I love this story from Rockwood Music Hall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
At a popular venue that features fantastically talented musicians performing hourly, the night’s most memorable act — for some, although certainly not all — was an acoustic guitarist who did three things.
He engaged. He told stories. And he polarized.
The writer describes the experience:
“He doesn’t go near the stage, doesn’t touch a mic. Just stands in the middle of the bar and starts playing his acoustic guitar and singing and people shut up and listen. He’s a thin guy, white t-shirt, jeans, beard, bill-bent ballcap and a wild look in his eyes. He’s making eye contact with everyone, like one by one, maintaining it. This makes some people pretty uncomfortable and some of them take off. But the group that’s left, we’re all transfixed.”
And here’s the kicker. This is where it falls apart for most of us. Because while we grasp the futility of trying to be all things to all people, we lack the courage to polarize:
“He was fine with people leaving the bar. Didn’t bug him at all. And this is the most important thing. He was polarizing. But it was so much better to have a smaller group of people who were really into the act than a large group of half-interested folks. He just put himself out there. This is me. This is what I do. Jump on or jump out of the way.” (Emphasis added.)
He was fine with people leaving the bar.
A version of this article previously ran on thevinespeaks.com.