Quitting my job to focus on my music was a huge step, and this is all about how the week went. The short version: it was nearly perfect! The only thing that kept it from being perfect was the closing of Stadium in Oxford. I have a lot of great memories there, and unfortunately, Stadium was the only place I could play in my hometown. Thank you Stadium, for being the host to some of the best moments of my musical life!
If all weeks go this well, I won’t have to go back to work for several months, and if they get just a tiny bit better, I won’t have to go back to work at all.
Now, the long version. I have thought about how to organize this several times, and the only thing I can come up with that really makes sense is to go chronologically, as there was definitely something every day worth talking about. There are several videos and some pictures as well!
Friday, January 18th was my first day not working for someone else. It was more of a transition day than anything, and aside from having a celebratory dinner with friends, I started getting prepared, including making my new merch display:
Todd The Fox not included with purchase.
Day 1 (January 19th, 2013, my 34th birthday)
What a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday and start my life as a professional musician! I had dinner with some of my best friends and family, and then performed at Blind Bob’s Bar in Dayton, Ohio. I won’t disclose the exact amount I made this day (out of courtesy for Blind Bob’s and the other bands involved), but I will say this, I set a new record for the most I’ve ever made at a show, and my entire sales for the week were $295! That’s before gas, cost of fliers, ads, etc. so that won’t be enough money to live on, but it is enough money that combined with the credit I have available, I won’t have to go back to work for at least another month, and if people buy my music and t-shirts from my online store, or iTunes, and listen on Spotify, and continue to support me at open mikes, that can extend even longer. It also gives me time to open up more opportunities. More on that later. For now, I’ll just say day 1 was amazing! Here’s a crowd shot from my wonderful Dayton show:
Day 2 (Continued birthday celebration at One Eyed Jack’s in Fairborn, OH):
Huge thanks to everyone at One Eyed Jack’s RnR Playdate for coming out and celebrating my birthday weekend with me! I didn’t sell any CDs or merch this night, but I don’t generally expect to sell CDs or t-shirts at open mikes, and the show the night before took the pressure off. They are primarily for me to gain exposure, and of course, to have fun. This one was extra special for several reasons. First, the host, Jay Madewell, made me some cupcakes. He also made me some Mission Man magnets to sell at shows for $2 each.
Very cool. I haven’t sold any yet, but I like them and I think some people will buy them to help me keep going. Speaking of very cool, one of the other things that made this night special was that I did something I had never done before. For the first time ever, I played guitar with other live musicians, and for the first time ever, I played guitar while rapping. The result was so much fun!
Thanks Jay, Greg and Chris for this fantastic live moment!
I will be back at One Eyed Jack’s in Fairborn every Sunday until February 10th, and there will likely be some more full band moments there.
Day 3 (Monday)
This day was downright cold, with wind chills below zero, but I still made my way down to Southgate House Revival in Newport, KY. No merch or CD sales this day, but it was great to see some familiar faces and play for some new ones! I have a full show coming up there Saturday, March 9th, opening for New Vega and July For Kings. I open the show at 9 pm, and it goes until 12:30 am, so I was there promoting that show as well. I will be at Southgate House the next couple of Mondays at least promoting that show and hopefully winning over some new fans.
Day 4 (Tuesday)
Tuesday was the most eventful day, and had one absolutely wonderful thing happen, and another very sad thing happen. I’ll start with the good news, because that’s how my day started. After 38 months of having plastic in my mouth all the time, I finally finished Invisalign! That is, I no longer have to wear my retainers/aligners during the day. I only have to wear them while sleeping for the next 3 years. Seriously, it felt like I had been paroled.
Obviously, the result from start to finish was very dramatic. Unlike LASIK, which was easily the best decision I’ve ever made (aside from doing what I love of course), Invisalign was a long, painful, expensive process. Was it worth it? Probably. I love my smile now. 😀
While I was posting online about being done with Invisalign, and then posting about being at Stadium every Tuesday for open mic, I found out about Stadium closing down. I’ve seen a lot of venues close down because the independent music industry is hard, not just for musicians, but for the venues that host live music as well. This may be the hardest I’ve ever been hit by it, though. Stadium is where I built my following in 2004-2005 that led to the biggest crowd I’ve ever performed for. The open mic at Stadium is why I started doing open mikes. It may be the single biggest reason why I didn’t change my career from music to something else (programming computers most likely) around 2005. It was also the last music venue left in my hometown after Balcony closed a few years ago. I no longer have a place to play in my hometown, and I was planning on playing there for 15 out of the next 16 Tuesdays (spring break would’ve meant no open mic that week). It really was going to be a centerpiece of quitting my job to focus on music, and the week before I had just put up 150 fliers around Miami University and the town itself about playing there every Tuesday.
In short, it was a big part of my past and my present, and was supposed to be a big part of my future. I sincerely hope that a live music venue replaces it, and I will miss it, especially on Tuesdays.
Day 5 (Wednesday)
Two performances in Columbus. First, I did an hour long set at Scarlet and Grey Cafe from 7-8 PM, and I finished with this song:
Even though there were only about 3 people there during most of my set and about 7 for my final song, I still performed as though the place were packed. I didn’t know if one of those 7 people would become a huge fan and potentially tell everyone they know about me. It’s important for bands/musicians to play their best even when the crowd is tiny. I remember seeing The Revivalists at this same place at an open mic years ago. There were about 15 of us there that day and they were still great! That’s why I’m still a fan of theirs now and have seen them several times at different venues. It’s also why they’ve become successful in several parts of the country.
Second, I did the open mic at Woodlands Tavern. It was a love it or hate it crowd. I started with the song, “Do What You Love,” and about half of the crowd walked out during it. It’s rare that I get that reaction from that song. In fact, I’ve never gotten that reaction from that song. However, the half that stayed loved it! They loved all 4 songs I performed that night, and I did manage to sell a CD to Darren. Thanks for helping me out Darren!
Day 6 (Thursday)
During the day, I put up about 50 fliers on Ohio State’s campus. They may not lead to anything, but if even one person checks me out because of those fliers, it was definitely time well spent. I also locked my keys in the ignition of my car. Oops. Thankfully, I have AAA, so I just had to wait 45 minutes for them to break into my car for me. Also thankfully, no one broke my window and took a free car.
During the evening, I went to King Avenue 5 for open mic, and this was definitely my most successful open mic of the week. I sold 4 t-shirts and a CD, for a total of $60 in sales! That’s tremendous! It definitely helps me to eat and get gas, and it’s a big confidence booster that I’ll be able to financially survive while I build a fan base, and if I can have a night or two like this every week, I know I’ll be able to make it long enough to start booking more full shows.
I also had 11 people come out specifically to see me, which is also very cool for an open mic. I’ve definitely had full shows where I’ve drawn less people, but it’s great to have that kind of starting point when growing something. I made some new fans as well.
Thank you Dan, Alli, Kris, Kayla, Megan, Natalie, Christa, Nikki, Ryan, Derrica, and Jeff! I may also be booking a house party because some of my fans there want to have me do one. I knew going into the “I Quit My Job (please don’t make me go back)” tour that some unexpected things would happen, but I obviously didn’t know what they would be. These are the kind of unexpected things that are very cool and will help me stay a professional musician. Out of the 11 people that came to see me, 8 of them came because I had given them a demo at some point, whether it was 5 years ago or last year. It’s crazy to see that those demos still have an impact now!
Day 7 (Friday)
By suggestion from a fan, I decided to try out the open mic at Java Central in Westerville, OH. I had tried coffeehouses in the past, and they had never worked out. One of them had told me to turn my music down. It was the only time that had ever happened to me, until Friday night, when my music was turned down to where I could barely hear it. Admittedly, I had no monitors, but I know the music was very quiet. The crowd of 8-10 people liked what I did, but I was quite uncomfortable while performing. It’s no big deal, but this will be the last time I ever play a coffeehouse. They just aren’t right for me. However, there was good news from the night.
I got to see a young singer/songwriter/guitarist perform. Her name is Kennedy Blake, and you can find her on Facebook. She’s 17, which is the same age I was when I recorded Intro To My Mind. She’s talented and focused on music. She’s already doing the open mic scene, and is moving to Nashville to go to college, for business so that she can help her music career. It’s the same reason I went to college for business. She reminds me of myself at that age, and as far as the music itself, she reminds me of Cassandra Kubinski. I love Cassandra. Here’s some video of Kennedy singing:
And while we’re at it, here’s some Cassandra Kubinski:
Finally, I finished the week off with a surprise visit to see Oxymoronatron play at South Park Tavern. I hadn’t seen them since I performed with them at Elbo’s in 2005. They’re still just as much fun now as they were then!
Thank you for reading, and being a part of my first week as a professional musician. I couldn’t have made it this far without you! I probably won’t post this detailed of a blog every week, but I will likely post something once the first month is up.
Right now, I am living my dreams full time and I couldn’t be happier. It makes the work involved not really feel like work. Thanks again!
Do What You Love,