Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stepping out and dialing things in

I played my first solo gig in Asheville this past Friday at The Altamont Brewing Co. It was a lot of fun for me and lots of my friends came out to support me and that was really nice. Nothing is worse for a musician than to play for an empty room. This was my third gig with the whole variety show concept. My current solo gig is something I have been specifically cultivating for about a year and a half. Its is pretty amazing to see it start to come together but I'm realizing how much more ambitious it is than I first realized.

During the show I mix up my instrumentation between guitar, banjo, and fiddle. Just trying to get the sound right on all 3 of these instruments is enough of a challenge by itself but to make things even more difficult I also shuffle rhythm on a piece of plywood AND I change tunings on every instrument at least once during the set. Its a lot to manage for one person during a performance. I'm even more in awe of John Hartford (my inspiration for the solo thing) who pulled off his one man show with such style and effortlessness I can only wonder how he did. Of course, sadly, he's not around to ask.

None of this even touches on practicing all this material. I've got about 1 set that I feel I've got at about 90% right now, maybe more depending on the sound. I've still got some work to do to get it closer to 95% or better. How do I get my material dialed in even better? Its a great question and one I'm not quite sure how to answer myself. I've never done anything like this before. So I reckon this blog post is me trying to tell myself how to practice. I mean I'm always going on about how YOU should practice I guess I should take my own advice, huh? So here's my checklist to help me get more dialed in with this crazy solo show I'm putting together.

  • Continue to dial in the sound. Managing all the cables and mics and amps is a bitch.  Things need to be simpler if possible.
  • Practice at home with live sound as much as possible.
  • Eliminate as many tuning changes as possible.
  • Play live as much as possible. It just ain't the same unless you're in front of a crowd.
Hope it helps. (yes I do!)

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