For whatever reason, perhaps the oversinging from being in a tunnel with too much foot traffic, I needed a break on Wednesday. And so I stayed in to figure out flights and such, with pretty much no results. I’ve still yet to buy them. The chief question is whether to return to New England in time for Yale and Harvard graduations.
Sydney is strange in that each tiny hamlet retains its own name for addresses, on maps, etc. I mean tiny. My cousins live in Monterey, of population 4,000. The train stop, Kogarah, boasts 10,000 folks. It’d be like calling every subway stop in France it’s own “city.” Each enclave has its own government, library system, police, fire department… rather odd, to me. At any rate my staying at home served another purpose – my gig that night would be at the Kogarah Hotel right across from the train stop. (Subway for Aussie’s signifies a pedestrian underpass, so they call their public rail the train). Russell invited me to play while he counted votes for the Singer/Songwriter contest semi-final and I obliged happily.
What a wealth of talent! Nothing intimidating or mind blowing, but a great collection of varied talents – great fingerstyle, blues, pop, ballads… After Russell played a few tunes to warm us up, Peter took the stage with guitarist Nathan and mandolin player/backup vocalist Amelia as PAN for four tunes. Tim followed with an incredible first song showcasing thoughtful lyrics on a troubled girl. I noticed the contestants this night used I IV V progressions unashamedly with somewhat generic melodies but hey – it sounds great, so why knock it? My vote Craig played four of his own jaunty thumb picked songs and then Miss Gray, late twenty-something twins in pop getups, tightly pulled back hair and copious makeup sang to backing tracks off their iPod – nervous and unsure in their expressions giving a completely fresh vibe to the room. Very very pop. Two more singer/guitarists followed. The second, Ross, was rather terrible and this got me secretly happy as I’d follow him. Bad of me, eh?
The crowd in there almost universally came to support Peter. A great great group of guys and girls very friendly and welcoming, with that wry Australian humour and enthusiasm. Even as Russell introduced me on my entrance they engaged me curiously right away about America, traveling, whether I’d sing.. They wanted me to sing right away and throughout the night kindly acted impatient for me to go up there. They expected a lot of me. One said “If you came here confident to busk you’ve got to be good.” So, when I went up to sing at the end, I felt absurdly nervous. It’s uncommon that I have a crowd from the get go to lose – not one to win. It’s a strange feeling and absolutely nerve wracking.
I sang a set beginning with From Dawn to Busk and then alternating back and forth with covers from my album. Russell didn’t tell me how many I’d sing so I didn’t really plan out a flow. After six songs he announced the winner and I remembered to push my album before singing my usual closer, Stamsund. The audience overflowed with praise and kind words as I returned to my seat and bought a few bookmarkers and a CD. I’m ever so grateful for the opportunity to play for such wonderful people.
Earnings: 12.00 AUD, 25 minutes
Song of the Day: Crazy – Gnarls Barkley