Archive | February 2013

HOUSE GIGS – COULD THESE BE THE SAVIOUR OF LIVE MUSIC?

The last couple of weeks have been very interesting. I managed to play several gigs which was pretty cool but the types of gigs were varied to say the least. Most of them were pubs and clubs. No worries there, nice people, regular income, sold some merchandise and some of them even were nice enough to provide a cola and better still a meal. Apart from a couple of ticketed shows, the rest were “rostered” pub and club gigs that in reality, wouldn’t have matter who played really.

The music was wall paper and thank Christ it wasn’t football season yet otherwise we’d have been competing against the giant plasma on the adjacent wall. I mean really… What dickhead puts a TV next to the stage??

But one gig was very different. It was a first for me and sincerely hope it won’t be the last. It was a house gig. What was so different about this gig compared to a pub gig or even a birthday party gig at someone’s home?

The one big difference? A total absence of pissheads and dickheads who won’t let you pack up after your gig for starters.

This gig was run by a couple of people who love music. They set up their house as a tiny little live club. They sell tickets to people who also have a love of music and who LISTEN rather than watch the footy, play the pokies bogging into a $15 chicken parma.

The hosts were gracious, extremely hospitable, all the money went to covering our costs to play, the audience were polite, music loving people who brought their own drinks and food in addition to the snacks our hosts provided. They also bought our CDs too.

We played to about 45 people up close and personal and every member of the audience was part of the gig. It was lovely and it reminded me of the days when our cities had music clubs dotted all over the place. Sadly they’re all but gone save for a handful and those venues who do have live music are full of singers with backing tracks (don’t start me!) or bands like Bon Jovi, Cold Chisel, Lady GaGa.. Oh shit sorry.. I forgot to mention they’re all tribute bands.

House gigs are a growing phenomenon and I’m not surprised.

1. The people who run them are all about the music and often do it for the love of it rather than making a buck.

2. The people who attend these shows are equally as passionate about the music and often don’t like going to pubs because of the reputations some of them have and of course they don’t like poker machines.

3. They get to be up close and personal to the artist and also get the opportunity to chat and provide that instant feedback that only a live gig can give.

OK I listed the pros now what are the cons? I can’t think of any!

I know of many house shows that are being held on a regular basis around the country and I take my hat off to the organisers of these great gigs and to the people who support them. May they continue….

JC

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TAMWORTH .. THE COUNTRY MUSIC CAPITAL OR KARAOKE MECCA?

Who was the bright spark in the Tamworth City Council who moved the goal post to allow nearly every busker in the Tamworth Country Music Festival to have a PA system which churns out backing tracks? Since when did Peel Street become Karaoke Avenue?

No seriously… Singing with a black box churning out backing tracks is NOT busking. It’s Karaoke! The whole idea of busking is for entertainers to stand out amidst the din of the street and attract the attention of passers by.

How the bloody hell can one do that when there is a PA system literally every ten feet? You’d think if all one has to do is stand on the street and sing that they’d be something bloody special to be able to stop people and make them part with their money. But nope.

Peel Street sounded like one very bad LSD trip and I couldn’t wait to squeeze into a hot sweaty crowded pub with a real live band for some peace and quiet.

Now I have read comments and had arguments with people over this issue but I’m standing firm.

Some singers say they can’t play an instrument and therefore “they have to use a backing track”. Really? Well maybe if these singers would tear themselves away from their I-Bands and join a real band with musicians, they could actually get some gigs or at the very least may be able to put together a duo to perform live on the street.

Then there are those who do play an instrument and say “My guitar playing isn’t confident enough to busk”. Well then, DON’T BUSK! It’s as simple as that really! Spend some time practising instead of listening to your family saying you can be whatever you want to be and telling you how good you are. You’re shit unless you practice. That’s life! If all else fails  find someone who is competent and is able to accompany you.

Singing to backing tracks is bad for a singer. It has its uses but only to a point. At some stage every singer who is serious about performing outside of their bedroom will come in contact with other musicians. Maybe a full band, a church organist, a couple of dudes playing acoustic guitars, they will eventually work with other musicians. They cannot spend their whole life singing to a black box. But the longer they are tied to the I-Band umbilical the more unbearable they are going to be for musicians to work with.

So back to Tamworth. Gone are the days when you could walk down Peel Street and be impressed by raw talent of street entertainers playing warts and all and doing their best to get your attention. Now, Peel Street is a din of MIDI laden backing tracks with singers standing rigid and competing with the next singer 10 feet away who is doing the same thing.

So… If you’re thinking about busking in Tamworth next year, you had better keep it live and un-amplified. Doesn’t matter how old you are. Yes even you, the cute little 9 year old NO BACKING TRACKS or you will be heckled until you cry.

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