FOR Lake Macquarie folk-pop artist Dani El-Rassi it felt like "being a new artist all over again."
While Newcastle country queen Catherine Britt admitted feeling "clumsy."
Despite the obvious nerves and pangs of anxiety - for musicians and punters alike - getting back to live music felt joyous.
You can listen to all the vinyl, CDs and Spotify you want or livestream performances from the comfort of your couch, but there's no comparison to hearing and seeing music made in front of you.
Wednesday night's Peppertown Jam at the Stag & Hunter Hotel was one the first original music gigs to return in Newcastle following the reopening of venues last Monday for fully vaccinated people.
The monthly jam usually has an alt-country vibe and features a well-known host, with fellow musicians free to perform several songs with or without the support of the house band.
It was an intimate crowd of around 25 people. Everyone happily nursing a schooner again and appreciating live performance.
Britt was the special guest host on Wednesday, supported by the house band of her new partner Bradley Bergen on lead guitar and Liam Kennedy-Clark on bass.
"It was amazing, but I felt really out of practice though," Britt said after the show. "I felt really clumsy and didn't know how to perform and talk to the audience.
"I understood what Dani said, 'this is what it must feel like to be a new artist.' I wasn't quite there, but I felt really out of practice."
Britt and Bergen have been performing livestream shows regularly during lockdown and have clear chemistry on stage. Bergen's slick guitar licks accentuated Britt's acoustic country songs beautifully, which were drawn from her latest album Home Truths.
Open and honest as ever, Britt introduced Long Way Around by talking about her separation from her husband. The song produced obvious emotion from the mother-of-two.
The mic then turned to young left-handed guitarist Saharsh Joshi, who performed an original he'd written "last night" and a cover of John Mayer's Good Love Is On The Way. Joshi was a clear example of Peppertown Jam's benefit for the music scene.
"He looked pretty chuffed, which is nice," Britt said. "I was thinking about how that would have been like for me when I was first starting out. I remember getting up at Bill Chambers' jam and Troy Cassar-Daley or Kasey Chambers would rock up and I'd lose my mind and think it was the coolest thing ever.
"I forget that stuff sometimes, and I need to remember how special they are."
Dani El-Rassi also used the opportunity to unveil two new songs written about being lonely during lockdown. The second, When You Fall, has real potential.
Dubbo-raised Newcastle-based artist Katie Jayne performed her singles Why Can't You Love Me and Do It Like A Man. Jayne is best known for performing at the pop end of country, but with Bergen's sparse accompaniment she inserted blues smokiness into her performance.
Natalie Henry, who organises Peppertown Jam, jumped up to perform Weed, Wine & Women and Leavin' off her recent No.2 ARIA Country charting album White Heat.
Newcastle folk singer-songwriter Suz Dorahy unveiled two songs from her forthcoming EP, Redemption Is Real, which was produced by Britt and will be released on her Beverley Hillbilly Records label.
Maitland's Roger Corbett, of The Bushwackers fame, brought his slice of trademark Australiana with a song about how to make the bush instrument known as a "lagerphone".
Kennedy-Clark, Bergen and Britt then brought Peppertown Jam home with several songs each.
Britt's best-known tune Swinging Door and What I Did Last Night - which was requested by Jayne - brought the evening to a close.
The likes of Britt, Henry, Jayne and Corbett have all played much more important shows in front of far larger audiences.
But there was a mood amongst the room on this non-descript Wednesday evening that this Peppertown Jam was particularly special. Live music was back, baby.