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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Willie-O Can someone explain bar (tavern) music to me? (74* d) RE: Can someone explain bar (tavern) music to me? 27 Jul 09

I thought I'd revisit your original questions, cause I have a few minutes to kill...

1. What is the point of bar music?

Two possibilities: a) the bar's reputation is as a music venue which has live music several nights a week, or at least consistently one or two nights a week. People actually come there because of this. Best case scenario. (Doesn't mean they come to sit and listen and applaud, btw.)

b) the bar doesn't really have a hook, and they try a little of everything they've seen elsewhere--karaoke night, NASCAR night, darts, scantily clad women, and something they list as "live music" (rarely being more specific). Worst case scenario. But you might get lucky and do OK.

2. . But in a given setlist, in your opinion, what is the minimum amount of Jimmy Buffett, Tom Petty, CCR, Skynyrd, etc. relative to music I like (trad/blues/60s "folk") that I can get away with?

In a bar such as you were in, I'd say about 50-50. As long as the stuff you slip in there by choice is reasonably close in overall feel and tempo to the other stuff. (You know what I mean). But if you regard the examples you cite above as a drag and a chore, you probably should not be pursuing these venues. Because you'll be playing those songs every night you're there. Anyway, those artists have all written some fine material, and (USEFUL) you don't have to stick to their most shopworn overdone ones--you still get points for doing less-remembered repertoire from well-known artists.

3. The Dreaded Bar Manager.    (We'd been asked to avoid rugby songs and put on "entertainment of folk and popular music") "A half hour or so after I started, I had the general manager of the place come up and say that I had to start playing stuff that was upbeat and loud, and play with "confidence".

Well, at least he gave you timely feedback. A lot of bar managers have this conceit that they know what their customers like, and that they can fine-tune the acts they hire to make things work. Never mind they're not making sense (although this fellow may have been), just smile and nod diplomatically and do your thing. Uptempo is good, and slow and over-long is not. Managers also have their upper management to placate, and a lot of these folks have ideas of what kind of music should or should not be played there.

Good luck. Have fun doing it, just for yourself. And don't expect anyone to listen to your CD. Getting these gigs is all about timing--approaching them with a bit of professional-looking promo at the time when they're about to book the next season.


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