Oh Oh Oh Oh, this is how we jam

This Is How We Jam | Brother Fox

Getting the right gig

There are so many opportunities out there, but which gig should I do?

You may think that every gig is an opportunity and you are right. Every gig has the potential be great and the provide many fantastic experiences and make some cash to keep new strings on your guitar.

Actually, while we are talking guitar strings, I was at a music conference attending a guitar workshop and the guitarist running the session asked everyone, “Put your hands up if you have changed your guitar string in the last five years” and nearly everyone put their hands up. Then he asked who had changed their strings on their guitar in the last three years and half the hands went down. By the time he got to the last two months there was only three of us left with our hands still up. Although it was funny to find that most people don’t change their string more than once a year if that, it does highlight that if you are serious about what you are doing, you need to take pride in what you do. Look after your gear, make sure that at every gig you present yourself at your best. This means your guitar strings sound bright and nearly new.

Getting the right gear

In some situations you may have to provide your own sound system. Keep it really simple.

Here is what you will need.

  • Two speakers: Twelve inch powered speakers.
  • A monitor (speaker):  This is so you can hear yourself. A twelve inch powered speaker is fine.
  • Mixer:  A small four channel mixer is perfect
  • Microphone Stand
  • Microphone (Shure SM58 or similar) is suitable
  • Microphone lead
  • Guitar lead or keyboard lead

This is the minimum setup to do a small show.

The cost of this equipment is typically from  $2,000AUD or more.

 This is why I highly recommend that for your first performances, use an open mic night where the equipment is provided for you and you don’t have to buy, setup or operate the equipment.

The end of this chapter includes a link to current suitable sound systems and equipment.

Choosing your songs

As you are going to play original songs that you wrote, you would expect that not everyone knows your new original songs yet. So it is important that you play a mix of original and cover songs. But don’t try to make your covers sound like the originals. Make them your own. Add your personal style, slant, flavour and personality to the cover songs.

The gig formula

Choosing the songs you play and the order that you play them is extremely important. Infact there is a bit of a secret to choosing the right set list. A set list is the list of songs that you will play during your performance. Usually a gig is divided into ‘sets’. This could be two 45 minute sets or three 60 minute sets depending on the venue and the requirements of the gig.

The secret formula can be found by looking at all the major bands you have seen perform. The process is quite simple. Start of with a few energetic songs, break down to quieter, intimate songs in the middle, then finish with some strong, high energy songs. The psychology is relatively simple. PEople want to be wowed at the start, then made to feel comfortable and personal but you want them to really want to come back to a another gig. So you end on a high so that they are buzzing with energy at the end. Simple, but effective.

Aftermath

After the gig is over. Hopefully everything went really well and you can celebrate a job well done and get some well earned sleep.

But, if things didn’t quite happen how you planned. Don’t let yourself be disappointed if the numbers were low, or if the gear failed or any number of things went wrong. This is your opportunity to learn from those problems. Take a few days to let things get into perspective and then work out what you can do better next time. Take a deep breath and jump in for the next round. It’s a lot of fun.

Checklist

  • Prepare a selection of songs
  • Add some cover songs that you love to play
  • Find ten friends that can bring a friend each to your gig
  • Find a venue that suits the people you will be inviting to the gig
  • Organise the gig
  • Promote, promote, promote

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