All posts for my Venues category

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On Being the Opening Act

Because I’m going to be the opening act in April for someone I have long admired, I decided to do a thorough investigation of what it means to be the opening act. I have opened for friends, in the past, and occasionally for people whose name and music I didn’t know, but it was small venues, or other lesser-known  acts, and so there was not much pressure. But this time it will be a veteran, whose name is very well known, and I want to get it right. (I’ll give you more details at the end of this.)

So first, a definition. This is straight from Wikipedia:

“The opening act’s performance serves to “warm up” the audience, making it appropriately excited and enthusiastic for the headliner. An opening act, warm-up act, or supporting act is an entertainment act (musical, comedic, or otherwise), that performs at a concert before the featured act, or “headliner”. Rarely, an opening act may perform again at the end of the event, or perform with the featured act after both have had a set to themselves.”

OK. Well, there’s no one in the audience whose enthusiasm for the headliner could be greater than my own, so that will be easy. I will probably mention a few times how grateful I am for the opportunity, for a wide variety of reasons. Not the least of these is that I get to play for his audience, and potentially, add them to my audience. Not only fans, but press, and booking contacts could be amongst the people for whom I will have the opportunity to play.

However, I’m aware there are some risks here, and I know there are some rules for avoiding them. I checked online (Because that’s what one does these days), and here’s what I found.

  1. Co-Promote

There may not be a formal arrangement for you to roll up your sleeves and help promote the show, but get on board and do what you can. Announce the show on your website, social networking sites and via your mailing list. Be sure to include info about the headliners in the promotion you do to your existing fans.

Contacting the local press and radio may also be helpful, but consider checking with the show promoter before you do that. They may have plans for reaching out to the local media, and you don’t want to step on their toes and confuse the message. Generally speaking, the larger the show, the larger promotion machine behind it, so do check before making the media calls.

  1. Watch The Clock

When the headlining musicians, their management, agent or the show promoter asks you to be somewhere at a certain time, be there. Yes, even if you know if absolutely everyone else involved in the show is going to be late and you’re going to be spending a lot of time standing around waiting. If something happens that is going to delay you – getting lost on the way to venue, flat tire, forgotten instrument, etc, etc, etc. – call someone and let them know. Even if they treat you like you’re giving them T.M.I., better to err on the side of being thorough and showing that you respect your scheduled set, than to bank on the fact that everyone will be cool with you rolling in when you can.

  1. Accept The Sound-check

In most cases, sound-check starts with the headliners and finishes with the first opening act. The reason for that is partially a practical one – the first opener will take the stage first, of course, so when they sound-check last, the stage is set up with their gear so the show is ready to start.

However, the reason is also partially hierarchy. Allowing the headliners to get the first crack at sound-check means they can kind of take their time and sound-check until they feel good about their set. Sometimes, this means the headliners end up taking up ALL the sound-check time – or most of it – and that of course means the opening act gets little or no time to check their own sound and get comfortable with the stage/acoustics.

For an opener, that can cause some serious stress, but your best bet is to grin and bear it rather than kicking up a fuss. Sure, it would be great if the headliners made sure everyone got a pop at a sound-check, but it IS their show and their prerogative to take the time.

  1. Discuss Merch

Before you assume that you’ll be setting up a merch table the night of the show, discuss it with whoever booked you for the gig. Sometimes, headliners (or their reps) frown on support bands selling their merch because any money thrown your way is money not spent on the headliners’ merch. That may rub the wrong way – especially if the headliners are making big bucks for the show while you’re getting a pittance – but you’re kind of bound to the rules set by the people who invited you to play the show. Have a discussion about this before the night of the show.

  1. Respect The Set Length

Even if it feels like the audience is eating it up and you’re having a great time on stage, wrap up your set when you’re supposed to. When you run over, you take time away from the headliners. It’s important that they get their full set – or if they don’t, that it is not your fault. Remember, the headliners are who the audience is REALLY there to see, so just be glad you made some new fans and promise them a longer set in the future.

  1. Stay for The Show

Unless there is a valid reason why you have to play and dash – you’ve got a plane to catch, a 14 hour drive home, an illness or something along those lines – don’t skip out before the headliners play their set. Yes, even if they are not your favorite band, stick around and watch them play.

  1. Say Thank You

Say a quick “thank you” to everyone who helped you land this opportunity and everyone who helped the show run smoothly. From the headliners and their reps to the venue manager and sound engineer, a quick “thank you” goes a long way.

 

So here’s the scoop: In April. I will open for Michael Martin Murphey at a concert at the LBJ Ranch. The concert is a fundraiser for the LBJ Museum of San Marcos Permanent Endowment Fund and includes a barbecue. I was honored to be asked to do this, in no small part because, back when you used to need a written copy of your song in order to register a copyright with the Library of Congress, I used to transcribe Mr. Murphey’s songs. I did the transcriptions for his first album, and several times had to start songs over because I forgot what I was supposed to be doing and just sat there listening and enjoying. So I’m excited to be part of one of his shows, and I may even get to sing harmony on a few of those songs. Keeping my fingers crossed about that. Details will show up on my website and social media outlets in the near future.

And for your entertainment, here is Mary Chapin Carpenter’s take on all this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The most unusual place you ever …..

“Singer stages gig in store window
May 16, 2014”

That was the headline that caught my eye, and started this train of thought.

When I was in high-school, my girlfriends and I once had a conversation in which we were supposed to name the most unusual place we’d ever kissed a boy. (Yes, I know that can be taken more than one way, but it was a more innocent time.) Some of the suggestions were under a street lamp, behind the garage (We lived in the city. No barns.), on the football field, under the bleachers, backstage.  All sorts of places that are available to teenagers. No bedrooms or airplanes ever came into play.

The question that occurred to me after I saw this headline was, where are some of the more unusual places you’ve put on a show? I’ll start the ball rolling and I’d love your comments.

One night I dreamed that I was playing a show in a dance studio, complete with mirrors, a barre and an audience of about 100 people. On waking, I thought that was such a good idea that I started calling around to tell people about my dream. No one took the bait and the idea languished, unfulfilled. Until I was having dinner with a couple of friends, one of whom was a dancer.  When I was suddenly reminded of my dream, and said something about it, she said “That’s totally possible, and I even know where you could do it.”  We ended up doing several shows at Cafe Dance in Austin, TX. We had a great time despite obstacles like the acoustic unsuitability of the space, and the fact that it was pretty much off the beaten track, as music venues go. Still, it was a dream come true, and we got a radio interview out of the press release — never hurts.

I’ve also had several friends that played in store-front windows to an audience standing on the street. Most notably, when SXSW first started expanding into “official” and “unofficial” showcases, a band I knew convinced a store owner in the heart of Austin’s 6th street entertainment district to let them take over for the night. The passing crowd loved it, and most stopped to listen for a song or two, which is as much as anyone can  hope for during SXSW.

The most truly unusual gig I’ve ever had as far as location was concerned, was also one of the sweetest.  I received a call from a gentleman who told me that his wife was about to go into the hospital for brain surgery. But before that could happen, she had to have her head shaved. He asked me to come to the beauty salon and sing love songs from him to her, including “You Are So Beautiful”, while the haircut was happening.  He told me after I’d finished that his wife was formerly a singer with the Dallas Opera, had studied under Beverly Sills. I’m glad I didn’t know that while I was singing. And she really was beautiful, even when her hair was gone.I also sang her the song which I’ve included at the bottom of this post, which is one of my own.

So how about you? Street corner? Subway? Living room? Standing on a table? Comment with the ones you found the most surprising.

Oh, and here’s the song I sang her:

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Music for Christmas

The title of this post comes from two different concepts, and I’ve been thinking about both of them all week. First: This year, like a lot of others now, I’ll be doing several free and a few paid concerts for the holidays. It’s always fun, because as I’ve mentioned in another post, I really love the holiday songs. I have even written a few of my own.

VA-SA-12-25-13

This year, I’ve already gone to the V.A. Hospital in San Antonio and played on two of the wards, for people too disabled to leave the hospital, and also people who are there temporarily while they recover from various disabilities. The first ward I played on was for soldiers recently returned who are finding civilian life more challenging than they did before they left. They all seemed like an audience you would find anywhere, until a difference of opinion came up, and then I could feel even across the room how tightly wound some of my audience members were. I sang the most calming songs I knew, and endeavored to fill requests even if it meant looking up the lyrics online, and improvising. I wanted each of them to get whatever they wanted from the concert.

VA-SA-12-18-13

Next weekend, I’ll be taking a few of my students to the V.A. Hospital in Temple, Texas, for a similar show there. It seems low-key enough for them to get an experience of real-world performance, especially since this show will definitely be entirely holiday songs. One of the students regularly displays angst at the idea of performing, but she always steps up when the time comes. This will be a stretch for her, as she has only played for a roomful of other students and their parents before. But she’s a very good musician, and I want her to share her gift with an appreciative audience other than people who are familiar to her. The other two students are both hams, and will enjoy it, I think. I’ll post a picture of all of them next time.

And next Thursday, December 19th, I’ll be going, along with half of Austin’s complement of singer/songwriters, to carol at the Texas Neurological Hospital. I’ve never done this one before, though it happens every year, but everyone tells me it’s really fun and the patients love it. So I’m looking forward to it.

So about that second concept….

This year, I put out a new CD, Siren Song. As many of you already know because you have one or have heard parts of it, I am very proud of it, and it has also gotten a gratifying response out there on other planets besides JanWorld. Needless to say, I would like to put it in the hands, or ears, of as many people as I can.

So….. I’m offering it for a special holiday price till Christmas Day. If you act quickly, you can have a digital download of Siren Song, for just $9.95. (Yes, I know this sounds like a late-night TV pitch, but it’s just me.) If you’re interested in that, please go to http://janseidessongs.com/siren-song (However …. if you are already on my mailing list, you won’t be able to complete this purchase the way it’s set up.  If that’s the case, just shoot me an email —jan at janseides dot com— and let me know, and I’ll send you the details for how to order….. or just comment below.)

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Yippee!! Two Shows in Austin Area

I’m so excited! It’s a new year (Happy New Year to every one of you. Hope it’s already granting your favorite wishes!) and I have two intriguing new events to tell you about that are happening during the month of January.

This month, Jim Patton and Sherry Brokus have offered me the honor of being part of their 3CMSS (Third Coast Music Songwriters Showcase) on Thursday, January 21, 2010, at the NeWorlDeli, 4101 Guadalupe, Austin, Texas. This will be the first time I’ve played my own songs in an Austin setting in quite awhile, and I get to do it amongst some of the finest writers in Austin. I want to invite you to witness the event, and I really DO want you to come (You are very important to me, and to the venue), so I have a very SPECIAL OFFER for you. The first 5 people to arrive and ask for me, will receive a signed CD with my NEWEST songs, soon to be released on my new CD which I am in the process of recording, and which I will be showcasing during the evening. Think of it as your sneak preview of an unofficial, pre-CD, pre-release party.

At the end of January, to my delight, I will be playing at the Heart of Texas House Concert, hosted by my friends, Dan and Diana Ost in Round Rock, Texas at 6 pm on the evening of Saturday, January 30, 2010. This is an intimate concert setting, which begins with a potluck dinner. Dan and Diana will provide the main part of the meal, and guests are requested to bring appetizers, side-dishes and desserts. To acquire an invitation and directions, just contact Dan and Diana at heartoftexashouseconcerts@gmail.com or music@hodgepodge-music.com.

On the horizon are a new Broadway show with Fletcher Clark on March 29th at Sun City, Texas, New York City in May (dates and times TBA), and Salt Lake City at the Magpie House Concert Series on June 12th, and other dates TBA.

Don’t worry. I’ll keep you posted!

🙂

Jan

Jan Seides

Performing Songwriter

Austin, TX

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Booking: 512-436-0-JAN (That’s a zero)

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Gig at Sunrise Creek – Montrose, CO

Thanks to my friend, Deb Barr, who was in a band with my husband when they were in high school, I have a gig here at Sunrise Creek Residence. It’s extra money, and in a very pleasant setting, so I’m delighted to do it. I’ve brought my book of Broadway tunes, and they have piano. Perfect combination!

Except that they’ve set up the audience in a room other than the one where the piano is….

So I happily do my originals instead, and everyone is either quiet and attentive, or laughs in the right places, and they all seem to enjoy the songs. Indeed, several of the residents tell me so after the show. Very sweet people, all with stories of their own to tell. All in view of snow-topped mountains. I love my work.