I have to say, nothing compares to the feeling you get when accomplished musicians you really look up to admire your music.
I've written so much about Kei and his band Bankin Garu, one of the finest local groups I've been following around town. Of all the underground groups I know personally, they have the best stage presence, the most refined sound, and the most professional vibe.
Tonight at Ruby, I was lucky enough (or doomed) to get the slot right after them. They played amazing as usual, treating their three-song open mic set as if it was a real concert. I was literally shaking when I took the stage after them. I tuned up, took a deep breath, and went for it.
My first song was B.B. King's "How Blue Can You Get." When old black guys get together and talk about how white people can't play the blues, they actually are talking about me, but overall I wasn't doing too bad. I could feel the audience grooving to my laid back 4 beat phrases. The guys in Bankin Garu were just getting seated at the bar and I got a few nods of approval from them.
As soon as I finished the blues, I dove right into Elvis Costello's "The Angels Want to Wear My Red Shoes," a song I really love but always have had a hard time playing well. To my surprise, I was completely commanding the attention of Kei, Shin, and Atsushi, who were sitting three in a row at the bar with their eyes fixed on me, nodding along as I played through the changes. I could tell on the spot that they were just as into the song I was. The good vibes were mutual. All of my butterflies were gone by that point and I just put my all into the rest of the set.
Honestly, what could be cooler? I've always considered my guitar playing and singing second-rate. To have the seal of approval from one of the coolest Japanese bands in Tokyo is just an awesome feeling.
It's hard for me to imagine the same scenario in America. If I took the stage at an open mic in New York City and played a few cover songs, the big boys wouldn't even give me the time of day.
This post is in tribute to mutual respect among musicians.