Saturday, November 22, 2008

Just A Guy and A Guitar

Concert ... musical performance ... can be vocal or instrumental or both.

Over the years I have attended numerous concerts, walking away from them carrying the music I had heard in my head and my heart. Most of them were vocal/instrumental, many of them were church related, some of them more memorable than others.

It's weird, but, when asked the question,"who have you seen in concert?", my mind tends to respond immediately with concerts I have seen in a large forum - such as the Reunion Arena in Dallas. There was a period of time where I seemed to constantly be a part of the vast crowd - listening, watching and dancing as the music of various groups and individuals seemed to pump it's way into my bloodstream, as the rhythm seemed to take over the beat of my heart and the words would wrap around my mind and have me singing along.

The groups varied - everything from Neil Diamond & Barry Manilow to Tears for Fears t0 Journey & Foreigner. Each performance was spectacular with the lighting and the orchestration. There were laser light shows and back up singers, big screens for close ups of the band and, in the case of Journey, one spectacularly beautiful dark cherry red grand piano that I can still picture in my mind with crystal clarity. Everything was huge and, even today, hearing one of the songs can bring back to my mind the feeling of sitting/standing in the dark listening to it live and in person.

Still ... although the concerts of John Cougar Mellencamp or Powerstation may first come to mind when asked the question ... I have to say they are not my favorites.

Nope. As much as I love the back up musicians and singers, the lightshows, the dancers, and all the extras that make these concerts so huge, it is the intimate settings of listening ... simply listening to the musician and his instrument ... that are the "favorite" concert moments I look back on.

Listening live and in person seems to allow the music to take such a greater hold than if it is simply heard over the radio. There's something much more personal when music is heard live, when you are able to sit and watch the musician play - fingers rippling across the piano or strumming through the chords on a guitar. Watching the face of the singer as the song they are giving voice seems to come from somewhere deep inside them.

I grew up with a musician. Some of my favorite memories of my little brother is sitting in the den, listening to him play the piano and sing. The music would float through our house, filling the silent corners, accompanying us in our daily tasks. Sometimes he would be alone and other times he would be joined by a couple of friends, but always would his voice flow over and through me, even as I pretended to be the cool, uninvolved older sister just reading a book on the couch.

Although I really don't care for country music, per se, I have seen some really good concerts by country artists, both small and large, yet none of them truly captured me quite the same as the music of a young man who I loved for a time *mumblemumble* years ago. During our time together, I had the opportunity to see him perform on stage many times, yet the music was always best when it was played during the dark of the night ... when it was just us two and we would sit, knee to knee on the floor and he would play the guitar and sing. The music would light his face and come from his soul and fill my heart.

I recently was priviledged to attend two concerts by two very unique musicians in one weekend.

They weren't held in huge arenas with thousands of fans.

There wasn't any lightshow or back-up bands or singers.

There was simply a stage with a mike for a singer and his guitar placed in front of an appreciative audience.

Each man gave a performance which was filled with energy and heart. Each song told a story - whether in the lyrics on their own, or by the face and voice of the individual artist singing. The guitars were extensions of their bodies, their fingers at times caressing and other times beating the strings but always making the notes blend together with an artistry that was intriguing and enticing to watch.

Captivated, I sat on the edge of my seat. The lyrics and medleys singing inside my soul. Each concert so unique and different from the other and yet the same in that they were simply a musician ... playing his guitar and singing.

When the talent is real and the music is good ... lightshows and back-up may be awesome - but they are soooo incredibly not necessary. Just ask anyone who have attended concerts by either Steve Carlson or Jason Manns.

A concert with just a guy and his guitar, doing what they love to do ... sing the music they love.


Tigerpride09 said...

I totally agree with the fact that lightshows and backup singers aren't necessary. It is the music that speaks.

Being a musician, I would know. The joy of performing is bliss beyond imagining.

I totally agree with the message in this post!

InkyOrchid said...

I feel so different about listening to their music now on iTunes or CD since seeing them live. It's warmer.

My dad (and brother, but mostly dad) would practice his guitar and songs while I was growing up. A few years ago, he started doing "shows" at our family reunion week around a campfire. My brother has since joined him, and it seems to one of the highlights of the week, even though there are no more campfires.

Koosh said...