Performance and Gigs

"For optimum amp tone onstage, plug your amp into your own AC outlet.." - Eric Johnson


In my opinion, there are two kinds of performers:

1 - Concert performers -- who do well in front of a sit-down audience

2 - Club performers -- who do well in a noisy atmosphere

Knowing which kind of performer you tend to be can help you a lot in deciding where to play. For a lot of people, it's easy to be both types of performers but some people truly prefer playing in one atmosphere over another. If you want to be at your best, it's smart to be comfortable. So if this is an issue for you, take the time to think about it.

Next you have to consider if you are going to be performing your own material or covers or both. If you decide to do covers, here are some good tips:

1) The song should really move you.

2) Make the song your own, otherwise after awhile you'll just feel like "parrot" for someone else's material (and to me there's far less creativity in that - just my opinion mind you).

3) Cover Songs are great ice-breakers and shouldn't be overlooked as great tools for any songwriter to use. Do covers, from artists who lend to your style in one way or another. Opening with a recognizable cover song really helps an audience relate to you and get an idea of where you're coming from as an artist ... and also helps them relate more to your originals, too.

Of course, to play at most venues, you've got to be prepared to sell yourself. Here are some tips on this subject:

Get your Bio / Demo ready for the Concert Promoters & Club Owners.

I've read a bunch of stuff about preparing demo submissions for venues, with bio's and clippings and stuff like that - but I'm sure there's more to it than that?

You don't need much. No club owner or manager is going to want a twenty-page book on you, nor will he/she be impressed with elaborate artwork and/or printing. Just a single sheet of paper that briefly and concisely states what type of artist you are, what kind of songs you play, how you interact with an audience and where you've played or are playing ... and a CD with either three or four whole songs, or six to eight songs that each fade after a minute. That, along with a congenial introduction and follow-up calls will be enough.

Performance anxiety can be an issue. Fortunately, most musicians overcome this in a short period of time - I've found that going to open mics, just getting up there and doing it has helped immensely. Find a supportive group of people in your genres' scene.

Here are some more tips to help you...

1 - Know your material and your performances upside down and backwards. You have to be able to play your songs and not mess up under any situation, and the way to do that is to KNOW them well ... memorization ... playing a song and working out each and every measure of it until you know it blind-folded. Then, if something bizarre happens while you're in the middle of a performance, muscle-memory and instinct will take over and you won't be thrown.

2 - Know your strengths ... know which songs are "yours" and which songs aren't. In effect, build a really strong set list. When someone like Bruce Springsteen cuts a new album, he'll record 50 songs ... 12 of those wind up on the album we hear and the other 38 go to other artists to do.

3 - LOOK unique . Dress yourself in a way that makes a statement. You know from my previous posts that I believe in dressing the way you always dress; to not be pretentious or something you're not ... but that doesn't mean that you want to look like the guy next door. You want to create an "image" ... just make it an honest one. So you usually wear jeans and a t-shirt? Fine. Just add some accents that make it all yours. A unique pair of glasses (if you wear them), a very special vest, a wardrobe of scarves, purple boots or hand painted sneakers ... whatever separates you from the average guy walking down the street and doesn't make you look like you're trying to be someone who lacks sincerity or who has lost all sense of reality.

"With the above going on, you're going to FEEL confident, because you ARE ... and THAT sells."

Performance and Gigs by Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Managing Editor



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