It is TOUGH coming back from a musical hiatus in many ways, but there is definitely another side if you want to play live again. Rebuilding my fan base was a daunting task. While I was in college it was much easier because we knew everyone in town, and the music scene in Boone, North Carolina, at the time was vibrant. Also, living in today’s time of social media and digital marketing, things are completely different.
Today is definitely a better time to reach out to the masses, but there can be a bit of disconnect on a personal level, and I believe having that personal connection with your fanbase is the most important thing you can do. I was fortunate to be a business owner and a member of many networking groups in town, and that was the easiest path for me to tap into people whom I already knew had a love for music.
One of my groups was Business Leaders of Charlotte (BLOC). It’s an organization intended for networking; however, there is a large charitable arm that organized three events a year. One of those events was Bloctober Fest. I’ve always loved giving back to my community, and this was a way for me and Mike to give our time to the organization without them having to pay us.
We really had a great time playing many of these events, and that led us into another event called MayFest, which was organized by other members of BLOC to raise money for Hospice. It was another great opportunity for me and Mike to give back while slowly regaining fans and gaining new ones. These events gave us a ton of exposure and made us put in the work to be better. I really started getting my front-man chops back, and it looked like we were off to the races! We also started booking some dates at local restaurants and bars and kept woodshedding and writing new music.
We had us a cool little deal going and were beginning to be a favorite at some of the shows. In May of 2018, the founder of Mayfest called me and asked us to be the second-to-last band to play. The problem was that there were four full bands playing ahead of us and we were only an acoustic act. What that means is that the energy level would most likely DROP immensely. I told them HELL no, I didn’t want to be placed there. They said, “Come on, man, you are a great front man and know how to work a crowd.” I said, “That may be true, and I appreciate the kind words, but going from four bands to two acoustic guitars is going to drop the energy and vibe of the show.”
I’ve been doing this for a long-ass time, and though I may have been out of the scene for a while, I still understood the flow of a festival. I am also a fan of festivals and live music, and I knew the reality of it. BUT I fucking CAVED in and finally told them I would do it even if I knew it might suck. I did, however, have a really cool idea brewing in my head to make our set ROCK. I just needed to see whether I could get a few people to play along …