My earliest recollection of being on stage is fourth grade, singing with my fellow classmates at Wickliffe Elementary in Columbus, Ohio.
Back then we didn’t have to be any good to be on stage. We just had to show up, stand up and smile, singing patriotic songs for our parents. The big hits not heard on “Your Hit Parade” like “This is my Country,” “Shenandoah” and “The Erie Canal.”
In ninth grade, I recall my first solo experience on a real stage.
Being coerced by our music teacher Jack Woodruff to sing the chart-busting tune “I’m the Kid Who Built the Pyramid,” I remember my skinny-legged knees knocking, exposed below my khaki shorts while wearing Dad’s oversized Ramar of the Jungle hat, while Mom sat in the first row smiling and clicking pictures on her box-shaped Brownie automatic.
Mom probably missed her best photo op when the oversized flimsy cardboard pyramid behind me was dropped by stage hand Randy Walker.
I am certain to this day that Randy, the fastest boy in school, did it intentionally to upstage my solo stage moment.
Because of that emotional experience, I spent the next 20 years in fear, every time I was on a stage, looking down at an audience.
It was no big deal for me to be in front of a crowd as long as I was on the same level.
Yet, being above the crowd, looking down on all those faces, gave me pause.
And a whole bunch of jitters.
Mom encouraged me to take every opportunity to be on stage so that this fear would disappear.
Why didn’t she tell me it would take a lifetime?
My favorite acronym for the word “fear” is False Evidence Appearing Real.
Some folks will tell you to imagine the audience naked to eliminate your stage fright.
All that vision does for me is add embarrassment to fear.
Who wants to see any school superintendent nude in a school auditorium?
Or a vice principal or the maintenance crew?
This Friday we will be setting up the stage for this weekend’s Loganberry Festival at the glorious Greenbank Farm.
Our stage was designed by Tom Kennedy, a Vermont carpenter who relocated to Whidbey in the ’90s.
The Loganberry stage specifications were guided by the needs of that year’s headliner, Swamp Mama Johnson.
These five gals needed a minimum 12-foot-by-16-foot space to rock without rolling.
Thanks to Tom Kennedy and Bob Brandon and the volunteer team who built these six 4-foot-by-8-foot modules, connected by 9/16 inch bolts, we’ll be sharing free fun in the sun again this year.
And with only a two feet height, this stage offers me an opportunity to be almost fearless from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday.
Care to join us?
Between acts we will be offering free stage fright classes.
With our clothes on, of course!