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daddymack

Branching out...

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Competition her has gotten extremely fierce, I have been under-cut more times than I care to admit, and I decided I needed to bring more than my existing act to the table. I already incorporate some comedy, storytelling and zaniness into my act, but a chance meeting with a local showbiz veteran opened my eyes to another skill set I can incorporate...magic. So I am taking magic lessons from that 'veteran', who not only was a concert-level classical guitarist for several decades [part of our joining of minds was both having worked with Christopher Parkening back in the 70s; he sharing the stage, me doing recording and sound], and he also worked at the legendary Hollywood Magic Castle for many years doing 'close work', and I've always enjoyed a good sleight show. I asked him if he could teach me the 'Chinese Rings', and he said 'get some rings and I will teach you that, and more'. So I did, he did, and he has started showing me what would actually be a complete 30-40 minute magic act, which, mixed with the music, would hopefully make me more of a bookable solo.

 

So now I'll need to change my business cards to 'Musgician' ;)

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I am a fan of using undoctored props that can be found lying around, one of my favourites is this.

 

Get a stack of beer mats and then ask your "punter" to place both hands on a table as if playing a piano i.e. With just his fingertips touching the surface, including thumbs.

 

Next place a pair of the mats between each of the fingers and as you do so ask him/her to squeeze their fingers together to hold the pair of mats together.

 

Repeat this until all of the gaps in his fingers are filled with individual pairs of mats... except one of the gaps of finger and thumb and make a big deal of placing an odd one in that gap, in fact make a point of saying that he has a pair or a couple of mats between all his fingers except that odd one.

 

Now move the rest of the original stack away and show that you have nothing concealed in your hands i.e. No skullduggery.

 

Now starting with the first pair of mats remove them and as you pull them from between the fingers place them in two identical equal even piles, continue until he is left with just the "odd" one and ask him to choose one of the piles and subsequently place this "odd" one on, making it an "odd" pile.

 

When he has done this keep your hands well away and ask him to make a karate chop hand and place it between the two piles to stop you cheating in anyway.

 

Now with his hand in place, put both your hands, one on top of each pile and give them a bit of a hocus pocus rub/shake.

 

Now state that you have transferred the odd card through his hand onto the other pile and ask him to remove his karate/barrier hand.

 

Then pick up the pile he put the "odd" card on and quickly count the cards by pulling off a pair and casting them onto the table saying each time, " that's one pair, that's another pair" etc you will find that that s an even pile, now pick up the other pile and do the same thing i.e. That's one pair etc until all you have left is the odd one.

 

Make sure the mats are scattered as you throw them and ensure you scoop them up at the end and put them with the rest of the pile you brought.

 

As with all tricks practice your patter it is important that you never mention the number of mats nor allow them to be counted, just emphasis a pair or a couple and even piles and most of all the odd one.

Edited by steve mac

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Consulting my crystal ball, I see corporate work in your future.

 

Well I'll add, or birthday parties. It all works if it generates work.

Edited by Shaster

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I ran across a magician at a couple of corporate parties I played at. He was making 3 times more than I was as a solo musician. Good luck.

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I'm doing the opposite. Like most musicians in their sixties, I can play lots of songs in lots of unrelated idioms. So can my competition and they mostly do (around a core of 70s or 80s or [when did this happen?] 90s). I won't do that anymore because I'm no better at that than the other players and I'm *not* a good-looking-party-guy.

 

For the past few years I've been concentrating my repertoire toward strictly pre-1950 popular music. And I work very hard at polishing the small number of songs I'll be performing. I have a little bundle of titles that were remakes of earlier hits ("Putting on the Ritz" "At Last" …) in the 50s and 60s in case someone wants that. But I won't generally play the request/stump the band game and I won't generally move out of the niche I'm carving. The people who come out to hear me know what I do (and like it) and many passers-through enjoy something different from the norm.* Especially since I only play songs I think are great or near-great and love to play.

 

There are, of course, clueless patrons who want me to play the Guess Who's "American Woman" because "the 70s were the best!!!!" but I've learned to deflect those gently and with humour. I do myself *no* favours by sticking a third-rate version of "Superstition" into a nice polished set of Hoagy Carmichael et al.

 

The reality is that I don't get as many gigs as I want for the simple reason that I'm shy and don't go knocking on doors like the real pros. But that's another story altogether.

 

* Me to family with teenage daughter: "… and I don't play anything from the 70s…"

teenage daughter "Hooray!!!!!!! Thank you!!!!"

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the takeaway here is that just playing music may not be enough,,,even my comic genius isn't...so by upping the ante, I feel I can make myself different from the competition. It was either this, or juggling...;)

That said, some of these magic bits are going to take ages to master. I'm getting the rings down better daily, I've got the rope trick locked in, but the palming and sleights take time, in front of a mirror...and with my looks, a mirror is low on my list of things when I practice ;)...but apparently a necessary evil.

 

Pogo, your approach is very similar to what I do with my blues and horn bands...work the 'classics', material from 100 years ago is in my solo act, btw, and many tunes from the 30s/40s/50s, a few from the 60s. But a great song is a great song no matter when it was written.

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But a great song is a great song no matter when it was written.

Exactly! My motto is "I play the very best songs I can find and I perform them the best I can."

 

And since I play piano, I'm drawn to songs that were written on the piano. So much fun!

Edited by pogo97

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