Search This Blog

Friday, February 2, 2018

Setlists - We're not canned

The Shanty Hounds very seldom uses a set list. When we do it's for an organized event, such as The Ramble that we had the honor of playing on New Year's Eve, here in Key West. In that event, we played with the incredible Ramble Band and had rehearsed our songs prior to the event. There it was necessary to have a set list.

With The Shanty Hounds in our normal situations, we have other avenues and other options. We're not canned. To get the ball rolling we have two or three specific songs that we'll almost always start with as an opening number. Think of it as the primer to jump-start the gig. The songs are very different, so while we set up the sound system, we're also getting a feel for the vibe of the place and crowd. One day we'll start with one, tomorrow it may be another.

This isn't something overly intellectual and it's not something we spend time on. There's really no science to it all. It's just plain old seat of the pants.

These opening songs have a kick to them, albeit as aforementioned, completely different styles and moods. The point here is, a band/performer needs to alert the crowd, particularly in a bar, that there's live music starting. After all, the establishment is paying for live music and the introduction song is what states that. At the same time, it's vitally important to be able to augment the atmosphere that already exists, not attempting to change it. Start off in a bar with the wrong atmosphere and by the end of the song people are calling for their checks. You don't want that!

Playing in bars is very different than playing at events, or house concerts. At those events and house concerts, you're playing for people who are there to hear the music. In bars, it's an option. The people can either listen to the music or shoot the breeze with their friends.

A vital note to musicians playing in bars:

Being a musician in a bar, you are hired for one purpose and one purpose only. Your job is a beer/wine/liquor/and food salesperson. That's your job and purpose in the eyes of those who are paying you. In a bar, that's your job. The establishment isn't paying you for your talent, per say, they are paying you to sell their product via attracting and holding a crowd. NEVER forget this.

So, falling into the vibe of the place is essential for the first song. As I say, we don't use a set list. We continue pulling songs off of our song list that fit the vibe of the crowd.

We are very fortunate in that our repertoire is extremely diversified. We play songs by Elton John, The Allman Brothers, Joni Mitchell, The Drifters, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Neville Brothers, The Stones, Kenny Chesney, Otis Reading, The Eagles, T-Bone Walker, Carly Simon, Jimmy Buffett, Little Feat... plus more, in addition to our original Trop Rock music scattered within the mix, which are likewise quite diverse from each other.

So, we have a lot of different alleys to go down. Consequently, every gig is different from the last.

We're not canned.

In our view, live music is a living organism and every performance is its own entity unto itself.

It's alive!

I recall reading an interview with Larry Coryell. For those not familiar with Larry Coryell, Larry has been both a session guitarist, as well as a marvelous artist in his own right. You've heard him on a million recordings of others, but he was the session guitarist. In the interview, Larry was talking about being asked to play on a Steely Dan tour, which would be his first time playing with them in something like twenty years. He was talking about one of the songs he recorded with them years earlier and he asked if they wanted him to play the exact same solo he did on the recording, or if he could just go with what hit him at the moment.

At the moment is what the Shanty Hounds do. Like Larry Coryell's question regarding his solo, every solo I do is different. A solo in a particular song will have elements of a theme, however, every solo is different. Have you ever heard Jerry Garcia, Chic Corea, Dickey Betts, Kieth Jarrett, Warren Haynes, Miles Davis, Derek Trucks play the same exact solo note for note? Of course not. Their music is a living organism.

I recall friends who are big fans of one well-known performer and followed his tour, said every single concert was exactly the same. The first show was exciting, but after that is was akin to hearing the same joke over and over. It was a canned concert.

I recall going to a concert that I felt was just a waste of time. On the way out there were a couple of guys behind me in the packed queue. One said to the other "That was just fantastic! It was just like the record!". I was astonished and turned around and said "That's why it sucked. If I wanted to hear the record I would have stayed home and not spent the $$$ to come, or the time driving back and forth. I was looking for something unique and this was just like canned laughter on a sitcom. It was fake, with no integrity whatsoever." The couple looked at me with a very puzzled look, however, I think I planted a seed.

With the Shanty Hounds, Dani and I have tablets on our mic stands. Predominantly what we're looking at is our song list. As I say, it's all seat of the pants. What we're assessing is what next song fits the gig. The live gig is that living organism. Does it work all the time? No. but that's the beauty and lessons learned. Yes, we're walking the high wire. Most of the time we ace it, to one degree or another. However, when we fall, inevitably we..... laugh! Because we laugh, nine times out of ten..... the crowd laughs along with us! Why? Well, one reason is that we laugh easily and our gigs are very light-hearted. The other reason is that the crowd is an integral part of our live gigs!

And no, The Shanty Hounds don't have a set list. Our gigs are a living being unto themselves.

It works for us

We're not canned.

Join Shanty Hound Nation on Facebook! 


Thank you for reading my blog! 

Please check out my book "Time Traveler - The Oddities and Adventures of a Key West Bartender". Follow Mark Straight's continuing journies and friendships from current Key West, back to historical Key West and elsewhere!

 Order paperback or download here! Paperback comes with a free download!

What people are saying about Time Traveler:

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Have you ever read a book that you would force yourself to put down sometimes because you didn't want it to end ? This is THAT book !! This story sucked me in and I couldn't wait to get back to it so that I could discover what was going to happen next . Chris Rehm writes this so well you are able to feel as if you are standing right there in the story with these characters, seeing what they are seeing and sharing their experiences with them. My only hope is this becomes a series so this fun journey can continue

Also my latest single release "Yeah, A Harbor" available on iTunes! 

Only $.99!!! 

No comments:

Post a Comment