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Andrea Szirbik: folk w/ a twist / Blog

The Shell

Although I see myself as becoming freer in many aspects of my life, I am once again reminded of my shell, that pesky barrier that stands between my inner life and my outer world. According to signs of the Zodiac one would say I'm a typical Cancer on the cusp of Leo. Sure, the validity of these signs has been greatly debated, but whether or not I can really thank some astrological lines for my thus-far-lifelong traits, I'm a rather contradictory mixture: theatrical and outgoing yet highly protective of those pieces of me that are most vulnerable. What this means musically is that although I have written and continue to write intensely personal songs, my willingness to share them depends greatly on my perception of the environment that surrounds me.

Years ago, before I was involved in a supportive musical community, I had many experiences of playing to lukewarm bar crowds who wanted to hear Journey covers while I fingerpicked folky songs with introspective lyrics. During this period, I had begun to consider my vulnerable, melodic memories merely gratuitous therapy sessions, something to keep to myself rather than share. This period didn't last long and rather than eliminating the super personal songs, I added more variety (but, no, I still don't know any Journey songs. Watching people sing "Don't Stop Believing" incredibly drunk and hugging each other may someday be an entirely different post.). What I play now ranges from naked-hearted to silly (with lots of stuff in between). It's a much more bar-friendly reportoire when that's the venue. However, I occasionally find myself avoiding the dive into my psyche and opting for the purely fun songs even when I am playing to folks who would appreciate songs with more depth.

Recording my first album felt like a giant leap because it meant giving others access to a year of my life and the growing pains that occurred during it. It was a step in breaking down my shell. I think that tonight I have identified my next step in musical shell-freedom: creating a balance between entertainment and depth in live performances. Despite being very comfortable on stage, I know I have much more to give emotionally. Like I sing in "Where the Tide Meets the Shore": "I will rebuild myself in glass, I've nothing left to hide and nothing will shadow what's inside." I'm ready to show those Zodiac limits that stars can shift (they already have, right?). I'm ready to break out and truly embrace who I am in what I share. I'm ready to move beyond my shell.

Mar 25, 2012 ListenToAndrea.com/musicalmusings.cfm

Artistic purity and the sharing connection

I'm a bit of an all or nothing person. I'm constantly questioning my morals and the reasoning behind my actions. In fact, I spent a good chunk of my songwriting years struggling with whether or not playing my music for others took away from the value of the music itself. Yes, that was a rather strange period of ridiculously extreme artist purity, but it is part of my artistic journey.

After this period, I realized that playing music for others did not detract from its value, but rather offered a chance to connect with other people. It is an amazing experience to play a song and have someone feel what you felt in the moment that you wrote it. Whether this person is recalling similar experiences, imagining where the artist was during the moment of creation, or interpreting it in his or her own way, music is a channel for human beings to share a common thread.

A few months back I played a set at the Blue Mermaid during a friend's show and for my last song I asked the audience what they would like to hear. The response was that I should play the song that I would choose if it was the last song that I would ever be able to play. I decided to play "I am here," which I wrote right after my cousin Bryan died. There are few times during live performances that everyone in a room listens, particularly at restaurants and bars. This was one of those times. The entire room was focused, connected, and feeling what the song meant. It was a moment that solidified for me how beautiful it is to share personal, heartfelt, even vulnerable music with others and that, rather than taking away from the value of the music, sharing it makes it come alive.

Mar 17, 2012 ListenToAndrea.com/musicalmusings.cfm

So I guess I'm going to blog...let's talk about busking!

Yesterday I busked with my friend Chris Guzikowski (check out his reverbnation page if you haven't already!) for the first time in about a year. We were downtown Portsmouth (NH) across from the Music Hall to bring attention to one of the Scarecrows of the Port, and there was a great deal of traffic from the NH Film Festival. We had a few groups of people stay and listen, some people tip and a few people buy CD's. Very cool. I love busking! It was both interesting and amusing, however, to observe the awkwardness that busking seems to instill in many people.

Some people avoided eye contact. Some looked for a second and then looked away. Some actually braved traffic and walked in the street. Does this awkwardness center around not wanting to tip or an aversion to street music? Hard to say. Fun to ponder. It was a great time regardless.

Random other assorted happenings from busking: -Busking with small children is much easier when you have a band member's wife keeping them together (thanks Steph!) -I really like the balalaika. -I now know how to repair a ukulele on the street with no tools. -I need to work more on accompanying Chris and Matt on their music...yes, this means that I need to work on playing the fancy stuff rather than adding sparse one-string ukulele "solos" haha! Perhaps then they will cease to call me a diva ;)