SongwriterView: When They Listen

SongwriterView: When They Listen
By Patty Castillo Davis

I’ve been a musician my entire life. I started humming melodies and making up lyrics by the time I was two years old. I started writing poetry and singing in organized musical groups in elementary school and started to refine my work in middle school. When I started performing as a solo artist in my teens I became heightened in my awareness of the magic of applause. The first time someone presented me with flowers after a performance, I started to get intoxicated by the adulation. It was thrilling and daunting at the same time.

Outside of the fascination with the clapping and gifting-I felt HEARD. The public was genuinely paying attention to my words and melodies and the stories and views I had to share. There is no feeling better than hearing a theater full of people, a majority of whom you do not know, singing your lyrics as if they’ve been listening to your recordings for years. This, to me, is the best that it gets. Performing is a privilege and the validation of applause is the approval that all the hard work and barriers and navigation amid inequity is worth it.

I have performed at festivals for tens of thousands of people. I have performed at the Vatican for His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
I have produced unparalleled segments for the Modesto Area Music Award live shows. I have opened sold-out shows in support of national artists. That all feeds my soul for many different reasons.

But, there is nothing like being in an intimate setting where you can see the audience’s faces, they are hanging on your every word and you can feel the laughter and appreciate their tears because they too have experienced what you are singing about.

I had the honor and the pleasure to perform with my good friend, Rick Fletcher on guitar, at the Haggin Museum on July 21. No one spoke a word while we performed. Everyone’s eyes were forward. No one was on their phone unless they were taking pics, videos or streaming. There was no painting or crafting going on. No one had food in their hands. We were surrounded by beautiful art and beautiful people who were engaged, they were there because they sought me out. They came to listen. I had the time of my life. A memory was etched into my heart. They were polite and gracious and generous with their attention and appreciation. It felt like the old days, like the first time. Let’s bring back the listening concerts. Let’s open listening venues. Music for the sake of music. No exhibitionist solos, no light shows, no “Hello F-ing Modesto!” No smoke show to hide inadequacy. We deserve it, we want it. Let’s do it.

I hope to see you at the Modesto Certified Farmer’s Market on August 6 from 9 am to noon. I’ll be playing an intimate outdoor show on the lawn of the Gallo Center for the Arts Brown Bag Summer Concert Series 2022 at the Modesto Rotary Music Garden at noon. On August 27 from 7-8 pm, Gary Nelson and I will be giving you some tasty acoustic offerings at Lucca Winery in Ripon brought to you by Red Tie Arts. Thanks for listening.

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