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Lessons I did and did not learn from BWTB


richardmac

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I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

 

I am a solo performing musician who specialized in soft rock and music you don't have to shout over... Elton John's "Your Song" would be the stereotypical thing I play. But people are now booking me to provide music that older people can dance to. I didn't really have many songs in my list that are danceable, but with the economy being what it is, there are tons of places with an older crowd who want to dance. For $150 for three hours, they can either hire a bad band or a good solo musician.

 

So I had to add some danceable tracks from the 50's, 60's and 70's. I came to BWTB and asked what songs I ought to look at, and I did a little searching here myself. Here's a brief list of a few of the songs I learned based on recommendations from here:

 

 

 

Those songs, combined with the staples I already had in my list (like Margaritaville) went over very well. There were people dancing to every song above. But the two songs that really packed the dance floor surprised me - they were Johnny B. Goode and Runaround Sue. It was pretty funny watching 50+ year old women jump up and drag their husbands out to the dance floor as fast as they could like a bunch of high schoolers. And at one point in time a woman asked me to turn UP my sound system. Oh, and I didn't put out a tip jar, but one of the audience members went to the bar, returned with an empty (and dry) pitcher, set it up in front of me, and announced to the room that I had a tip jar.

 

The medley (an idea I got from here) also went over really well.

 

At one point an older woman came up to me during a break if I could play a few slow songs that the older folks could dance to, so I told her I'd be happy to, and after break I played "Just The Way You Are."

 

So thanks, BWTB... the advice I got here paid off.

 

There was one bit of advice that I did NOT follow, and I paid for it. Many bands on here will tell you that for danceable music, you need to keep the music going - you don't want delays between your songs, or the people on the dance floor will start to sit back down, and they they have to get up again, and they don't like that. I had WAAAY to much time between songs last night. I really need to work on that.

 

Also, I didn't have enough material like the list above. So I played some of the stuff I normally play, to fill out the last set, and it did not work at all. Next time I'll have way more songs in that genre than I need. Live and learn.

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Sounds like it's working for you, even though you've got more work to do to get it where you want it. Cool.

 

Maybe I don't get out enough, but I've never seen people dance to a solo keyboard act. I've never considered doing it myself, in part because the cocktail piano stereotype doesn't appeal to me, but maybe this is a different era and I should rethink this.

 

Anybody care to share a video or two?

 

I assume drum tracks and other other "enhancements" are the norm.

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I spent a weekend near Clearwater this summer, and had dinner at a place that catered to that crowd but had a decent number of younger folks (30's and 40's) as well. There was a lady playing piano and singing, with a drum machine as accompaniment, as well as as a bassist/backup singer. In addition to playing the stuff you mentioned , they went back into the '40's and were playing show tunes, etc., and the crowd ate it up, young and old(er). It was interesting to see the universal appeal of live music performed well.

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Sounds like it's working for you, even though you've got more work to do to get it where you want it. Cool.


Maybe I don't get out enough, but I've never seen people dance to a solo keyboard act. I've never considered doing it myself, in part because the cocktail piano stereotype doesn't appeal to me, but maybe this is a different era and I should rethink this.


Anybody care to share a video or two?


I assume drum tracks and other other "enhancements" are the norm.

 

Around here (Tampa) and Orlando, there are solo performers everywhere, and the majority of them use backing tracks. The majority also play guitar. I'm one of the very few who play guitar and piano. Backing tracks go from just a drum machine to having bass, drums, keyboards, strings, horns, you name it. The stereotype you're imaging of a cocktail piano player is way outdated. There are still cocktail piano players but mostly that went out 20 years ago. So yeah, you maybe don't get out enough. :) People definitely dance to solo performing musicians.

 

Solo performers outnumber bands in a lot of tourist cities. The venues like them because they can say they're offering "live music," and they only have to pay in the $100 to $150 range. Solo performers are a good choice for smaller venues where they don't have a big budget, they don't have a stage or room for a full band to set up, and they don't want wicked ass loud music. If you think about it, that describes a whole lot of venues.

 

Lots of band guys are doing a solo thing on the side, because it's easy, you call all the shots, practice when you want, and the money is decent. So when their band isn't booked, they play solo.

 

So the majority of live music entertainment seems to be divided up between DJ's, solo musicians, and Karaoke. For every bar with a band there are 10 other places with a $100 to $150 budget and a DJ or solo guy. Or the dreaded karaoke. Ick.

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