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workin' the crowd


eyesore

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hey folks; any of you "get out there" with the crowd? all i do is play [sittin down] and sing .i just can't get a handle on "talkin about nothing " to people i don't know.i play at area hospitals room to room and have no prob striking up a conversation with a patient ;but a whole crowd of people;i don't know what to say....any ideas?thanks!

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I sing (badly)/play solo (keys) at a rehab place. You have one thing in common with your audience, the music/songs you are playing so talk about the music, why you are playing each piece, what it means to you, ask if they have any requests (for next time maybe) etc. If they are joining in in any form, just clapping with the beat, nodding heads, singing along, engage with them them, even it it's only a smile to show that you appreciate their involvement. Don't think of them as strangers, rather friends you don't know yet.

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Learning to work the room takes time and effort. We can tell you a zillion anecdotes*, but it is really up to you, your personality, your wit and your abilities. Some people just seem to have a natural 'entertainer gene', some don't. And every audience is going to be different, so you need to learn to 'read' them to get a frame of reference to engage them...if it was easy, everyone would do it. Having a few innocuous throwaway lines never hurts to break the ice, either.

 

*The old 'imagine them all naked' is one, unless you are playing a nudist colony, in which case, imagine them all dressed...;)

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reading the crowd takes time. experiment. see what works and what dont. there will be many crash and burns on things you try that doesnt work. then there are times you'll have them eating out of your hand.

 

but try to smile, keep good eye contact, and acknowledge the audience so they know you are tuned into them. if you say something, make sure everybody in the room hears it.

 

and if you ignore them, they will do the same to you.

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and sing .i just can't get a handle on "talkin about nothing " to people i don't know.i play at area hospitals room to room and have no prob striking up a conversation with a patient ;but a whole crowd of people;i don't know what to say....any ideas?thanks!

 

 

As others have stated it takes time. You can go out and see other musicians live, or watch videos of famous entertainers for direction, but in the end you have to be yourself.

 

For instance if you're shy, maybe you can talk abuot that. Tell folks that you hope they don't mind if you don't talk much.... tell them you're sometimes at a loss for words (and then just stop talking for a few seconds while you look pained) and then say "you see what I mean". In other words talk about the things that matter to you, but remember, make it short - what matters to you might not matter to everyone else.

 

All the patter and chatter is really just a way to get folks on your side - the music should speak for itself.

 

And when all else fails you can always ask for requests (careful what you wish for though) and see if folks are celebrating anything out there... birthdays, anniversarys, divorces (ba da dum).....

 

BTW many people take what I'll call "talk breaks". They play two or three songs, talk for a bit and then repeat that process.

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Many singers ignore the crowd. no eye contact. They look at the ceiling when they sing. Wont take long before the crowd ignore you!

 

remember....EYE contact!! You have to make them feel like you are singing to them....or at least make the effort that you are interested in them when singing.

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I can tell you one thing not to do...

 

Here's the setup: usual gig at a smallish (>75 person) venue that I've played for years. One of my relatives was in town and came to see me. We have a LONG running joke about midget donkey porn. Don't ask...

 

Anyway I'm doing my usual thing, bantering with the crowd and my relative starts heckling me; so I announce over the PA that he has a fetish for midget donkey porn.

 

I didn't know it...but a little person had come into the bar without me noticing...as soon as the words left my lips I saw him in the back...the whole room goes DEAD SILENT. For the next few songs, it was REALLY uncomfortable.

 

The moral of the story is don't make midget jokes over the PA, ESPECIALLY if there is a midget in the crowd. (It seems so obvious right?)

 

To the OP:

One of the things I like to do is to ask "what do you want to hear?" After about 10 or 20 seconds of people replying...I say "those are all nice suggestions" and it almost always gets a laugh.

 

StunningBabe has it right: eye contact!

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Whenever I sing....I LOOK...as in really LOOK into the eyes of the each person for 2-3 secs at a time and smile to them. They will always smile back at me. This is a proven method to make the audience 'feel' your performance.

 

After the inital 2-3 songs...I will say " Ladies and Gentlemen...I am here to make sure you have a good time. To make you folks happy is what I love doing the most. So please drink more...and let your hair down with me!"

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While I'm getting up the next tune, I'll throw in a little music trivia or personal anecdote about the song. Like who the bass player was on the Joni Mitchell tune, or how old I was when "that record" came out, who else covered the song. Stoopid stuff. If I know someone, I'll say hello to them personally between songs, or thank them by name when they're on their way out. I'll mention what the brew pub's latest new beer is, and I try to use the bartender's name while doing it.

 

The eye contact thing: I need to add more of that. And I need to get my nose out of the charts.

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Whenever I sing....I LOOK...as in really LOOK into the eyes of the each person for 2-3 secs at a time and smile to them. They will always smile back at me. This is a proven method to make the audience 'feel' your performance.


After the inital 2-3 songs...I will say " Ladies and Gentlemen...I am here to make sure you have a good time. To make you folks happy is what I love doing the most. So please drink more...and let your hair down with me!"

 

 

Eye contact is very key. Also key is the time. I agree that 2-3 seconds is good. Anything longer is creepy, if you're a guy.

 

Which is a whole new thread...

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Here, try using some one liners. :)

 

I was in bed with a blind girl last night and she said that I had the biggest penis she had ever laid her hands on. I said "You're pulling my leg."

 

I saw a poor old lady fall over today on the ice!! At least I presume she was poor - she only had $1.20 in her purse.

 

My girlfriend thinks that I'm a stalker. Well, she's not exactly my girlfriend yet.

 

Went for my routine checkup today and everything seemed to be going fine until he stuck his index finger up my butt! Do you think I should change dentists?

 

A wife says to her husband you're always pushing me around and talking behind my back. He says what do you expect? You're in a wheel chair.

 

I was explaining to my wife last night that when you die you get reincarnated but must come back as a different creature. She said she would like to come back as a cow. I said, "You're obviously not listening".

 

The wife has been missing a week now. Police said to prepare for the worst. So, I have been to the thrift shop to get all of her clothes back.

 

At the Senior Citizens Center they had a contest the other day. I lost by one point: The question was: Where do women mostly have curly hair? Apparently the correct answer was Africa!!!

 

One of the other questions that I missed was to name one thing commonly found in cells. It appears that Mexicans is not the correct answer either.

 

There's a new Muslim clothing shop opened in our shopping center, but I've been banned from it after asking to look at some of the new bomber jackets.

 

You can say lots of bad things about pedophiles but at least they drive slowly past schools.

 

A buddy of mine has just told me he's getting it on with his girlfriend and her twin. I said "How can you tell them apart?" He said "Her brother's got a mustache."

 

Just put a deposit down on a brand new Porsche and mentioned it on Facebook. I said, "I can't wait for the new 911 to arrive!" Next thing I know 4,000 Muslims have added me as a friend!!

 

Being a modest man, when I checked into my hotel on a recent trip, I said to the lady at the registration desk, "I hope the porn channel in my room is disabled." To which she replied, "No, it's regular people-porn, you sick bastard.

 

The Red Cross has just knocked at our door and asked if we could help towards the floods in Pakistan . I said we would love to, but our garden hose only reaches the driveway.

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The most important thing is having fun. If you're having fun, the audience will have fun (and vice versa). The next important thing is making eye contact, but only for a few seconds at a time. It's also good to have a few rehearsed lines. I'll usually throw in between songs near the beginning of the gig "Hi, I'm Chip Stewart and I'll be playing some folk, some country, and some originals. This next song is an original called ...". Having a rehearsed interaction with the crowd in the beginning of the gig helps me "get into the zone" so to speak.

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One liners are ok, but if you could figure out some that are more "you" they will go over naturally. I saw some guy playing and on his songbook next to the lyrics he had "tidbits" about the song that he read before playing that song. It was ridiculous and so amature.

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I play a lot of singer/songwriter/alt country type stuff, so I like to scan the room to see who's paying attention and then engage them: something like "How's your evening going tonight? Just out on a date or is it a special occasion?" Or I'll say "Hey, that dinner looks great! What is it? I might want some of that when I'm done." That's enough to break the ice, and then I can say "Here's a song that John Prine wrote. When I saw him live, he said this about that song...." Or I tell the something personal about myself that relates to the song. People like music but they love when the performer reveals something personal about themselves. When I play "Sunday Morning Comin' Down", I'll say something like "I grew up in an alcoholic household. The first time I heard this song it spoke to me, and it was one of the first songs I learned when I started playing guitar at 14 year old." In those moments, I can see half the room stop talking or put down their silverware for a bit and listen. And I usually get great response afterwards. I try to follow it with something upbeat or humorous.

 

A word of caution: Don't do this with every song. I usually play two or 3 songs in a row without stopping. I once saw Michael Martin Murphy and he jabbered so much between songs, sometimes 5 or 6 minutes to set up a 4 minute song, that the crowd started heckling him to shut up and sing. I was embarrassed for him.

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nice c&p, tele...
:rolleyes:

 

dont mind him tele!

 

i think those one liners are absolutely f*ng hilarious!!!

personally if i were in a bar i would love to hear them but youd really have to check the audience first,.

anyway whether i use em or not.. well done!! :) :)

as for the tips going around here... some of these are really useful so. thanks folks ;)

 

 

ive been doing some 2 pce lately with a guy whos at this a long time..

hes kind of built up a patter that he repeats alot.. it works i reckon.

 

but i notice alot of it is based around the confidence that he has tunes that if people ask he can play or t least there is a v good chance.

and it made me realise that that is what is stopping me engaging sometimes.. because im afraid it will lead to some requests which i dont have..

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one thing i do find though. is that when i am engaging well with them. im actually caring less about engaging well with them.. im sort of winging it, talking pure rubbish but not caring, so then they pick up that you dont care and then they start to take it all less seriously too...

its just trying to switch that on as required is now the problem for me...;) its getting there though. !

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Interesting comments about the eye contact, It's something I haven't been too sure about: as I'm playing mostly in small, intimate venues where it's very personal and, as someone said, if you're a guy it's easier to be "creepy" if you hold the gaze too long. I'll try the 2-3 second eye contact at my next gig and see what happens.

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