|Playing in the Mason's Arms with Rich Simcock.|
Playing to an audience is what it's about. I've known many singers and guitarists over the years, and I have noticed that the ones who don't perform in public, who only play for themselves at home, tend not to keep it up in the long run. Sometimes they have been better than me, but it's not a question of skill. By "play in public", I don't necessarily mean paid bookings; there are open mike nights, pub sessions, singarounds and folk clubs where people can play, or even just playing to your mates. If you're serious about wanting to play, at some point you have to leave the comfort zone of your bedroom or kitchen.
I don't let people like that young lad or the doting mum bother me; it would be easy to be offended, but what's the point? At Whitby folk week, I once arrived at a pub early for a singaround and the juke box was still on. I lifted my guitar out, noticed there was a really simple three-chord boy band song playing and strummed along to it. In hushed tones the people at the next table said, "Look, he's playing along to the song on the juke box!" At least, it made up for the critics!