I've been thinking about my Top 5 gigs of the year for 2008, always something I enjoy doing, to look back over the past year and pick out my most enjoyable concerts. It seems like it should be a no-brainer for this year. I had the opportunity to play at the famed Birchmere Concert Hall in Alexandria, VA, which is by all accounts on of the top venues in the country. I opened for Christine Lavin, who is one of the most recognized folk singers, and thanks to her, I played for an audience of around 300 people. It was quite an honor to play at the Birchmere, and even more of an honor to be asked to open for Christine.
But, does my music, and my stage persona fit at a large venue like that? I used to think, as most musicians do, that the definition of success was how high up the ladder you got, and that record deals and filling large theaters was the ultimate goal. It has become very clear to me this year that is not what I am meant for. Even if that were a possibility (which it probably is not), I am a small venue, small crowd artist. The current folk singer/songwriter scene, mostly played out in house concerts and small venues throughout the country just doesn't mesh with the big business glitz of Nashville country acts, or commercial pop/rock artists.
To be clear, The Birchmere, and venues that are large but still cater to acoustic singer/songwriters are not in the previous category, they are great venues, and the larger acts of this scene, such as Christine Lavin, John Gorka, David Wilcox, etc need a place to play.
But, there is no way a large venue can match the feel of a house concert or small venue (100 people or less), and for grass roots artists such as myself, there really is no better venue than the intimacy of a small room where the interaction with the audience really is what drives the show.
For those of you that are fans of acoustic music, where you do like to go to hear singer/songwriters? Do you prefer the local coffeehouse, or the monthly concert series held at a community center or church, or house concerts, or larger venues like clubs or theaters?