That is so true. Even though I played 100 times live in the past, the big gap left me nervous two weeks ago. But now it's like any other job or task, and it's like getting something done without too many mistakes.
The big confidence booster was trying to salvage the set by doing songs on a steel string acoustic which I had previously practiced these past weeks on an electric or nylon string. The action of that steel string (or any steel string I have touched) was very stiff and the action was high on that Ovation and the stupid stage lights are super hot and blind you and have this swirling disco light show thingy which makes it hard to see your hands.
Even if you are not nervous, and I was OK last night, the stupid heat of the lights which are installed too close, make your hands sweaty and slippery. It was almost like playing in a sauna with everyone smoking inside. But I can't control those factors and just have to make do. Since it's a California bar, you can't smoke inside so the smokers take it all outside where the stage is and it stinks like bong water.
I am so glad I don't smoke but I came home last night after 45 min at the bar smelling like I was a lifelong smoker. Yes, it's fun to play out in public to strangers and hear the occasional compliment, but I think I will only do this a few more times. The draw is playing for different people, but musically most of us play better in a practice studio with band or alone at home. Without hot lights and cigarette smoke, it's so much easier to play and sound better.
They are probably going to shut down the establishment because of the fights and wanna be gangbangers making this place not palatable for business. It was already shut down because of drive by where three employees of bar got shot but I assume gangs, violence and stuff like that happens when it's the only bar in town for several blocks. Maybe I will find a coffeehouse to play in later this year.