“It’s a pretty good crowd for a Wednesday,” Billy Joel once crooned. Or something like that.

I haven’t been to nearly as many concerts as I’d like. I would go at least once a month if I could. I have been to a variety of shows at just as many different venues from large to small. Among the smallest might be when Cindy and I saw Shawn McDonald and Audrey Assad earlier this year.

The largest would be when I saw Dave Matthews Band at Comerica Park in Detroit, which might have been one of the worst shows I’ve never seen. We had upper deck tickets a mile from the stage. Awful sound, and we were so far from the epicenter of the audience that I could hardly smell the marijuana.

I often wonder about has-been bands and solo artists who used to sell out international concert tours and are now fortunate to get a county fair gig. How humbling it must be. Yet to make a living playing music can’t be all that bad, even if the bleating of 4H lambs interrupts your signature song.

Earlier this year I played at a local senior center on Good Friday. I took along my guitar and played some Easterish hymns. The room was packed with luncheon attendees, and they appreciated my music.

[pullquote]What kind of schmuck would look at the five ladies already in their seats and tell them that, sorry, you’re not a big enough crowd?[/pullquote]I agreed to come back but decided on jazz standards and Broadway/Frank Sinatra kind of stuff that I’d play on my keyboard. When I arrived a half hour before I was to play on an early Wednesday afternoon, I noticed the parking lot was empty and thought I’d had the date wrong. Alas, I was correct on the date.

The organizer apologized for the low attendance and indicated she’d understand if I didn’t want to play. But how could I back out? What kind of schmuck would look at the five ladies already in their seats and tell them that, sorry, you’re not a big enough crowd, that my time is more valuable than yours.

I was already there, and I’d prepared the music. Instead of unloading my keyboard, I opted for their slightly out-of-tune, crummy upright piano. But it worked for the style of music.

We had a lot of fun, as I played and sang for an hour, speaking a little throughout concerning my song choices. The dozen seniors in attendance loved my music and thanked me profusely. Two ladies even pooled together a $20 tip, which was completely unexpected. With a bit of the tip, I treated myself afterward to a 50 cent cone from McDonald’s.

It’s certainly humbling to play for such a small group, but it’s satisfying to know I made their day. And in a way, they made mine.

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4 thoughts on “Small Fish in a Small Pond

  1. Glad u stayed. I paid $5 for an hour zumba class at my school. Cuz there were only 5 of us the instructor only stayed for half hour. I was upset and thought it wasn’t right.

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    1. That is a bummer. It’s a blow to the ego when you have such a small class/audience, but I guess I’ve learned that you just change your approach. A small audience means a living room-like show. A small class means he/she could have given more personal attention.

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      1. And most likely it will be a show they will REMEMBER, not one they felt so disconnected from–a mile away from the stage.  I can just imagine you made their whole week.  Thanks for sharing!

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