Chris Kirby has started to become a little fed-up with Facebook’s “events” feature. Like anyone who’s ever made an event page on the social networking site knows, invited guests will often take a second to RSVP by clicking “Attending,” but will end up not showing up.
“One time, a venue promoter said, ‘I don’t understand; I had all these people who said on Facebook they were coming,’” Kirby said. “I looked at her and said, ‘Well you know where they are right now, right? They’re home on Facebook.’”
If fans would prefer to stay home on their computer, Kirby’s going to bring the show to them.
On Sunday evening, Kirby will perform his first-ever Internet concert, for online fans and no one else.
Through the website stageit.com, which offers an online venue for musicians to provide live concerts, Kirby will perform a half-hour long set from his hotel room in Fredericton. He’s currently in Ontario, driving back to St. John’s.
Those who buy online tickets for the mini-show — which Kirby has set as a pay-what-you-can event — will also have the opportunity to make requests and chat with him while it’s going on, through a text box. He’s planning to do a mix of old tunes and as many new ones as he can perform solo on the guitar.
“You can heckle me if you want,” he said with a laugh, adding he’s a little nervous about performing for an invisible audience. If it all goes well, he’s hoping to do regular online shows, perhaps once a month.
Although social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are proving invaluable for musicians who want to get closer to their fans, it has its down sides, Kirby said. There’s a point where fans can get a little too close.
“It’s a blessing and a curse. I’ve always been the type to turn fans into friends in a hurry,” he said. “The thing is, once people become your friend, they don’t want to pay to get into shows. At that point, they’re not supporting you as an artist anymore, and you have to wonder if they really are your friends. Still, it’s really great to be able to grow your fan base (online).”
A native of Norris Arm, Kirby has two CDs under his belt, including 2009’s “Vampire Hotel,” which earned him the 2009 MusicNL Jazz/Blues Album of the Year and four East Coast Music Award nominations, as well as a cross-country tour.
Kirby’s been away from home since attending the 2011 ECMAs, for which he was nominated for Songwriter of the Year, in Charlottetown, P.E.I., last month.
After a few gigs with his band, The Marquee, and a bit of a holiday in Ontario, where he also did some songwriting for a Hamilton-based film, Kirby is making his way home, doing gigs along the way and stopping in Halifax next week for a songwriting session with Nova Scotia’s Charlie A’Court.
“One time, a venue promoter said, ‘I don’t understand; I had all these people who said on Facebook they were coming. I looked at her and said, ‘Well you know where they are right now, right? They’re home on Facebook.’” - Chris Kirby
Songwriting and producing is where Kirby’s focus is these days, he said.
“I’ve really been bitten by the bug and that’s work that I don’t necessarily need to be on the road to do,” he said. “I’m not going to be on the road forever; I’m not meant for that. I want to have a home and a family and all that good stuff, so if I can be a songwriter, I’ll still tour, but I just won’t go touring for half a year. Anything to keep me from going back to engineering with my tail between my legs.”
Kirby’s got his next album just about ready to go. This one will be a natural progression from “Vampire Hotel,” he said, but the songs are a little less funk, a little more soul. There are simple love songs, pop songs and some adult contemporary tunes.
“I don’t know if tongue-in-cheek is a good word to use when describing your own music, but I’ve tried to put subtle humour in a few of the songs,” he explained.
Last weekend, Kirby released one of his new tunes on YouTube.
Called “I’m Your Man,” the video Kirby made of the song can be seen online at www.youtube.
“That’s the kind of simple pop tune I’m talking about,” he explained.
What’s holding up the album’s release at the moment is funding. While Kirby said he’s happy being an independent artist, it means he has to be careful how he spends his money.
“I made the mistake in the past of just going ahead and paying out of pocket, and the reality is you’re not going to make the money back on a CD unless you get signed. The prospect of getting signed is less and less, and it kind of takes a certain lifestyle of musician that I might not be willing to conform to, I guess,” he said.
Once he’s home, Kirby’s got a busy summer of shows ahead of him, starting June 17 with Stank Fest 2011, what he calls his “guitar duelling extravaganza night.”
As many local guitar players in as many different genres as Kirby can possibly fit in the Fat Cat will duel onstage in a no-holds-barred battle.
In July, he’s organizing another Whose Song is it Anyway? show, where a small group of local songwriters will perform covers of each other’s music.
Anyone wishing to catch Kirby’s online concert Sunday at 8:30 p.m. can do so by signing up at stageit.com, clicking on his name and buying a ticket.