Saturday, September 24, 2005

Organization: For performers, it makes all the difference

As a performer, do you want to play charity events, festivals, or other venues that are somewhat out of your control? Look for the hallmarks of a well organized event, or be prepared to totally roll with the punches. I've played the Frisco Storytelling Festival in our little city for the last two years, and I'm excited to do it again next year, if they're inclined to invite me. Why? From a performer's perspective, it the best run event I've ever seen. Shelley Holley, Marcy Jones, and literally scores of volunteers have run this event with incredible effectiveness each time, and it actually seems to be getting better--if that's possible.

One of the things that makes this event so great, from a performer's perspective, is that expectations are set up front. As a musician, a sponsor, or a volunteer, I like to know one thing: what am I supposed to do? For this event, performance times and expectations are all spelled out in a plain-English contract, and we get a good look at contract well in advance. I expect everyone else's duties are spelled out as well. That means everyone knows what they're supposed to be doing. And if a little guesswork or a few problems pop up, that's okay--they're the exception as opposed to the rule.

For the festival this year, Diane Hart and Faith joined me for the Friday night kick-off, and C. Aaron Moore and Dan Scot Parr/Neil Dronet (Diane also returned) for songwriter performances throughout the day Saturday. I advise that if someone approaches you to play this event, jump at the chance. We had a great time.

An event that has made great improvements in execution this year is the Alzheimer’s Association silent auction and marathon sign-up, held at Millennium Jaguar in Plano, this past Thursday, September 22. Bonnie Resnick-Destruel, and her army of volunteers (among them, husband Jean-Claude) did an outstanding job this year--building on an already excellent event. Faith (with sister, Holley) and I were honored to be a part of the effort, and I hope we get invited back once again, next year.

Has someone invited you to perform, but you can't get them to follow-up with show times and logistics? Do things seem to be helter-skelter? You can volunteer to play such events if you want to, but be prepared for a lot of unpredicted things to happen. The most critical is that you may not be able to control the quality of your sound and the surroundings in which you play. That's okay, but it should be just once-in-a-while. If you make a habit of playing in uncontrolled situations, your quality will suffer and so will your image. That really won't help anybody.

Right now, I'm proud to be a Texan

I might be stating the obvious, but please humor me.

I could not be more proud of our Texas communities, cities, charities, musicians, artists, and citizens than I am right now, in their response to the two recent hurricanes. All across Texas, it seems that every town, school, special interest group, church, charity, and individual has found either time or money to contribute to the cause of our neighbors in Louisiana and South Texas. Our respective governments may not quite have it together, but our people have their hearts in the right place and they are being very effective.

I, myself, have been lucky enough to be involved in several charity events over the past few weeks, including an effort to raise money for Katrina victims at Frisco's StarCentre on Saturday, September 10th. Special thanks to Dan Scot Parr for organizing the musicians for this event. And, of course I have to mention City Councilman Matt Lafata, who put in a particularly active stint in the dunk tank--I'll bet he single-handedly raised a couple of thousand dollars all by himself :-)

By the way, Matt, how's that cold coming?

But I digress. The people that are making the real difference are not us high-profile types. They are the individual contributors who throw in five or ten dollars, time-and-time again, and the hundreds of nameless volunteers who work tirelessly to make these events happen, and to keep awareness going, way past the catastrophe.

Hats off to all of you, friends and neighbors. Let's keep it going!