Since the year began, I’ve been on a ‘good habit’ kick where I’ve been working out, meditating, and practicing vocals every weekday. I’ve decided to add a 4th prong to my daly routine called “Acoustic 27”. My goal is to arrange 27 of my original songs for acoustic guitar & voice, then hit the pavement and play out about town.

I used to play at local (and not so local) open mics occasionally. I’d get up and do 3 or 4 songs, but I’ve never played a whole 40 minute acoustic set by myself. The idea scares me, and this in itself is probably a good reason to do it. I used to be very concerned with replicating live the way the songs sound on the recordings, which is obviously impossible with just an acoustic guitar. I’m interested to see if/how I can interpret the arrangements creatively with only 6 strings.

I’m not sure how I chose the number ’27’, but it makes sense to me. Also, it breaks down nicely into 3 sets of 9 songs. I came up with the list a couple years ago, but didn’t have the discipline at that time to do anything about it. Here’s the original list:

Breathing Underwater
Call Our Own
Cartography by Candlelight
Dark Kind of Guy
Deep Dark Secret
Digging Me Up
Fifty North
God Knows
Goodbye Cassiopeia
Healing No. 4
Hey! Pretty Auburn
Hotel Maslow
January’s Last Day
Kid Ghosts
Molly Molly
One Man’s Treasure
Stronger Than Love
You Put Me Under

The careful reader will note there’s nothing on here from Reality Jockey or after, because I made this list before those songs were written. Long story short: I will definitely be adapting this list as I begin the project of arranging, learning, and practicing the songs in this format.

A couple things jump to mind as I’m typing this.

A) In the past when I’ve played open-mics, my guitar parts have been 95% simple strumming. I’d like to spend time locking in something a little more involved than that. I’m already presenting the limitation of ‘one voice / one guitar’ for these arrangements, so why not make the most of it, and include some finger-picking. This would allow me to incorporate some bass notes to the songs, providing some harmonic motion, and making the music a little more interesting.

B) It would be a fun project / helpful tool for me to record all these songs with just voice and one acoustic guitar track, and release it as an album. I’m inspired by the 2007 Prefab Sprout re-release of  “Steve McQueen”, which included a 2nd cd of just vocal / acoustic guitar renditions of the album tracks.

Ordinarily, I’d be intimidated by such an ambitious project. Because I’ve been successful with my other daily habits, I’m confident that by putting in 30 minutes every day on Acoustic 27, I will be ready to play open-mics again in a few weeks and whole sets by myself within a couple months.

I will most definitely keep you posted, and hope you’ll come out to see me when I hit the stage again.


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