My guitar case might have seen better days but fortunately what's inside is a beautiful guitar in perfect condition. I sit here with a smile on my face, reflecting after a night of performing my music to a wonderful audience and I think, 'am I the only one who feels this?'
You see there is a connection between an artist and the audience that cannot be described. It only takes that one person in the crowd to make a show special. That one person who you know is feeling it, that one person who gets it. It's not always easy, but these people are out there.
When I look into the audience and see that the connection has been made it's an amazing feeling.
For me playing music is not about sitting in the corner of a bar playing Oasis covers, its not about being on a stage with a band playing party hits, its not about playing the latest shitty pop songs in the hope that the club owner will sling me a few bucks at the end of the night. It's about being real and sharing my life's story with an audience.... This is where it's tricky.. There are not many opportunities to perform in such a setting.
So often in music its what is new and shiny that gets the attention, but like my guitar case looks can be deceiving.
When I stand on stage alone with just my guitar and a microphone I'm not singing songs that I slapped together in 5 minutes, or something I heard on the radio. I'm sharing the most intimate moments in my life. The experiences, the journey's. These songs and stories have taken years to create.
The lyrics are relatable, the stories are real and there are plenty more to come. Everyday is a new adventure and an opportunity to experience something new.
I try to keep an open heart and let life decide my fate... sometimes things are not so good and sometimes they are fucking awesome.
These things are what inspires me, this is what I write about.
I know people get it, but not everyone has to... One is enough.
You probably can't read what is on the piece of paper but its the lyrics to a song I wrote in 2005 called 'Babes and Drunks'. Its about a night where I got drunk and hung out in a penthouse apartment in the city with a beautiful girl that I had met through a friend.. The lyrics are quite abstract but the theme is along the lines of 'good things happen when you least expect it'
Ok so this was 11 years ago now so how do I remember it so vividly? How can one little fairly insignificant evening so long ago still be top of mind?
It's because I wrote a song about it.
The thing about being a songwriter or a poet or any artist that documents life experiences in their craft is that these moments become immortal. They continue to live as long as they continue to be played.
As someone who writes about life experiences, each time I step on stage I tell a story of moments that I have lived and find my self re-living all of these over and over... I often close my eyes mid song and imagine the moment that took place that became the inspiration for the story. I can see so clearly the images I am singing about, the people and the places.. The stories don't always have a happy ending but the experience is real.
I'm so happy that I have captured the moments i've lived and to be able to remember them when I play music. There are so many more to come and are even unfolding behind the scenes as I type this blog..
Life is full of amazing things and I can't wait for the next one.
Some musicians like to party after a show. I like to take a moment to reflect and be thankful for the journey so far.
I have a song I wrote called 'Black Swan'. It's about a 'black swan moment' which is an event that comes as a surprise and has a major impact in your life. It's a metaphor that's been around a long time and when it happens to you, you'll know about it.
But I think I've just discovered a new metaphor called a 'Poltz moment'. A 'Poltz moment' can either happen at a Steve Poltz concert or at sometime in your life when you are reminded of something that happened at a Steve Poltz concert. It is when you are hopeful of something wonderful happening - and then something wonderful happens!
For the uninitiated Steve Poltz is Singer/Songwriter from San Diego, California . I listen to his music a lot and go to his shows whenever he's in town.
A few weeks ago I performed at the Tantric Turtle stage at Northern Beaches Music Festival. The Tantric Turtle is a cafe set up at the festival and they open their stage for people like me to perform. They are wonderful people.
I had 2 sets booked at the festival one on the Saturday night and again on the Sunday afternoon. I arrived early in the evening on the Saturday and walked around.. Next thing I know i'm being interviewed and performing live on air for the radio station that was broadcasting live from the festival. I've done radio interviews and performances before and it was a lot of fun so I won't really class it as class it as a 'Poltz moment'.
I went back stage, tuned by guitar and did my vocal warm ups, a pretty standard practice. I walked out on the stage hopeful of having a good gig but not quite sure how it would go. The audience had never heard of me before. They were all mixed ages. Would they get in to my stories? Would they like my songs?
They were appreciative as was I and the show was going well.... but then something changed.... about 3 songs in all these families arrived at the stage bringing with them an army of children. I'm guessing they ranged from 3 to 8 years old. The kids charged to the front of the stage and sat down on the large colourful rug in front of me. I was stunned for a minute, not only did my audience just triple in size but I'd never played to kids before! How are they going to find my songs and my stories? I thought 'shit I better change things up a bit here and fast!' I fumbled through my next song then I thought 'what would Poltzy do?' It was then I remembered the 'indie-folk' versions of 'If you're happy and you know it clap your hands' and 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' that I regularly play for my daughter!
From the the first strum they were hooked, on their feet and singing along... I couldn't believe it! Even after that when I went back to my regular set they were jumping around to the quicker songs and slow dancing to the ballads... afterwards they all came up and high fived me and I signed CD's for them and their parents - it was a Poltz moment!... It was what I've seen Steve do so many times and now here I was doing it myself! I was so happy.
Poltzy (yes that's what we call him in Australia) is currently in town and last night at his concert I saw many Poltz moments unfold before my very eyes. All I had to do was look around the room there were so many smiling faces. One that really stands out was a lady sitting in front of me, she was maybe 60 years old and spent the entire show wiping tears of happiness from here face. I wondered when the last time was she had felt so much joy.
As a songwriter I draw on many influences and life experiences to create my songs. But as a performer there is no greater influence than Steve Poltz. There are many times mid way through a set when the thought pops in to my head 'what would Poltzy do?' as occurred at the festival He's an amazing story teller, songwriter and entertainer. Whilst I have my own style and my songs are different I strive to be just like him. I'm working hard at it and maybe I'll get there one day.
Last night yet again I couldn't wipe the smile off my face for the entire show feeling so grateful and happy for Steve that he has found an amazing and large audience here in Australia . We caught up afterwards and had a chat about music. I felt so reassured that I'm on the right path.
I gave him one of my CD's and signed it for him, this is my rule that if I give you a CD I have to sign it so I feel like a rock star!
He gave me one of his and signed it too.... I had a Poltz moment
I finally got around to finishing this book 'Born To Fly'. It's about a young Australian, a 19 year old by the name of Ryan Campbell who had a dream to become the first teenager to fly solo around the world..
To cut a long story short he made it and broke the world record.
Whilst it's a great story of having a dream and battling against the odds there is also a recurring theme of being out of your comfort zone.
When I was the same age as Ryan I was in my comfort zone well and truly. It was probably about a year and a half ago I decided to leave it, to try something new, to take a different path.
I remember one of my business mentors asking me many years ago before we went into a big meeting "are you nervous?" I replied "yes" He said "good" and went on to say that "sometimes in life you have to put yourself in a position that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up"
It has probably been about 10 years since that meeting but it's advice i've never forgotton.
From getting on a plane to travel to the unfamiliar, to playing music on stage and to what I still do for my day job - sit at reception waiting to go into a meeting absolutely shitting myself!
A quote from the book which stands out as it had already become a bit of a mantra for me over the past year or two. One that I have used to help me find my way back through life after a break up of a long term relationship..
'The right path is one that has adventure and excitement, one that allows you to set goals and makes every day new, adventurous and exciting. One that makes you want to get up every morning'
I sometimes wonder if at 19 and knew what I knew now would my life have turned out any different? Would it be better or worse? All I know is i'm doing my best to make up for lost time and getting out of my comfort zone as much as possible..
On Thursday, 8th October 2015 my little music project 'Andy Kidd' will make it's live debut as a 3 piece band. My friends Adam and Jamie have joined up on drums and bass and we've begun rehearsals. Our very first gig will be opening for one of my favourite bands 'New Regulars' at the Captain Cook Hotel in Paddington, Sydney. I've played plenty of gigs solo on stage but this is a whole new level.
New Regulars are awesome live and the venue has played host to Green Day no less!
I'm nervous. I'm excited. The hairs on the back if my neck are standing up as I type this...
This is living.
Another great mentor said to me once 'Everything is difficult until it becomes easy' and whenever I encounter something new or challenging I think of this advice.
I'm looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone with my new band mates carrying the thoughts that echo through the minds of every musician before the go on stage... 'hopefully we don't suck'
This is where I want to be. It's not about escaping work or real life, it's not about being 'on holidays'.. For me Its about finding places on this earth that inspire and stir my creativity. When I arrived here early yesterday evening I walked down to the beach with goosebumps. I grew up on the beach so it's nothing new to me but knowing what experiences lay ahead excite me. This is what I need and what I crave. It keeps me going, breathing and writing..
The sunsets in summer is where i'll find you
Bare feet and beaches will remind you
That we could be so care free in warm breeze
So take a moment and share this last drink with me
I didn't want to go out last night. It's been really cold here in Sydney - ok not Northern Europe cold but cold enough, plus I've got a work trip to Malaysia coming up and have been flat out planning for that.
But my mates Starboard Cannons were playing a gig in Newtown and they're awesome, really awesome so I decided to go.
I personally need to thank Ash and the band for inviting me on stage to play my song 'Tomorrow in Australia'. This was the first time i've played with a violin and double bass and I think i'm hooked. The show was brilliant. The band are pros and Ash is one of the finest balladeers around.
But this isn't about the performance or the gig.
It's about a BIG question being answered. A question that sometimes keeps me awake at night.
The question was - do I belong on stage? Do I belong 'in' music?
I'm lucky that my boss pays my to travel. I get to spend time abroad and satisfy the urge to get out of my comfort zone. To experience new things. To find inspiration. But I also love writing and playing music. It may never replace my day job but it is a love and passion that I can't be without... But do I belong in a musical world that contains so many amazing, talented people?
The answer is yes.
I have a story to tell. I'm writing new chapters every day. Simply by living life. By doing things like leaving the house on a cold winters night rather than sit on the couch watching some shitty reality tv show.
Last night I sang a song with one of the best bands in Australia.
Last night I met some of the most amazing, beautiful people I have ever come across.
Last night I sat in a small room with a big smile on my face watching a great Australian band play great original Australian music.
Last night I held hands for the first time with a new friend.
Last night another chapter was written.
Today that chapter is becoming lyrics in a new song that i'm already falling in love with.
Sometimes when you least expect it, life answers a question you were too afraid to ask.
And I didn't even want to go out...
It was a little over a year ago when I moved back to the big smoke, the beautiful city of Sydney after a few years away.
I returned to my old stomping grounds of the inner west. But things had changed, people had moved on and I didn't really know anyone. To put it bluntly - I didn't really have any friends..
However, I had a guitar and a dream to play live and tell my story through my songs.
I didn't know where to start, I didn't know anyone, and 'making it' was the furthest thing from my mind.
I started playing a few open mic nights around newtown and would chat to my fellow performers. We'd see each other the next week and then the next and would from a bit of a bond as unknown musicians battling away against the backdrop of greyhound races and loud conversations.. But that was ok, we were in it together.. We were trying to make it.
Slowly, as I played more and more of these nights, the little network of people I knew started to grow. We all had that one thing in common, we were trying to make it.
I'll never forget a gig I played one night when one of fellow performers saw me sitting alone and came and sat next to me, he introduced himself, then spilt a full beer all over me. He was trying to make it too.
As time went on the beer spiller aka Jamie and I would see each other around more often and became friends. The other performers i'd met along the way and I became friends. I became friends with their friends.
Last night I played 5 songs live on the radio and had a chat on air with one of my friends Ossie.
Tonight i'm going to a gig to watch one of my friends launch their brand new EP. I'll have other friends there too. Jamie will spill a beer and make a new friend.
A year ago when I sat by myself in fairly empty pub while watching another performer play to their group of friends I wasnt sure if I was going to make it.
But because I decided to step on stage and start playing music.... I have.
Saturday June 6, 2015 will be a day i'll remember for a long time. As you get older, slightly wiser and a litttle more travelled its rare to experience something for the very first time.. But on this day I did... Snow!
How does a 36 year old guy manage to get this far through life without experiencing the frozen white stuff? Well, I grew up on the beach and I guess whenever I travelled anywhere it was always to somewhere warm - i'm a palm trees and tropical sunsets kinda guy.
This changed when an opportunity to play at Peak Festival at Perisher in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains.
I can't explain the child like excitement of seeing a white mountain, to feel the energy of those skiing and snow boarding and to finally get around to building a snowman!
But I was here to play a show.... not long after lunch time on Sunday, I stepped onto the festival stage feeling a skier does when they step off the chairlift.. Looking out the windows of the venue behind the audience and seeing pure white mountains was spectacular.. Looking down mid song and seeing children with their faces painted staring at me, unsure what this folk singer dressed in black was all about made me smile.
It wasn't just the kids or the scenery though, my festival highlight was sharing a story with those who had, over the years seen many a folk singer, heard many a story but were just as excited to hear a new one. This is what I will remember most, this is what I will take away.
I write songs to tell a story, I play the songs live to make a memory and my weekend at Peak Festival certainly allowed me to do that.
To David and the team, I thank you for giving me one of your stages for 30 minutes to allow me to do what I love.. And to the wonderful folk on the mountain that day.. Thanks for being part of the story
I hope to return again one day..
Monday. You are a formidable foe, but today we will battle until the sun goes down. Then we will share a beer and regale each other with stories of combat and grow closer together as comrades, bitching about other days of the week. Then, after you stumble off into the night I will think fondly of Sunday and send her text messages to which she will never reply..
Last night I went and watched my favourite singer/songwriter play... His name is Steve Poltz.. This may seem like any ordinary story about a guy seeing another guy play music except that Steve, a world renowned musician with fans in every city and town in earth,, a guy who plays 300 shows a year and is constantly on the road actually knows who I am! Why is this? How does he know my name? Well its because i'm a crazy stalker.. I'm always watching his videos and posting them on youtube and tagging him in them, i'm posting about going to his shows and tagging him in the post, putting my own stuff on the internet and tagging him in the hope that he might see it...
I don't want to seem like a weirdo, but 'if the shoe fits'? right?
So last night I walk into the venue to see Steve play thinking I can watch him play then leave before I make a fool out of my self.. The place is packed! I''ve never seen anything like it at this place, sold out and it seems i'm the last one to arrive. There is not a spare seat in the room - except the very front row - Fuck! Looks like Andy is going to be fulfilling his role as a crazy stalker tonight 😁
So Steve walks out to play, acknowledges the crowd and looks at me and says 'i reckognise you..' Fuck. I felt like saying of course you do i'm the guy who is always posting stuff with you in it on my social media!
Later in the set he makes up a song and sings it about some people in the crowd.. He looks at me and sings 'this guy has a beard, he writes songs and sends me emails and isn't weird' which means he thinks i'm weird but didn't want to embarrass me.. That's ok though I comfortable with that - at least he knows I write songs!!
After the show I hung around having a drink with my friend and I caught up with Steve and I gave him a hug and he said 'thanks Andrew, did I do good?' i stuttered and said yeah you did.. Then I awkwardly said I want to be his support act when he comes back to Australia in November.. He smiled then turned and walked out the door.. I might as well have said 'hey Steve Poltz, i'm coming to San Diego for a few weeks can I crash at your place?' Such was his reaction.. But thats ok too cos maybe he might be bored one day and look up my music and maybe he will let him open for him somewhere..
If you have a chance in your life I urge you, not because i'm a crazy stalker but as a music lover and human being to go to a Steve Poltz concert. There is no other show in the world like it. For 2 hours Steve will invite you into his world and you will leave feeling as though you have made a friend for life.. After the show I met a lot of people and we shared stories of Steve Poltz concerts and they would tell me how they met him - it seems as though i'm not the only one! Maybe we should all start a group like AA but it seems no one wants to quit!
Now it's Saturday morning and i'm in bed having a cup of tea nursing a sore head after a few too many red wines. Then I hear 'daddy!' and for a moment I feel like Drew Barrymore at the end the movie 50 First Dates when Adam Sandler says to her 'you have a daughter' and I remember.. I have a daughter! She's 2 1/2 and this is my weekend with her. My mum came to Sydney for the weekend and looked after her last night so I could go to the Steve Poltz concert.
I'm laying in bed writing this story, enjoying my tea (which my mum made me) and my daughter is laying next to me watching Peppa Pig on my ipad. We have the whole weekend together now to do fun things! I'm going to teach her music and maybe we can write a song together...
I look forward to my weekends with her so much and I spend the time in between her visits looking at photos of her on my phone like a crazy stalker..
I guess it's not such a derogatory term after all..