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Author Topic: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?  (Read 3495 times)

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Offline nonsectarianblues

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How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« on: June 04, 2007, 04:01:54 PM »
Howdy,

I want to be an aspiring pro and play out.  My goal would be to make a majority of my living off of performing.  Where do I start or find supportive environments (Thank God, I found Weenie Campbell!).

Here are my ideas so far:

-Try to play open mic nights with a solid professional performance
-Make a CD that is representative of what I play
-Web presence

Where would one go from there?  How does one go from the bed room to the stage?

Offline waxwing

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2007, 08:38:12 PM »
You can probably make a small fortune in country blues....if you start with a big fortune.-G-

Okay, kidding aside, I commend you on your aspirations. But be aware that only a small handful of players actually make any kind of a living at this and probably not a great living at that.

Absolutely open mics are the place to start. If you haven't performed in front of even a small audience, as your post seems to imply, you'll find that it takes a whole lot more energy to perform live. I don't feel like I know a song until I've played it well in front of an audience many times. Relaxing in front of a big house takes a lot of practice that you can only get, well, in front of a big house.

CD? Definitely, I'm recording my first now, too. That's a whole process unto itself. Nerve wracking, humilliating and tedious. But, yeah, folks take you more seriously when you hand them a CD, and it's good, too. Plus you can make a lot more money at a small fee gig if you can sell a handful of CDs.

Web presence. Sure, many clubs want to see your myspace page. They know how it works and can hear some of your stuff right there, without having to navigate to your "Sounds" page or whatever.

I would also recommend getting to know all the gigging players in your area and surrounding areas. Go to their gigs and support them. Acoustic blues is a small niche and those who are in it can show you the ropes better than anyone.

Learn to teach. Most working musicians I know make a sizeable portion of their music related income from teaching.

Get a good day job that allows you the time and flexibility to do the gigs, festivals and camps that are all part of the scene.

Well, that's what I'm doing right now, altho' I don't have any allussions of earning most of my living, at least until after I reach retirement age in about 10 years.

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2007, 03:20:33 AM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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chipmonk doug

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2007, 03:10:02 AM »
First step is get a wife to support you.  ;)

What everyone else said.  Being retired is helping.  When I did it in the early 70s I lived in a VW bug. 
While I love CB and it's my main squeeze, as working musicians I go by the "they pay we play" motto.  We play everything from kids birthday parties to biker bars.  Don't limit yourself. 


JimNJBlues

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2007, 12:54:08 PM »
Absolutely, open mics are the way to go if you're a beginner.  I did nothing but open mics for about the first six months where I played out.  You get alot of unexpected people there, and I landed a whole bunch of different gigs just from them.
  It also gets you used to playing in front of an audience.  And there are really a lot of lessons to be learned from only being able to play two or three songs in a set.

Offline nonsectarianblues

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2007, 02:13:29 PM »
Thanks for all the responses.  It looks like I am on the right track.  I have been using open mic nights to build my performance ability, but it also made me realize that I need to do a lot more wood shedding.

Women find me ugly and not too handy, so I guess marrying a good woman to support me is out.  And I already have had my share of mean women.

Saddle up my pony...

-Cyprian

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2007, 12:01:17 PM »
In addition to the great advice already given, I'd add that your success (however you define it) depends on your local music scene.

Busking is a good way to build up stamina and repertoire, though maybe not the best for building a "fan-base."  Coffee shops are usually more receptive to acoustic blues than blues clubs are (in my experience they prefer electrified bands who can play "Mustang Sally" at super loud volumes) but don't often pay well -- which is where selling merchandise comes in.    Of course, people that frequent coffee shops and are receptive to music outside the "norm" are usually poor college students -- at least in my area.   Another thing you could do is private parties and weddings.  You can make a lot of money doing those; they usually want pretty "lively" music.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline Mr.Natural

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2007, 02:10:27 PM »
Tips on how to take it from a gig to the bed room are also welcome...
:-)
don't mess with the Natch - he flosses with razorblades

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2007, 02:18:15 PM »
Mr. Natural, four letters: B E E R

 :D
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline dave stott

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2007, 05:15:32 PM »
Step #1 change from PJ's to something more appropriate...

Step #2... make sure your fly is zipped

Step # 3.. do not stare at the good looking women in the audience, because you will tend to forget about playing the guitar

Step #4 do not improvise the words or sing an entire verse of "MMMM's or OOOO Lord's".

Step #5... take the money and run and learn from the experience

: -)

Dave


Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2007, 05:07:27 PM »

Step # 3.. do not stare at the good looking women in the audience, because you will tend to forget about playing the guitar




I usually perform better when my focus is on the women.

I'm talking about guitar playing....really.... 
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

Coyote Slim's Youtube Channel

Offline deltaslim

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2007, 06:54:12 AM »
Here's how I progressed...
1. bedroom...  get it down till you feel comfortable to play in front of people who don't mind if you embarrass yourself...
2. living room (in front of family) or friends' house (private jam)... hopefully they'll give you constructive advice and inputs
3. open mic... test the waters and get used to anxiety, panic, the rigmarole of dealing with equipment, song lineups, audience, distractions, etc...
4. open for or filler in between electric blues bands... now you're playing to impress and build your network and audience
5. 1 whole set in acoustic blues gig (sharing the bill with other acoustics artists)... you can play but are looking for more opportunities to be in the spotlight longer
6. 2 to 3 sets of my own gig (or with acoustic group)...  your name up in lights; your concern now is building up the repertoire and making them come back for more (entertainment value and sustainibility)!
"In life I was silent; In death I sweetly sing"

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Offline Doc White

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2007, 07:55:13 PM »
All useful advice. I would add a couple of other points. Try and find a residency somewhere even if it is for 1 night every couple of weeks. I don't know about the scene in the US but down here (Australia) the venues expect you to bring a crowd. One way to build one is to play regularly somewhere so people can see you. Offer to run an open mic night in a venue. Make sure you open and close the evening so you get to play in front of as many people as possible. Then when you get another gig nearby, make sure you let everyone when and where you are playing. It is not a good idea to do this from the stage, however. Make sure you have a method of collecting audience email, cell phone and postal addresses so you can let them know about what is happening with your gigs.
Find a scene around where you live that has players that play similar music. Go to lots of gigs and introduce yourself to the act playing. This is a great way to exchange information, swap song ideas and sometimes get gigs. If some guy or girl finds themselves double booked or unable to do a gig they may give you a call to stand in. This happens quite a bit.
Don't rely on being a solo act. Solo gigs are great particularly if they are well paid because you don't have to split the fee but it is a good idea to find some other instrument to play - particularly one that not many other people play - to help get work with people who are looking for duos. Try mandolin, double bass or percussion. These work well in a blues setting and will keep you busy if you advertise them among fellow musicians.
Above all work on your singing. Most white middle aged blues guys I know come to the music because of the guitar playing. However, most audiences relate to the vocals and the singer. This should be your number one priority. If you need help in this department, find a good teacher. Learn the vocal lines from records as thoroughly as you would the guitar lines.
Be prepared if you want to make a full time career that you are going to have to spend about 70% of your time doing business and not playing music. This entails getting up in the morning and ringing people you've never met and badgering them for a gig.
I send bookers, venue owners and promoters a CD along with a press kit and a week later I call and sell, sell, sell. Make sure you have a good CRM software program where you can store all the contact names and details. Subscribe to the trade magazines and any appropiate directory that lists gigs and festivals. For instance I think Blues Revue magazine publishes a list of blues festivals in the US.
Over here we have a musicians directory which lists every venue in Australia and tells you who books the room, the capacity and the type of music they normally have. It also lists just about everyone else in the business too - managers, publicists, hire companies, travel, insurance etc.
If you start making a little money, investigate retaining a good publicist. This is more important than a manager. A good publicist can improve your audience by 25 - 30%. This will keep you and the venue happy.
Make sure you are entertaining. Develop some stories about the songs you perform. Give the audience some background and context. Have a couple of showstoppers up your sleeve that will cause the audience to go wow. Learn to construct a set that captures the attention of the audience and maintains it through the whole set. Any tunes that consistently get no or lukewarm response from the audience - dump 'em. You might like 'em but if the audience doesn't they will do you more harm than good.
I could go on for hours but the main thing is if you want to play you have to do the business side of it really well. I know loads of guys who are great players but crappy business people and they will probably never work professionally ever.
Cheers,
Chris

Offline nonsectarianblues

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2007, 04:22:36 PM »
Alright!  Can I have an amen!

You all got me thinkin' and a seein' the way.

 :D

Offline deltaslim

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2007, 06:27:17 PM »
Alright!  Can I have an amen!

Amen, indeed! 

Chris, I don't mind if you go on and on!   Great advice about focusing on the vocals -- it's one of my many weak points.  You gave a good kick in the butt!
"In life I was silent; In death I sweetly sing"

http://www.youtube.com/deltaslim

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: How To Go From Bed Room To Gigging?
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2007, 03:28:15 AM »
This is all good advice.

From my own very limited experience (I recently played half a dozen songs solo, through a PA, in front of a garden party full of strangers for the first time):-

Get to events like Port Townsend if you can- playing in front of fellow enthusiasts is a good way of building up skills and confidence in a "safe" environment.  From this thread, nonsectarianblues is probably past the need for that stage, but for others, it really does help.

I've found that playing in a band helped enormously in terms of just getting aclimatised to playing in front of people who are actively expecting to be entertained (as opposed to fellow enthusiasts being supportive, or open mic nights when people expect varying standards and are pretty tolerant). 

Over time I became less nervous when my solo came round and learned to better react and improvise my way out of mistakes.  Importantly, I started to cross the boundary between concentrating on playing as well as possible and actually starting to enjoy making the music, which in turn probably improved what I was doing and the overall sound.  The joy of a band is that you are not so alone and exposed whilst learning all that stuff.  Of course the downside of a band is lead singers who throw hissy fits over nothing and quit... but thats another story :-)



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