There’s something to be said for throwing yourself off a cliff.
It would seem that 2015 is the year that, musically, I’m doing just that. For better than two years now, I’ve been part of an ever-evolving musical journey with singer/songwriter Rollie Barrett. When I first arrived on the scene way back when, Rollie had already put out an EP of original songs and had a handful more in various states of completion. These continued on their path to realization but we, with various side-performers, continued to engage audiences with cover tunes as it was a great way to keep our chops up, have a bit of fun and put a few coins in our pockets.
And we got good at it. Really, we did. We brought our own unique take to songs written by others, and we gave them a great life during our shows.
But there’s one thing I figured out about Rollie early on – the phrase, “the only constant is change”, was never more applicable. It wasn’t because the cover-song thing was nearing the end of a dead-end street. Far from it – the cover shows were steadily gaining in popularity, and the venue and audience sizes were following suit but it just wasn’t what we really saw as the future.
When the focus was on the cover songs, there were nights when we were the centre of attention, and there were some nights where we were, well, wallpaper. That wasn’t a bad thing, and it certainly wasn’t a matter of people not liking what we were doing, it was just a matter of what and where we were playing it…we were the musical accompaniment to someone’s night out.
By the close of 2014, we had made the decision that his original songs would be more centre-stage. By now, I had “made partner in the firm”, and he and I now made a lot of band decisions and plans as a team, we were seeing the same vision. For the most part, those decisions were simple – Work the original songs so that they were ready for live shows and eventually when the money and time was available, get them into the studio. Which brings us to the edge of the cliff.
Over a coffee (or maybe a red wine, hard to say) he let me know that he wanted to place our entire focus on original material. The cover gig thing was already established and we would now look at finding attractive and unique venues to apply the “2 to 1” formula. We agreed that playing unfamiliar music for folks could be hard on the mind so to alleviate this we would throw in a real gem of a cover every second song (2 to 1) to keep the audience engaged. Most importantly we would put a fine polish on our well received originals, finish off the “unfinished” and attempt to bring the audience closer to us.
In an industry in a town where “playing it safe” usually gets you the regular gigs and call-backs, there’s something
to be said for the willingness to tear it all down, rebuild, and bring it all back to the stage. And to do it all for a love
of the music and the sense of community they can create. Call it what you will – “performing without a net”,
“a leap of faith”, whatever. As the song goes, “If you jump, you just might fall…”
2015 sees all of these changes and plans being realized. New original songs have already been completed and recorded. House concerts and various “intimate and interactive” venues are on the calendar. People are now a part of our show. Because we want them there.
We are looking forward to playing for and with you in 2015! Rollie & Brad
Author: Brad Robinson