I'm listening to the first master of the NRIs' first EP, titled 8:42AM. It's almost perfect now, and we're getting ready to get a bunch of copies printed, and to get the songs up on iTunes and everything. It's the first time I've been involved in something like this, and frankly, I'm really excited.
Growing up listening to my dad play the guitar, I always had this vague idea that I wanted to be in a band--sing in a band, really, because I didn't think there would be too many band opportunities for me as a violinist. It's one of those things I would fantasize about sometimes, in the shower, or after that first season of American Idol (when it was good), or if I'd just heard a song that I really liked. It's a popular fantasy. I could say something grad-schoolish about celebrity culture and all that, but I think this is more of a human nature thing. People like to be recognized. They like to know that their sphere of influence extends beyond themselves and their immediate families.
I have a fairly clear memory of sitting in front of Saturday Night Live one winter when I was supposed to be researching my junior paper on Hamlet, watching some sketch where the players left it all on the stage. I was sitting there under my laptop and books, thinking, "How did I miss my opportunity? Why am I hidden behind this computer, making these inane and mostly unoriginal observations about Hamlet and its interpreters, when I could be on a stage somewhere, putting it all out there? Where did I go wrong?"
Of course, that particular thought was imbued with all the histrionics of a frustrated student whose idea of foresight was seeing the end of the semester. At 20 it felt like the best part of my life was rapidly drawing to a close. My next stop, as far as I could tell at that point: administrative work and the "secretary spread" that came with it. It always feels like doors are closing, and okay, sure, I'm too old to be on American Idol now (not that I would want to be). But those doors have a tendency to close so loudly that they drown out the subtle appearance of new doors.
I got back into music in graduate school, and then when I moved to the DC-metro area, I eventually found some musicians to know and love. I waited for my new doors. They appeared. At the end of last year, I tried the knobs.
I've performed at the Velvet Lounge and Iota since then, two venues where I'd always gone as a spectator. Usually when I play in a string quartet, we're background music, but I performed in my very first featured string quartet at Silver Spring Stage. I've got a show coming up with the Machines on Vacation at The Red and the Black (Valentine's Day, opening for Barton Carroll). And the NRIs are going to try to do up this EP release party right: big venue (maybe), writeup in the Post, press release, everything.
Performing scares the hell out of me. I breezed through my Machines show--maybe it was because I knew half the audience, but it was probably because the lights bouncing off my glasses rendered me completely unable to see any further in front of me than where Ethan was sitting. At Iota, I had a moment of complete and utter panic ("WHAT AM I DOING???"), from the jaws of which I managed to snatch a decent performance. But what's the point of living if you never do anything that scares you?
I really appreciate all the support thus far, you guys. Why write--why make music--why make anything if nobody else can enjoy it? I wish I could promise that our EP show won't be snowed out like our last one was, but for now, please plan on coming. It will be so much fun.