playing my songs in Playa Del Ray on 2.23.19

playing my songs in Playa Del Ray on 2.23.19

This last Sunday evening, I attended an acoustic house show in Playa Del Ray called Acoustic Sessions. I found the event online, reached out to the host, and then begged someone to cover me at work so I could attend. The artists weren’t announced beforehand, which I thought was a great concept. I had no idea who was playing or what to expect. When I arrived, the house was packed with young people! I was nervous because I was alone, and I really don’t do very well with small talk, nor do I tend to leave a good first impression. I poured myself some whiskey and found myself standing room in the back of the living room. I believe there were four artists total. The last artist really blew me away. His name was Steven. I don’t remember any of his songs, though I enjoyed them okay. In my opinion, the highlights of his performance were his voice, his playing, his accompaniment (electric guitarist), and his “stage presence”.

Steven struck me as the sort of artist that will do anything and everything in order to achieve his apparent dream in music. You could feel his work ethic, passion, and musicianship, and it was neat to be in the room for it. I quietly played my mental comparison game. Sure, I noted the ways in which he was superior to me, but really what I was thinking was “this guy is john mayer and i am mark kozelek”. I’m not talking in a musical sense. I felt like Steven had a “John Mayer approach”, killing it in all aspects and clearly wanting to achieve mainstream success. Just in watching his performance, I was able to admire it, and also know that I will never have that type of drive or energy. I feel like there are so many problems with this analogy and thought process as a whole. But that’s what I was truly thinking.

Not long after the show ended, and just after Steven and his crew left, the host of the evening, Marco, invited me and another artist to play some of our tunes. We appreciated the offer and followed him into the living room. Marco asked me “Nylon or Steel?”, to which I responded Nylon. The other artist, Mercied (if I’m recalling her name correctly) was a singer in her thirties. We jammed on one or two of her songs. Her voice was really great, and after chatting with her for a few minutes beforehand, it was nice to get to know each other in a musical context.

After jamming with Mercied, I decided to sing some songs on my own. I was in the middle of my favorite Dylan cover when I realized there were about fifteen people standing quietly and listening. It was a really cool moment for me. I haven’t been able to perform for an audience like that in a while. I sang three or four songs, and in between, my banter was self-deprecating and obnoxious.. (I’ll blame that on the whiskey this time). Overall, it felt like a cool moment. Marco had already planned on booking me for the April show, but it was nice to perform for the host.

I felt a genuine love for myself and my music that night. I don’t know if I’ll ever have that sharpness or spark that draws in the masses, but I’m going to continue to be the best I can be, and not worry about the rest.

Ashton York