Re: Playing Solo

> A friend of mine who has heard me play with various musicians, offered me a
> gig at a coffee house.  Getting sick of defending musical taste with the
> members of my so-called "band" (see also Lead Guitar Players (Again)), I
> decided that it may be time to start my little solo career.  So I accepted
> the offer.  I'll play for just one hour, I will haul in a lot of cash.  The
> problem is, I'm strapped for solo material.  Not only that, but I know my
> ability is sometimes a bit shakey.   Unlike Madcat or SBW, I don't know if
> my material is diverse and dynamic enough to engage an audience for an
> hour.  I've toyed with some ideas, (harp in a cup, etc.) belted out some
> lyrics, and found myself a stompbox for rhythm.   Last time I did this
> kinda deal, I did a sort of rhythmic breathing/whooping/scat solo that the
> audience seemed to like.  I would also like to do a number where I can
> switch a lot of harps and jump around in different positions.  I might need
> help with that one.  Other than that, I'm pretty strapped as far as ideas.
> I'd like to put together an entertaining show, so's I can start hittin' the
> coffee house circuit.
> Can anyone relay any thoughts or ideas reguarding the topic of Playing
> Solo?  What should I beware of?  Et Cetera. . .

Coffee houses are very forgiving audiences.  Do your best material, tell 
a couple of stupid jokes between numbers, and use all the little gimmicks 
you mentioned above.  As far as a rhythm machine, I've tried both (with 
and without), and tend to think you're better off without it.  However, 
on your first gig, try both.  Also try a tambourine on or under your 
foot, as well as a quarter glued to the sole of your shoe (for foot 
tapping rhythm) and see which works better with your audience.  Save the 
rhythm machine for later in the set.

If you play different positions on the harp, do a tune where you play them
all on a single harp.  I have a couple of tunes I do where I cycle through
all keys on a single harp, and it goes over very well, especially if there
are other harp players in the audience :-)

And when you're done, ALWAYS say "Thank you", even if there's no applause.
If they don't clap, you can say something like "It's OK to clap if you 
like the music", or "My job is to entertain you.  Your job is to enjoy 
the music and clap if you like it."

Get several of your friends to come along and cheer/whistle/applaud 
loudly after each tune.  It worked wonders for Elvis and the Beatles :-)  
Also, tip the waitress and bartender (or??) before you start.  They can 
be a BIG influence over the audience.

And above all, relax.  Coffee houses are very informal, relaxed, and fun 
establishments.  They often have stuff like "poetry reading", so a solo 
harmonica is heavy duty entertainment for them :-)

 --  mike curtis

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