of the songwriting competion at Serda's.
I woke up Wednesday morning with my songs already in my head. I was well rested and ready for battle. I spent a lot of time in the graveyard, running through my songs and was surprised to find that some of the verses had to be re-arranged, while others were easier to sing over different chord sections. I felt pretty confident in my ability to fill in gaps with ad-libbing and glue the verses together. I wasn't actually timing myself and was guessing that the song was about 5 or 6 minutes long, as written.
I got to Serda's at 7pm. to see that the entire back area, where the music usually happens, was full of bags of coffee beans. Some institution had ordered 1,800 pounds of coffee, I think was the weight. The "stage" had been moved to the front, and the audience were crowded around the coffee bar. This went counter to some preparations that I made, whereby I sat in the back room some mornings, and visualized winning the contest by sitting in the chair, which I would be playing in if the room wasn't full of bags of coffee beans, and imagining my songs coming off perfectly.
I was told that the contest would take place in the front part of the place, where I noticed chairs and microphones. I was an hour early. I decided to try to augment the 32 cents which I had in my pocket and warm up by playing on the street. I was thrown 4 dollars by the time 7:40 rolled around. I went and had my first beer of the day, to "loosen up."
I got to Serda's and was asked by Jimmy Lee if I wanted to go on "third." I told him that that would be fine, as, if one of the first two got on base, I could bat them in.
The Invisible Watch
I wasn't prepared for the "10 minute" format, whereby everyone is given that amount of time to do their (2) songs. I had been in the back room, with the coffee beans, tuning my guitar to the girl who was playing second. She was using a capo, and so, tuning to my "normal" e-flat was easy. I just about had it right when the girl finished abruptly, and I was making my way through the crowd when Jimmy Lee was introducing me. He added something about us having our instruments tuned before coming on stage.
I still had to tweek some strings (while Jimmy Lee squirmed) before starting. After introducing the first song and making some patter about the thremal underwear top that I was wearing ("This first piece is from a collection of songs of mine, called 'Music to Play In Your Long Johns'"), I probably had about 8 minutes to play.
The first song went pretty well, maybe 76 out of 100 points. I heard someone say "That was pretty good," after I finished.
The second song, which would have been all of 8 minutes by itself, ran too long and was interupted by a guy in a yellow shirt, who pointed to the spot on his wrist where a watch would be, had he been wearing one, and said "time," as Jimmy Lee pulled back on the vocal mic and gave me an "I told you so" look.
I don't know how close I came to being selected for the finals. They may have flipped a coin to choose between myself and the guy who played two chords and jumped around like a monkey, while singing about how "misunderstood" he is.
Yesterday, I was mildly depressed and deciding between trying harder, and using the experience as a learning one; or giving up altogether and just basically drinking and drugging myself to death like our heros from the 60's did.
Instant Coffee Stolen, Along With Seasoned Salt
I discovered the morning after the contest, that my instant coffee and my seasoned salt had been stolen from under the straw, where I had hidden them. The honey and the quick oats were still there, as were my clothes. I suspect the young black guy, who sleeps in the front area, and who comes around to our area ocasionally and acts like he is looking to see if a certain person is present, for example, and who then just leaves without speaking. He may have seen my instant coffee out the other night (a slip-up on my part,) and then came back to overturn the straw in hopes of stealing it. I am not sure that it was him, though, and I hesitate to slice his throat open O. J. Simpson style, as he sleeps tonight. I would feel bad if it wasn't him.
I saw the theft of my coffee as a symbol of losing the competition at Serda's (coffeehouse).
Desire To Play Diminished
I didn't feel like playing that night after I first sat down. I didn't like my songs anymore, since the judges didn't like them. I was aware of all the artists coming to the area, whom I have never heard of; a lot of whom are "known" for their acumen in certain styles of music. Musicians seem to be multiplying exponentially. Looking at the listings, one would think that they are all great, and bring their eclectic blends of music, fused together by an underlying soul, wherever they play. I wonder how they would "bill" me -acoustic psychedelic improv with humorous lyrics, fused together by an underlying soul??
I somehow sat down for a couple hours and was surprised to see people throwing money in my case, as if they could sense that I was trying to decide between suicide and working harder on music.
I got close to 20 bucks in an hour and a half, and knocked off at midnight.
Church Spot "Blown Up"
I slept late at the church spot (until 7:30) this morning, when along came one of the Community Watchdog type guys in his yellow shirt, and told me that I had to get my stuff and leave, and that I couldn't sleep there anymore.
I couldn't help seeing a parallel between he and the guy in the yellow shirt at Serda's, who had told me that time was up. I had stayed at the spot too long, becayse I didn't want to get up when I first woke up.
I have a reluctancy towards getting up with the sun, now that we have set the clocks back one hour for "daylight savings." This now makes 6:05 am. the time when the sun breaks over the horizon, leaving a full hour and a half to mill about, awaiting the opening of the doors of the Presbyterian church, for the giving of the eggs and grits and blueberries.
I have chosen lately to sleep until 7:05 am., even though it means getting up under daylighted conditions. This was my undoing this morning.
I have already found another spot, and moved my stuff there. I hope the Community Watchdog type guy returns to the church spot tonight, to see if I have followed his directive to evacualte, and he catches whoeveer stole my coffee and my seasoned salt.