Advice for solo acoustic shows?

Layne Matz

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Im planning on playing some solo acoustic shows locally in the next month or so. Im very nervous, primarily because I havent played solo anywhere besides the street or the bus station. Im also concerned about how long I'll be playing, whether I'll have enough songs and how the crowd will react to no vocals. I dont know how long of a show venues will expect from me, it will just be local bars. Ive been told they pay very well considering the size of the town, but my music is in a very different vein than anyone I've seen or heard of around here. I'll be playing slide almost exclusively
Will be using:
*12 string+single coil: Open C, C#, and B
*6 string dreadnought+humbucker or piezzo: open D, G, C standard, etc.
*6 string closed top acoustic w/humbucker+piezzo and flatwounds: Open G, C, Bm
*classical tuned to standard or drop D

First set would go something like this:
Foggy Mtn Breakdown- Scruggs
Hear the Wind Howl- Kottke
June Bug- Kottke
Too Much Alcohol Medley-Hutto
Born in the Country- Roderick
Available Space- Cooder
Come on in my Kitchen- Johnson
Tennessee Toad- Kottke
7 minute break...

Remember, this would be 100% wothout vocals. I cant play and sing at the same time, each requires too.much attention to detail for me. Almost nothing I play is done to a T, and I've tried to learn to improvise and play songs in the same general ways without playing them exactly the same way each time. A lot of singer songwriters I've met can do very well playing and singing a song about the same way each time but if they tend to struggle to alter their chord progressions or organically improvise. Not all but many, most I'd say. I on the other hand have no problem organically improvising becuase thats almost all I do but I cant sing while doing so. My voice isnt so great to begin with and has had some damage done to it, it requires more attention to keep in key than I can spare while playing solo.

Any advice or information you think I should know or consider before this?
 

DaveInSoCal

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If I were you I would test your material at an open mic or two and see how you are received first. Typically a bar gig books sets, a set is usually 45 minutes with a 15 minute break before the next set. I always plan on 10 songs in a set, this includes some banter as well.

Usually there will be someone who does booking for the bar at the open mic, if they like what you're doing they will possibly offer you a show.

IMO you would be hard pressed to book a bar gig as an unknown musician but your town may work differently that where I am.

Good luck to you!
 

Layne Matz

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If I were you I would test your material at an open mic or two and see how you are received first. Typically a bar gig books sets, a set is usually 45 minutes with a 15 minute break before the next set. I always plan on 10 songs in a set, this includes some banter as well.

Usually there will be someone who does booking for the bar at the open mic, if they like what you're doing they will possibly offer you a show.

IMO you would be hard pressed to book a bar gig as an unknown musician but your town may work differently that where I am.

Good luck to you!
Im not entirely unknown and have played at a couple of these places before fronting a fusion power trio. We dont have a local open mic anymore, not since last fall but either way I'm planning on playing at least 2hrs minimum but I take odd breaks here and there mainly when my tendons and muscles need it. I have tendinitis and fingerpick exclusively. Im just not sure my tendons can hold up high speed solo playing for 4hrs is my main concern, besides the fact that I wont be singing and that might not go over well with some crowds.

There's some significant money to be made locally for musicians that will play late in the evening for the college bar crowds, there are quite a few acoustic country guitarists around here that frequently play and sing. Its that newer kind of radio 'country' though, not like old Hank Williams or Chet Atkins which I love. Anywho, some of these places will welcome anyone willing to play during bar hours but you have to keep a crowd to get paid.

Edit: this is rural alabama after all.
 

ventura

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Im planning on playing some solo acoustic shows locally in the next month or so. Im very nervous, primarily because I havent played solo anywhere besides the street or the bus station. Im also concerned about how long I'll be playing, whether I'll have enough songs and how the crowd will react to no vocals. I dont know how long of a show venues will expect from me, it will just be local bars. Ive been told they pay very well considering the size of the town, but my music is in a very different vein than anyone I've seen or heard of around here. I'll be playing slide almost exclusively
Will be using:
*12 string+single coil: Open C, C#, and B
*6 string dreadnought+humbucker or piezzo: open D, G, C standard, etc.
*6 string closed top acoustic w/humbucker+piezzo and flatwounds: Open G, C, Bm
*classical tuned to standard or drop D

First set would go something like this:
Foggy Mtn Breakdown- Scruggs
Hear the Wind Howl- Kottke
June Bug- Kottke
Too Much Alcohol Medley-Hutto
Born in the Country- Roderick
Available Space- Cooder
Come on in my Kitchen- Johnson
Tennessee Toad- Kottke
7 minute break...

Remember, this would be 100% wothout vocals. I cant play and sing at the same time, each requires too.much attention to detail for me. Almost nothing I play is done to a T, and I've tried to learn to improvise and play songs in the same general ways without playing them exactly the same way each time. A lot of singer songwriters I've met can do very well playing and singing a song about the same way each time but if they tend to struggle to alter their chord progressions or organically improvise. Not all but many, most I'd say. I on the other hand have no problem organically improvising becuase thats almost all I do but I cant sing while doing so. My voice isnt so great to begin with and has had some damage done to it, it requires more attention to keep in key than I can spare while playing solo.

Any advice or information you think I should know or consider before this?
Walk in there like ya own the place. You’re going up without a net. Rock is about the danger. Bring it. Knock ‘em dead, kid.

Folks don’t watch a race to see who wins. They’re there for the crash.:dude:

I’ve heard some of your soundcloud posts. You got this.
 

Layne Matz

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Walk in there like ya own the place. You’re going up without a net. Rock is about the danger. Bring it. Knock ‘em dead, kid.

Folks don’t watch a race to see who wins. They’re there for the crash.:dude:

I’ve heard some of your soundcloud posts. You got this.
Those are the kind of inspiring words I like to hear! Thanks! I'll try to record some video but I'll record audio at the very least-quality wont be great but its better than nothing.

"They watch for the crash" I hadnt thought of that... Great point
 

rotorhead

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My simple method for solo acoustic playing is to dumb down either the playing or the vocals to emphasize the other.

In other words, I'll simply strum or pluck a simplified version of the melody while concentrating on bringing my vocals out. When it's time to shut up and play, that's when I'll play a more full or intricate melody.

It works for me, anyway.
 

NoiseNinja

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A looper pedal might help you improve your performance.

Not only would it allow you to record and then loop rhythm parts for playing leads over, as well as recording and looping lead parts you then can harmonize over, it could also be used to record and then loop whole sections of a song allowing you to concentrate on your singing.

A decent solution for your needs won't even necessarily cost a ton of money.
 

ezypikins

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You'd be amazed at what you can do with a looper or two. Here's KT Tunstall on her first ever TV appearance on the Jools Holland show. She had only about two hours notice for this as another act had cancelled.




She's good. IMHO I'd have rather heard her without the looper.
 


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