Playing in Public Places

Ron Fairbairn

Semiahmoo Park in White Rock

Playing in Public Places


Sometimes I really question why I would stick my lone neck out and lay it on a public stage for people to watch me bleed. I mean it’s not like I do it for the money – that part has been well established. So why then?

Last weekend was our local White Rock Sea Festival and I accepted a gig to play a half hour set on Saturday and Sunday between 3:30 and 4:00pm.  I was “ The Transition Guy” that was to usher out the -families with kids “pirates in the park” -time and then do some chill vibe singer songwriter originals to set up the youth bands portion of the afternoon leading into the evening.

It was a real scorcher and families with kids had taken to the shade of the trees. The area right in front of the stage was in the blazing sunlight and was basically deserted. People were on the move seemingly in all directions, and I began my set with a couple kids songs. After all, I was the transition guy. I never had time to really memorize the lyrics and my eyes gratefully became glued to my iPad screen. First song over. Whew. A handful of clappings. Eyes quickly scanned the bleached out horizon for the identities. A quick story of my call to my kids to find out what was popular with their kids, how about “Everything Is Awesome” from the Lego movie, done deal. I played through my unplugged singer songwriter version. Another handful of clappings.

A drink of water..a few words to let everyone know the rest of the songs they would hear were going to be my own. People talking to each other and smiling. Some people resting. Others on the move. I tried to psych myself up. Just get into the sound Ron…stay in the stupid. I played and forced a smile or at least tried to force a smile. I latched onto my wife’s beautiful face and breathed a little deeper. Singing words to lyrics while the brain is running interference with “why would you want to do this to yourself”?

One thing i know about getting on a stage by yourself is this – It’s at least ten times as frightening as when I’m at the helm of my bass guitar with four or five band mates to play with. (Weird math I know).

Back to scanning the bleached out horizon, peering into the shady perimeters near the edges of stage. And then I saw her. Her head was bobbing up and down to the music, a big smile on her face. For a second I thought she was going to fall out of her wheelchair into her caregiver’s arms.

I feel some regret for agreeing to put myself on a stage, alone, to bleed a little. I feel more regret that I didn’t go over to the girl in the wheelchair and introduce myself.

And that’s not the way I thought this story was going to go. I guess that’s why we write.. sometimes it’s just In order to figure out what it is we are wanting to say. It makes me want to work harder, to sing better, write better, play better and be a better entertainer, and most of all, to become a better person.

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