Happy Friday, TPP Readers! In lieu of my usual politically-charged antics, I thought I’d give you a brief glimpse into my non-political life. Normally, that wouldn’t be very interesting—a hairy man watching YouTube videos in his underwear—but today is different: it’s Gig Day!
When I’m not molding minds, I’m rocking faces. “Rocking faces” is a relative term; my music is mostly piano-based pop-rock, and I shout out at performances, “Are you ready to soft rock?” My music has been compared to Elton John, Meat Loaf, Ben Folds, and “Weird Al” Yankovic (how’s that for a mix). Click those last two links to listen on Spotify, and I’ll earn ~$0.00011 per stream.
Anyway, that’s enough shameless self-promotion. Because I’m writing this after a late night at an open mic, and because I’m excited to play my first major show since breaking my wrist last November (“major show,” again, being a relative term), I decided to take you on a tour of Gig Day rituals, and give you a break from politics. We’ll get to how President Trump didn’t commit treason when he declined to diss the leader of a major nuclear power during a joint press conference next week.
The day of a show is always a bit electric. I’ll spend this morning painting the floor of a boys’ locker room, but the tension and energy will be building even as I’m slopping paint. The real magic happens after that. I’ll come home and begin my elaborate pre-show rituals.
First, I’ll “sweat lodge it” in my little cottage for a short period. This technique involves not running my flimsy air-conditioning units, while my body sweats out the impurities. I’ll drink copious amounts of icy water, and probably run through some tunes. I’m a very physical performer, and I get hot when I play, so the A/C will come on at some point during this phase.
After that, if all is good, I’ll begin packing everything into my twelve-year old minivan. For a coffee house show like this, I’ll bring the following:
- Keyboard (duh), mic stand, my beautiful Sennheiser microphone, and any necessary cables
- A couple of tip jars
- Merchandise, including my album and some sweet Tyler James Cook “Flamin'” t-shirts
- A few Sharpies to sign autographs—because my fans deserve my signature immortalized in permanent marker
Next, I’ll take a purifying shower that will start off hot, then end ice-cold. There’s no physiological reason for this method—I just like to cool down dramatically in the heat of the summer. The A/C will be blasting pure frostiness by this point.
Then, I dress. Tonight’s duds include this shirt:
My usual attire—even in the summer—consists of a long-sleeve button-up, jeans, dress-casual shoes, a sports coat, and tie (I used to play outdoor gigs in this get-up, minus the sports coat, but that was insane in South Carolina summers). I’m sporting the above short-sleeve button-up because one of my weight-loss goals was to fit into it comfortably by the time I played this show. I’ll probably still wear a tie with it.
Once everything is packed and ready to go—and after I’ve inventoried to make sure everything is packed (I once played a pool party gig without a mic stand; we had to suspend the mic from its cable over a support beam in the pop-up tent I was under)—I hit the road. For today’s show, I’m picking up my buddy John, who will be joining me on this bill.
I like to arrive a solid hour before showtime, if not earlier. It doesn’t take long to setup my minimal rig, but you never know what you’ll find. I’ve played shows where the stage doubles as a dining area during normal business hours, and have had to move furniture just to set up my gear. This timing also allows for a decent soundcheck, and gives me a chance to get my tip jars arranged as I want them. Most importantly, it provides time to sort through music, tweak my setlist, and generally calm down before it’s showtime.
Finally—I play the gig! Obviously, my favorite part, usually followed by some post-show camaraderie with friends and TJC mega-fans at that great, modern Southern institution, Cook Out. John and I typically do a post-mortem of the show during our meal.
That’s a lot of navel-gazing, to be sure, but we’ll be back to our normal programming Monday. I don’t play nearly as many gigs as I used to play, but it’s a decent way to earn a few extra bucks doing something I love.
If you’d like to learn more, visit www.tjcookmusic.com.
A final, parting coda: I’m toying with the idea of doing a sort of “reverse house concert” later in the fall. Unlike a typical house concert, where a host invites an artist to play, charges admission to friends, and puts the artist up for the night (usually with a free meal), I’d host a super-exclusive, very intimate show in my little place.
For context, I live in a 525-square foot cottage that’s packed to the gills with books, keyboards, and the like. I’ve recorded a few “Kitchen Concerts” with John and another pal, Steve O (not the one you’re thinking about), a la NPR’s “Tiny Desk” concerts. John and I would post up in the kitchen, and I’ll sell maybe six-to-eight tickets, with people piling in super-close. We’d have some light h’ordeuvres, then commence a-rockin’.
The idea is that it’d be the ultimate fan experience, but we’d also livestream the concert on Facebook or Periscope for those unable to attend. It would certainly be a unique experience.
What do you think? Good idea? Stupid to shove a bunch of people into a lonely man’s bungalow? If you were interested in such an event, how much would you pay for a ticket? $5? $10? $15?
Thanks for your feedback—and rock on!