Standing in front of a crowd of people to do anything is hard. Now try opening your mouth to sing your deepest thoughts, emotions and hopes all while playing an instrument, alone.
That’s what Alannah Zeebeck will be doing October 15 at the Neighbourhood Café and Bookstore before they do it again and again on their third Canadian tour out west.
Originally from Esterhazy Saskatchewan, Zeebeck moved to Winnipeg 7 years ago and has been performing for about three. Zeebeck has been creating music since they were young, but explains that playing their own tunes live was a particular nerve racking obstacle to overcome.
“It used to terrify me. I would be anxious in the days leading up to a show, then while playing I’d be beating myself up the whole time,” Zeebeck says. “I really wanted to be able to do it though, so I finally just booked a bunch of shows and played a lot in front of people until I got comfortable with it.”
Zeebeck attributes a large part of the comfort they found on stage to Artbeat Studio which had them play the Studio Central Cafe many times.
“That was such a huge help. It’s a built in crowd of really kind people.” Zeebeck says.
They says the urge to finally share their music on stage all started at a Fiona Apple concert.
“She makes herself so vulnerable and just turns herself inside out. It was so inspiring,” Zeebeck says. “That was the catalyst, where I was like ‘I need to do that’. When I got back to Winnipeg I started to reach out and book shows.”
For Zeebeck, music – among other art forms – is therapeutic.
“I am never sure how personal to get with this stuff, but I struggle with some mental illnesses and on days when things are rough and it’s hard to get out of bed or whatever, if I can just force myself to play and work on a song,” Zeebeck says. “It almost always helps.”
Zeebeck says singing and playing music is a great way to present something that feels good while being on stage.
Claire Bones – the drummer in psych-rock duo Basic Nature – is opening for Zeebeck and shares similar nerves about playing solo while also appreciating a comfortable environment to play in like the Neighbourhood Cafe.
“I get nervous for a whole week before a solo show and those nerves make it less fun to play,” Bones says. “But it’s a great little place and I’m looking forward to hearing Alannah play, listening to her lyrics, and of course getting a Bourbon Street latte.”
The pay-what-you-can show will be introducing Zeebeck’s new EP: a three-track album titled Am I Wasting, recorded with J Riley Hill of Mortfell Recording.
Shows like these aim to ease. Although performing solo can be overwhelming, the rewards will be better than the caffeine in the audience’s cup.
Published in Volume 70, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 15, 2015)