Broken Hearts & A Little Bite

Broken Hearts & A Little Bite

A really powerful and essential question was asked recently, How do you guys feel about becoming a performer over the age of 30?  Do you feel it is ever too late to become a live performer?  It was the beginning of an ongoing conversation I got into late on a LInkedin site, and I liked the question a lot, so I thought I’d try to answer it in this blog

I have performed at open mics since God made dirt, but in my late fifties, I decided to see what I could do at a professional level. I think you need to pick the level at which you want to perform and shoot for that. Some realism is in order, however. I mean, if you are 70 which I will be in August, don’t be disappointing if the twenty-year-olds aren’t screaming at you, or hitting on you or you can’t get hired for their bars. AND if they do don’t confuse your music and wall of sound with your sex appeal. I played with a band up until two years ago and then decided to start concentrating on pitching my own songs, which is doing OK, and playing as a solo act. It’s harder to get gigs, but I like me best, so it seems to work out well.

SO, to answer the question straight on, Where there is a will, there is always a niche, or a venue. You will need both to make it, but if you target your market correctly, make it you will. Best of luck to you! 

Yesterday I played at a venue where there were lots and lots of musicians, a good crowd of fans of all ages, great wine, and lots of camaraderie.  I had this post on my mind as I looked around the space.  What struck me was what age differences there were.  What also struck me was that crowd response had little or nothing to do with age.  When good was played, it was paid attention to.  And there is something extra about good.  If you want to perform, no matter what your age, if you are good, you will be listened to.  I saw a young girl, probable around 15, go on stage who was an accomplished singer/songwriter/guitar player and all the conversation stopped and the crowd listened.  The same happened with a few men at 60+.  When I finished my set I had 20-year olds come up to me and thank me for my music.  Age seems less a factor than being exceptionally good.  Also,  it seems that while labels are not so inclined to sign Rockabillies, fans are really inclined to listen.  So at 70, with a few broken hearts and a little bite, my style/genre seems to go over just fine.   Actually, I do think genre has a lot to do with fan acceptance.

However, with all that said, I do believe that some show promoters are much more finicky than are the audiences and fans.  The fans come to have fun and listen to good music; the promoters are more concerned with second guessing the fans and making bucks.  But still, if you have product, meaning charisma and groove on stage, age is no issue.

Now if you are considering attaining stardom in the immature and bland  pop market, good luck if you are over 15.  Just how it works.



  1. Thank you so much, Hilary! Just turned 69 and it feels good now not to feel alone.
    The music keeps us young, doesn’t it? When I’m playing, I’m still 25! Haven’t been gigging hardly at all – mostly in my studio, writing and recording. I was feeling no one would hire me to play because I look old. One place for sure – even though I did very well and kept a large crowd of both young and old – I wasn’t re-hired and was told my music didn’t fit the room, but I later found out through the grape-vine, that the club owner thought I was too old! Ya know – there are a lot of boomers out there who spend money, go to the pubs, buy food while pubbing, and enjoy our music, right? There should be more places around like that for us to play. Sorry for rambling on, must be getting old!

    • All I can say Bill, is that there are some who will try to put that work in your brain, but ignore it. There will be plenty who think you are just right. I will add, that agism aside, it is important to truly evaluate your performance as an observer. I suggest videoing your performance and then sitting through the entire three sets. While you may start off with stars in your eyes, you’ll end up seeing the real you for real. As a point, Beyonce still tapes her performances and critiques them after her shows.

  2. Mike posted this elsewhere:

    Good article, Hilary – you were referring to Janel’s discussion posting about whether or not it’s “O.K” or “acceptable” or “worth it” to play and perform after a certain chronological age. I think that one of the respondents who still gigs was 93yrs old, and several youngsters in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s who still gig, perform, and even get into some shenannigans in between sets and after the show, enthusiastically responded to Janel’s posting.

    LO (since I’m 62) L – I think (not quite sure) that the article kicked-off because Janel just turned THIRTY, and was having one of those “oh, shit – I’m not in my twenties anymore!!!???” moments. :- D
    By Mike Loughran

  3. Well stated & opens up that never-ending can of worms. It’s all about engaging the audience & keeping bu….tts on seats for the venue. Helps to be passionate about what you are delivering with some degree of skill! Keeps you alive

    • Thanks for your response, Neil! I’ve been bored by twenty- thirty- forty- fifty- somethings and walked, but I’ve also been electrified by the same age groups. It has to do with the level of intensity and presence of the artist. At four months short of 70 I still jump, yell, scream, and talk to the crowd as if we’re best friends. They dance, think I’m young enough to hit on, and have a helluva good time. Oh yeah, and this is without my band. I work out with weights and a heavy bag to keep up the stamina on stage, but it is worth every groan and drop of sweat in my gym.

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