. . . . Wait, that last part had nothing to do with My Fair Lady. This is an unplugged open mic, which is great, except when you're competing with loud people who have just been watching the World Cup/are drowning their sorrows or celebrating. This is basically just what I get for planning a mini-tour to coincide with the World Cup (and by "planning" I mean "dear heavens, I had no idea"). Here's a video from the Listening Room--I actually like how the song sounds, but you'll see what I mean about competing with loud people:

Gig 12: On June 14th, 2010 I played at the Glasgow Art Bar. It was a quiet(ish) night, but the other acts were good and the sound system was stellar (thanks Crawford!). I would have more to say about this show except the thing that *really* stands out is the fact that I rented a car and drove on the left side of the road for the first time! I like to think that guitar playing has contributed to the ambidexterity that enabled me to operate gears with my left hand. It was great until I, um, almost drove down the steepest hill ever (OK, who knew that Glasgow had hills? Seriously. It was San Francisco steep.) and panicked, leading me to, erm, reverse up the hill and onto a side street. Let's just say it's a good thing there's not clutch-burn-o-meter because methinks Enterprise would have kept their deposit at that point. I hope they're not reading this.

More on my June shows in Western Mass to come . . . that's all for now, friends.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Audiences Can Vary: Probably the Most Important Lesson

Approximately one half of my Scotland II tour is done, unless anyone randomly asks me to play more shows (hint!?).

On May 30th, a Sunday, I played a set at Pivo Pivo in Glasgow. Now, a Sunday show, according to my personal observations, can really be a mixed bag. My feeling, at least in the States, is Sundays in bars are either very quiet (i.e., three people pestering the bartender to make tea; yeah, OK, one person, that's me, "lapsang souchong, please"). That being said, Sundays can also be the day when all the riff raff come out and give you a hard time (there is a particular open mic whose name I will not mention that fell on a Sunday and was godawful--weary, angry people rambling in, doing shots alone, really not the best atmos. for sharing angsty love songs). Pivo Pivo sort of fell between those two extremes for me. Kenzie Mac was a friendly host with a lovely voice, so that made the night more awesome, but I wish I'd known it was a bank holiday weekend (read: three[four?]-day weekend) before I got there. Lots of people just there to get wasted, other musicians playing that night reading the newspaper studiously during my set (OK, one, you're too drunk to read; two, bad form, peeps). Plus I got paranoid that my voice sounded echo-y (always traumatic; this belief also was unfounded, the sound was done really well) . . . so . . . I'm a little grumpy about it. Also, I noticed that all my blog posts are unequivocally cheery, so I thought a little irritability might be refreshing. Thoughts?

On June 2nd I played probably one of my favorite gigs of the year, Secret CDs XXI at the Phoenix Cellar Bar in Edinburgh. Its a show designed around CD sales, thus giving me an excuse to harass people to purchase my Oneword and Other Wonders EP, which I would have done anyway. I'm really not used to having such a (relatively) large audience be so attentive--seriously, I almost wanted someone to start a bar fight or something. Apparently when I actually get the attention I crave I immediately want it diverted elsewhere. OK, that's kind of an exaggeration, gimme attention. My only complaint was this: usually only about eight people come to my shows, so when I sell two CDs I'm like, "Yayy, I just sold to 25% of my audience!" But there were thirty to forty people there, so when I only sold four CDs I was like, "Damn, there goes my average." Of course, many of the AMAZING people who came to hear me (well, they might have come to hear the other polished and engaging musicians, but I think a few came based on my coercion) already had CDs, so I should probably stop trying to find a problem with what was actually an extremely enjoyable gig that was run really well and that had a super-good sound system. [[Correction--five CDs sold, yayyyy!]]

Those were gigs 9 and 10, respectively, meaning I have 190 to go. Arrrrg . . . goal . . . so . . . far . . . away.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Little Burros and Parking Lot Shenanigans

Re-played a couple of sweet venues this past weekend (May 14-15, 2010).

Gig 7/VII/Seven: Burrito Rojo in Turners Falls, MA (, which was fun except for the part when I dropped my guitar (and by dropped I mean the strap decided it needed its personal space and leaped from the inside peg. Poor guitar didn't see it coming--a few feet fallen and a chip and a dent later, the show went on without a hitch.

*Oh! I almost forgot: I've started a mailing list. If you would like to be informed of gigs in your region, please pop an email to and include some general sense of where you are/the meaning of life (latter optional--just put that there so it wouldn't sound like I'm going to stalk your house. . . . Which would be silly, given that "you" is collective in this sense.).*

Gig 8/VIII/Eight: Lillian and I played at Dick and Jane's General Store in Walpole, MA ( for Walpole Day. To be fair, we were like a Walpole Day annex, in that we played to what started out as an empty parking lot after the other bands, who were set up elsewhere to begin with, were finished. Then some peeps came so it was basically Woodstock. Guess everyone who wasn't there missed out. Also, Lillian got a spider on her mid-song. I almost told her but then decided it was better just to let it hang out. It didn't look poisonous.

Scotland Tour Two commences in June . . . as always, check out the calendar at

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Gig Six . . . There Was Literally Candy

My sister Lillian and I just played at Dick and Jane's general store ( in Walpole, MA (April 24th, 2010). I will say at the outset, it's probably not the best gig sitch when there's a carnival (and a pretty sweet looking one, too) set up about a block away. Foot traffic was way down from what would normally have been a hopping Saturday afternoon.

That being said, we had a blast for the following reasons:
1. We tested out our little sound system for the first time ever, and it was AWESOME.
2. The promoter, Andy, not only had designed a fun poster for us (making use of some of my art on Myspace) but also stayed for the whole gig. Dedication to the arts = win.
3. We got free, storemade fudge = double win.

Also, my demo CDs are for sale in the store now. My empire is expanding.

Gig total: 6 down, 94 to go before stardom.

More shows posted here.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

And then there were 5: Burrito Rojo

Gig five was at a new Mexican (or "Mixican," as the owner, JD, put it) place in Turners Falls, MA, called Burrito Rojo ( I had the "Rojo" for red part down, but I just assumed it meant "Red Burrito" until I had it explained to me that actually "Burrito" is a little burro, i.e. "Little Red Donkey." Aww! I'm a sucker for cute animals.

Anyway . . .

The crowd was small but nice (although I got scared because I (voluntarily but semi-coerced!) had to lead a chorus of "Happy Birthday" for a sweet young lady in the audience. I'm sorry, but singing a cappella "Happy Birthday" on a mic with the poor audience trying to sing along is just bound to be awkward. No one can hear anyone in that situation. In everyone else's defence, I'm the only musician on the planet (anyone else with me? anyone?) who doesn't know the song on the guitar. Fail.

My dad, a.k.a T. Fredric Jones will be playing at Burrito Rojo on May 6th (he's really good--I cover his songs all the time), and I'll be playing there again on May 14th. It's not just because I got a free avocado taco out of the deal last time. I swear.

Next installment should be GIG SIX: At Dick and Jane's General Store ( in Walpole, MA, on Saturday, April 24th, 1 pm. How could it NOT be awesome? Check out other shows at

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Gig 4: The Black Moon

Mission accomplished: played with my sister Lillian at the Black Moon in Belchertown, MA (

I've played a few awkward nights there before--the place isn't conducive to small crowds. Fortunately, however, the place seems to be gaining in popularity, and we had a really nice audience last night. It's definitely a good place to look for gigs or to check out shows. Too bad there's virtually no foot traffic. Stupid main roads with no sidewalks.

4 gigs down, 196 to go.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Scotland: Some Gigs Were Played

This blog will serve a dual purpose: first, I will endeavor to provide regional information on good places to play for singer-songwriters and other (mainly acoustic) artists. Second, I'm on an epic quest. An indie record exec basically told me that no matter how good my music ( might be, I really need to play about two hundred gigs before talking to him again. So here I go. These are the gigs--all in Scotland so far.

1. Harley's in Bathgate;; February 28, 2010. It's not an 18+ venue, which means there were a lot of 18- es there. This would have been all right, except it meant the bands with which I was sharing the night were really angry, angsty teen bands. I know when I was playing they were thinking, my gosh, how did it come to this. I was sort of thinking that too as, at 24, I felt ancient and decrepit playing for the proverbial spotty youths. They clapped but I think they also might have hated me.

2. The Liquid Ship in Glasgow;; March 2, 2010. What an awesome venue! The audience was small but the other musicians playing that night were quite fun (; The sound engineer Patrick was particularly thoughtful--the man supplied a guitar stand, just saying.

3. The Tron in Edinburgh;; March 4, 2010. I featured at their originals-only open mic. It's been around forever, tons of variety in the music, Nicky Carder hosted ( It's a slightly scary gig, to the extent that the audience is a bit captive. Being paranoid, I assume a default reception of hostility (probably should work on that). No, seriously, it was good times.

Next up: the Black Moon Music Lounge in Belchertown, Massachusetts.
Gig Count: 3 down, 197 to go.