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#168002 06/27/06 08:01 PM
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Who has played any Coffee shop gigs? I'm getting ready to start doing some. I'm a little apprehensive 'cause I've never done anything along these lines. I'm doing roughly 80% new material and I have to do like 2 hour shows. Any advice would be appreciated.

Also, what are the regs on doing cover tunes if you're playing for tips in a public venue?

Thanks in advance

ric4music
"Have Guitar Will Travel"

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Hi Ric
there have been so many threads on this topic, try seaching "cover tunes" or just running back through the general and you'll find alot of stuff on this.


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Hey Rookie! Ha ha!
Amazing! Here I was, just like you last year, and two months ago, thinking the same thing about playing coffee houses! I got great advice, so search May of 2005 for dhsongs post in General Forum and find the one or ones on playing out. Read the replies I got.

Aside from all that great advice, just know that when you are having FUN, your listeners will too, good or not so good. It's music! Entertainment! People will look for any reason to clap and to like you. So, try not to be uptight at all, and just let loose all your fun and love for playing and singing. Express the songs, even if not in the best of voice that night or at all. Look at them too. I found that by acknowledging they are there, really makes it great for you and them. Interact with their body launguage/eyes/smiles. Make that place be like it was your home, and they are your guests. Make them feel comfortable. These are things I found made for a great time, and many gave similar advice from their experiences.

Quick summery: Have FUN!!!!!! Don't be a bore by looking down all the time. Pay attention! Mingle with a few words when it seems natural. Be yourself! Unless you're a bore. [Linked Image]

You'll do fine and will see how easy it really is. It's just playing songs that you like and they will most likely like them too!

John


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/default.cfm?bandID=1409522





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Thank's for the replies. I have been playing with a band and now it has kind of dis-manteled itself and I still need to get my songs heard so I figured this would be a good way to do it. I appreciate the advice and I hope no one thinks I'm a bore.



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ric4music
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John, I think you're right. I haven't done the coffeehouse thing, though I have scored myself solo slots in other venues, and the same rules have worked out well.

We have a new coffeehouse that opened a couple of months ago here in town, and last weekend they had somebody in there performing solo, of the "Don't you know him? He's *famous*, man--he's got a CD out" variety. Figured I'd take 'em one of *my* CDs, and one of my "Wanted in 6 states for playing bad country music" business cards, and see what happens. Wouldn't want to do it too regular, but maybe once a month wouldn't be too bad.

And I wouldn't want to do it for two hours. Not only would it be a stretch to fill two hours with music, I think (based on experience) I get on people's nerves before an hour is up; I have likened it to getting beaten over the head with a sledgehammer--you hit (sorry) a point at which it ceases to feel good. If I limit the set to 45 minutes--which I have been trying to do--I can leave 'em wanting more (which is a good way to go).

Joe
www.soundclick.com/bands/7/joewrabek_music.htm

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roxhythe,

I have some of the same concerns as you. 2 hours? I thought they were trying to build up their business [Linked Image] I've been accused of playing music like a convict; behind 8 bars and looking for the key! It will be a strech to keep an audience that long. Maybe I can throw some stand up in there.



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ric4music
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I started playing coffee houses in 1966. Then, they were like bars for kids, a place with no liquor where teenagers and college students could hear live music.

We'd play two forty five minute sets back then. But back then, I'd sit in my bedroom and play and sing for six hours or more, every day. That was my tv and my video games combined. I never even thought it was "practicing." In the summer I couldn't wait to get up and play.

If you are interested in gigs where they want you to play more than two forty five's, long the industry standard, then you need to practice. Even if you aren't, you need to practice. Most people practice riffs and going over the same song, it's a great idea to practice doing 45 minute sets, singing each song all the way through without stopping for mistakes. You might find you already have 3 sets ready (most people think they need more songs to fill an hour than they really do.) Practicing like this is often called "rehearsing."

Now, just wait until you're doing dance gigs. On the weekends, we play the first set for two hours non-stop, take a half hour break, then play for another non-stop hour. At the bars in Chicago, when I was young and foolish, we'd start at 9pm and play until 4am. Of course we'd take long breaks. I'm not telling tales here of walking through the snow 5 miles to school, just letting you know that it can be done.

A little comedy doesn't hurt. Go online and collect a bunch of one-liners and a few long jokes. I used to tell one joke (a long thing with a tongue-twister that is over a hundred years old) that I used to get requests for. They're great when you break a string.

Great that you're doing this, coffee shops can be a lot of fun...the audience is sober and wide awake.

All the Best,
Mike

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You have to practice improvisation. -Art Tatum

Mike Dunbar Music

[This message has been edited by Mike Dunbar (edited 06-28-2006).]


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It's only music.
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Mike,

You are always full of great advice. Thanks a bunch. I do play at home quite a bit and of course I'm always trying to come up with a new song or song idea. My 11 year old son sits in the room with me and trys to play along so that encourages me to play more. Of course I've got the whole band thing going to but we are bluegrass group and they don't want to do a whole lot of country stuff. We do about 4 of my songs so that does give me some exposure as a songwriter. I just want to do the solo coffee shop gig to get the rest of my stuff out there.

Again, thank you for the advice and all. Hopefully the next time I can afford to come to Nashville we can get together and pick a little bit or just have some coffee and talk.

Thanks



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Hi Ric, Are you sure they actually want you to "perform" the 2 hours? I know in my area, they want bodies in there even if they're all musicians. So many times I showed up at the time they told me only to find out I had a 1/2 hr "Feature Slot" or was on last or whenever, amongst several other performers. Are you getting paid for a "feature" , are they "passing the hat" for you as a feature , or splitting it w/all performers and or the house? It would be worth your while to find out. I do enjoy going out to hear other folks , just for fun , but it can get real tiresome or nearly impossible to frequent these , if you are playing music for a living. Let me know what you find out. If nothing else like John said Have Fun!! Sue www.susanlainey.com

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by laineytunes@yahoo.com:
Hi Ric, Are you sure they actually want you to "perform" the 2 hours? I know in my area, they want bodies in there even if they're all musicians. So many times I showed up at the time they told me only to find out I had a 1/2 hr "Feature Slot" or was on last or whenever, amongst several other performers. Are you getting paid for a "feature" , are they "passing the hat" for you as a feature , or splitting it w/all performers and or the house? It would be worth your while to find out. I do enjoy going out to hear other folks , just for fun , but it can get real tiresome or nearly impossible to frequent these , if you are playing music for a living. Let me know what you find out. If nothing else like John said Have Fun!! Sue www.susanlainey.com </font>


They are single performer/small band, 2 hour slots playing for tips. We are allowed to split up the time with a break or breaks in between sets. I just got off the phone with the manager asking those very same questions. She is going to call me tomorrow to let me know what nights she has available. They are also going to get bigger bands in and do the whole cover charge thing. I'm going to give it a shot and just see how it pans out.



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ric4music
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by niteshift:
Good on you man, give it a shot and see what happens.</font>


Thanks for the encouragement niteshift. I need all of that I can get.

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ric4music
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Two hours? A breeze.
I did alot of strictly solo gigs, one downtown on Saturday afternoons/evenings and another at a campground. Both were 4 hour gigs.
The plan was about 45 on and 15 off. That always varied depending on the crowd and the reception. There were times I'd go as much as 2 hours without a break, just because it was happening. Other times I'd take breaks more often and schmooze.
That, schmoozing, is an important part of those solo gigs regardless of the break timing. Be friendly, open and available. Have business cards handy too and a trifold brochure is not bad. Staples and other office supply stores have some neat holders, some that will hold both brochures and cards. Otherwise have both. You might have some giveaway sample CDs too. Everything you can do to promote yourself.

Now, I'm in a situation that is better for me. I mostly do co-gigs with a buddy's band. We usually alternate sets. That gives, essentially, nearly continuous music with only a minute or two to make the change.

Good Luck, and have fun.

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I can and often do a 2 hr set.
Depends on the crowd. I don't like to take a break when anyone who might tip is still there unless I know that they will still be there when I come back on.

The advice about practicing sets is good.

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I'm not worried about material. I've got 33 originals + 5 co-writes (with my brother) and about 15 old traditional/public domain songs that I've rearranged for my style so I believe I'll be good to go in that aspect.

Thanks to all of you for the advice, tips and encouragement. I have to go talk with the manager tonight and set up the dates I want to play.

How is this for an idea; Since I don't have a CD yet I'm going to put a sign-up sheet out with my business cards so those who would like one can give me their mailing info and I can send them the 3 song sampler with details on how to purchase a full 14 song CD, which I am starting to work on now at a local studio.



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Ric, I've done that, and it worked out good.

Joe
www.soundclick.com/bands/7/joewrabek_music.htm

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by roxhythe:
Ric, I've done that, and it worked out good.

Joe
www.soundclick.com/bands/7/joewrabek_music.htm
</font>


Cool. I'm glad there are some people who can help me get og=ff on the right foot.


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ric4music
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If you can, get a small table or "borrow" one from the shop and set up a nice little display with your CDs, business cards, clearly-labelled tip jar [Linked Image], etc. This makes it easier and more inviting for people to look at your info, or drop a buck in the jar if it's sitting right out there. Most importantly, dhsongs hit the nail on the head - have fun!


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I have gotten pretty good responses from taking the time to create a "one sheet" with a bio, contact information, CD informaiton,etc....Some of my best performance opportunites have come from the contacts I made by distributing one sheets and cards.

Another idea: I find it very appealing when an artist gives away a rpomotional item. Sometimes it is a sticker, or a magnet..postcard...I am a painter... I create laminated bookmarks with my origianl artwork and contact information...and give them away at my performances.

Good luck! [Linked Image] [Linked Image]

Emily



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Thanks to all of you for the great suggestions and tips. I have my first gig this Saturday night (July 8th) from 8 to 10 pm. Unfortunately I don't have a CD yet. I am going to put a sign-up sheet out for people to give me there mailing information and I can let them know when I do have one available.

Emily, I liked the idea of the short bio flyer. I'll try to get something tyoed up this evening so I can get them printed up prior to the gig.

Thanks again to all of you for your great ideas and support.



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