I’ve been attending Wayne Davis shows for over eight years in SL and at the finale of each of those shows, I’m always smiling. Wayne’s enthusiasm, sense of humor and rapport with his audiences are a “feel happy” experience. Many of us really missed him while he’s been gone for a bit of time out touring with the band RL, but we have him back again. I am overjoyed that he agreed to sit with me for this interview.
Liz: A quick glance at the crowds at your shows indicates how delighted we all are that you are back here performing in SL. Your shows are always so full of energy and fun! Your guitar work is exciting to hear every time.
Have you noticed any differences here in our SL world from the way things were before you left?
Wayne: Changes now…there’s quite a few: mesh and BOM. Took me two days to figure those out. I wanted a tattoo and ended up walking around SL with a red body for several days. It’s funny landing in a crowded place: people have those big noses and an eyeball in the back of their heads. Now that servers are in the cloud, if it’s crowded you are stuck, can’t TP, but there are no sim crashes. As for current challenges, finding time in between RL shows and daily RL life to perform in SL would be the biggest challenge currently. I play four nights a week in RL and in SL on Mondays and Thursdays.
Liz: When you first started performing live in SL, what were some of the challenges you faced then?
Wayne: Learning how to broadcast was the first challenge. This included the client-side software needed and how to set that up to work with an audio stream. Streams are basically internet radio stations that you purchase and that can be used anywhere on any website, not just in Second Life. Then you have the software needed to connect to that stream, though once set up, there is no need to mess with it again for the next show. The first setup can be a bit tough if you've never done it before… I use a broadcasting software called BUTT Broadcaster; it's pretty popular and probably the easiest to set up.
Liz: Did any performer help you when you first started?
Wayne: My older brother was in SL first. So I learned about hosting and SL etiquette. But it was DJ’s who helped me when I started: Blue Rose and DJ Cowgirl. They helped me learn about streams and things. Shoutcast is fine for DJ-ing but tough for live performing. That’s why I went with BUTT. And venue owners helped too.
Liz: What are some of the songs that have been part of your shows from all of your SL performing times that are still fan favorites? My own is still “Whiskey In The Jar”. And what are your own favorite songs?
Wayne: Whiskey in the Jar is still one of my favorites as well, but, being a guitarist first and a singer second, I pretty much love any song that has interesting guitar work in it. This isn't to say that they all have to be shredding lightning licks – just interesting. Take the song “Give Me One Reason,” for instance: the guitar is very simple and repetitive but creates a certain feeling in your soul with its rhythmic flow. Incidentally, that was the first song I ever played in SL before I even knew about streams. I showed up at Sherry's Gaslight at the recommendation of my RL brother (who came to SL long before I did and tried for a few years to get me to find time to perform here). When I got to Sherry's Gaslight, I played “Give Me One Reason” over [SL] voice. Of course I didn't know what it sounded like to them but they hired me on the spot, provided that I got a stream so everyone could hear me and not just those within a four meter range. LOL So I took my noob looking self on the journey to figure out what a stream was and how to use it.
Liz: How do you determine which songs work best in your shows?
Wayne: Just like my RL shows, I play songs that I enjoy for the most part. I figure if I’m having fun, then that will translate to the listeners and they'll have fun too. There are songs that I pick up based on fan requests but I usually wind up doing my own thing with them. If I’m not having my share of fun playing them…LOL
Liz: How has your own music style evolved over your performing years in SL?
Wayne: Well, my biggest fear is growing bored with playing songs that people want to hear so, behind the scenes, I learn how to play certain songs in what I call acrobatic guitar style.
This is where instead of playing the riffs in the song in a traditional way, I learn how to play them over the neck. Instead of having your chording hand under and wrapped around with your fingers pointing upward around the neck, I put my hand over the top of the neck and play with my fingers pointing downward. This causes everything about the whole song to be reversed as far as how you use your fingers to make chords and play lead licks.
So I would say playing in SL gives me an opportunity to practice the visual aspect of my RL shows.
Liz: When in your life did you first decide you wanted to be a music artist?
Wayne: Well, when I was an infant, I had a medical condition that caused me to have seizures. Back in those days, there wasn't much they could do to help other than prescribe a drug called phenobarbital which is just a liquid form of codeine. If you're not familiar, it's a heavy narcotic drug that pretty much renders a person useless.
I slept the first 5 years of my life away and when the F.D.A. finally pulled the use of the drug, as they do with so many after they have made their money, I woke up and was very far behind all the other kids my age. I couldn't tell time because I didn't know what clock was; I couldn't spell my name because I had no idea what the alphabet was. My communication skills were very clumsy at best. I knew what I wanted to communicate to others but since I was asleep since birth, I just didn't have the basic human skills to do so.
My uncle saw the hard time I was having and, being a musician himself, thought that learning an instrument would help with my motor skills and, well he just felt bad for me and my situation, so he gave me my first guitar at age five. I learned to play the guitar while also learning basic human communication skills. People often ask me how do I play so fluidly over the neck, with my teeth and behind my back.
My response is usually, how can someone not. Playing guitar is something that I've always done as far as my memories tell me.
Liz: How does performing in SL differ from performing in RL?
Wayne: First, there’s no admission fees or cover charges in SL, like RL.
I look at these venues and wonder how they survive. Venue owners put out so much money! So TIP THE VENUES!
SL is about friendships and you pick that up in the buzz in Nearby chat. What’s so humbling is in SL, people come to hear YOU and your music.
RL, you can play to 33,000 people at a sold-out show, but when you look out into the audience, they’re all staring at their phones. But SL is all just about the love of music.
Liz: If you were mentoring a new live performer in SL, what’s the most important thing you’d recommend that a new person should learn and know?
Wayne: Never be scared to have fun with what you are doing.
Always remember as an SL entertainer, the more popular you get, the more power you have to bring a smile to someone's face who may have otherwise never had a reason to smile. But this power also comes with the ability to crush the happiness of others as well.
So always put your own feelings aside and think of the fans as family as I like to think of them. Try to always make time for a little conversation with them and use your newfound super power for good. Basically never pass up an opportunity to be kind to others.
By the time we wound up our interview chat, I was profoundly in awe of this amazingly brilliant, multi- talented artist who is totally self-taught. His life-long curiosities and inquisitiveness have taken him down many paths. “I’m a techno-geek,” he’d commented. He’s built his own computers and even created his own 3D printer from scratch. He’s even rebuilt an antique Corvette and gave me details on that project. All of us in SL appreciate Wayne’s music and performances that he so generously shares here.