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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

On Opening Acts


Opening acts usually annoy me. Not only are they not the person I came to see, but they significantly lengthen the overall time of a concert. You want to show up early to get a good seat (or standing place), but then you are left standing there for an hour or two while you wait for the main act.

But I've noticed my attitude toward opening acts has changed, and I blame this almost entirely on the fact that I've got a book out there. I see these largely unknown artists as doing the only thing they can, as pounding the pavement, as working day jobs to support themselves until their craft can pay the bills, as persevering despite crowds that are small, crowds that talk over them, crowds that are (ahem) only interested in the headliner. In many ways, I see them as me. Because no one really knows about me. Or my book. I fight for every sale, do signings that don't always draw a crowd (or anyone), and continue writing even though hardly anyone is listening.

Yes, I have a new respect for opening acts, and the one I saw last weekend particularly struck me. The headliner was Tristan Prettyman, herself refreshingly non-mainstream, and as I've mentioned in previous posts (Lessons from Tristan Prettyman), I see Tristan every chance I get and feel fortunate that she's come to Cleveland three times in less than a year. Tristan was fabulous as usual, and I loved her opening act. A band called Satellite, I'd never heard of them. But there they were, the lead singer pouring so much of himself into each song that you would have thought he was playing in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden. Instead of a 100-person crowd on a small stage in the ghetto of Cleveland. But isn't that what makes a great artist? It certainly demands respect, and, if the quality of the product is good too, my thought is that it also deserves a sale. So I'll be buying an album this weekend. I'd buy Cedar + Gold too, but my oh my, I already have it.


Lessons from Tristan Prettyman


It's hard to call her a newcomer when she's got a few albums out there already, yet I doubt most people have heard of her until now. I only heard about her (earlier this year) because someone introduced me to her music. And now I've seen her twice in concert and find that I like her sound better than most other performers I'm hearing these days. And this is something I think about a lot; this whole idea of an artist pounding the pavement for years and eventually gaining enough momentum to have a following. It's something few I'd-really-like-to-be-a-rock-star dreamers achieve, so when I see it happening, I can't help but applaud. I've enjoyed watching the same thing happen to Neon Trees. I attended the same university (at the same time) as their drummer, and seeing her and her band mates play show after show in that university town, I always admired their persistence when the odds of industry success were pretty slim. And look at them now.

After her performance last night, Tristan greeted each and every person who wanted to meet her. The line snaked through the lobby, and she took the time to sign every autograph, take each picture, and have a host of conversations with chatty fans. Not every artist does this. Heck, not ANY artists do this. Granted, she's not exactly an A-lister, so it's actually feasible for her to do this and not be signing autographs for days straight. But especially when you are toward the starting end of building your following, think about how important it is to put in this effort. Now each one of those people who she met last night will fill their Twitter and Facebook pages with their "me and Tristan" pics and tell everyone about how gracious and friendly she was. They are super-fans in the making.

Of course while standing in line I was fantasizing about someday having a line of people waiting to meet me, even though right now I can usually count on one hand the number of people (who I don't already know) who come to my book signings specifically to see me. It's pretty sad. And I'll probably never have the following that Tristan has, although in my defense, authors are far less glamorous than performers, and let's not forget that I don't do this full time. As much as I would like to. At any rate, last night was a great show, and it makes me happy to see others realizing life-long dreams. Not that doing a show in Cleveland is the dream, but doing a show anywhere and knowing there will be people lined up to meet you, to buy your stuff, and to write sappy blog posts about it the next day. That, my friends, is the dream.