I started in this business late. I was in my mid-30s when I first stepped onto an open mic stage for the first time, and terrified. Surrounded by people who'd been up there for decades.
But when I committed to opening myself up to the fear and the possibility I learned very quickly how to perform. And I also had loads of setbacks.
One year I auditioned for Winterfolk Blues & Roots Festival and I sang Oars in the Water - which is a powerhouse, dynamic, storytelling song of mine. I nailed it. People left notes on their voting cards about it.
But they didn't vote for me. Winterfolk auditions are basically popularity votes on the day of audition, and I didn't realize part of the game was stacking the room with your own people so you'd get the vote.
Fortunately because I was part of The Moonshine Cafe crowd I got to board the bus that took us downtown on a day of the festival and had a spot in the Moonshine showcase. So I got there anyway in the end.
But I remember being so shocked when I didn't get that audition spot. I had a full repertoire of dynamic songs, I was on the rock/musical theatre side of folk but I told stories, my songs told stories, and I was an engaging performer.
I just didn't understand the unwritten rules. This indie musician's life is all about unwritten rules. And you get to learn when to bend them, when to break them, and when to follow them just enough to do well.
This industry isn't fair and it isn't equitable. Being the best at your craft isn't as important as understanding the system and playing inside it. So we figure it out as best we can and we hope to find our people along the way.
Thank you for finding me. Whether it's been word of mouth, at a show, in a playlist, on an album, I'm so grateful you're listening. Thanks for taking a chance on me.
Photos by Alexis Rados