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How do I keep concerts interesting

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Plywoodbass, Jan 5, 2012.


  1. Plywoodbass

    Plywoodbass

    Jan 5, 2012
    Recently I landed a weekly gig at a country club. The owner of the place is expecting me to advertise and have a band set up every week playing jazz. They had a band before doing this but people stopped showing up because they got bored of the guys.

    So my question is, how should I run a band without having the regulars losing interest in our playing?
     
  2. Guest artists/musicians. Forces the playlist to change which I suspect was the problem.
     
  3. Plywoodbass

    Plywoodbass

    Jan 5, 2012
    Thanks for the reply Ksandvik,

    Their set list didn't change too much, which might've been part of the problem, but should I have a whole new set every week?
     
  4. A setlist on a jazz gig? I've never used one for an engagement like the one you describe. I've used them on formal concerts, but not a country club gig.

    I ran a regular jazz gig for a year, and the best way to keep people coming was to have a rotating cast of guests.
     
  5. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Same tunes, same people, solos sounding the same, same arrangement of head/solos-always-in-a-certain-order/head out -- all of that is a recipe for audience boredom. It's way too much repetition -- doesn't matter if the players are technically good.

    Add some singing -- peoples' ears always perk up when they hear a human voice. Doesn't have to be fine singing, but it does have to be confident and competent.

    Don't let tunes or sets run too long. You'll wear out their ears and their interest and their tolerance for you. They're country club patrons, not necessarily jazz fans. You're there to provide a classy backdrop and some amusement, not to impress them with your jazz cred.

    Keep it interesting for yourself. If a performer of any kind is projecting boredom, or fear, or contempt, anything like that, people will read that very quickly and it ain't good.
     
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    This reminds me of a funny Zoot Sims story - he's doing a college band clinic and the band plays a number for him. And Zoot's just standing there so after a couple of minutes one of the students asks him " So, Mr.Sims, what can we do to improve the sound of the band?" And Zoot says "Play better."

    You can have all the arrangements you want, all the singers you want, all the tunes and setlists you want, all the guests that you want. But you won't need ANY of that if the musicians are playing with depth, intent and real communication. The reason folks went to hear Monk's quartet for a 5 month stretch at the Five Spot wasn't because of guests or arrangements. It was because those guys were playing some serious ****.
     
  7. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Indeed: so true. I wouldn't deny any of that. You'd hope every player out there would know that and aspire to that. Not just true of playing jazz, or even music, either -- it applies to all kinds of situations where someone's up in front of a crowd, doing their little dance or telling their little story or making their little sounds. Looking for applause or respect or chicks or whatever... The Real Thing is the Real Deal and it Really Works.

    In the meantime, in a situation that may be a little more mundane, where maybe it isn't so Real just yet, where the question is even along the lines of "gee, do I have to have a different set list every time", I offer a few practical tips in the 30 seconds it takes to fire 'em off. I've been that mundane guy in that mundane situation many, many times. Some other things besides dedication and genius can also have their little impact on a crowd.

    Anyway, I'm just sayin'. We're not all heavy dudes playing heavy stuff for a heavy crowd. The folks down at the legion can get bored and cranky and where's Zoot when you need him?
     
  8. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Make sure your songs aren't all the same time signature and feel! I play bluegrass (and love it) but I get bored stiff by bands that play everything really fast in cut time in the key of B - play some fast and slow stuff, play different feels, let the piano player play one by his/her self. It works for me. ;)
     
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    And there's a reason I'm not knocking on Lorraine Gordon's door looking for a gig at the Vanguard. just because I WANT to play a gig doesn't mean I SHOULD be playing that gig...
     
  10. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    No argument there, either. But it seems like our OP *is* playing the gig -- at the country club, not the Five Spot or the Vanguard.
     
  11. DrayMiles

    DrayMiles

    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast
    Yes, IMO... at least 50% should be new.. and I would advise a female singer too..;)
     
  12. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I'm not saying ANYTHING about the female singer thing.

    My old trio/quartet gig that did a lot of jobs like that, the leader was a soprano player (in a sort of Sidney Bechet / Benny Goodman vein.) At least one tune each set, he put down the horn and sang a tune. "Rockin' Chair", "Georgia" -- stuff like that. His singing was in tune and confident and competent - we aren't into "jazz singer" stuff here -- and that material *always* snapped the audience into attention. Reason? I think it was good music, well-performed, but there's also a stage-craft element -- it's simply an effective change of pace.

    Practically any real musician can pull a tune off singing-wise. I think more should.
     
  13. In addition to what has already been posted, record your band weekly with a video camera equipped with decent microphones. Then watch the unedited video of the 1st gig either individually or as a group. Make note of the strong points and the weak points that you hear and see. Build on the strong points and work to eliminate or at least minimize the weak points. Do the same with the 2nd gig and keep track of progress made and not-made. Keep at it.

    The owner expects you to advertise? Is this to bring in new members to the country club? Or is to advertise to current members?
     
  14. Plywoodbass

    Plywoodbass

    Jan 5, 2012
    The owner does expect me to advertise, that's because the members weren't aware that there was jazz being played when they had a group before. I don't think they're making me advertise to scout new members but just to help there be a successful turn out every week


    Thank you all very much for the comments, I'll take them all into consideration. It's going to be hard juggling this gig with my studies at University (at least I'm studying jazz).
     

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