West Coast Tour Diary | Seattle
It is only appropriate that the first show, of my first solo tour, begins as it all began. In a house concert.
A good friend, HG, who lives in Seattle, Washington offered her home and then went the extra mile to promote it. With her spreading the word by showing people my music way before I played a note, we were able to sell out the show before I ever stepped off the plane. As you can imagine, I was ecstatic. A new city and a sell out show? Never happens. Humbling, really. And I was once again reminded of how much of what I'm doing is a direct result of you. The listener.
The day of the show we ran the usual errands, picked up chairs, some snacks and beverages and talked about Seattle. What a beautiful place. It's amazing that this is my first time ever visiting the Pacific Northwest and I couldn't wait to see everything.
Luckily my friend HG is the perfect tour guide and should be Seattle's official Evangelist because from the top restaurants, to local hangouts, to music venues and neighborhoods... she basically convinced me to move to Seattle. And it was sunny. And warm. Not the Seattle I'd heard about at all. (Don't worry, SF. I haven't moved. Not yet.) But there was one eerie moment in all of this warm welcome tour... she mentioned something I had never heard of before...
"Don't worry about 'The Seattle Freeze'" she said.
"What's that? Seattle what?" I replied.
"It's a common term for a social phenomena in Seattle. They call it, "The Seattle Freeze." It's just that people find it hard to make friends at first in Seattle. Everyone is very friendly, but they are very.. um.. to themselves. You know?"
I could tell she was finding it difficult to explain it to me, and there was something very creepy about it. HG carries out entertaining and her social life to an almost artistic level, so I was hanging on every word, trying to figure out what all of this meant.
"It will be fine. Just be yourself" she said with a reassuring smile.
Inside, I thought, "Oh shit."
Unbeknownst to HG "just be yourself" are probably the most terrifying three words in the english language that a person can say to me before a performance. To me, it sings of foreboding gloom like "We need to talk" from a soon-to-be Ex, or "I'm late. No, like 'I'm LATE.'" And for a brief moment I wondered what it would cost to change my flight home from next Tuesday to say... you know... right now.
But as we all know, performance anxiety of all kinds is good. It's healthy. It can be channeled into good energy and wards off all infections of "the suck." As in, "that sucked," "what a sucky show" and "that performance was a big bag of suck with a side suck salad."
I took a deep breath. "I'm a professional" I said to myself. "Stop freaking out."
We set up the house, prepped the bar (priorities, priorities) and loaded a tour image on the flat-screen behind me (thanks Jed!) and had a perfect house concert backdrop. We were ready. And I was still nervous.
All these new people, a sold out show, the Seattle Freeze... this was not one to "phone in." This was a swing for the fences but act like you've been here before, kind of show. it's what I tell young musicians all the time.
"It's your last show ever. Again."
The time came.
As people trickled in, a buzz came with it. These were young, excited and friendly people... my kind of people. They carried an air of success, confidence and... for lack of a better word, fun. These are the things you read in a room when you've spent enough time on a stage. Little bits of information come to you without looking for it. And two things came to me right away.
1. These folks were expecting a good show.
2. These folks were going to give me, whatever I gave them.
And so it went.
I played my ass off. I sang my heart out. I think I even spit on a few people in the front row (sorry for that). But I gave it to them.
And they gave it right back. The energy, song after song, was amazing.
[photo: Shawn Anderson]
It went really well. Perfect, really. In fact, it was the best house concert I've ever played. So now, I've got about fifty new friends and fans in Seattle, and one of the best show memories of my career. I couldn't have even dreamed of a better outcome.
So if they ask me, I'll say, "What Freeze?"
(Seattle, I don't care what they say about you. You're just a big, cuddly, warm, flannel-wearing teddy bear. And your secret is safe with me.)