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She had this [barbecue pit] piled up full of hickory. She comes out with this two gallon can of gasoline & she up-ends this thing over the hickory... As she walks away from the pit she takes a kitchen match, strikes it on her butt, throws it over her shoulder, causes an explosion 30 feet into the air. Then she walked by and said: 'Be ready'n about an hour...' - Steve James, Port Townsend 97

Author Topic: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...  (Read 8263 times)

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Offline Bill Roggensack

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #30 on: November 24, 2009, 08:28:55 PM »
Mr. Dave as a fashion maven - too funny! But he always looks sharp, and definitely looks like Mr.  Dave. Fortrel is always in style in his world. I've always wondered what he wears when he's not on stage.
Cheers,
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Offline Bald Melon Jefferson

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #31 on: November 25, 2009, 08:05:35 AM »
Mike, Just pray your band-mates don't see the video Norfolk Slim posted in Unwound Third/Jam Sessions/ "Had to share this."
Then again....


I bow to Sire OMuck's psaltry humour.


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Offline playon

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #32 on: November 27, 2009, 01:02:36 AM »
I say don't do anything that you are not personally comfortable with.  Sometimes you can stretch your comfort zone but it still has to be something that you don't feel stupid doing.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #33 on: November 27, 2009, 02:46:55 PM »
Quote
still has to be something that you don't feel stupid doing.

Anything worth doing probably has the potential to make you feel stupid.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline blueshome

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #34 on: November 28, 2009, 03:30:24 AM »
I'm a latecomer to this thread but I might as well throw in my 2 penn'orth.

In the UK it seems to be obligatory to wear a hat on stage to play blues, nothing else seems to matter - doesn't matter whether you can play - just stand up there with a hat and you are real bluesman!

Surely the important thing when putting yourself in front of an audience is respect, both for them and for the music you are playing.

For the former, I believe it is important to at look smart and look as if you care (a suit even) and treat them as intelligent, dressing like a parody of a sharecropper or a 30's street hustler does nothing but reduce the respect you show for the music (and we may be getting back near to the blacking up argument again).

For the latter, my experience has been that good presentation and performance usually win through, as has been said you don't go out for a history lesson but to enjoy yourself. If I go out to a gig or a concert the last thing I want to hear is someone explaining why they are playing a song and what it means to them, when they first heard it......., it's the music stupid! In between patter is something else if well done it can make the show go with a swing.

Offline Mike Billo

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #35 on: November 29, 2009, 07:29:34 AM »


  Well said, Blueshome. I completely agree with every point you made.

  When I was a mere youth, in the late '60's and obsessed with the Blues, I had the good fortune to have a thriving Blues scene across the Bridge, from my home (in San Francisco), in Oakland.

  The Bluesmen were very gracious in taking many of us young White kids under their wing).
  They thought of themselves as professional musicians, first and foremost and as exponents of a specific musical form, second.

  They taught us that you must always present a good appearance and that, costumes of any kind, were strictly for "Cooch Dancers" (i.e. Dancing Girls, that were still popular on the African-American club circuit, who usually earned side money as "ladies of the evening")

   Most of these "old" Bluesmen (who were, in fact, younger than I am now. HA!) had migrated to Oakland, from the South becuase of the job opportunities in the shipyards, during WWII.
  Most of them had actually been sharecroppers.
  The idea of convincing any of them to perform, dressed as a sharecropper, or in any fashion from the '30's, would have been unthinkable. Totally out of the question.

   I think they were correct, that, costumes are best left to the "Cooch Dancers"  ;D
   

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #36 on: November 29, 2009, 03:23:01 PM »
Quote
They taught us that you must always present a good appearance and that, costumes of any kind, were strictly for "Cooch Dancers"
Quote
  The idea of convincing any of them to perform, dressed as a sharecropper, or in any fashion from the '30's, would have been unthinkable. Totally out of the question.

Leadbelly & Big Bill Broonzy both appeared in overalls as a costume. Maybe they had less integrity than the guys you knew? Maybe they weren't as good as musicians? Maybe they were forced into it by economic & social circumstances? Or maybe they had some insane idea that they were actually in some branch of show biz and wanted to be successful even if dressing like a hayseed was distasteful and smacked of racism? Had they known that they were the upholders of a sacred tradition, however I'm certain they would have behaved with more decorum.
A classical musician's costume is his tux or her black dress and discreet string of pearls. Does that mean they can't play the shit out of their instruments? Take a look at clips of Horowitz or Rubenstein playing and see if they are devoid of showmanship. What about Professor Longhair or Screamin' Jay Hawkins?
But good..you guys keep doin' just what you're doin'. Bigger audience for me and my dancing dog and pony medicine and light show should I ever decide to start performing again ;D. Meanwhile I bet I'll be hearing plenty of bitching and moaning about the lack of an audience for this music.


My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline Stuart

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #37 on: November 29, 2009, 04:09:59 PM »
I can't count the number of times that I've gone to see someone play and come away saying to myself, "The music was really great--couldn't have been better--, but I wish they'd have schticked it up more." ;)

But sometimes schticking it up goes a long way to enhancing and contributes to the overall performance or show. However, the devil is in the details, as the old saying goes. The visual associations certainly can enhance the audience's experience of the performance if done the right way--but the catch is figuring out just what is the "right way."

Offline Mike Billo

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #38 on: November 29, 2009, 06:16:57 PM »

  One of the disadvantages of the printed word, in forums such as this, instead of face-to-face conversation is that, when somebody chooses to reply in sarcasm, rather than the topic being discussed, it's difficult to know which of their statements are facetious and which were meant literally.

  Take Mr. O'Muck's posting as a case in point.

  "Leadbelly & Big Bill Broonzy both appeared in overalls as a costume.   Maybe they had less integrity than the guys you knew?"

   Are you suggesting that, because they were famous, that couldn't have been the case
   That the famous have, by definition, have greater integrity than guys whose names you don't know?
   
   Wasn't Leadbelly a Murderer, in and out of prison, for many years, due to repeated violent behavior?

   Not many people would use that guy's "integrity" as the cornerstone of their argument.

     But, because of the overall sarcastic tone of your post, I don't know whether you're serious, or, displaying your wit.

  Oh, and by the way, as regards   "Meanwhile I bet I'll be hearing plenty of bitching and moaning about the lack of an audience for this music." 

    You'll hear no such complaints from me. Bookings and gigs are going great. Thanks for asking, though  :)

Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #39 on: November 29, 2009, 07:39:33 PM »
Leadbelly was vigorously marketed by Lomax, with publicity pictures of him sitting on a bale of cotton in overalls. He also let it be known that this was a dangerous murderer on stage, in order to titillate an audience that probably would not have paid any attention to Leadbelly's music without that shtick.

As I remember, Leadbelly did kill someone, but it was probably manslaughter rather than premeditated murder, the sort of thing that can easily happen if you're leading a sporting life. He was imprisoned twice. The first time, he was paroled or pardoned. The second time, John Lomax sprung (sprang?) him to bring him north to thrill New Yorkers.

My impression in reading about Leadbelly is that he was a man of significant integrity. As a stranger to the North, it's unlikely he would have dressed up in overalls unless Lomax told him to. As to how much integrity Lomax pere and Lomax fils had, that's a more complicated and vexing issue, particularly given their penchant for copyrighting their informants' songs. But that's another topic.

Lyle


Offline dj

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #40 on: November 30, 2009, 02:28:20 AM »
Quote
Leadbelly & Big Bill Broonzy both appeared in overalls as a costume. Maybe they had less integrity than the guys you knew?

The late 60s, when Mike was meeting blues musicians in Oakland, was a far different time from the late 40s/early 50s.  I doubt that Leadbelly or Broonzy would have consented to appear in overalls after the civil rights movement had happened.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #41 on: November 30, 2009, 04:01:19 AM »
Buddy Guy in overalls.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #42 on: November 30, 2009, 04:12:56 AM »
Point being that it really didn't matter much then or now if it was seen as helping the artist sell records and make a living. That's beside the more obvious point that overalls as a way of proclaiming one's agrarian roots might actually be something to be proud of, whether or not that was the intent of the Lomaxs. To the left wing audience that Leadbelly , Broonzy, Sonny & Brownie & Josh White played for, celebrating the proletariat was good business. 
The children of that audience became a large part of the audience for the rediscoveries of the sixties and some of the same values persisted.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #43 on: November 30, 2009, 04:24:55 AM »
Leadbelly & Big Bill Broonzy both appeared in overalls as a costume.
BBB wore overalls as part of his job as a janitor (mopper, as he referred to it) at Iowa State University.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: To Schtick Or Not To Schtick...
« Reply #44 on: November 30, 2009, 04:35:52 AM »
True. A good object lesson I guess, about the vagaries of making a living as a Blues musician schtick or no schtick.
Though I'm guessing that was in the late forties and by the early fifties thanks in large part to his European dates he was again able to support himself by music alone, at least thats my impression. Can't wait to see the bio.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

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