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Old 01-12-2019, 12:00 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is online now
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Default Preparing for a Gig - or Not

I was out of the country for a few weeks, without any instruments. During this time I got a message from a friend - the band scheduled for our monthly acoustic coffee house concert had to cancel and he needed a replacement act for tonight, which was two days after I returned to the states. Could I cover it? Sure I said. Piece of cake.

I flew home (11 hour flight), got through customs, baggage claim, picked up my car, drove 4 hours home, unpacked, caught up on mail, bills, friends, dogs, did a mess of laundry. By the time that was all done I had about a day to get ready for the gig. I put together a set list of appropriate songs (30), arranged in the right mix (variety of keys, rhythms, tempos, genres, instruments). These were mostly songs I've performed many times over the years plus a few new ones. I skipped one of my standard preparation steps though. I didn't do a practice run through the entire set. During the gig things went ok, but not as smooth and seamless as usual. I went back through my set list when I got home and graded each song. A good amount of A's, B+ and B's but quite a few C and lower due to flubbed lyrics, missed chords and sloppy leads. I did best on complex fingerstyle instrumentals, song I've learned recently (in the past year) and songs I first learned many years (decades) ago and have performed 100's of times. The lowest grades went to songs I learned between 1 and 3 years ago. This reinforces the need for me to take the time to do a "dress rehearsal" every time.

Anyone else have a similar (or completely opposite) experience?
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:39 AM
Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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Personally I put allot of faith in a well crafted set list. It's a buzz kill to be into the first verse of a song and you already know it's the wrong song in the wrong place. There's no place to hide. It can be a great crowd pleaser in another set setting though. I look at the songs in a set list a little like what a DJ does. Set-up, timing and pacing. And not to many ballads.
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Old 01-12-2019, 02:00 PM
The Kid! The Kid! is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Jelly View Post
Personally I put allot of faith in a well crafted set list. It's a buzz kill to be into the first verse of a song and you already know it's the wrong song in the wrong place. There's no place to hide. It can be a great crowd pleaser in another set setting though. I look at the songs in a set list a little like what a DJ does. Set-up, timing and pacing. And not to many ballads.
True. Song choice is everything.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:18 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is online now
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Thanks for your replies guys, but my intent was not to discuss building a set list as much as practicing a set list. Those of us that have learned hundreds of songs have a deep well to draw from, but, it appears I'm the only one who's learned I can't just hit the "play button" in my head on stage and expect to knock out 30 songs back-to-back error-free when I haven't performed some of those songs in a while.
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Old 01-14-2019, 04:41 AM
DoryDavis DoryDavis is online now
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I've always had to practice for shows, even using songs I've played for years. The best is simply running through all the songs, even if I'm comfortable.

But a (close) second best, I've found, is simply practicing, anything, for a while. It helps get the musical brainwaves going, and that seems to help when it comes to playing a specific song at the show, even if not having practiced that particular one.

Not going through the set list, or at least practicing, puts me in a position where the stress builds. Sometimes it goes well anyway. I like to be able to tell myself I was well prepared, even if the set goes a little awry.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:10 AM
rmp rmp is offline
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I tend to get a bit OCD myself.

I've got way more songs than I need to cover a solo gig and I'm always adding, but now it's just tweaking what I've already got for the songs/sets.

I like to time the sets so I know how much time I'm using for each set.

Once I get them where I think I want them I'll do a set or two a day in the time leading up to the bookings.

A day or two before these gigs, I run the entire list, all sets.. By then, I'm dialed in and ready to.
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Old 01-14-2019, 07:25 AM
jafranks jafranks is offline
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I'm nowhere near as accomplished as most of you guys, but have now done a few gigs out. Had a similar scenario several weeks ago, where I couldn't practice as much as usual for several days leading up to a gig. What I came up with was this: I put together a playlist (in the same order as our set list) on my phone, I used every available minute to listen to that playlist in order.

Now we do all cover songs, and try to be as close as we can to the original, so for others this might not work as well. But for me it was a good surrogate to actually practicing.
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:02 AM
LiveMusic LiveMusic is offline
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It takes a lot of work to gig! I agree, I need to practice prior to.
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Old 01-14-2019, 02:06 PM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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Mandobart, I have had similar experiences. About a week before a gig I try to play through everything on my list a couple of times, playing every day. Each pass takes about four hours, including the finger style instrumentals. If there isn't time to do that, then I stick with the more "bomb proof" familiar tunes - the ones I can do in my sleep. Most often I pass out copies of my song list and let the audience call out titles. They get more direct involvement and that saves me the trouble of working up a specific set list.

What I often find is that a song I have been actively learning/working on lately is the one most likely to trip up. But the song I maybe haven't played at all in a couple of years (not on the list) goes flawlessly..... go figure. Short term vs. long term memory is a funny thing.
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Old 01-14-2019, 02:34 PM
Ruppster Ruppster is offline
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Probably not one stock answer for each scenario. I play in a couple different groups made up of some of the same characters. We've been playing together about 30 years. At the start of the gig we'll pick three tunes, based on the venue, event, etc. That gives us a pretty good sense of the mood of the room. While we're playing all of us give some thought to what's working and where we should go.

As we're closing out the third tune someone in the band will mouth what's next and off we go. We kind of go in a circle so everyone gets to participate. The goal is to match audience expectations while giving everyone in the band a chance to call personal favorites that fit the gig.

Not saying this is good or bad, just what this group of old dudes has been doing that seems to work for us.
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Old 01-15-2019, 10:19 AM
dkstott dkstott is offline
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As part of my daily practice, I run through 6-10 songs every day as though it is a gig. Songs are played complete just like at a gig with no stopping for errors, etc..

FWIW- I only play instrumentals

This keeps songs fresh in my mind and fingers AND keeps a quick open mic set list ready whenever I feel the urge to attend one.
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