You should be afraid

When I was a young boy I was fascinated with dreams and how they can take complete control of us. Although I often had fun telling tales of the places I had explored in my psyche I was still unsettled by them. As a young boy I was easily spooked and just so much as a 10 second clip of a horror film was enough to keep me awake at night and lent itself to nightmares. Some of the imagery in horror films plays on out fight or flight modes and gets the adrenaline running.

I can remember when I was very young I would often sit awake in that darkness completely petrified. When you’re young a lot of basic things don’t make sense and you are constantly trying to make sense of the world. When you are having nightmares as a child you try to make sense of the madness and it is even more upsetting.

I can remember a nightmare where I was on the moon trying to run away from some crazy surgeons with butcher knives. As I ran into the horizon I could see the whole of space and could see the earth glowing in the distance. As I was running away a sea monster larger than the whole planet appeared and swallowed the entire planet I was on. When I awoke from that dream I sat awake for 10 minutes trying to come to terms with what I had witnessed.

The fear of nightmares used to ruin my sleep and it got the better of me. I used to go on this was for quite a long time. One evening I had a revelation. I was stirred from a nightmare like always and instead of staying in bed I stood up and walked to my bedroom window which looked out over the street I lived in. As I glanced out the window I saw the light from a large lorry zoom past and lit up the street. As soon as I saw that I realised that person is working. When I went to sleep I thought the whole world stopped but obviously it doesn’t. I started to think that actually the world is bigger than my nightmares. As I worried in bed people across the world were having the time of their lives, people getting married, holidays, new lives being brought into the world! I had nothing to worry about.

As I grew older I watched horror films, played scary games and I kept testing my limits with horrors. As I have grown older I have learnt to appreciate the thrills of being scared. Life can be very hard and you don’t have to be afraid if you don’t want to. No matter what scares you, you’re much stronger than you think you are! 


Open Mics (A guide)

I have been to lots of open Mics at various setting and locations and I thought it would be good to offer some advice to those considering going.

Finding the courage

The first thing I would say is that Open Mics are not as scary as you might think they are. Normally the scary part is the build up to an open mic but once you’re on stage you soon find the strength to perform. Open Mics are a forgiving environment, and you don’t have to be a pro to be on stage. The crowd will understand if you fluff up a bit or if nerves get the better of you! And let’s face it, what’s the worst that could happen? You make a tit of yourself for 5 minutes, who cares, you can always try again! I often say to myself that if I go up there and I completely fail then that is a good thing because it gives me something constructive to work on. Failing is much better than never trying, as never trying is the ultimate failure. Take a friend or family member who will support you and whatever you’re trying out just have fun with it!

Practice practice practice!

Before you go approach Open Mics be confident with your playing abilities. Practice your songs every day and try to imagine a setlist. Find friends or family to try out songs in front of. If you throw in some covers they might just sing along 😉

Looking at venues

I have played at folk clubs, cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants and creative music centres and they’re all different. I would say for sure first time a bar is good because it will be busy but you can get a little bit lost in the room. I know this sounds bad but if you fluff it’s not going to make you that embarrassed. In pubs the setting can be quite intimate, so a few sing along songs wouldn’t go amiss. In a creative music centre you normally have more freedom and they encourage fresh material. I would recommend going in to the place and checking it out if it’s your first time and making sure you like the vibe and if it’s good book yourself up!

Picking songs

Don’t pick anything that is too much of a challenge to begin with, you’ll thank yourself for some easy ones so you can just enjoy the atmosphere.  I try to pick songs that people know that aren’t so obvious, but people don’t mind wonder wall or Bob Dylan, so if that’s your thing knock yourself out! 🙂

Tips for the big night:

1. Get there on time – organisers really appreciate punctuality. If you show up early you also get a better chance of a slot!

2. Watch your food and drink – I usually not to eat any food 3 hours before a performance because some foods can interfere with your singing. I usually only drink water as this helps your throat! Don’t drink alcohol for your nerves it’s not worth it. I’ve seen people go up drunk and struggle through, they make asses of themselves, please don’t do this!

3. Tune your instrument – before you go on stage find a quiet place to tune your instrument so it’s ready to play. Tuning on stage is time wasting a bit but if you get up there and absolutely need to its not the end of the world.

4. Enjoy yourself – remember that not anyone can go up on stage, you’re very brave! Remember to smile and be courteous thanking those who listen.

5. Listen to others – when the show is over, don’t be a dick and just leave. Stick around and enjoy others perform. It’s respectful and you might make some new friends. I make a conscious effort to approach a performer I enjoy after their set and thank them for the performance, this means so much coming from a stranger.

A lot of opportunities come from Open Mics, so enjoy them and play your heart out.