We waited patiently in the recording studio lobby. Our engineer and his crew were late.
When they finally shuffled into the facility, they seemed distracted and hurried. They took one glance at us, didn’t even say hello, and then went into the studio, leaving us in the lobby.
Finally, one of the assistants came and escorted us to our stations. Sherry set up at the piano and I took the spot where I would record guitar. We put our headsets on and the engineer (let’s call him Mitch) was now at the recording console. He clicked on his microphone and rattled off some instructions to us.
We could see Mitch behind the glass. If we were reading his body language correctly, he was wondering how quickly he could get this project finished and move on to some real work.
Can't say we could blame him. After all, we were unknowns and could have been any amateur vanity act. He had recorded al the professionals and had no idea of what we could do.
The crew had a number of technical things they had to do: setting up microphones, positioning acoustic baffles, etc. And the musicians that we had hired to back us up started to arrive and they also needed assistance.
In all the chaos, Sherry and I were left on our own. So we did what we do every chance we get: we practiced.
After we made it through just a few bars of one our songs, we heard the click in the headsets. It was Mitch again.
“Hey, George and Sherry,” he said enthusiastically, “How’s the balance? You guys comfortable?”
We didn’t know he even knew our names based on the initial reception. Now we were best friends? Mitch chatted some more pleasantries and told his assistants to drop what they were doing to help us get things adjusted just right.
We are used to this reaction. Based on first impressions of us, people are skeptical we’re going to have any talent. And then we play. We may be not be earning a living making music, but we approach it professionally. So for the people who make snap judgments and lower their expectations just based on a glance, they seem to walk away impressed.
It’s now happened more times than we can count (the latest incident was just last week at a songwriting competition).
At first this bothered us a bit. We weren't sure if it was a combination of agism (how old is that guy?) or sexism (she probably can’t play an instrument) or racism (do Asians even know jazz?).
Now, we embrace the opportunity to surprise and delight the skeptics.
We’re both introverts so we are not inclined to come into a room and shout for attention.
But we are far from shy. We know how to perform. We rehearse and polish our material. And we’re passionate and serious about what we do.
We walked out of the studio that day having recorded with some of the top sessions players in town. They seemed to enjoy our songs and working with us. “Y’all come back and see us some time,” one of them said.
As for ol’ Mitch, he left humming one of our tunes.