Posted on June 24, 2013
Up until this point I have not been proactive about booking gigs. Like most things that I do, I do not have a fully formulated rationale backing up this tendency, but I do have a bunch of vague ideas informing my decisions.
2013 has been a pretty big year so far. My band, First Day played five shows between January and April, I continued to play with the Berkeley Nu Jazz Collective, I joined two bands and started working with some other new faces, I got my first classroom teaching job trying to teach an afterschool guitar class, I stopped working for MusicianCorps full time and am living a pseudo freelance/consultant/funemployed/professional musician limbo kind of living, and I moved across the bridge to Oakland from San Francico.
The above schedule kind of backs me up when I say I haven’t felt compelled to put more work into scoring gigs, since I seem to be busy enough. Lately this, and other reasons I give, however, have started to feel like excuses (I don’t really condone myself making excuses).
After a good year of playing some terrible underpromoted gigs with little audience, little money, and little hope of creating new opportunities, I felt my promotion game was not up for making all of these gigs worthwhile, and that my energy could be better spent elsewhere. I purposely avoided trying to book and create my own shows and waited lazily for opportunities to fall in my lap (which slowly they began to). I felt that gigs that have been offered to me, rather than solicited by cold call, take a lot of pressure off. I do not, for example, have to keep any promises about how many people I can bring or how well my band will play. These gigs, also generally have more to offer, either in terms of people I get to play with, promotion, or money.
After two years or playing out, however, I am starting to get a better feel for Bay Area venues, and the scene in general. I am noticing my peers, and people I look to as mentors, are working hard to book as many shows as they can (or at least, many more shows than I am). Even if they do not always bring out many more people than I would, they encourage themselves to keep developing their music, and in this brutal environment of overextended schedules – they get to play more with other musicians.
Though I had thought that “First Day” would always just be the generic moniker for any group I lead (as opposed to “Roger Kim Trio” or “Roger Kim Group” (though most people, rather than calling my band simply, “First Day” like a normal band name, will attach my name anyway, as in, “Roger Kim’s First Day” as if my name would have it’s own draw)), I have more or less decided to put that project on hiatus for a bit as I start a new group, called “Say Yes.”
Say Yes is many things to me. It is a tribute to Elliott Smith, and then secondarily to any other music that inspires me or holds a special place in my brain. It is an arranging showcase (arrangements being one of my favorite aspects of creating music, yet being sorely neglected in the demanding trio context that First Day has been). It is not a set band, however (which makes it even more irrational that I didn’t just keep going with “First Day,” which itself was supposed to be an amorphous collective of anyone who agrees to play with me). Laterally, I feel like it is some sort of encouragement for me to take a different approach with a musical project: in how I manage the musicians, arrange the music, but also in how I handle booking.
At the moment Say Yes only has one show on the books, but I am trying to set up some shows in LA for the end of August. I’ve never booked outside the Bay Area before (also I’ve never really booked in the Bay either, that is, actively), so this exercise is engaging new muscles for me, and is making me wonder why I don’t use these muscles here, where I live. It might be time to get more proactive, not just in booking, but in creating – giving people a reason to come out and hear my music, and giving people a reason to hire my groups. My friend Alex Pinto said, “You can never play too many shows [paraphrased, what he said was probably more like ‘In my opinion, the more you play the better’],” and though it was probably something he said in passing without too much though, that has stuck with me. The problem is not too many shows, and the solution is not play less shows. The problem is something else, and I will probably only figure it out by playing more, not less.
First Day – Cafe Music
Posted on June 13, 2013
I’m pleased to announce that I am releasing a second First Day Album for free, on bandcamp. The album was recorded live at Awaken Cafe (from our performance as part of the Offside Spark Series, recording courtesy of Christopher Nishimoto) and at Actual Cafe. I think these two live dates are a just representation of what Brendan, Jacob, and I have been working on over the last two years, and mark the end of an era for First Day, since Jacob is leaving soon for LA, and then a semester abroad in Budapest!
While I’m deciding what to do with the moniker First Day (which could be anything) I am starting a new project where I will be arranging music written by, for, and about Elliott Smith. The project is tentatively called “Elliott Smith Hour.” If you are excited about it as I am, you can come see some of these arrangements live at Temescal Arts on July 7th. This will be a special show with a completely acousting trio featuring guitar, banjo, cello, and flute, and we will be opening for the superb Karl Evangelista Trio. In the meantime, here are some Elliott Smith Hour videos to enjoy on youtube.
Finally, I am restarting my residency at Toast Oakland, every sunny Sunday this summer from 4-7pm and my residency at the Berkeley Faculty Club every Thursday from 5-7pm. Find me if you are in the mood for fine wine and a fancy meal accompanied by sweet solo guitar whisperings.