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Somebody shoot me while I'm happy - Fats Waller, on a good night

Author Topic: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...  (Read 8261 times)

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Offline Richard

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2009, 02:13:55 PM »
Quote
The question has nothing much to do with being an extrovert or an introvert, but has a lot to do with the 1960s conflict between Kingston Trio Wannabes and us traditionalists...

I do know a fair number of musicians who are quite extrovert but that was not the question. I fear you have read too much into my post since my point was far more basic in that the performer performs in his own comfort zone, whether or not that calls for getting into character and how far that is taken is a personal choice.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline dj

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2009, 04:15:25 PM »
Hey, brosna, the mention of "clownsuits" earlier brought back a memory from 30 years ago when I was in college and playing baroque and renaissance music in a quartet.  We'd appeared on stage, playing renaissance music in accompaniment to a play set in 16th century England.  A year and a half later, someone hired us to play a series of receptions, and on the first date, when we showed up in suits and dresses, the guy who'd hired us came over and said in anger and disappointment "I thought you'd be wearing your clown suits".  Which taught us two things:  People have long memories, and any shtick you do will follow you.  AND, more important, that guy was buying entertainment, not music.  We were very careful after that to tailor our dress and our repertoire to the occasion, asking the person hiring us if it wasn't readily apparent.   

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2009, 04:55:27 PM »
Well holy sackbutt what a tale! I hope that krumhorn got what was coming to him. I bet he paid psaltry wages too. Therbos the neighborhood.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2009, 05:01:41 PM »
sorry.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Mike Brosnan

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2009, 06:19:07 PM »
It is complicated, isn't it?  Lots of good feedback here.  I've been questioning myself a lot more about all this lately.  I'm certainly not trying to build a career with this and I don't think I have the stamina to attempt it...  I will most likely continue to play out for some time and I definitely don't want to become known as "that guy with the slide show". 
I think I want to learn how to use photo shop just so I can bring that mental image of "Big Pimpin' Ari" to life

Offline Bill Roggensack

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2009, 08:20:27 PM »
Hi Mike:
I'm going to offer my comments from the perspective of an audience member.
First, you've gotta be you - it needs to be apparent that you're sincere about the music you play. If your motive is to play for others, you need to understand that makes you an entertainer, so you have to entertain. If you play for you, that makes you either an artist or self-indulgent, or both. I've seen/heard your fine playing/singing, and I know you're very sincere about your music. To take it out to the world means you will need to address some of the expectations your audience will have - first and foremost, the need to be entertained! Now there are many paths you can follow to achieve that objective. But you sure don't need period clothes to play acoustic blues. You should spend some time figuring out how you want to interact with your audience between selections - talking about a song and what grabs you as JohnM has suggested, or giving a little historical context, or spinning a short anecdote that ties back to the song. Some performers get so good at telling short stories that I can listen to them several times without getting bored or put off. Regardless of what fashion choices you make, remember one thing - people like to see your face.
Second, pay attention to audience reaction and adjust accordingly. In general, I think audiences respond better when they feel they have a rapore with the artist. Some people burn through several songs without so much as a word being spoken. If you were Paul McCartney playing to baby boomer Beatles fans, you might get away with presumed familiarity. But let's face it - PreWar Country Blues isn't exactly mainstream. That doesn't mean you can't grab people's attention, but telling the story behind an unfamiliar song will help people listen more carefully, remember what they've heard, and remember you.
Third, put some thought into your set list so you can build continuity and create opportunities to segue from one song to the next.
Fourth, re: your band mates - tell them to lose the vintage clothing and slide show crap. This is art, after all! You have to maintain your dignity.
Cheers,
FrontPage

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #21 on: November 22, 2009, 09:23:17 PM »
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This is art, after all! You have to maintain your dignity.

You could perform in a tux like classical musicians do. Oh wait..the classical audience is dying out rapidly and not attracting new recruits. Major record labels are dumping even such high profile performers as YoYo Ma and are threatening to close down their classical divisions altogether. If its a choice of hearing Beethoven's Pastoral with musicians dressed in paisley robes and a light show or not being able to hear it at all, gimmie the light show anyday.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Mike Brosnan

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2009, 01:36:11 AM »
Quote
This is art, after all! You have to maintain your dignity.

You could perform in a tux like classical musicians do. Oh wait..the classical audience is dying out rapidly and not attracting new recruits. Major record labels are dumping even such high profile performers as YoYo Ma and are threatening to close down their classical divisions altogether. If its a choice of hearing Beethoven's Pastoral with musicians dressed in paisley robes and a light show or not being able to hear it at all, gimmie the light show anyday.

Ha! Well said.

Offline eagle rockin daddy

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2009, 10:51:40 AM »
this is a great topic, and something I've thought about alot, even though I don't perform frequently.  For me, I try to look at performers who I really like, see how they develop a connection with the audience, and then apply that type of thing to my 'show'.  I think of how Roy Bookbinder does it, he's the best IMHO, compared to say Paul Geremia, who is an amazing player but doesn't always relate to the audience in the same way.  I also think of Bruce 'Utah' Phillips and how he used dress and humor, as well as killer songs to educate his audience.  Copying these experts is impossible of course, and not even desirable, but studying their performance styles helps me figure out what I want to do.

I have thought about buying a cheap black suit, white shirt and skinny black tie like Rev. Davis though......

Mike


Offline CF

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2009, 11:33:55 AM »
For me the issue of dressing up or no is a non-issue if the performer has the chops & the knowledge & feel down. What I'm not digging lately is what I call a 'scenster' type of performer in which the vintage clothing & the gonzo presentation are there to offset a potential mediocrity as a folk musician. Dressing up can really put you in a certain mood too which is very conducive to good music-making & performance. I'm not into 'characters' when they're not even serious (or 'talented' or 'interesting' ) musicians to begin with.   
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Online Johnm

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #25 on: November 23, 2009, 11:59:42 AM »
Hi all,
One other thing that strikes me on this topic is that the impulse to entertain is not a bad thing.  It is a generous impulse to want people to have a good time.  The goal is to come up with a performance style that is entertaining and that feels right for the person doing it.  I'm not a big fan of haughtiness in performers.  It's a bit too much to pay to see someone make music and then be dealt with with thinly veiled contempt.  I've walked out on great musicians whose attitude I felt made any real communication impossible.  I once saw the ancient (at that time) Jazz great Benny Carter, and he was a living object lesson on how to conduct oneself as a performer.  He was always gracious and inclusive with the audience, not underestimating their ability to pick up on things, supportive and visibly interested in what his fellow band members were contributing to the show.  I'm came away feeling, "Wow, if I was in Benny's band I'd move mountains for him.  What a great guy."  His friendliness and respect for everyone he was dealing with was refreshing, and I'm sure everyone who saw that show remembers it and Benny Carter very fondly.  It's something to think about--friendliness goes a long way.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #26 on: November 23, 2009, 12:25:35 PM »
Two quotes from Johnm (I don't know how to put the quotes in a box like the rest of youse guys):

"It is a generous impulse to want people to have a good time."

"Friendliness goes a long way."

Amen. Back in the 1960s, when rediscovered musicians from the south performed in front of a city audience, they wore the best clothes they had. It was an acknowledgment that their appearance before an audience was an important event.

Most of us revivalists, when we play in public, usually dress in mufti. But the clothes don't matter much if you follow Johnm's principles.

Lyle

Offline dj

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #27 on: November 23, 2009, 01:39:06 PM »
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the impulse to entertain is not a bad thing

I'd go even further, John, and say "If you don't want to entertain, what the #%*@ are you doing onstage?"  That's not saying that you can't be true to yourself and entertaining at the same time.  But you have to figure out how to connect with your audience and give them something they'll enjoy.    

Lyle, to quote, click the second button from the right in the second gray row above where you're typing your text.  It'll say "Insert Quote" when you hover your mouse over it.  Then paste the quote in between the sets of bracketed statements that appear in the text field.  Click Preview on the buttons below the message area to see if you've got it right.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2009, 01:42:49 PM by dj »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #28 on: November 23, 2009, 01:48:49 PM »
I think we've outlined  usable criteria here. Communication, respect for the audience, engagement, some humor and or history by way of song intros makes the audiences experience better. This assumes of course that the musical pieces are in place. After that, costumes, special effects etc. use 'em if ya wants 'em, if not ...not.
Unless of course we all agree on an appropriate country blues uniform. Hmmm overalls or Armani suits?
We could start the Weenie fashion line along with a Union, the Union of Rural Blues Revivalists or the UORBR. We could really lay down the law to club owners then! >:D
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline eagle rockin daddy

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« Reply #29 on: November 23, 2009, 04:15:19 PM »
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We could start the Weenie fashion line along with a Union, the Union of Rural Blues Revivalists or the UORBR.

Some sketches please?

Possible fashion lines:  The Rev:  Black Suit  The Blake:  Tux

My favorite, as a young upstart fashion house:

The Lindley:

http://www.davidlindley.com/cgi-bin/pgallery.cgi?pd=vol3&rf=photos.html&pi=13.jpg

We could be a chapter of the IWW. 

Grandiose?  NOT!

Mike

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