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  #1  
Old 12-07-2017, 09:14 AM
Blvdnap Blvdnap is offline
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Default Your first gig

When did you know you were ready to play and sing on stage? How did you approach the bar/coffeehouse owner? How long was your first performance? Start with open mic nights? I'm thinking about making the leap, and happy to learn about your experience.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:27 AM
ChrisE ChrisE is online now
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I started playing as a teen and people (family/friends) always seemed to enjoy it. Then I played a few open mics, talent shows, house parties etc. Then I got married and kind of dropped it for about 15 years.

I started back playing at church with the praise band, then some solo open mics, then some weddings, then to steady solo acoustic gigs for the past two summers.

Probably the biggest obstacles are having enough material and getting over the nerves. Just learn a bunch of songs you like and hopefully the audience will like them, too.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:38 AM
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If you have completely zero stage experience in front of an audience of strangers, I would suggest hitting a few open mics just to get an idea of what to expect. If you have friends that gig regularly, see if someone will let you play during their breaks (and let them know you're doing it for free to get your feet wet), to get an idea of what a gig is going to be like. After that you're ready to start approaching venues to discuss booking. Remember when you start booking that you not only represent yourself, but also everyone who performs so set your rates based on what is usual for your area and don't book freebies. Gigging is fun and the extra money is always great. You'll love it.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:43 AM
troystory92 troystory92 is offline
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Friend encouraged me to go to an open mic when I was 17. We were in jazz band together at school and he heard me play and sing. I became hooked. Played open mic every week. And one of the best things I did was I tried to never play a song twice. It was challenging but always kept me learning new songs.

Dropped it when I went to college. Though I never stopped playing and learning songs. After I quit my first job out of college a buddy of mine got me a "tryout" at a bar near my house. Haven't stopped since.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:52 AM
PorkPieGuy PorkPieGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blvdnap View Post
When did you know you were ready to play and sing on stage?
I don't know. The first time I played any sort of solo was playing trumpet at church when I was 13 years old. I was scared to death. I wasn't ready, but I did it anyways. If you are talking about singing and playing guitar by myself, well that came later. I felt I was ready after writing a few songs I wanted to share.

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How did you approach the bar/coffeehouse owner?
I think the first time I did a solo guitar act, I simply asked if I could come play. A phone call or a personal conversation almost always goes better than an email.

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How long was your first performance?
Be prepared - if a coffee shop wants you, you might have to play several long-ish sets. After playing short sets in bands, it was an adjustment for me to go from playing one 30-minute set in a band setting to playing several 45-minute sets by myself.

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Originally Posted by Blvdnap View Post
Start with open mic nights?
Maybe this might be your best shot. Start with 2-3 songs. Also, if you know someone who's already doing this, ask if you can sit in on a song or two just to get a feel for it.

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Originally Posted by Blvdnap View Post
I'm thinking about making the leap, and happy to learn about your experience.
When I was doing the solo guitar thing, I got burned out after a year and a half. Some people do it for years and love it. I much prefer playing with other people.
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:07 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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Someone wise once told me:

"If you don't think you're ready, you're ready. If you think you're ready, you were ready 6 months ago."
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:16 AM
GTRGUY005 GTRGUY005 is offline
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Open mics are a great place to start. They can be very friendly and encouraging to beginners. Where are you located? If you happen to be in the New York City area, I can recommend some.

You can also play for family and friends at parties, holiday get-togethers, etc. It will help get you used to performing in front of people.
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:44 AM
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Start with open mic's. Often, you can jump to a paying gig because the host also books the club or the owners see you and offer you a slot. I've gotten several gigs that way.
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
Someone wise once told me:

"If you don't think you're ready, you're ready. If you think you're ready, you were ready 6 months ago."
This ^^^^!
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:13 PM
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My first gig was in 1978 at a little restaurant in Denton, TX called Pan's Vinyard. Me and another guitarist played jazz standards on 2 acoustic unplugged guitars to about 15 people. I was sweating bullets. But the crowd did not riot and attack us, so we played a few more gigs there.
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:17 PM
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Yes to "Open Mics" and above all, have a good time, remain calm and remember everyone who ever played in front of an audience for the first time was no different than you.
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:21 PM
jseth jseth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
Someone wise once told me:

"If you don't think you're ready, you're ready. If you think you're ready, you were ready 6 months ago."
Perfect, Mr. Beaumont! I believe that some "old guy" mentioned the same thing to me, although it was in the context of making recordings/records...

I was just 18 when I played in a bar/restaurant for the first time... don't recall much of that night, as far as my performance goes... playing through a Shure Vocal Master PA, using high-impedance Shure mics (one for vocal, one on my acoustic guitar)... I remember thinking that I could not hear either my voice or my guitar while I was playing...

When I go to get a gig somewhere now, I do everything I can to talk to the person in charge of booking, FACE-TO-FACE, whenever possible, although nowadays a lot of folks just want to do business via email... I don't have a strong digital "presence" on line, so I work around that as I can.

I find out WHAT the club/bar wants, and if I do that, then I proceed... if they want something that isn't what I do, then I tell them... when I was a kid, I'd just book the gig, saying whatever I had to get the job... and then I'd deal with it when I played there... I don't do that any longer, haven't for a few decades now.

Seems to me that EVERYONE involved is going to be a lot happier this way... reasonably full disclosure...
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:25 PM
zombywoof zombywoof is offline
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It was back in 1966. For us it was a case of more chutzpah than talent. It was a college party thing. We did not even have enough songs. As the night wore on we started digging up any three chord song we knew the lyrics to. That was the first night we ever played "Wipe Out Blues." We truly stunk up the place. But Lawdy was it ever fun.
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:38 PM
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My friend and I played 2 songs at an outdoor large festival in Cannery Row summer of1969. They were looking for acts to soothe the thousand people in the large crowd. Apparently the guitarists was too sick to go on. The name of the band was Rhinoceros and I remember the drummer used a metal milk stool. My friend and I were 14 and camping in Big Sur with his older sisters. They drove us up to Cannery Row for day trip and we wandered the free concert. It was a big stage and PA. Since we had acoustics roped to our back a band rep came up to us and asked if we wanted to play. Next thing I know we were onstage and we played a non-musical "Thrill is Gone" We didn't even hit the 6th back then. WE garnered no applause or rapt listening. We then did either Country Road or something else. Again we were flummoxed and we were replaced by another wandering minstrel that clicked more with the crowd. A young guy with a banjo that was quiet good. Especially in comparison.

But I do have fond memories of that weekend. Looking into the bands van and seeing the sick dude. Looking around the parking lot at hundreds of music loving people, 6' off the ground and amplified. I was playing my 28$ Crown guitar from Woolworths. My friend John, who i played acoustic with everyday in 7th and 8th grade, was playing his 52 000-18. We went to a Catholic school and instead of playing ball at lunch and recess we played guitar to songs we found in The Hit Parader magazine (Lyrics only-we could only figure out the simple ones we heard from our $3 radios and $15 turntables).

But life goes on.... eventually the Rhinoceros guitarists got on stage and they sounded like Canned Heat. I just wish we had tuners back then.

Last edited by tippy5; 12-07-2017 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 12-07-2017, 02:23 PM
tonyo tonyo is offline
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My first "gig" was an open mic at a cafe in New Zealand. I'd been playing for about a year and had a handful of songs I could play from memory. Since that time, about 5 years ago, I've done nearly 50 open mic type of performances.

Each one tells me I need to do more and more.

The first one taught me I need to be able to finger the chords without looking at the fretboard. When I turned my head to look at the fretboard, the directional mic didn't pick up my singing. I remember faking a C chord very badly. Thankfully the audience was kind.

As my playing improved, my nerves got worse. It was because the fancier fingerstyle I started playing was harder to do and with the pressure of playing in front of others I started to make mistakes that weren't happening with the older / easier songs. Initially I didn't have much problem with nerves but when the did finally hit, they were a big challenge to surmount.

That taught me to always start with a slower / older favourite.

Now I try to do an open mic whenever I can, each one helps with my confidence levels and nerves. Some I do quite well (from nerves/confidence point of view), others not so well.

It's well worth doing!
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