Musical Collaboration, Improvisation, and Tour Stories – From The Mind of McFarland music blog.
Every time I go out on tour, it’s an entirely different experience. Even visiting the same towns, the time of year, the venue, the day of the week, the weather, and who else is on the bill on any given night can drastically change what kind of show it ends up being. The best changes this time, however, have been in the form of musical collaboration; some of these collaborations were planned ahead of time, but almost all were completely unrehearsed, and in several cases the result of pure improvisation. In other words, pretty risky, but they’ve turned out awesome.
The first musical collaboration of the tour, and the one that was entirely unexpected, took place in Norfolk, Virginia. I was playing at a coffeehouse called Borjo, where I’d played last year while I was on tour, and I knew that I was going to be sharing the stage with another band who was on tour. When I walked in, I saw a gentleman sitting at the counter with his laptop, and a hand drum sitting on the floor beside him. I inquired if he was in the other band, and he responded that he was not, he just didn’t want to leave his doumbek in a hot car. I half-jokingly invited him to join me on stage later, and much to my delight he did, and joined me for the majority of my set. His playing was stellar, and added an entire unexpected dimension to the music. His name’s Greg Lee, by the way, and that’s a picture of the two of us up there.
The second musical collaboration was at my show in Philadelphia. I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Beth Goldwater, an amazing singer-songwriter from the area. We’d never played together, but had heard each others’ CDs, and decided we’d like to back one another up on a song apiece. I joined her for her song The Letter (a favorite of mine), and she joined me for Remember Me. We liked the duet version of Remember Me so well we shot a video of ourselves playing it the next morning, and have some additional schemes cooking for this one!
The most recent musical collaboration was with Phil Freeman of The Lone Wolf Project. When I was mapping out my tour route, I decided I wanted to come through the Harrisburg, PA area (where I’d recorded my most recent record with producer Jason Rubal). Phil’s latest record was also produced by Jason, so though we’d never met, we’d be internet-introduced. I asked if he could be any help getting me a gig in the area, and he said that had a show that night, and suggested that I might join him on stage – playing equal parts his songs, my songs, and originals, backing one another up. We both thought that sounded like a phenomenal suggestion, and we had so much fun that he asked me to join him again the following morning for another show! That one we did completely without a net – no set lists, nothing – and again it was way too much fun.
I’ve had a few days off from tour to recharge my batteries, and hit the road again tomorrow. I can wait to see what other tour stories and musical collaborations come my way the rest of this tour!
Unleaded rhythmic alt-pop fuels singer/songwriter and two-wheel troubadour Michael McFarland’s engine. Michael McFarland in the simplest summary? Writer, Rocker, Biker, Geek.
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