Harmony Central Forums
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

steady as she goes

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse









X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • steady as she goes

    My singing partner and I are trying to build a niche following for ourselves. We've always sung older repertoire and lately it's been getting much older and more specific. For example, a "Great Gatsby" cruise where we'll play music up to but not after 1922. We're finding that people quite like our versions of old (1850 to whenever) songs and we enjoy singing them and I love rooting around looking for nuggets among the gravel. But it's been a long haul and, though we're certainly 'way up from previous years, we're still nowhere near self-sustaining.

    We had a gig last Friday at a riverside restaurant and we did our usual mix of pre-1950 stuff and had a couple of requests for cards. Gananoque is about in the middle of the thousand islands and there are lots of rich summer residents who would like some different and classy entertainment for their parties. Very exciting. We live in a town of 5000 with a seasonal economy and the more you can do in summer, the better. Anyway, it's gratifying that we're finally starting to find an interested audience. We play restaurants and bars but it's not always a perfect fit -- some people come to a pub expecting a certain mix of songs and we don't do that. It's beginning to look like our niche is private parties, era-themed events, and maybe some corporate stuff. And arenas, of course.




    Hi Mom!

  • #2
    well, when you avoid mainstream music, as I do, it is ALL about the niche... finding people who dig your material. I get the same old bleaghhh face from so many people when I say I play in a 'blues band', for instance, but when hey come hear us, and the breadth of material from the 20s to the 70s, the reaction is almost always favorable except with young kids who just don't get it if it isn't angry, misogynistic, and urban.
    I think in many ways eclecticism will never be commercial, simply by its nature, but there has to be more than one horse in the field to make it a race, right?
    "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminent period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'

    Comment


    • #3
      As we started catering to the yacht club, country club, retirement community audiences, we found we no longer fit in the mainstream club or restaurant. It's OK with us as these gigs pay better and have fewer hours. It is quite seasonal though, we work a lot in the winter, and not much in the summer. But everybody in the 'hospitality industry' down here has the same condition.

      Our material isn't as old as yours. When we started doing these kind of gigs we did a lot of "Big Band" tunes, Ellington, Dorsey, Shaw, Miller, etc., but as those people died off and baby boomers came in to fill the niche, we mostly do 50s through mid 70s now mixed with newer songs that the retirement crowd adopted.

      Notes
      Bob "Notes" Norton
      Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
      Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box and add on styles for Microsoft SongSmith
      The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

      Comment


      • #4
        50s & 60s seem to go over better at nursing homes now days. Octagenarians were just kids in the '30s. Having a niche is great if it's marketable. Diane doesn't seem to mind you leaning on her shoulder
        Winner of best guitarist in the house. (my house)!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by pogo97 View Post
          For example, a "Great Gatsby" cruise where we'll play music up to but not after 1922.
          I think they way you've niched yourself is cool, but this is where I get lost a bit. Why the strict rule about dates? Especially dates that no one is left alive to remember? If there was a really good song that fit your style that your audiences would enjoy, would you really not play it because it came out in 1924?

          _________________________________________________
          band websites:
          http://www.JumpStartYourParty.com
          https://www.gigmasters.com/Rock/Jump-Start
          https://www.facebook.com/JumpStartYourParty
          http://www.weddingwire.com/biz/jumps...587fe5f12.html

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Bob Dey View Post
            50s & 60s seem to go over better at nursing homes now days. Octagenarians were just kids in the '30s. Having a niche is great if it's marketable. Diane doesn't seem to mind you leaning on her shoulder
            You're right about the age of the audience. Current octogenarians weren't even born in 1930. We're not really aiming at youthful nostalgia -- no-one left to be nostalgic over this stuff. My interest is in all the excellent and only-dimly-remembered songs that are out there if you're game to dig for them. I remember a lot of these songs but mostly from my parents (both long passed over to the shady side of the river) and also from their revival in the 40s and 50s. Some are now campfire songs or jingles or otherwise repurposed and some are simply forgotten. But there is gold in them there hills. It just takes searching and many hours of sometimes-dreary listening.

            Diane and I have a simple professional relationship and we generally avoid contact. Just wise, I think, given that I'm married (to a woman 25 years Di's junior) with kids. So, no "Snuggled On Your Shoulder" **************** here.
            Hi Mom!

            Comment


            • #7
              You might also consider, with private events, "going all the way". I just saw some friends of mine playing a private event. The theme was the 1920's and all the ladies in the audience had flapper dresses on and the guys were in suits...The band had crisp white shirts, black pants, suspenders and the round dixieland hats. Now, other times, when they play a club or whatever, they wear regular clothes, and then other times they'll wear matching summer shirts.

              So I'm thinking that you might want to have some promo that can plug you into theme parties re: corporate events. In fact, you might even consider providing a packaged theme party yourself, where you network with a local caterer and have a Roaring Twenties themed house party or private event. You could even find a local dance instructor and create a whole fun evening of music, dance lessons, and bathtub gin drinks. You could have two or three packages - an Ice Cream Parlour late 1800's, a 1930's Broadway theme, and your 1920's thing. You wouldn't need a ton of material as it would be more like an event, rather than background music. Find a fake Victrola that plays MP3's for the break music so you don't have to play all night, and/or get a piano student to play some classical music inbetween....

              As I'm writing this, I'm thinking of some theme parties I could do myself.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by guido61 View Post
                I think they way you've niched yourself is cool, but this is where I get lost a bit. Why the strict rule about dates? Especially dates that no one is left alive to remember? If there was a really good song that fit your style that your audiences would enjoy, would you really not play it because it came out in 1924?
                This is a bit of a struggle between Di and I as well. But my figuring is that there's lot's of appropriate material that's within the right time, so why cheat? I understand that only I will actually know if a song could plausibly have been played in 1922 (1899 or 1921 is plausible, 1923 is not) but it's a matter of authenticity. And the easiest way to give the impression of authenticity is to be authentic.

                On the other hand, according to http://thegreatgatsbyreadingmap.blog...era-music.html, the novel "The Great Gatsby" is set specifically in 1922 but has references to the Charleston, which, as far as I can tell, was the rage in 1923. So I guess that makes me a bit of a Virgo.

                Shaster: believe me, we're working toward the more complete theme idea but it takes time and money. Time we've got. We'll do a WWI show in August and Diane has arranged with the playhouse to get era-appropriate clothes. Unfortunately, we're still stuck with using a digital piano and the venue will likely call for a PA, which is inauthentic, but what's a working musician to do? We're getting well-paid for that gig and have discussed bringing in a barbershop quartet to open or maybe a Ukulele player or a dance instructor to lead people in doing the Texas Tommy and Walking the Dog. But it's looking like we'll actually get a percussionist. No modern kit -- it didn't exist -- but the percussionist we're talking to has heard and understood that it will have to be period (not antique, but not anachronistic--no hi hat for example). On the Gatsby cruise, we'll be playing on the upper deck after dinner. For the dinner hour, I've put together a playlist of top recordings from 1917 to 1922 to play through a powered speaker or the boat's PA. No Victrola yet. Some people will certainly dress up and I hope that the food is of the era. Not much to be done about the boat, of course, except to decorate it.
                Hi Mom!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by pogo97 View Post
                  This is a bit of a struggle between Di and I as well. But my figuring is that there's lot's of appropriate material that's within the right time, so why cheat? I understand that only I will actually know if a song could plausibly have been played in 1922 (1899 or 1921 is plausible, 1923 is not) but it's a matter of authenticity. And the easiest way to give the impression of authenticity is to be authentic.
                  Well, at the end of the day the most important thing is to have enough appropriate material that works, so working within your own defined restrictions is probably fine. Then again, if it's causing friction between you and your partner....

                  I'd just ask this question---so why cheat...whom? Only one who knows or cares about the authenticity of the DATE is you. The audience isn't interested in the specific date, they just want that Gatsby experience. And apparently even Fitzgerald understood it was more about setting the mood than being "authentic".

                  I didn't know that about Gatsby and the Charleston. I like that sort of trivia. But, I'm a geek too. I'd probably be the drunk guy at the show giving you a hard time about the dates being wrong! But what I've learned over the years is some things are more important to be authentic about than others. And I don't know if this happens....but if you're playing a Gatsby cruise, and you're not doing The Charleston, which was in the book and the movie version and is one of the few songs from the 20s that anyone still remembers....

                  ....And if anyone is coming up and requesting it and you're turning it down because you're telling them that "actually, The Great Gatsby was set in 1922 and The Charleston came out in 1923 and Fitzgerald got it wrong..."

                  ....well, that just MIGHT be carrying the geek thing just a bit too far....
                  _________________________________________________
                  band websites:
                  http://www.JumpStartYourParty.com
                  https://www.gigmasters.com/Rock/Jump-Start
                  https://www.facebook.com/JumpStartYourParty
                  http://www.weddingwire.com/biz/jumps...587fe5f12.html

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by guido61 View Post
                    ... 1923 and Fitzgerald got it wrong..."

                    ....well, that just MIGHT be carrying the geek thing just a bit too far....
                    We'll do the Charleston. There's authentic and then there's bloody-minded. If they're calling it a Great Gatsby boat cruise and it's mentioned in the book, we'll do it. (We already know it anyway.) But we won't do "Sweet Georgia Brown," even though it's a dandy song that we already do, because it's from 1924. Instead, we'll do something like "Darktown Strutters Ball" which is also a dandy song that we already do and is from 1917. See, easy.
                    Hi Mom!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      That'll probably work. You know your gig better than me. Not trying to tell you what to do. Just offering a perspective.

                      But I know Sweet Georgia Brown just by the title. Everyone knows that song cuz it's the Globetrotter's theme. The other song I didn't know. I had to look it up and still didn't recognize it. But it sounds like a lot of other stuff from the era, so I can imagine it work for you. But I gotta think that SGB would work better simply because it's more recognizable.

                      . Cultural and musical eras rarely adhere to strict dates. There's usually a lot of overlap. And certainly there is overlap in the minds of people decades after the fact. You're there to entertain folks. Not give them a history lesson.
                      _________________________________________________
                      band websites:
                      http://www.JumpStartYourParty.com
                      https://www.gigmasters.com/Rock/Jump-Start
                      https://www.facebook.com/JumpStartYourParty
                      http://www.weddingwire.com/biz/jumps...587fe5f12.html

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pogo97 View Post


                        Shaster: believe me, we're working toward the more complete theme idea but it takes time and money. Time we've got. We'll do a WWI show in August and Diane has arranged with the playhouse to get era-appropriate clothes. Unfortunately, we're still stuck with using a digital piano and the venue will likely call for a PA, which is inauthentic, but what's a working musician to do? We're getting well-paid for that gig and have discussed bringing in a barbershop quartet to open or maybe a Ukulele player or a dance instructor to lead people in doing the Texas Tommy and Walking the Dog. But it's looking like we'll actually get a percussionist. No modern kit -- it didn't exist -- but the percussionist we're talking to has heard and understood that it will have to be period (not antique, but not anachronistic--no hi hat for example). On the Gatsby cruise, we'll be playing on the upper deck after dinner. For the dinner hour, I've put together a playlist of top recordings from 1917 to 1922 to play through a powered speaker or the boat's PA. No Victrola yet. Some people will certainly dress up and I hope that the food is of the era. Not much to be done about the boat, of course, except to decorate it.
                        Sounds good. Funny I was thinking about a ukelele player to augment your show, but thought a piano student might be cheaper.

                        There are a few retro looking pices of gear that might be out by a couple of decades, but can still fit the bill.. Epiphone and Fender are making some retro guitar amps, that might even work for keys in small parties. There's probably other manufacturers as well. However, I know what you mean about money - on the cheap or free is the way to go, if at all possible.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here's our setlist for the Gatsby cruise. Nothing after 1922. Out of curiosity, which songs do you guys know on this list?
                          Alexander's Ragtime Band
                          For Me and My Gal
                          Bill Bailey
                          Frankie and Johnnie
                          Ballin’ the Jack
                          Beautiful Dreamer
                          Some Folks
                          Oh! Susanna
                          Old Folks At Home
                          Camptown Races
                          The Aba Daba Honeymoon
                          They Didn't Believe Me
                          I Ain't Got Nobody
                          Waiting for the Robert E Lee
                          Somebody Stole My Gal
                          I Sent My Wife to the Thousand Isles
                          Walking by the River
                          You Gotta Walk
                          Under the Double Eagle

                          Walkin' The Dog
                          Darktown Strutters Ball
                          K-K-K-Katy
                          Ain't we got fun
                          In The Good Old Summertime
                          Some Of These Days
                          Shine on, Harvest Moon
                          After You Get What You Want, You Don't Want It
                          When Father Papered the Parlour
                          I Belong to Glasgow
                          Yes! We Have No Bananas
                          You Made Me Love You
                          Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)
                          Saint Louis Blues
                          Moonlight Bay
                          I'm Just Wild About Harry
                          Hello! Ma Baby
                          Look for the Silver Lining
                          Hi Mom!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by pogo97 View Post
                            Here's our setlist for the Gatsby cruise. Nothing after 1922. Out of curiosity, which songs do you guys know on this list?
                            Alexander's Ragtime Band
                            For Me and My Gal
                            Bill Bailey
                            Frankie and Johnnie

                            Ballin’ the Jack
                            Beautiful Dreamer
                            Some Folks
                            Oh! Susanna
                            Old Folks At Home
                            Camptown Races

                            The Aba Daba Honeymoon
                            They Didn't Believe Me
                            I Ain't Got Nobody
                            Waiting for the Robert E Lee
                            Somebody Stole My Gal
                            I Sent My Wife to the Thousand Isles
                            Walking by the River
                            You Gotta Walk
                            Under the Double Eagle

                            Walkin' The Dog
                            Darktown Strutters Ball
                            K-K-K-Katy
                            Ain't we got fun
                            In The Good Old Summertime

                            Some Of These Days
                            Shine on, Harvest Moon
                            After You Get What You Want, You Don't Want It
                            When Father Papered the Parlour
                            I Belong to Glasgow
                            Yes! We Have No Bananas
                            You Made Me Love You

                            Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)
                            Saint Louis Blues
                            Moonlight Bay
                            I'm Just Wild About Harry
                            Hello! Ma Baby
                            Look for the Silver Lining
                            Bolded titles are the ones I recognize by the song title. Very possible I'd recognize some of the others if I heard them.

                            Question about "authenticity" though. How likely is it that a band playing for a Gatsby-type crowd in 1922 would be pulling out old Civil War era stuff like Stephen Foster? I guess maybe if they were jazzing it up quite a bit.

                            Saving "Charleston" for the encore?
                            _________________________________________________
                            band websites:
                            http://www.JumpStartYourParty.com
                            https://www.gigmasters.com/Rock/Jump-Start
                            https://www.facebook.com/JumpStartYourParty
                            http://www.weddingwire.com/biz/jumps...587fe5f12.html

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              just a note: You guys are obviously not mathematicians. An octegenarian who is 85 years old would have been born in 1929....so in truth, about half of the octegenarians (85,86,87,88,89) would have been born before 1930...just keepin' it real for ya here...
                              "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminent period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

                              Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'

                              Comment



                              Working...
                              X