yesterday was the day of checking out mackenzie hall. thanks to emily and merry ellen for being so nice and accommodating. i hadn’t been there in quite some time, but the second we walked into the hall it brought back memories of acting in the play the empty chair back in 2000. i think i was second or third-billed on the program, and i played against type as a good guy for a change (normally i enjoyed being the lead villain in plays too much to take on a heroic part).
you don’t want me to pour out my reminiscences about that shit. trust me. i’m saying just enough by telling you the lead actress showed up the night of the show still not knowing any of her lines, and even working with the director for a solid hour in an effort to do some last minute memorizing didn’t help much. it wouldn’t have been so bad if there weren’t pivotal scenes of dialogue in which only the two of us were on the stage. she ended up omitting several lines, mixing up the order of the ones she did remember, and essentially rewriting entire portions of the script on-stage. i had no choice but to improvise and change my lines in order to save the sinking ship and try to make things sound somewhat coherent. no one in the audience had any idea, so maybe that’s a testament to my skills of improvisation. when she came up to me after the show and said, “you were really good, john!” i had to bite my tongue so hard i just about amputated it.
the whole thing was such an unpleasant experience, i never acted in another play again — and acting in plays was just something i did, like making music, ever since i was a kid. the best thing to come out of the whole ordeal was a sound barrier-shattering scream of “MOTHERFUCKERS!” i let out in the parking lot after one rehearsal, fed up with it all. one of my greatest regrets in life will always be not recording that scream for posterity. it was one of my best.
see? you don’t want me to go there.
back to mac hall in the present day. the piano is nice, and i’d have no trouble playing it for a show. my guess would be that it’s a yamaha C3, though i’m not entirely sure. sadly i didn’t think to bring the little video camera with me until it was too late, so for now you’ll just have to take my word for it when i say the acoustics in that room are pretty nice. i imagine the natural reverb would be cut down quite a bit if there was a decent-sized audience there, but i still think i would sound good.
the piano is quite loud, which means you really have to project when you’re singing. it would be tempting to amplify the voice ever so slightly to give it a little extra presence, just for piano songs, but i’m not sure how good that would sound. i like the idea of no amplification at all. it’s a large enough space where, if a lot of people showed up, they could be comfortably accommodated, while at the same time, if not much of anyone came i wouldn’t feel like i was playing in an empty cavernous space. i think a better idea than “intermission with food” might be “intermission with refreshments”. if the show were to take place at 7:00 or 8:00 pm, you’d think everyone would have eaten dinner already anyway. i also played at a dinner banquet once…and after what happened at that show, i will never play a dinner banquet again. unless the audience is entirely made up of hamsters and rice balls. then i would consider it. but otherwise, music and food together will always seem like a bad omen to me.
if i’m going to do this, i think i would want to book it for february at the earliest. there’s still quite a bit of work that needs to be done on the next cd (which i would like to have available for a show) before it’s finished, and i’d rather have a lot of time to put a show together without feeling rushed. i need to stew on it a little more before i come to a decision…playing a half-hour set is one thing, but playing for two or three hours without anyone else to carry the musical weight is a lot of work. it could be fun, though, even if only ten people showed up. like i said before, that’s the great thing about a free show—it doesn’t matter how many people show up, because you get paid the same amount of money no matter what happens.
i’ll let y’all know either way, as soon as i know what i’m going to do.