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Future of live music

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Postby threegtrz » July 28th, 2012, 6:42 am

I would like to hear opinions on many audience's love for what I call (cue music) The Playlist from Hell.

How many times do people need to hear "Play That Funky Music", "Brown Eyed Girl", or "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'""? It's like so many live acts (in my area anyway) grabbed a hundred or so songs that they played in bands back in high school, slapped a coat of varnish on their set, and have never changed since. I thought audiences got tired of the same old same old. But last night we saw a group (led by an insufferable ego maniac) that played this kind of stuff - badly - but the women got up and shook their thang like they haven't heard this stuff every five minutes on Classic Rock radio.

If the middle aged set is stuck in the 70s and 80s, and young people are too glued to their mobiles to pick up a guitar, then what is the future of live music?
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Postby Alan Green » July 28th, 2012, 7:17 am

Ah, yes, the Audience's Expectations.

When I play solo, I'm expected to play Cavatina. People ask for it.

When I play with the Big Band, the audience ask for In the Mood - it doesn't matter how old they are, they all think it's "faaaaaaaaantastic " and they ask for it by name.

Audiences want to hear stuff they know, not stuff they have to think about, so you need to have a list of old stuff that they can strut their stuff to even when they're plastered. You can't avoid that stuff. If you want to play all new and all original music you have to start from scratch and build your audience.

There is good news about live music though, I think. I've just finished my second musical in two years at one of the local high schools. This year it was "Little Shop Of Horrors", last year it was "13", and the school never has any difficulty finding cast. And my gigs with the Essex Guitar Orchestra (ages from 13 to 60-something) are always pretty well supported - a sold out crowd of 150 at our last gig.

And at the start of June I performed a World Premiere with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a couple of dozen local kids, including one guy on guitars who'd been playing for less than a month. We played to a sold out crowd of 440 and got a standing ovation.

And I have waiting lists for guitar lessons at three of the Schools where I teach.

I think the future of live music generally (at least, in my bit of the UK) is in good hands.
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Postby fleaaaaaa » July 28th, 2012, 7:34 am

Hey........ I don't know where you are but in the UK there are lots of fantastic bands - Leeds cockpit holds many of the smaller bands as a venue but if you are an originals band then you just have to select the right venues to be spotted and all of those bands started locally - obviously - unless they got label interest before they stepped out of the door.

And yeah....... people love hearing the same old crap again and again - I don't get it either.
together we stand, divided we fall..........
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Postby Diceman » July 28th, 2012, 8:44 am

Resistance is futile ! A band that hopes to continue playing at the same venues has to play what the clientele wants to hear . Some people want to hear those aforementioned songs everytime they go out . If you don't play them they request them . And as soon as the first notes ring out what was an empty dance floor becomes one filled with enthusiastic people .

As hard as it is to stomach playing " Brown-eyed Girl " for the thousandth time you have just done what you were hired to do , which is give the customer what he or she wants . Let's face it , every song in your repertoire has lost that feeling of newness that you initially had when first hearing it and playing it . Such is the life of an entertainer .

As the artist you have to take pride in the fact that not everyone can do what you are doing and many of them would love to be in your place . Besides , I still get a thrill from a well played song being performed to people who genuinely appreciate listening and dancing to it . It's a synergy thing .

Accept it and then you'll have the whole rest of the evening to expand their personal musical favorites with things that might not be on other bands' setlists .
If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .
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Postby notes_norton » July 28th, 2012, 8:49 am

We play memories as much as we play music.

The audience is not comprised of music majors, but people who simply decorate their lives with music. They tend to like the music that they grew up with for the rest of their lives. Only musicians and a very small percentage of the audience constantly crave something new.

But then, I guess that's human nature.

If we hung a Rembrant painting on our wall, would we get tired of looking at it?

How many times can you watch a ball game over and over again, they really are all the same. Same goes for most TV shows.

Many of my favorite foods are still the same as they were when I was young. Both good and bad ones for me (but I don't eat the junk food as much anymore - but I still like it). I never got tired of Pistachio Ice Cream, Beefsteak, Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bars (although I do the sugar-free variety now), coffee with cream and sugar, same for black tea, crispy french fries, fried shrimp, salted nuts, Angus hamburgers, baked ham, macaroni with tomato sauce, and so on.

I played Dvorak's 9th symphony when I was in school, I still love it, along with may pieces by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters, Moody Blues, Bobby Bland, T-Bone Walker. Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, and so many others that I 'discovered' in my youth. Sure I've learned to love new ones, but I haven't tired of the old. Sometimes I put them away for a while, and after I haven't listened them for months, I bring them out again and they are like old friends, or comfort food.

People want comfort food for their ears, and that's why we play memories for them. Sure we can sprinkle in newer adventures for their ears, but most audiences won't let us do that without also giving them some comfort food.

And that's OK with me!

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Postby jwmartin » July 28th, 2012, 2:10 pm

We play some of the cover band "standards" (Mustang Sally :| ), but we try to mix in some not so common songs. The ones that when people hear, they go "oh, man, I haven't heard that song in a while." You gotta remember that we play these songs at practice every week and play them live every time we play and see other musicians complaining about them on forums; but the people in the audience may only go out to catch live music every few months and they haven't heard Mustang Sally since last year.

Personally, I love playing stuff that makes people happy. I love playing Mustang Sally because I play it my own way and it's the song in the set list where I get a little "lead" bass. And if people are dancing or having a good time, I'll play whatever keeps them going.
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Postby TRGuitar » July 28th, 2012, 7:11 pm

I don't play out, but I have no problem at all playing the same songs over and over again. As long as I like them .... :mrgreen: I'll play what people like hearing, even if it doesn't thrill me. It's no skin off my hide. Over in 3 minutes, painless. Play what you like in front of people and if they don't like it, now you have an issue. Play live to entertain others, play when you are alone to entertain yourself, and if the same song can do both? Bonus!
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Postby Alan Green » July 28th, 2012, 11:49 pm

So, what we need to think about now is how to get new songs into the set list so that people react to them in the same way they do to Brown-Eyed Girl.

What turns an ordinary song into a classic?
"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger
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Postby threegtrz » July 29th, 2012, 4:39 am

Well, the other issue here is that every damn band in the area plays this stuff. We want to stand out. Besides, since we're a rockabilly outfit, a lot of these Oldies from Hell would not work on our list.

We're all guys in our 50s, and we figure we have a finite number of years we're going to be able to keep doing this. So we want to do something special and not be just another bar band.

So I guess that means we start from scratch and build an audience slowly and gradually. Wherever we play, we burn the place down; it's getting our feet in the door.
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Postby Diceman » July 29th, 2012, 5:18 am

threegtrz wrote:Well, the other issue here is that every damn band in the area plays this stuff. We want to stand out. Besides, since we're a rockabilly outfit, a lot of these Oldies from Hell would not work on our list.

We're all guys in our 50s, and we figure we have a finite number of years we're going to be able to keep doing this. So we want to do something special and not be just another bar band.

So I guess that means we start from scratch and build an audience slowly and gradually. Wherever we play, we burn the place down; it's getting our feet in the door.
Actually , it's the same thing you said in your first post . You asked for everyone's opinion , received some , and decided to do what you were going to do in the first place . That is your right and good luck with it .
The thing that annoys me about this post is that you seem to think that being " just another bar band " is easy . Well , it's not , especially for a bunch of guys in their fifties . Late nights , drunk patrons and owners , little real money , technical problems , drunk bandmates , late bandmates , barfights , the egomaniac guitarist/bassist/drummer who must be louder than everyone else , etc . , etc . " Just another bar band " is a badge of honor . When you get there maybe you'll understand .
If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .
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Postby threegtrz » July 29th, 2012, 5:35 am

Diceman, I don't want to be misunderstood.

What seems to be happening here is very much in the area I live in. I spent almost a decade just trying to get into bands and running into resistance because I am not from here and didn't date the drummer's or singer's sister. Not to go off on a big personal tangent, but my wife and I have found it very difficult to make friends here because of that same reason despite living here over 20 years.

The "bar bands" here seem very content with coasting through the night musically and showing up for the gig in the same clothes they wore mowing the lawn. They do sub par performances and still get booked to the nines.

If someone wants to do those standards - and care enough to do them well - great. My respect will know no bounds. But if you don't care enough to try; if you're booked all the time but tell me "It ain't because I love it", I gotta call B.S.
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Postby Diceman » July 29th, 2012, 6:59 am

I do love what I play , most of the time . I would say that 90% of the songs I play are songs that I pesonally enjoy playing, or enjoyed playing at one time . Some of them are songs you will find on no other local band's playlist . And some are songs that I never heard anyone else do until my band played them . I'm 53 , old enough to have heard "Play that funky music " when it was new and remember despising it way back then . Having caved in to bandmates' request to add it to the setlist , I can say that there are times that it may have saved a night from being a really bad one . Sometimes it's like pulling teeth to get those first dancers on the floor but once they're there , they stay there . It's like a dentist giving a kid a lollipop . It's not good for him but at least it gets him on the chair .
I hope you can play exactly what you want and play as often as you like , whenever and wherever you want . In my experience , there have to be compromises made just as in all other relationships . Bar owners don't care if you play Twinkle , Twinkle Little Star if it keeps the people in their bar buying drinks . The reality is that you are hired to provide entertainment for their patrons and if you do that they'll have you back . Good luck !
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Postby notes_norton » July 29th, 2012, 10:55 am

I wish I had a million songs like "Old Time Rock And Roll", "Mustang Sally", "Under The Boardwalk", "Margaritiville", "Oh Pretty Woman", "Electric Boogie", and others like it. Why? They always work with the audience.

I don't mind playing any of them - and I play them to the best of my ability and with maximum enthusiasm.

I've been a musician almost all my life (so far) and I'm now officially a Senior Citizen. I've had two day gigs, testing the straight world (always while gigging on the weekends) and neither real job agreed with me.

One of those jobs was a phone installer-repairman. Back when all phones were wired.

One day, I climbed a telephone pole to service a customer. Now climbing telephone poles is unsafe, you are held up by two spikes, perhaps 1/16" each into wood. There are two kinds of phone men, those who have fallen off or slid down a pole, and those who haven't - YET.

Anyway I'm about 18 feet high, below me are 4 chain link fences meeting at the corner, and some metal garbage cans. Nothing you want to land on if you fall (don't even want to think of straddling a fence after the acceleration of gravity has had its effect on me). So I open the terminal and about 200 paper wasps had decided to build their nest in there. Now you can't do anything fast, because if your spikes cut out, the fences are worse than the wasps, so I slowly and carefully climbed down the pole with my heart pounding. Fortunately the wasps didn't figure out it was me who had removed the cover.

Now if someone wants to hear Yakety Sax again, I just think of the wasps. Funny thing is, no matter how many times I've played a song, no matter how resistant I am about playing it again, as soon as the music starts I forget that I didn't want to play it and have a great time playing it in spite of myself.

I enjoy playing "Mustang Sally", "Old Time Rock And Roll", and yes, even "Yakety Sax."

But that's me. Perhaps that is why I make my living playing music.
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Postby Alan Green » July 29th, 2012, 12:21 pm

notes_norton wrote:I wish I had a million songs like "Old Time Rock And Roll", "Mustang Sally", "Under The Boardwalk", "Margaritiville", "Oh Pretty Woman", "Electric Boogie", and others like it. Why? They always work with the audience.


So, how do I get a song released in 2012 to work with an audience? What is that secret ingredient that turns a song into a stayer?
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Postby TRGuitar » July 29th, 2012, 1:05 pm

Before our drummer died, when we had our band going, some people came over who also played to listen to us. They said, "You guys don't play the songs we play, you play the songs we listen too!" For what it's worth my point is along with those songs every band plays (probably because they are easy too) there are songs that people love but not many bands play. When I here a band and they do a song I like and it is one that the other bands aren't playing it is really cool.
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