Re: [Harp-L] Going Solo?
- To: harp-l <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Going Solo?
- From: John Kerkhoven <solo_danswer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2011 11:59:01 -0400
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> it's easy to tell if the artist is "giving it up." Or if they're "mailing it in." Great instrumentalist, mailing it in, is no fun. Give it up!
I've been busking for a couple of years. The challenge busking is getting anyone's attention at all in a setting where you have only a moment to capture people's attention. I sing and play through a VOX DA5.
I perform solo occasionally at literary events -- unpaid, 10 minutes, small attentive audience. I prepare and treat it more as a mini recital, but try to be relaxed and confident too. No amp on these occasions, no mic. Just harp and voice in a small gallery.
I played a half-hour set solo recently in a bar. A friend was doing a gig there and invited me to kick off the evening. My set went down well. I sang and played into a PA mic. And occasionally played through my VOX. On this occasion I was high energy, and built up the energy through the set. I was sweating by the end of it. Doing THAT for even two hours through a night would be tough.
I want to play more solo. Still developing what I do. One suggestion I got after my bar set was to work more with changing up rhythms because when I do it suddenly (shifting, for instance, all of a sudden to a Bo Diddley beat) there is an element of surprise. That's one way to vary things. I stick to short harp, so I'm not going to introduce much variety (this year) with different harmonicas. Just shifting from PA mic to the VOX is good for a change of dynamic. I want to incorporate my loop pedal in due course. Perhaps a tune or two with no harp at all (e.g., Son House, Don't You Mind People Grinnin' in Your Face). Songs with no voice (e.g., Easy, Marcel et Marcelle). Bluegrass, Cajun and Celtic can add variety but it has to fit with the dynamics of the set in the particular setting, so variety by itself is not always the answer.
Speaking of which, I've been attending old-time and bluegrass jams this year. The bluesman in me seems to be asserting himself more than ever, but those jams and that exposure have been good, even if I can't quite say how.
I keep Keith Dunn in mind when I'm thinking of solo work. Just a man, his voice, his harp and his foot.
I'm working on it, this solo thing.
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