Friday, 30 December 2011

Game - Set - and Match?

Its been a while..   and over the last few months, I've been a busy bee..   here are again some of my more recent thoughts on the fan-tabulous world of being a self-employed musician...

Festive Frivolities / Yuletide Felicitations...

Making sure your gigs over the festive season go swimmingly well, is reliant, it seems, on two factors.. one, wether you're any good, and two, how well the audience "perceives" you to be "good"..   its fairly common knowledge amongst those of you who read my blogs, that im always eternally grateful for the work I continue to get, from my most loyal of venues, and my ever expanding crowd base, and repertoire from the vast selection of popular rock and pop tracks continues to grow and change, to keep you, and me, interested..

However, there always remains the gritty problem, of choosing the "perfect" setlist for any given festival/event.. and it always leaves me with notepad writing endless song lists in tons of different orders.. 

There is an analogy that I like to use when it comes to playing rock and pop covers week in and week out in venues across Essex and beyond..  and I call it the "chocolate cake shop"..

Picture this.. walking into your local town centre cake shop ( I knew it would be something to do with food :D ) and asking for a chocolate cake...  you know you want a chocolate cake as you've eaten it before, so you come back for the same thing..  because you like it..  theres also a familiarity.. you know what to expect when you take a bite..   its the same for musical tastes..   I've lost count of the amount of times, I've altered my setlist, only to have my regular crowd come and say to me.. what happened to..(insert track) ?!!   

With that being said, I still do like to insert new songs all the time, but keep the setlist pretty much the same throughout, varying the track playlist every gig though..  It works out pretty well..

dangerous things to consider are, for example, playing lots of fast, upbeat rock tracks consistently one after another, with no slow songs in between..  I've seen this escalate in the past with the temperature of the room getting hotter, more alcohol being consumed and fights breaking out! It really does happen, and as a result, I like to do no more than 3 upbeat tracks before doing a mellow one. Stagecraft, some call it, I call it being sensible and taking responibility for the evening to which I've asked to provide entertainment for.

There will always be a healthy, steady stream of classic rock supporters, just as there are football team supporters, and funk worshippers... this will never change, and as long as we're aware of the target audience we are playing for, there shouldn't ever be a problem and most gigs go down great.

So why, do I always find myself, when being booked for a private function, party, or every year at parties for Christmas Eve and New Years, frantically writing new tracks in the studio, (already I have over 160 tracks!), and writing endless setlists in an effort to create the "perfect setlist"?  It really is the holy grail for me...

Sadly, there isn't such thing as a perfect setlist, only, the right entertainer for the specific evening.. I'd be useless playing a gig in an old peoples home, but have gone down a storm at biker festivals.. get the picture ?   This is my new frontier.. to be able to embrace the new WITH the old.. To still play the great classic rock guitar pieces that will forever stand the test of time, but also add the additional "fun/happy" modern track in too..

It may not appeal to everyone, and im extremely sensitive to that (my loyal following take note!x) but in an effort to have a nice long career at this level as a performing rock musician, be it, solo or with any future band I should form.. it will always include the widest range of music possible, stretching my tastes!  

A most notable addition to my set, has been a re-working of mine of a Gloria Jones track called "Tainted Love" ... some, if not all of you, will remember this from the 80's from Soft-Cell's Marc Almond, and as great as that may be, I took my leanings from the original 60's motown track, and punk rocked it up a bit..  look out for it at my gigs, and I'll be making it available as another single release soon too...    It is completely refreshing to do this, and I will be adding more in like this next year..

So, on the Eve before New Years Eve, I write this blog, with complete excitement, antici...pation, and healthy nerves, trying to conjure up the ever elusive crowd pleasing song after song..   can it be done?...  surely it can..  IF everyone knows the tracks..  and how hard can that be?!   lol :D   

Thanks for reading my latest ramble, stay safe, and have a great New Year! X

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