That means having your recordings critiqued by others, or better yet performing them for an audience. The latter option gives you a chance to obtain some feedback from listeners, which can help in rewriting and fine-tuning the music.
Playing live also gives you some valuable stage presence practice.
But in order to perform you need a venue whether that's an open mic, a church, or a bar. And you need someone who is willing to allow you to play there.
Bob Mackinnon was just such a person for me. He owned and managed Mulligan Mac’s After 5 pub and grill in downtown Marion, NC.
One of the signs on the bar’s wall said it was a place where everyone gets a second shot. That was appropriate in many ways.
This was Bob’s second career. I had first met him when he was a corrections officer at the prison where I taught math and reading to inmates.
When he retired from the prison Bob took over management of the pub, and became an essential part of its charm. He was the perfect host, always mingling with the customers dressed in a flowery shirt and flashing his ever-present smile.
Bob invited me to play at the pub several times and he was always gracious and encouraging. Besides providing me with free drinks and food, he always made sure my tip bucket wasn’t too light, even if it meant chipping in a few of his own bucks.
Bob died earlier this month after battling cancer. He was a good friend one of the many unsung people behind the music and I’ll certainly miss him.