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First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please #2966707 01/04/19 01:24 PM
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CaptainUnderpant Offline OP
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The gig will be about 1 - 1.5 hrs during a Valentines dinner at a yacht club (older crowd). Then after dinner my band will play.

My preference is singing sappy ballads, so my style should match the event well. There is a nice piano for me to play and then I just need to mic myself. The room is large, so keeping volume in check for myself will be easy. Later on I will have my keyboard rig that I will use when playing with the band.

My list of potential songs that I have on deck is as follows:

And I Love Her - Beatles
Bridge over troubled water
Dec 63 ( Oh What a Night)
Desperado
Just the way you are - Billy Joel
Follow You follow me - Genesis
Golden Slumber - End - Beatles
Groovin - Rascals
Heaven - Bryan Adams
Hey Jude
Home - Michael Buble
Homeward Bound - Simon & Garfunkel
How Sweet it is - James Taylor
Laughter in the Rain - Neil Sedaka
Lady Madonna
Let it Be
Lonely too long - Rascals
Love at first sight - Styx
More than Anyone - Gavin Degraw
No One is to Blame - Howard Jones
Piano Man
Sorry Seems to be the Hardest words
This train don't stop here anymore - Elton John
Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen
Waiting on the World to Change - John Mayer
Walking in Memphis - Marc Cohn
You are So Beautiful - Joe Cocker
You Never give me your money
Your Song
You've got a friend - James Taylor

ANY suggestions both song wise or general suggestion would be greatly appreciated. I alternate between a sense of calm assurance that I am ready for this and nervous apprehension that I am going to screw it up. To eliminate a complete disaster. My band will be there having dinner and my lead guitarist / singer in the band could always help out with acoustic guitar. So I have an out which I won't need, but I know it is there. This provides me with a sense of calm that I will be providing value.

Thanks in advance, John


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: CaptainUnderpant] #2966710 01/04/19 01:45 PM
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Escape (Pina Colada Song) is a good solo choice and always a crowd pleaser.

I think your list looks pretty good - and diverse.

Last edited by Steve in VA; 01/04/19 01:45 PM.
Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: Steve in VA] #2966715 01/04/19 02:19 PM
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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: Steve in VA] #2966716 01/04/19 02:20 PM
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I'd recommend breaking up the list with a few instrumentals. Otherwise signing for 1.5 hours straight could be tough on the pipes if you're not used to it.


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: Wastrel] #2966733 01/04/19 02:56 PM
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What Wastrel said--even more than a few. Then I'd also skew your list away from the sad songs; maybe one or two at most across the 1.5 hours. (Or make those the instrumentals.) Should be a fun gig. Good luck!


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: MathOfInsects] #2966737 01/04/19 03:16 PM
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Jazz+ Offline
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Don't drink a lot of coffee before the gig, your heart will pound. Take a nap the day of. Play the tunes you feel most comfortable with. You don't need to tailor your repertoire for the event. Don't worry about what you are playing, as long as you show up on time it's all good. Nobody really listens or cares how you play on gigs like this. You are strictly background atmosphere, a pleasant enough mood setter. You can make all the mistakes you wan't and nobody will be bothered but you. Don't let yourself be bothered. Look around and notice that they are all busy talking and drinking and eating. Your individual notes are the last thing on their minds. You are background sound.

Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: Jazz+] #2966739 01/04/19 03:21 PM
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MoodyBluesKeys Offline
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^^^
THIS


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: MoodyBluesKeys] #2966740 01/04/19 03:24 PM
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smile based on my experience of doing hundreds of solo piano background events.

Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: Jazz+] #2966782 01/04/19 05:25 PM
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Well said, Jazz+


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: David Loving] #2966787 01/04/19 05:34 PM
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What Jazz said and those that followed// This is an unalterable truism.

I will add: if you could play like Monty Alexander that might make a difference... but would that difference necessarily be appreciated by all?
My point: They want to talk.. and music is tertiary. This is a perfect gig to get over the jitters.

Last edited by I-missRichardTee; 01/04/19 05:37 PM.

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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: I-missRichardTee] #2966805 01/04/19 07:05 PM
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You will be ignored. Don't take it personally. Don't let it throw you off your game.


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: Adan] #2966808 01/04/19 07:27 PM
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That seems like a solid list. If it's an older crowd you could also chuck in some Great American Songbook tunes if you have them (Cole Porter, Gershwin, stuff like that)....

Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: area51recording] #2966818 01/04/19 07:58 PM
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I remember the story about when the great Mike Lipskin was playing his weekly solo piano gig at the Washington Square Bar and Grill in San Francisco. It’s where The best piano players in the bay area used to play solo piano. Bill Evans dropped in one night. Lipskin said to Evans why don’t you take a turn at the piano. So Bill sat down and played for about 20 minutes and nobody cared. The people never stopped talking. After 20 minutes Evans got up and walked back to Lipskin’s table and said well it’s not really my thing.

Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: Adan] #2966851 01/04/19 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted By: Adan
You will be ignored. Don't take it personally. Don't let it throw you off your game.


Agreed because your song list seems heavy on ballads.
I’ve done these kind of gigs and have played Debussy, Oscar Suites, etc.
Went over like a Reggea Band at a klan rally.

You really need to get their heads bobbing right away by playing grooves.
I don’t sing so I have arrangements where I play Barrel house style with melody doing octaves on the top.

Being ignored is no biggie, you’re getting paid.

I recall the Black American Bowlers Association convention.
This old gal was trying to be our conductor during the introductions where NFL, NBA and prominent businessmen walked the red carpet which was 60 some feet long.
She had us playing this stupid ass graduation song that sounded like hail to the chief, way too white for this crowd. After watching 2 couples struggle their way to the stage unsure if they should march or just hurry the hell up and escape this embarrassing entry I decided enough was enough.
I started playing Benny and the Jets and just stuck to the Piano Intro.
Now they were grooving their way to the stage.

Read the crowd and make your own decision.
But my experience is ballads and arpeggios don’t work.
Even just a groove, no vocals playing the intro to Low Spark Of High heeled Boys works too.

Piano solo performance at the end of Layla is a nice memory for old folks.
Save your voice, give them a groove.

Sailing by Christopher Cross is a ballad but works great at Yacht parties.
The real melody is the FM Piano lick that sounds like a guitar, then the Bridge has a cool piano break too.

Most of all have fun, it wears off on the crowd.
I also advise having a Lava Lamp size Tipping Jar.
Stuff that bastard with 5s and 10s, if they see dollar bills and quarters that’s what you’ll end up with.

Good Luck


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: hardware] #2966886 01/05/19 12:23 AM
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At my very highest paying solo gigs I have learned that they want me to play "slower and softer" so they can talk. You wouldn't believe how soft I can play.

Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: Jazz+] #2966888 01/05/19 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted By: Jazz+
Nobody really listens or cares how you play on gigs like this.

The only time they do is if you're too intrusive. You're preparing as if this was a cocktail /piano bar set. Dinner music is a different sort of thing. Ditch the vocals, play quietly to yourself, and all will be good.

Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: Jazz+] #2966890 01/05/19 12:40 AM
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Sinatra gave our trio -ok not solo piano- a 100 spot ( $100 for the uninitiated ) to pianist.
Agnew and Nixon came to the piano also.. I recall A Nightingale Sang in Barclay or is it Berkley School or Square was a request.
Bob Hope was a crap tipper.
Once in that same NYC clubs mens room, I wanted to help the attendant out.. so even though a bassist is not expected to tip... I intentionally and ceremoniously tipped him at the perfect moment that would embarrass coerce the other pissers to tip and they did!
You embarrass as Babes Gonzales is said to have written in his book, you "get the money".


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: I-missRichardTee] #2966892 01/05/19 01:12 AM
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Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee

Bob Hope was a crap tipper.


Thats a great Song Title there, especially for some indie band to use.

Or maybe a good chapter Title in a book.

Last edited by roygBiv; 01/05/19 01:15 AM.
Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: roygBiv] #2966904 01/05/19 04:04 AM
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OT What exactly is Indie band? It means independent. But independent of what exactly?
It seems to have political overtones as well. I once recorded a few tracks for one here in SD CA.

My apology for interrupting the flow of this thread.. but I see a lot of good advice here.


You don't have ideas, ideas have you
We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement
Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: Bill H.] #2966905 01/05/19 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted By: Bill H.
Originally Posted By: Jazz+
Nobody really listens or cares how you play on gigs like this.

The only time they do is if you're too intrusive. You're preparing as if this was a cocktail /piano bar set. Dinner music is a different sort of thing. Ditch the vocals, play quietly to yourself, and all will be good.


This member seems to consistenty be the voice of wise experience. Yes, ditch vocals, drop too many ballads.
IF a request came in, you likely couldnt do it anyway... just smile and play wallpaper music, as it is called...
I tried this idea today on a gig. RECORD the whole gig. Obviously listen back a few days/ weeks later. It will speak to you; speak about maybe what to modify a bit.


You don't have ideas, ideas have you
We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement
Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: CaptainUnderpant] #2966961 01/05/19 12:54 PM
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Great songlist, and great advice already in the thread.

Originally Posted By: CaptainUnderpant
I alternate between a sense of calm assurance that I am ready for this and nervous apprehension that I am going to screw it up.

Breathe slowly.
Smile.
Look at the people and everything around you.
Sometimes I feel like singing might sound like competing with all the chatter and noise, while instrumental fits better. Go with what you're comfortable with, you'll be fine!


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: bourniplus] #2966985 01/05/19 03:07 PM
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Thank you everyone for the advice. I have often sat down at a coffee shop and played and feel most comfortable when everybody just ignores me. So rather than being upset that people will ignore me, I think this will be the perfect first time gig, and look forward to being ignored.

I think for most of my songs I will have to stick with vocals, as that is what I know. If I where going to play most of these songs without vocals I would probably have to play them differently. I would assume, and yes this is a Question, that I would need to play the melody in the right hand enough to make the song more recognizable. Or voice the chords with the melody on the top note. This currently isn't my style / within my ability level piano wise. I could re-learn some of the songs in this style, but there there isn't enough time.

Thank you everyone for your suggestions / comments, you guys are the best!


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: CaptainUnderpant] #2967007 01/05/19 04:57 PM
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I fully understand your dilemma about voicings, melody with singing as solution.
I would turn the volume down on the singing... just pay close attention to the reactions in the room. Be very ready... on the ready, to turn down, possibly to a barely audible mic level.
How much reverb you choose, may also help. The main point was made previously... we are in wallpaper mode... their conversation is the main thing, not your songs , If competes, no good.
You are dealing with the unknown, as far as setting that mic, and vocal effects level... there is no way to know in advance.
Ere on the side of too low, than too high.
They likely want to talk. But watch reactions, body language.
Maybe someone disagrees with my coming in low profile pov... maybe they know something I do not? Still, be very aware of the musics effect on the room vibe.
You are not the main course.. just a subtle nice touch.

Last edited by I-missRichardTee; 01/05/19 05:03 PM.

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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: CaptainUnderpant] #2967053 01/05/19 08:19 PM
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Better to be asked to turn up the volume than told to turn down.

I subbed a few times for a guy at a nice restaurant playing three hours on Saturday nights. The first time I sang quite a few numbers and decided to just play instrumentals. Singing didn’t seem to fit the setting. Vocals seem to demand that you be listened to and that’s not why you’re there. Singing something like “Bridge Over Troubled Water” really seems like a “performance” and may not fit well. Just my two cents.

Great American Songbook, show tunes, extremely mainstream jazz numbers, etc. seemed to work well. A Beatles fake book came in handy when it was a pre-show crowd for some Beatles-themed symphony pops show at the theater around the corner.

Relax, have fun, bring every fake book you own on the off chance you can oblige a request (and pick up a tip or two!).

Break a leg!

Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: misterdregs] #2967068 01/05/19 09:35 PM
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Your song list looks fine. Lots of great advice on this thread. In my experiences doing this type of gig, sometimes someone is listening. And at a minimum, you’ll be listening. So, play your best!

Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: CaptainUnderpant] #2967075 01/05/19 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted By: CaptainUnderpant
I would assume, and yes this is a Question, that I would need to play the melody in the right hand enough to make the song more recognizable.


I would not do this. If you were accompanying a singer or a horn player, you wouldn’t play the melody with them (unless you want to get a few “looks”). If you’re going to sing, your left hand is the bass player, your right is the rhythm guitar and your voice is the soloist.

Last edited by misterdregs; 01/05/19 10:09 PM.

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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: misterdregs] #2967090 01/05/19 10:47 PM
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I play solo 3 hours at a large hotel restaurant several times a year and am asked often to play during country club and hotel convention banquets, which sounds similar to your event. My one cent: Singing would seem out of place to me for a dinner or banquet atmosphere (as opposed to being solo in the hotel or country club bar/lounge). A broad variety of material always seems appreciated. Think of maintaining low volume and then take it down a notch more (especially if you’ve brought your own rig and more especially if you use something like the SS that has amazing dispersion). I respectfully disagree with those who’ve noted that nobody listens; in my experience, LOTS of people listen - especially if you’re giving it your best effort, it comes through. Folks who’ve appeared to be always in conversation or wholly unengaged in your playing are often the ones who will later surprise you by appreciatively commenting on some of the songs you’ve played. If you can stay loose and enjoy your own playing, that definitely positively translates to your audience. YMMV.


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: rickp] #2967097 01/05/19 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted By: rickp
I play solo 3 hours at a large hotel restaurant several times a year and am asked often to play during country club and hotel convention banquets, which sounds similar to your event. My one cent: Singing would seem out of place to me for a dinner or banquet atmosphere (as opposed to being solo in the hotel or country club bar/lounge). A broad variety of material always seems appreciated. Think of maintaining low volume and then take it down a notch more (especially if you’ve brought your own rig and more especially if you use something like the SS that has amazing dispersion). I respectfully disagree with those who’ve noted that nobody listens; in my experience, LOTS of people listen - especially if you’re giving it your best effort, it comes through. Folks who’ve appeared to be always in conversation or wholly unengaged in your playing are often the ones who will later surprise you by appreciatively commenting on some of the songs you’ve played. If you can stay loose and enjoy your own playing, that definitely positively translates to your audience. YMMV.


There are almost always two or three sides to any story... and I DO wholly agree with your observation about ... 'yes, they are listening, while talking'.
But captain under whatever said it is too late to modify his playing and therefore has to sing.
If I accept that premise, I must say, sing very softly- or have vocal very low. Maybe aim speaker almost away from majority of ears. They will still hear you, but a smaller group will hear you much better.
Ideally, right hand playing melody is the ticket.

This happened to me once only, as a sax player... I had to play so softly that if you had told me, I would not have believed it. Whisper softly.
And once playing piano the sax man had to play very softly. I don't think he got as soft as i did on that other gig.
Now this is an extreme situation as follows: Some of these gigs, perhaps the majority you are wallpaper, but walpaper they are aware of.
But I have played a few gigs where the vibe was serious enough that it seemed to me NO MUSIC would be better and that booking a band was a mistake,, but ceremony or tradition caused us to be there.
So being whisper soft is unlikely but possible, in other words ridiculously soft... not likely, but possible... very serious business types who are very intent focussed, no drinking, no joking joviality. Hopefully that is not gonna happen, I doubt it.

Last edited by I-missRichardTee; 01/05/19 11:13 PM.

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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: I-missRichardTee] #2967106 01/06/19 12:03 AM
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Count me as another not a fan of singing in this context. It really doesn't go with the wallpaper theme. If you have to do if for this gig, then ok, but if you plan on doing this more often, start working on your instrumental renditions.

Yes, some people will listen. But if you're giving advise to a first-timer, you want set their expectations appropriately.

For some reason I always remember playing solo during a wedding dinner and afterwards a guest came up to me and said "I love that you played Pearl of the Quarter by Steely Dan." That's a song I love but don't expect anyone else to know, thrown into these sets as my own guilty pleasure.


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Re: First Time Solo Gig! - Suggestions Please [Re: Adan] #2967568 01/07/19 10:17 PM
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I was going to ask how it went, but noticed it wasn’t until Valentines Day.

Plenty of time to take all of the advice offered up here!

;-)


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