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Ben,

At the beginning of many careers similar things happen. But like I have said a lot of time, that only goes so far and even that takes on a life of it's own.

In the 1940's there was an agent out of New York City that paid a bunch of women to go to a Saturday Matinee show to scream and faint for a new big band singer he was promoting. Several women went to the show and started the screaming and fainting. What happened was a chain reaction with almost every woman in the place, who actually DID faint and scream and fall out in the aisles. That is how Frank Sinatra got his start.

There are publicity stunts, give aways, special fan deals, etc. It is in every business, from the "free samples" in the grocery store, to product coupons and ladies nights in some bar. That is simply advertising.

But in the life of every product, every singer, actor, person who is doing something that is judged by their response from the public, they must take on a life of their own. It is about marketing and packaging. But you can't sell garbage for very long. There may be a "flash in the pan" effect. Those do happen. Longevity is something altogether different.

I may be wrong but in regard to Garth and I believe Taylor those are going to be around for a while. It is much more than just a flash in the pan.

As to the topic of this forum, and I am as guilty as anyone else here for getting it off subject, I believe that Polly has an opportunity to do something that can benefit her and others well. I hope she can find a way to make it work for her. The other topics we have on these pages all represent that with the right attitude, work ethic, and proper follow through, there are great things you can do. That is what I hope she sees.

MAB

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Sorry to get off subject, but I wanted to share that experience. I always respected Garth and never believed that he was directly involved. That's why I asked the question "What would Garth think"? I didn't like the answer that I got.

Back to the Open Mike show.

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Yeah, those kind of people are $5-$6.00 an hour workers who are ther just to do their little work. They don't care much about anything else. Does make the artist look bad. They are usually done by "special promotion" services. They sell or givaway blocks of tickets for events. Usually in conjunction with radio or promotion companies.

You will find the same things when radio stations giveaways their promotional tickets, hats, t-shirts, koozies, etc. It is a way to engineer interest in something that is already in play.

Just all part of the game we call the music business.

MAB

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I agree with what you say Marc....the difference nowadays between flash in the pan and long lasting is that they do not need or sometimes want anything to last...there are so many ten a penny replacements waiting in the wings. We are a society where disposable music is the accepted norm. It is like a fashion trend that changes almost weekly.....I wonder what the next fashion will be when people get tired of using autotune as a special effect. Maybe we will go back to the tunable electronic disco drum sound of the eighties or the dreaded 15 minute guitar solo of the seventies. It is sad when engineers are making the popular sounds and not the so called performers.

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Jim,

I'm with you. What will be the next big thing. Makes me sad about a lot of things also.

MAB

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Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
... or the dreaded 15 minute guitar solo of the seventies.


Aww, come on. I was in a band that once played an extended version of "Freebird" for an entire set. Are you saying we weren't cool? frown


Kevin Edward Rose
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Is that because you could not play anything else?......You could have picked a better song to play for a whole set....jeez some people have no taste. LOL

We used to play Gimme some lovin as a last song and it lasted for upwards of 20mins. Admittedly we brought in other songs as part of a medley.....Smoke on the water...Born to be wild....shakin all over....etc etc whatever the mood brought and it was never the same twice.
Ah those were the days!!!!!

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Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
Is that because you could not play anything else?


No, it was because it was a small town in Indiana in the early eighties and I'm pretty sure there was a law on the books requiring all bands to play it. whistle

One night we did a 50 minute version of it. We thought it was hilarious. I'm not so sure the audience agreed.

Come to think of it, that alone is reason enough for Polly to have strict time limits for each performer. (See how I brought this back to the original topic?)


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If hijacking a thread was a crime, I'd be "Polly the Pirate"...I do it (almost) every time!

Thanks Kevin for bringing her back around. smile


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Marc, I appreciate the information on Taylor. I greatly admire her. She has worked so hard. It seems to me that she deserves her success. I often think of her when I am writing songs. I also think of her when Justice and I are trying to figure out what to do to promote her.

(and I personally don't think you ever "rant" - quite the opposite - your comments are always very thoughtful.


Tom


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Marc, I also appreciate your advice on how to approach the performance and back up band. KISS is always good advice.

Tom


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Hey guys,

They are actually interelated topics. One of the things Taylor Swift did was a lot of writers nights when she was getting out. There are a lot of young people out there trying to make their way now and writer's nights are one of the ways we get a chance to meet and see them before anyone else does. If it is in a resturant bar, they can usually come in with their parents/guardian.

If there were more opportunities like that we might not have quite so many "Karaoke cowboys and cowgirls" who are so fly by night. It is a way to build character and talent. And opportunity to build fan base and potential co-writers. They also give them a chance to build their skills in everything from performing, networking, and the types of sons you need to be working on. So I am a big believer in them if they are done right.

From the other side, it is a way for older writers (anyone over thirty in this day and age) to hook up with younger artists and possibly interact and write with them, get to know them and possibly get in on the ground floor. That is the main way into the business now.

And it teaches us all things. When you sit in a night with 15-30 people playing songs, it gives you new appreciation for what works and what doesn't. When you hear two dozen ballads, "angry chick singer songs", depressing "poor, poor, pitiful me" songs, "wagging the finger in your face, preachy songs", you get a sense for what the industry goes through and makes you be tighter in your own efforts. You learn to avoid a lot of the things that will get you rejected in a publisher appointment, or just makes your overall approach better.

Tom, your efforts with Justice, could speak to this. Imagine if you were starting to step out and performing at some different events in different towns. And there was a writer's night that was well attended that you could drop by one night, have her do three songs and set the world on fire. Right off the bat you have a chance to build new fans and the chance for her to get her "sea legs" in that town. It would take the edge off of the next day's "major performance" and might lead to some requests at local radio stations, etc. If you were doing a "paid performance" in another club, it might mean the difference in an empty room and 20 or 25 people out there supporting you and her.

So there are a lot of reasons to do them and utilize them.

Builds relationships with other writers.
Makes you look very deeply at your own material.
Gets everyone interested in observing some guidelines.
Helps a local business.
Helping launch and define careers.
Forces you to write consistantly new material.
Helps build your chops performance wise and political wise.
Potential for new artist's ground floors.
Weeds out problem and weaker writers.
Helps build fan base.
Focuses time lines on and off stage.
Develops a different kind of entertainment for general fans.
Can be a forum for charities, community involvement.

All of these and more, are reasons to do them and do them right.

MAB

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Makes a lot of sense Marc. Thanks.

Tom


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Tom,

I would keep the band as small as possible and relate it to the size of your audience and budget. For anything under about 300 people, you could get away with a couple of guys, guitar and keyboard or bass player, to play and sing back up harmonies. This is going to cover about anything you will do.
At 500 or more I would suggest using a full band but I would avoid the drums until a last minute. The reason is that if you are focusing on vocals and attitude, drums can crowd that out in smaller events.
You are looking to pay about $125-$150 per member per show and probably $25-$50 for rehersal. Will probably need two rehearsals.
In Nashville it is customary to use guys that need no rehearsal. They read Nashville number charts, and with a little description of the song, can nail it pretty much every time never having heard it.
If you are using locals, the more inexperienced, the more rehearsal you need. Be careful of using "friend of a friend" guys. They rarely are up to snuff. Get the best you can find.

Justice should:

KNOW HER KEYS! Always. This is the biggest mistake and takes more time than anything else from female singers. Here's a joke:
Q: How do you know a chick singer is at your front door?
A" She doesn't have the key and doesn't know when to come in.

Make sure she is prepared. it is always different in front of audiences and all people tend to freak out. Remember the big who a ha every one was dealing with over Taylor Swift missing a few notes with Stevie Nicks on the Grammys?" Would freak out anyone and when you are talking about a 12-15 year old kid, get ready for it and be ready to provide a shoulder for them to cry on when they wank a note.

Have her perform as much as you can get around and get some musicians who believe in her and will support her.

Keep the song list tight and eliminate dead air. Don't let her talk to much because it generally just sounds silly. Keep all talking to a minimum and get right to the point of the song. Let the music do the work.


That should keep you busy for a while.

MAB

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Have fun.....but remember the audience wants to have fun as well.

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The more the audience drinks...the better we all sound! smile Hell, the more I drink, the better everyone sounds!

I'm pretty good with banter in between songs, but I don't let it go too long. Just enough for the audience to think I'm adorable (LOL) and connect on a human level with me. I think that's important...to know how much banter, how to do it, and when to STOP IT! You don't want their eyes to glaze over.

Last edited by Polly Hager; 04/09/10 11:07 PM.

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Polly.

I've hosted open mics for years. In Chicago, at the Saddle Club and at the Single File. In Nashville at Douglas Corner, Joe's Village Inn, Bogey's, Joey Wayne's, Mack's, the Antioch Grill, the Five Spot, six places whose name I can't remember, and for two years as one of the hosts for "The World's Largest Writer's Night" held by NSAI.

You've got good suggestions here. The single best thing we ever did was to have a drawing. Put all the players names in a hat and toward the end of the night draw one name and give them twenty bucks. If that person is not there, put the twenty back in the pot and next week they get forty and so on. That keeps them there all night and keeps them coming back. Check with your local laws on this.


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Originally Posted by Polly Hager

I'm pretty good with banter in between songs, but I don't let it go too long. Just enough for the audience to think I'm adorable (LOL)


LOL!!! laugh I like that!!!

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I used to go to open mike nights at a local coffee house. The host was awful. He played all Neil Young songs and distorted his voice to sound like Neil.

I didn't write my own songs at the time, but got up and fingerpicked an instrumental (Doc's Guitar), did a Paul Simon song (Kathey's Song), and a John Prine song (Clocks And Spoons). All 15 people in the audience loved it. I played all 3 songs in my own style and didn't try to imitate the original.

Writers nights are different. I play humorous songs to get the audience laughing. That's the way to go. The old Beatnik days are over, as Marc says or I take what he means is to be lighthearted and funny. Don't bum people out with soliloquies and boring poetry. That can make your coffee cold pretty quick.

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Ben,

That is exactly what I mean. You have to put yourself in the surroundings of everything else that is going on. On a typical writers night in Nashville, there will be thirty writers playing an average of three songs each. That is 90 songs. Out of those 70 of them will be ballads, VERY depressing, finger pointing "Why don't you care about MY ISSUE!!!IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT BECAUSE YOU DON'T CARE" songs, cliched "heart and apart, eyes and realize, true and blue" songs, cowboy,angels, Heaven Hell, trucks, Nashville, etc. everything predictable you can imagine and people taking themselves WAY TOO SERIOUSLY!

There is usually a feature, who has a few hits or just a more accomplished writer, who will have 6-7 songs that are pretty commercial, there will be 6 or 7 songs that will get and keep your attention and out of the night two that really keep you engrossed.

If you ever have something humerous or with a little spirit, you should always use that. Especially if you are a positive, because all those other songs are negative.

Now if you extrapolate that among the actual people writing, pitching, recording songs in this town alone, you get hundreds and thousands that are like that. Just a few that stand out. If someone stands out, even if they don't have THE song, it intriques you enough to want to know what else they have. That is how a career is built.

So again, my advice to Polly on this whole experiment of writers or open mic is to use it as a "labaratory" and test her own material and find new people to work with, network, interact with. If nothing else, if you are the spark plug of the night, you are always going to attract a higher level of songs, writers and artists. And in the end, that is the key.

MAB

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I actually wonder how many people will play original material vs. covers on an open mic night in Cincinnati? We have a small original music scene, but a huge part of the music scene is cover bands. I think our open mics will most likely be a mixture of people doing covers on acoustic and some people actually playing originals. I'd like to do a bit of both. Dave and I are covering stuff from Robert Plant and Allison Krauss's cd, "Raising Sand" (beautiful stuff) and some Gillian Welch with David Rawlings as well. It's not stuff the audience is likely to be familiar with, but we didn't write it.

Then, there are some songs I've written that we'll do as well. Throw in a few popular covers that people will enjoy, and I think that's a perfect formula. Unfortunately, around here, people's eyes glaze over at originals. It's a shame, and I'd actually like the original scene to expand from one itty bitty part of Cincinnati known as "Northside" where psuedo hippies and alternative folks hang out, to parts of town like mine, which, unfortunately right now, are pretty redneck.

I think in the beginning we'll encourage everybody, cover people and original people. There are always a bunch of people, just like at karaoke, who really have talent but don't believe in themselves enough to perform, even though they REALLY want to! Giving them a nurturing, supportive environment (like karaoke folks do for eachother) would really bring back repeat business, I think.


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Posts: 5,427
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Polly,

As always it is going to be up to you what your night turns into. I can only go on personal experience. From what I saw in my five years up there, the guys who did those continuous writer's nights had too many writers and not enough time to get them all in every time the doors were open. In my opinion there are a lot of local original musicians up there, but again, you have to make it interesting enough to keep regular people in there.

If you do covers, that is fine but it is really not the same night. You might just call it "talent night" or "open stage night" which would be more appropriate. What I have seen of those kinds of nights, is they end up as more of the Karaoke nights.

But you will have to feel out the climate around you and what you can create. As I have said, the host determines what kind of show it is. As always, good luck.

MAB

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 4,389
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Top 100 Poster
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 4,389
Guess what Polly? I'm now hosting open mic night at Mama Vita's the 2nd and 4th mondays of each month. I'll be there the 10th and 24th this month. Come on out!


bc
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