MAITLAND'S Dave Wells admits he harbours mixed feelings about making a return to live performing on Sunday.
The singer-songwriter side of him is naturally excited to be resuming what he truly loves - playing music in front of a live audience - but there is trepidation about placing himself in the public sphere after several months of social isolation.
When Wells performs at Mayfield's Stag and Hunter Hotel on Sunday night it'll be one of the first ticketed shows in the Hunter since COVID-19 restrictions on pubs and clubs were eased on Monday to allow up to 50 people.
Rock band Time On Earth will perform a ticketed acoustic show at the Stag and Hunter on Friday.
"There's probably a lot of people like me who are unsure and a bit wary about it," Wells said.
"I think that's where my personal view of it collides a little bit with the live industry. The owner of the business has approached me to do it, and at the same time, my love for music and live performing overrides those personal feelings."
Wells was initially scheduled to perform a live stream show from an empty Stag and Hunter as part of his Essential Sessions series, which has already seen him play sets at Maitland's Cunning Culinarian Cafe and The Pourhouse.
"I did them because I wanted to keep busy because I was missing the feeling and all the emotions that go with performing - nerves and anxiety," Wells said of the live stream shows. "What I call the good stuff. The good nerves.
"I was missing that so I thought what can I do? Instead of performing at home or doing something from home, I thought I'll put the feelers out to local businesses in Maitland and the Hunter region and say, 'What if I come in, just me, and we do a live stream for 30 to 40 minutes and I'll be out of your way'?
Stag and Hunter publican Mick Starkey then approached Wells about extending the live stream into a ticketed two-course dinner show restricted to 30 punters.
I think people are just itching to get out and do something they haven't done for a very long time.Dave Wells
The first part of the show will still be live streamed through Wells' Facebook, but he'll also perform an additional set featuring new material just for the live audience at the Stag.
Wells says any apprehension he holds about performing has been eased by the health and safety precautions the Stag and Hunter crew will employ for the show.
"It'll definitely be awkward to start with until people settle down and have something to eat, but I'm confident that Mick and the team there have all the right things in place," he said.
"At the same time I think people are just itching to get out and do something they haven't done for a very long time."
The Time On Earth and Wells shows are very match an experiment from Starkey as he attempts to take small steps back towards normality.
"The plan was to do something and just see how it works," Starkey said.
"When I say how it works, none of us are gonna be able to make any money, but it's just about putting on some entertainment.
"I guess it's our way of trying to be a little bit normal."
The intimate show idea appears a winner with tickets snapped up within days of going on sale.
In recent years the pub has built a reputation as one of Newcastle's finest original live music venues and during the pandemic Starkey has been in regular contact with local musicians about returning for future shows.
"We don't know how often we'll do it, we'll just manage and see how it goes until things change and what artists are around and who's prepared to come and play some tunes," he said.
Besides Sunday's gig being an ideal opportunity for Wells to reconnect with his audience, it'll also provide the Maitland Public School teacher's aid with an opportunity to road test new material he's written for his next record.
Wells hopes to bunker down next month in the studio to begin recording the sequel to his self-titled debut album released in 2018, which featured the stirring folk singles Run Free and Picasso's Cloud.
"The wheels are still in motion," Wells said. "The songs are going one of two ways.
"I'm thinking of doing an EP of six or seven songs. I think they will most probably be solo.
"I've had people in the past make comment that the intimacy there with some of the songs and my voice projects well with solo stuff, which I haven't done before.
"The last album was about experimenting and trying different tone colours and this one might be a more raw and simplistic approach. Some of the songs have gone electric, some have gone acoustic folk."
On his debut album Wells explored infidelity (Picasso's Cloud), moral boundaries (Falling Out Of Love) and social realism (Cruel Little World) and on his latest batch of songs Wells has promised several romantic ballads, a track about a friend coming out as gay and one is even inspired by Hunter author and journalist Nick Milligan's short story Megalodon from his book Tomcat Feelings.
Dave Wells performs at the Stag and Hunter Hotel on Sunday.