The art of being yourself
Kelvin forwarded me an email, it was from the BBC inviting us to perform a 25min set on the BBC introducing stage at The Cheltenham Jazz Festival on the 27th of this month. Although we have been aware that some of our tracks have been played on BBC introducing locally, this email came out of the blue. Reading on, 'you have been especially selected by our Radio 2 presenters Jo Whiley and Jamie Cullum, after your local BBC Introducing show put you forward for this opportunity' - wow. Not only that but the show is hosted by Jo Whiley and 'the performance will be recorded for later broadcast on Radio 2 as well as the local BBC Introducing show network'.
Several things started to go through my mind mainly - they must have us confused with someone else and sent us this by mistake. Do they know we play our own stuff which is sometimes vastly removed from what I'd call Jazz, what is jazz anyway? I suppose we can play jazz. People have definitely called us jazz in the past. We just write songs and don't ever try to fit into a genre so we don't really know what genre we are.
Then a week later, a surreal moment, Jo Whiley announced the line up live on her show and played a clip from our song 'secret door'. Panic set in again - Secret Door is a track that we have never played live, we only wrote it as an album filler so I hope they aren't expecting a full set like that. We don't even sound like that anymore, that was four years ago and our style and line up has changed drastically since then, arrggghhhh! Oh and Adam is away on tour in Norwich that week. What do we do? Right first things first - breathe, then accept the gig before they change their minds. Next contact Adam - he is able to dep out his RSC gig so that's a big relief.
The thing is, I don't doubt my ability to perform, the band and I have been touring and selling out our shows and getting fantastic feedback but now here I am with doubt - I hope the BBC realise that the tracks they know us for are four years old and we have moved on. They must do, surely they have researched us, they needed to know we can perform live for a start and not just in the studio. No, they will have definitely check us out. Maybe we should revert back to an older version of ourselves just to be safe, learn secret door, choose our jazziest numbers, we can't play our current set, no not for this gig.
Right stop right there. This is so unlike me, I am comfortable with who I am and fiercely proud of what I do so why am I doubting myself now?
I remind myself of a famous saying along the lines of 'you only get one chance to make a first impression' and so the only real question is what do we want that first impression of us to be. The answer is simple, we want Jo Whiley and the rest of the BBC Introducing lot to see what we can do, we want to showcase the songs that we are most proud of and no matter the reaction, we will come off stage with our heads held high. We want them to see the performance that we want to give and not one that we think they want us to give - we are good enough and we deserve to be there.
That is settled then.
We will take to the stage next week armed with a double bass, piano, susaphone, trumpet, saxophone, guitar, accordion some cymbals, a bass drum and toy piano and we will hammer out our finest songs about murder, owning Shakespeare and despising Simon Cowell, I will chat my normal level of nonsense and we will come off stage knowing that, love or hate us, what we have presented is our true selves.
I'll report back after the gig...