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Gigging solo

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by tucker, Jan 28, 2003.


  1. tucker

    tucker Guest

    Jan 21, 2001
    North Carolina
    (By gigging solo I mean being on stage by yourself.
    If some people got confused.)

    I have a gig coming soon and I'm playing a 25-30 minute set of my own material. I have material but just the fact you are alone on stage. What have some of you soloist have done in the past to overcome, not really fear but well i guess it can classified under fear. Any suggestions, I have never actually played in front of a crowd all by myself. But is anyone familiar or ever experience the same thing? The show is Feb. 22nd, its not tomorrow or this weekend like most people ask for help the night before or of the show.
     
  2. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    It is a bit scarier than a regular band situation in that everyone's eyes are on YOU all the time (not something most bassists are used to :D). However, I think it's just like any other gig in that once you get up there and get started, you'll get into the music and forget about any nervousness you might have.

    At least, that's the way it's worked for me. Admittedly, I have only done solo stuff at jam sessions so far, but I think it's pretty similar.

    One thing you can do to prepare is to try playing your stuff in front of your friends. If you can do that and not choke, you can do it anywhere, in front of anyone.
     
  3. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    i am on stage performing solo on a regular basis. For me, after the first few unsettling seconds of coming out, bowing, and then getting seated ( i usually play sitting down) I focus 100 % on the music and do not pay attention to the audience.

    I try to recreate the familiarity of my practice studio. This helps me greatly.
     
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    I play primarily solo. Currently I have 45 solo gigs booked for 2003 and really haven't even started booking new venues yet. I always find that I really need to know the material, develop a set list that works towards your strengths as well as the audiene expectations and finally I always try to develop a rapport with the audience both in terms of who I am and in what I play. I often quote tunes and see who picks them up. I'll offer a free CD to anyone who can pick up that I quote "Maria" from West Side Story in Mingus' "Nostalgia in Time Square". I'll play the theme from the "Flinstones" as a real uptempo bop tune. The audience knows this stuff, It takes the "solo bass" aspect out of the music and allows them to just focus on the music itself.

    Playing solo has been the most musically rewarding and liberating thing that I have ever done.

    Mike
     
  5. Jonesy4fnk

    Jonesy4fnk Supporting Member

    Are you playing "jazz" clubs or other?

    I've been trying to find a market for solo bass perfomaces in MD. but I'm not sure where to look. The jazz scene seems to be the only place that has solo bass oppurtunities.

    I love playing solo gigs, its a refreshing change from the full band feel. Though in one of my groups its only myself and drummers, so that almost counts as solo bass ;)
     
  6. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    other- generally universities. I play mostly avant-garde classical music.
     
  7. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    I play jazz clubs, restaurants, clinics for MTD basses and the occasional concert venue. I usually look for the style of music being presented rather than look at solo bass as some sort of aberration

    Mike
     
  8. Jonesy4fnk

    Jonesy4fnk Supporting Member

    btw - I love that Hunter S Thompson quote, I have it on my computer.


    I usually do coffee shops and more concert type venues for the solo gigs. I should try some other routes though.
     
  9. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    what do you mean you look for the style of music being presented ?
    Aren't you as the performer deciding what style of music you are playing ?
     
  10. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    I look for venues that cater to jazz. It would be a waste of time for me to play a rock club or a classical venue. I don't look to book those venues.

    Mike
     
  11. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    I see. Thanks for the clarification.
     
  12. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Question for everyone: how's the response?

    It's been varied for me so far. The majority seemed to like it, although I'm not certain whether they liked the novelty or the material... Some others, I could tell, weren't really into it.

    How many of you sing and play solo bass?

    What kind of venue is going to provide the most open-minded audience?
     
  13. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    i usually have very good repsonse, but I'm not playing poular music either.

    I sing (vocalese) if it is written in the composition that I'm performing.

    I <b>do</b> though often recite text as I'm performing.

    Almost 100 % of my concerts take place in recital halls on college campuses. Generally because the composers on the faculty are writing music for me, that is where I [erform.

    Sometimes the audience is big (relatively) at 150 - 200 people.

    The smallest audience I ever had was at a gig at Rutgers University a few years ago; 7 people.

    I was taught long ago to appreciate not the quantity in the audience but the quality.
     
  14. tucker

    tucker Guest

    Jan 21, 2001
    North Carolina
    Thank you for your information and input, I really appreciate it.
     
  15. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Tucker,

    Dealing with the psychology of solo performing is an interesting one... best way I've found to deal with it is to be transparent - it's really really hard, especially at your first few gigs, to be 'slick', so don't try. Do as much prep as you can, but basically have fun and take the audience with you. Assume that some of the people there aren't going to be into what you do, and try to make it fun for them as well by not taking it all too seriously.

    Playing solo bass is a pretty left-field concept to most people, so play on that, feel free to laugh at yourself, if you screw up, feel free to stop, laugh and start again. Don't get all appologetic, just laugh, shout 'take 2!' and start again...

    Most of all enjoy it - you can't expect anyone else to enjoy it if you don't.

    I've done well over a hundred solo gigs, playing to audiences as small as 5 or 6, up to about three thousand, and they are all good. Just have fun, dress for the occasion, and play your ass off!

    Might I also suggest that you join the solo bass network and post your gig dates to the mailing list there - www.solobassnetwork.org.uk

    cheers

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  16. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk

    Apr 14, 2001
    Pennsylvania
    I like the advice so far...
    My only experience is having a couple of extended solo pieces in a gig where I'm actually alone on stage.
    Maybe it's more bearable for the crowd because they must realize I'll eventually be done (though at the time I'm sure they question it).

    In those situations, realizing it's not totally a BASS crowd, I've had better responses when I steal familiar hooks here and there (Pink Panther, Barney Miller, Sir Duke, etc) just to keep folks interested. Most non-musicians or non-bassists tend to comment more on the overall performance than the *amazing*:rolleyes: technique.

    I wish I had the incredible skills of others who posted here. Since I don't, I try to make sure I give a high energy performance. That's more my thing.

    A tip...try getting up at an open mic. Just do three tunes that are in your set. It helps me get used to the crowd focus and eases the nerves a bit.

    I hope that helps.
     
  17. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author &quot;The Art of Solo Bass&quot;
    I couldn't agree with Seve more (except perhaps for the comment on stopping and starting over). The key is to enjoy yourself. Your enjoyment will spill over to the audience. Your love of the instrument will be infectious. Your sense of musicianship will carry you and them to another plane. As Steve says "it is all good."

    Don't be afraid. Relish your mistakes and have fun with your successes. Being a solo bassist might be "pretty left-field concept to most people" but a solo musician is not. Be a musician (not a bassist). You're playing solo because you have something to "say". The audience doesn't care that you are a solo bassist, they have come to hear what it ia that you want to say. It is really that simple

    Mike
     
  18. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I can see me doing that! :D :bag: When I'm playing something and mess up I have a tendency to stop the action and go "oops". I think most of it is nerves...Always wondering how (or should I say what) I will do in a (solo) gig situation...with all eyes on me :eek:
     
  19. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author &quot;The Art of Solo Bass&quot;
    Don't be so quick to stop. The "mistake" might be a wonderful musical idea that you have not yet quite learned how to use. Embrace the mistake, make it yours, learn from it. Live in the musical moment. Take the risk to be new and daring. That's what Steve Lawson does all the time

    Mike
     
  20. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Re: stopping and starting again - two reasons why I suggest this.

    one is specific to looping, but also applies to other things that can't be changed easily such as tuning, or malfunctioning gear of some kind - if it's not working and you 'soldier on' you could end up sounding very bad for quite a long time. If you stop, correct it and start again, it could improve things a lot. I remember seeing a jazz guitarist doing a bob marley tribute solo version of redemption song. He started out of tune, tried to tweak it as he went along, made it worse, tweaked again, even worse. By the end it was horrendous. If he'd stopped after four bars, retuned and started again, no-one would complain...

    Same with a loop - if your initial loop is 'wrong', sometimes, as Mike says, that can be cool - work with it, it'll be something new. Other times, it's just wrong, and needs changing. don't try and replace bits of it, just stop, laugh and start again... If you can delete the loop and carry on playing, do so, that's cool and rather professional looking, but don't just soldier on if you're not confident enough to be able to adapt what you do to the new loop...

    The other reason is just that allowing yourself the worst case scenario of stopping and starting again will hopefully destress you to the point where making such a mistake is far less likely. If the weight of expectation is hanging heavily over you, then you may mess up simple stuff just through nerves. If you feel like messing it up and starting again wouldn't be the end of the world, then you'll hopefully be less stressed and play better... :)

    cheers

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk