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stratmansblues

Upbeat and Solo Acoustic

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I’m told from time to time to play something more upbeat as a solo acoustic act. Wondering what this means? Uplifting or something faster? I play the same material with a drummer in a duo and never get asked to play something more upbeat even if we are playing slow depressing songs.

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well, ask the person asking, not us...;)

Upbeat as in happier, or do they really mean uptempo as in faster?

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People asking this often don't actually know what they're asking for. They are unable to comprehend the beat unless there's someone going thump thump, here's the beat and they are completely deaf to subtlety. "The woman who can't dance says the band can't play."

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An example of what you've been playing and how you play it would help if really want good answers.

 

I had an agent that kept telling me the same thing and I never asked him what he meant. But when I finally saw a video of him doing his solo act I got a better idea of what he meant. By that time he wasn't booking me anymore anyway!

 

I also used to get flack from patrons (and owners) when I played too many slow songs. A couple of more upbeat songs that have worked for me: Crazy little thing called love, Leroy Brown. Songs with a strong rhythm are what I think of for something upbeat.

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I have found that when someone asks that I play something more upbeat, they often mean play something completely different than what I have been playing. So if I'm playing slow Blues, they don't mean play upbeat Blues, they mean play AC/DC or Justin Bieber... whatever the case may be. That's why the above suggestions of asking what the venues mean, is the key. I've had management tell me to turn it up, but they actually just wanted me to change my material. I'v also had buyers tell me to slow things down, but they actually wanted me to turn the volume down. It's always a guessing game.

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Sometimes they just mean louder.

 

I played a yacht club for over 20 years. Some of the patrons don't like it loud so we kept the volume at about 85dba. We were playing upbeat dance music, some rock, some disco, some pop, and the dance floor was full but this one person just kept asking for something upbeat.

 

Nobody was still eating dinner and there was only about an hour to go so I decided to crank up the volume to about 100dba and she was overjoyed.

 

As pogo said, people don't know what they are asking for. Or the way I see it, they don't know how to ask for what they really want.

 

A couple of weeks ago, we were playing a condominium party and the dance floor was full. We played everything from Taking Care Of Business to Blurred LInes to Electric Boogie to Car Wash to Old Time Rock n Roll to Uptown Funk to Wooly Bully to whatever and in between some slow and mid tempo songs. The floor was full all night and some woman came up and asked if we could play some "Dance Music". I asked for song titles, and she couldn't come up with any. I never did figure that one out. I suspect perhaps EDM or Rap. We don't do either, and even if we did, something like that would alienate much of the audience since this condo was for people 50 years old and up.

 

You can't please all the people all of the time.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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an upbeat tune is a faster tune dude. Take it easy, Crazy little thing, What I got, Me and Julio, Jack N Diane, etc etc...MANY MANY acoustic performers play too many slow tunes and I get the comment all the time by patrons and managers that they like me specifically because I play upbeat stuff when appropriate. You do have to read the crowd which in itself is a skill that MOST performers don't possess either.

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It really depends on the audience. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" works almost anywhere I perform it except for instrumental gigs or funerals. "Lay Down Sally" is a fine quick tempo song that most rock or country groups enjoy. "What I Like About You" works well for rock audiences even if they are under 45. 

 

Riley Wilson

www.guitarmadesimpler.com

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