The lights are dim, and the air smoky. I climbed up on to the stool, my perch, with my guitar in hand, my stomach swirling as usual, and I signaled the man standing in the corner to pull the curtain. Light Applause and a few bland coughs arouse form the small crowd of a dozen, give or take a few. The overhead lights were blinding, but I could tell it was a pretty small coffee house; my usual venue. It was a little dirty, but it didn't matter. All I want to do is play. Nothing else mattered. My eyes were more often than not closed by the middle of the second or third song to help conquer the nervousness.

I started to play one of my favorite songs. I sang into that microphone and strummed away at the strings on my old acoustic guitar. I felt passion and power and I think the audience was feeling it too. It normally went this way. After the first couple of songs most of the crowds got into it. Sometimes some of the little old couples would get up and dance, but most of the time the will just sit in their corner booths and sway a little, between their sips of cold decaf coffee.

I went through my typical set of nine songs, leaving my most powerful song for last. It usually went over pretty well. Tonight it went over a little too well. There were more than twelve pairs of hand clapping, and a few whistles too. As I opened my eyes I saw that the crowd had at least tripled. They were all younger people, probably in college. I smiled and waved my standard "thank you" wave as I got down from the hard stool, and walked off the small stage. After a brief cleaning up with a towel I went down the side stairs to meet the fans if any had waited, or get myself a coffee, for the long drive ahead of me. I was due in Denver tomorrow, which meant a little over a 14-hour drive tonight and into tomorrow.

All the college kids that had come in late were waiting for me when I came out. In turn they all said a few words about my message, and how I've helped them through some of the hard times. Most of them had me sign the back of their shirt, or one of my very limited recordings that I sold at some of my shows. After an hour or so of this they all left. That's why I do it sometimes. When it gets tough and the money's running low, the fans are what keep me driving. I got my coffee and backed up my van, and headed out to Denver.

Yeah, I don't make a lot of money, but I'm doing what I want. Driving from venue to venue to play for small coffeehouses or clubs with an even smaller crowds just to play the music I want. I don't want to be some big time rock star and defiantly not a one hit wonder. Sure the money would be nice and all the glitz and glamour wouldn't be that bad but I wouldn't change this for anything. I would rather play in these smoky clubs and coffeehouses than any amphitheater in the world. My job, if you can even call it that, is the only thing worth living for, at least for me.