By Mike Sales
It seems like an accomplishment of sorts that this column has nearly completed its 2nd year in the Siesta Sand Newspaper…I have a decent work ethic, but have to wrestle with discipline, ha ha!
Thank you to (owner/editors) Bob & Emy for encouraging me to continue and of course the readers, writers and advertisers who keep our local island newspaper vibrant!
I’d like to kick off the season this year by retiring a question I’ve asked at nearly every interview…
“What is your message to your audience?”
Some of the my favorite answers to the question are…“Universal love”…”Thank you”…”I love you”…”I appreciate you keeping an open mind”…”don’t let the music die”…support local musicians”…”enjoy yourself”…”music is life and life is music”…”love your life”…”Have fun…When I’m onstage, doing my thing, I have fun. Even when I make a mistake or hit a wrong note”.
These expressions of undying gratitude reflect how we all feel toward our audience for enabling us to make a living at this thing we love so dearly.
There is, however another seldom voiced sentiment, expressed almost as passionately by nearly everyone I’ve interviewed, which is the subject of this article, but before I begin, I’ll let you in on a little secret; this article is confined to space on the page. I have to make “judgment calls” and since my goal is to present every artist in a favorable light, an interview will often take a break from “the record” as we trade little stories and/or frustrations I wouldn’t print.
So, just to air it out and give some attention to something we don’t like to be heard saying, for fear you may think us ungrateful; please lend an open heart and mind to the next few paragraphs.
It is very unsettling and happens fairly often that we feel pressured by expectations of what we should play.
I imagine the notion goes something like; here you are, on vacation, away from home and work. This is your chance to forget about your cares and really have a good time…cut loose! Tonight, you’re going out to have some food & drinks and party to some music! You know what you like to hear. It’s on your iPod! It’s the music that reminds you of your favorite times. It was made famous by the artists you love the most. You’re out to have a good time and one key ingredient is good music.
No problem so far. In fact, I couldn’t agree more. That’s how classics are made. They strike a chord in many souls and everyone sings along. Chances are, someone will be playing your favorite songs on Siesta Key tonight.
So, go ahead, yell out a request or better yet, head on up to the bandstand, throw a tip in the jar and ask for your song, but please keep in mind, that not everybody plays everything.
It may sound like such an elementary notion as to not even warrant writing, but it is very common for a request to be presented as if the only requirement for knowing a song is that someone asks for it. It literally takes hours to learn every song, especially to memorize it. Most of us couldn’t possibly know every song everyone wants to hear.
There are exceptions, of course. There are some musicians, on our island who are universally inclined, endowed with an encyclopedic catalogue of repertoire and totally capable of playing anything you ask for at the mere mention (true story) but most of us have a comfort zone. I’ve sat across the table from countless musicians who echoed this important point:
The best music comes from musicians playing what they play best.
To a musician, when a customer levies a demand, they are in effect saying they’re not interested in hearing what the artist plays best. They are, in essence asking the musician to play something that will make their musical experience and that of everyone listening…less.
I’d venture to say no one REALLY feels that way, so here are my thoughts on the subject…
You know that song you like so much? You know, the one you want to hear EVERYONE try to play? There was a first time you heard it and it touched and took hold of you to become a part of what you identify as a good time. It’s natural to want to hear the song again…but as I said, not everyone knows it.
The good news is; we’ve all been playing and practicing all year and awaiting peak season to arrive, so you can come hear the sets we’ve prepared. You’ll hear unique takes on classics, some obscure tunes and even a few brand new songs written by our local singers…you may even wind up adding some to your iPod.
When we are at our best, we’re choosing songs that play comfortably in our style and covering songs that sound as though they were written just for us. When we share the music we love so dearly, were inviting you to experience the magic first hand. Our goal is to soundtrack your best vacation. We want to help you create new favorite memories. We want you to love our music and come back to hear us play, every time you return to Siesta Key.
So, as one question retires, another one takes its place…with respect to discerning tastes, I’ll ask future interviewees to give an example of the music genres they play and artists they cover, after all, it’s the goal of this article to bring you, our beloved audience, a closer look at “Who’s Playing Tonight”.
Mike Sales is a local singer/songwriter for more information log onto: http://mikesalessings.com/