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 Clueless in Monterey
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Kiwini
Lokahi

USA
203 Posts

Posted - 11/29/2005 :  11:09:10 PM  Show Profile
Someone overheard me playing, at an infusion clinic of all places, loved the sound, said that it is the kind of background music he wants "live" in his soon to open restaurant. He is highly motivated and he asked me if I would consider playing at his restaurant(no specifics yet).

Being that I've never been asked this before, and because my jaw was on the floor, I couldn't answer him. So.....what do I do? What are my concerns? Where do I go from here? Any suggestions? I'm all ears!

Mahalo,
Clueless Kiwini

n/a
deleted

50 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2005 :  07:48:06 AM  Show Profile
Kiwini,

Go for it! I've jumped up and played a song or two at winemaker dinners (at the end of the night when everybody's drunk) but found that I lose my place a lot in front of people, even if I have it wired at home practicing.

It helps to go when nobody's there and set your sound.
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RobO
Akahai

USA
97 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2005 :  10:42:18 AM  Show Profile
Hey Kiwini...good for you. Good luck and hope you have fun.

a hui hou... Rob
"Lawe i ka ma'alea a ku'ono'ono"
Translation: Acquire skill and make it deep
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Leonard
Lokahi

USA
124 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2005 :  10:46:20 AM  Show Profile  Visit Leonard's Homepage
Every performer will have a different take on this, but here's some advice that I've commonly heard and that makes sense:
Practice at home with the same equipment setup you will use at the venue - if you're miking your voice, do it at home so you get used to the sound of your voice being amplified and you get used to using the mike distance to control balance with your guitar. There will be lots of new things to worry about when you first start performing in public, so the more that you've done before (mics, song order, etc.) the better. People often recommend that you practice your set in the same order at home, so that you get used to the progression of pieces, retuning, etc. This may also be helpful if you find that you need a break mid-set for a tired hand or a parched throat - you can find some of that out at home by doing the whole set complete, in order. And I think you should decide on the order of songs in your set before you show up at the restaurant. I know some people can just act like it's their living room and make it all up as they go along, but unless you have that great, unique personality or tons of experience, I suggest that you choose the pieces to get some variety of tempo, mood, voice vs instrumental, key (although tunings will enter into this). You also may want to prepare some things to say about the pieces, although I don't recommend memorizing anything like that, but just to have some idea of the comments you may want to make to the crowd. I usually go over this in my mind so I know the high points, but I make the actual comments off-the-cuff. Sometimes you just launch into the piece and talk about it after; sometimes it helps to introduce the piece with some background to help the listeners appreciate the music. But I think it can be helpful for you to decide which you'll do with each particular piece. Probably more than you wanted to hear, but it was fun to think this through. Most of all, preparation allows you to relax and have a good time, which will come across to the audience. Have fun. LRR

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. M. Gandhi
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`Ilio Nui
`Olu`olu

USA
826 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2005 :  3:43:27 PM  Show Profile
Steve,

Go for it bruddah. All of Leonards comments are valid. In addition, realise that it's a restaurant, not a concert. These people come to eat and talk to each other. Every once in a while they really listen to you; especially AT THE BEGINNING of your set. I suggest you start off with something that you play very well and gets your nerves and chops under control. Then play a couple off your "A" list. After that, size up the crowd. A few will still be focused on you, but not many. This becomes a great time to practice. Quite often I'll just noodle "turn arounds" as nahe nahe as I can. It's also a good ego tamer. Yes your the performer, but the world isn't centered around you. Take a guitar down to your favorite coffee shop and sit down and play. It'll give you an idea of how to play a crowd.

I'm proud of you brah! I've heard you play a few times and you can handle it.

Enjoy,

Dog
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thumbstruck
Ha`aha`a

USA
1942 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2005 :  4:32:16 PM  Show Profile
No get discouraged if people talk like you're not there. At a restaurant, the musician helps to develope atmosphere so the clientele feels comfortable. If they feel relaxed and enjoy the meal, part of the blame is on the musician. Keep a tip jar prominantly displayed. You'll be surprised how folks listen out of the corner of thier ear. Just have fun.
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Kiwini
Lokahi

USA
203 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2005 :  6:37:00 PM  Show Profile
Auwe!!! Mahalo! What a treasure box full of great advice! Thanks for all your generosity and all your support.

Feels like Christmas around here!

Speaking of which, I really don't mind playing for free. After all, I'm the one getting a thrill and the benefit out of the experience, but I know that's not the reality of how things work. At some point I'll have to address the issue of negotiating? How does that all work? What are the considerations/ramifications. What's too little, what's too much? I like the tip jar thing, Thumbs.

Mahalo,
Steve
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RJS
Ha`aha`a

1635 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2005 :  7:08:00 PM  Show Profile
Everyone else's comments are great and well made
As to fees - I worked out a deal with the owner of the place I play by which I'm guaranteed a minimum plus dinner off the menu, my choice. Tip jars are up. They make up the difference to the minimum or I get to keep anyything over.

We worked out fees over time - we took into account how much more thet grossed on the eves that I play - took a couple of monjths to build up word of mouth and return customers.

What I would ask for largely depends on the kind of restaurant. I play at a very small, neighborhood, family run operation. I don't charge much. For me, having the structure that "forces" me to practice and constantly build my repetoire is valuable in itself. I once filled in for a regular guitarist at a large restaurant that did three turnover a night - about 180 tables total - got paid more.
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alohakanakaluka
Lokahi

USA
135 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2005 :  7:54:17 PM  Show Profile  Visit alohakanakaluka's Homepage
Steve,
Being a restaurant owner and a player, i would first make sure you have a comfortable set you feel comfortable playing. Remember that you aren't in your house anymore. Dave put it great. Most folks are just talking and eating. Stress lightens when you know that. Take it easy, relax. I know when I play for friends I tend to get stressed that I am going to forget words... Sometimes when I think about it too much I "Do" end up forgetting. I start to play harder instead of softer and my nahenahe turns to metal! Restaurants are mellow. Unless the folks are serious fans, and are not there to eat but listen, there is no worry.

One thing as a business owner I would tell you is to talk to the owner while sound checking. Make sure its not too loud. Sometimes at our place the musicians turn it up too loud and the speakers are far enough away they can't hear them. People get uncomfortable. Especially if they aren't there for the live music atmosphere.

My experience is limited for the live performances, but i do know that as I play for friends/family more i do get more confident. I try to stay in my own head while playing and sticking to the basics. (not to mention a couple of Heiniken's!) Its not the time to get technical. Easy and simple. Have fun is da main thing! Your expanding your playing ability and are moving up the ladder so to speak.

Good luck and stop by our place sometime.
ALOHA,
Timmy
www.alohaislandgrille.com

Edited by - alohakanakaluka on 12/01/2005 7:33:12 PM
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RJS
Ha`aha`a

1635 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2005 :  9:22:04 PM  Show Profile
To follow up on that --
I have one of the wait staff giving me feedback about volume levels -- I find I have to adjust a couple of times during the night depending on how many tables are full and what kind of crowd is there.

Beware of the tendency to try to play louder if the crowd is talking - if they are talking, that's why they came there - to dine and talk with friends. You start playing louder, they'll talk louder -- real bad circle to get into.

I've seen you play, and you've got the stuff to pull it off - but don't try to show off. Unless you are really the "highlight" performer that people are coming to see, you are the equivalent of cocktail piano - you're adding to the atmosphere for an enjoyable evening. People who really want to listen to you tend to ask to be seated near you. Don't go for the showboating - you'll just get yourself in trouble and no one benefits. Keep it laidback, simple and sweet - and people will respond well.

One last word - I hate parties of 8 or more. They are definitely there to party, and they usually don't tip. However, I have to act like that doesn't bother me, 'cause I owe it to the other people at the restaurant to send out "good vibes." It really is a great way to see how attached I still am to "ego" stuff, so I guess these parties are really good for my psycho-spiritual growth, they just aren't very good for my ego or pocketbook.

Oh yeah, another last word - I don't know Timmy but I want to react to that comment about Heinecken -- couple of beers and play at home is one thing - most people think they sound better after a couple of beers - record ytourself playing like that and listen - most people really don't play better on alcohol. Maybe 1 to take the edge off, if you're accustomed to playing that way -- but there are other ways to take the edge off, the best of which is a string of successfull performances. (On the other hand Arthur Rubenstein, a great pianist, used to get so nervous before performance that he frequently threw up -- and this guy was one of the world's best.
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alohakanakaluka
Lokahi

USA
135 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2005 :  09:55:13 AM  Show Profile  Visit alohakanakaluka's Homepage

My Heiniken part was in reference to what it takes me to get up in front of my restaurant... I play fine with a couple of em'. Not saying he "should" drink alcohol, and I think he knows that.
Taking the edge off of playing in my place means to have fun, hang loose and relax. You can do it however you like. And still sound great, live, recorded or with friends and family.

I am not Advocating Alcohol but I need to make it clear about what I meant...(Kala mai ia u)
And I thought that Gabby sounded great when he played in the Sandbox days, after drinking all night. I think most of us also would agree with this. He was Nahe nahe to da max and set the standard for Slack Key for his generation, our generation and those to come! Good luck Steve! Malama pono,
Timmy
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Karl Monetti
`Olu`olu

USA
756 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2005 :  11:55:05 AM  Show Profile  Visit Karl Monetti's Homepage
Wow, wish i had asked that question before starting to play out. Lots of great answers, most of which i have found out along the (so far short) way. I know you will enjoy the process. it is fun, and if you remember that most of them are only listening part-time, it takes a lot of the pressure off.

Karl
Frozen North
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thumbstruck
Ha`aha`a

USA
1942 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2005 :  12:15:18 PM  Show Profile
After years of Bluegrass harmony singing (never trusted myself to have the words come out straight in English), I've settled into singing only instrumentals, less words to butcher. In a restaurant setting, singing can be a challenge. Another person to play with at the gig always relaxes me and a "jam" vibe happens. My Dad played in polka bands for years and he referred to beer as "accordion oil", just grease the skids but don't blot out your technique. Remember that the audience is only people. Driving to and from the gig is far more dangerous.
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Mark
Ha`aha`a

USA
1628 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2005 :  3:47:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit Mark's Homepage
Beer kills your voice. Very, very bad for singing. Stick with scotch...

My 2 cents on performing in restaurants: I happen to love it. My take is that I'm there to stay in the background and provide a pleasant ambience for the diners. It's not about me, or the music, or how cool my guitar is.. it's about being part of a larger scene.

If someone wants to talk to me a bit, I'll indulge them. But it ain't a show. I don't look people in the eye, like I would at a show. I don't look up for applause, though if I get it, I acknowlege it. And I keep the volume well below conversational level.

Oh, and breaks are very, very important. Not just to keep yourself refreshed, but to give the diners a break, too. Not everyone's gonna love ya. It also helps the staff clear the joint... no one makes any money from a table nursing a cup of coffee, listening to me go on and on.

Oh, one more thing: no Freebird. Ever....

Good luck!

Mark
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MahinaM
Lokahi

USA
389 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2005 :  4:22:37 PM  Show Profile  Visit MahinaM's Homepage
Eh Kiwini!

Go for it, brah! Wow! Everyone has offered such great advice, so I can't add anymore to the list except that this experience will only make you a better player and more comfortable playing in front of others. If these open mics you've been going to lately has increased your ability to play to an audience, then you couldn't ask for a better class than that. Ditto with playing at this restaurant. I wish I could come down and here you play! Let us know how it goes, ok? Break a leg sweetie pie!

A hui hou,
Mags

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Julie H
Ha`aha`a

USA
1206 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2005 :  7:59:39 PM  Show Profile
OK, my two pennies worth:

(Mark, what is a Freebird?)

I was so painfully shy in High School that I used to eat my lunch in the Girls Bathroom, UNDER the sink! When I got to college in the late 60's, I blossomed. My ex-fiance, my brother and two other boys started a band (I played keyboard, tambourine and temper-tantrum) and I found out there was no way to be shy on stage.

I quit playing when my engagement ended, but many years later, I still remember some of these lessons I have learned. I was just there to entertain the folks who paid the ticket price, I was no movie star or rock star. And while I grew weary of those drunks who put their wet glasses on my electronic organ to lean over it and slurr: "Hey, can I play your organ, honey?", I learned how to grow a thicker skin.

Nowadays, I feel out the audience. If I sense that they are in the mood for fun, upbeat stuff. That's what I play. If they're melancholy, that's what I play. Drives my husband on his bass crazy. "You didn't play our set list!" No, because, that's not the feedback I got from the audience.

I tell my son that he should always go for that brass ring (on the merry-go-round we have on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk) just because it's there! Good luck, amigo!

Aloha nui, Julie
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