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Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?

GUEST,Ray 02 Oct 20 - 03:47 AM
GUEST,Big Al Whittle 01 Oct 20 - 10:09 PM
reggie miles 01 Oct 20 - 05:27 PM
GUEST,Ray 01 Oct 20 - 01:09 PM
reggie miles 01 Oct 20 - 12:49 PM
Bobert 07 Apr 03 - 09:22 PM
GUEST,Jaze 07 Apr 03 - 08:46 PM
Bobert 07 Apr 03 - 06:52 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 07 Apr 03 - 10:37 AM
Dave Bryant 07 Apr 03 - 09:50 AM
kendall 07 Apr 03 - 09:43 AM
Blues=Life 07 Apr 03 - 09:30 AM
Uncle_DaveO 06 Apr 03 - 10:32 PM
Bobert 06 Apr 03 - 08:48 PM
Blues=Life 06 Apr 03 - 12:47 PM
Bobert 05 Apr 03 - 08:05 PM
Bobert 03 Apr 03 - 09:40 PM
Rick Fielding 03 Apr 03 - 08:49 PM
Clinton Hammond 03 Apr 03 - 05:44 PM
wysiwyg 03 Apr 03 - 05:32 PM
Don Firth 03 Apr 03 - 03:21 PM
Rustic Rebel 03 Apr 03 - 02:11 PM
GUEST 03 Apr 03 - 01:19 PM
kendall 03 Apr 03 - 01:18 PM
Midchuck 03 Apr 03 - 01:10 PM
Don Firth 03 Apr 03 - 01:02 PM
Blues=Life 03 Apr 03 - 11:11 AM
wysiwyg 03 Apr 03 - 08:59 AM
Roger the Skiffler 03 Apr 03 - 08:44 AM
kendall 03 Apr 03 - 08:38 AM
Bobert 03 Apr 03 - 08:25 AM
alanabit 03 Apr 03 - 08:08 AM
Deni-C 03 Apr 03 - 04:44 AM
Deckman 02 Apr 03 - 11:32 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 02 Apr 03 - 11:24 PM
Deckman 02 Apr 03 - 09:37 PM
Bobert 02 Apr 03 - 09:17 PM
Cluin 02 Apr 03 - 09:07 PM
Bobert 02 Apr 03 - 08:37 PM
Don Firth 02 Apr 03 - 12:58 PM
JennyO 02 Apr 03 - 10:06 AM
kendall 02 Apr 03 - 09:50 AM
Maryrrf 02 Apr 03 - 09:24 AM
Mary in Kentucky 02 Apr 03 - 08:22 AM
Deni-C 02 Apr 03 - 02:32 AM
GUEST,Boab 02 Apr 03 - 02:32 AM
Jazzyjack 02 Apr 03 - 01:44 AM
GUEST 01 Apr 03 - 11:44 PM
open mike 01 Apr 03 - 11:44 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 01 Apr 03 - 11:40 PM
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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 02 Oct 20 - 03:47 AM

Derek said lots of things. In a marquee at a cold and rainy fesitval, he once asked if I could arrange a brown spot-light to make him look tanned.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Oct 20 - 10:09 PM

As the great Derek Brimstone used to say .....quiet audiences are all right....unless they're moving towards you...


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: reggie miles
Date: 01 Oct 20 - 05:27 PM

I agree about turning up. A group of us formed an impromptu band for a St. Pat's Day. We were covering for a fellow performer who couldn't make the gig due to a sudden serious health issue. We started at what we deemed was average volume via the PA and what amps we used. As an experiment, I decided to turn us up to better compete with the volume of the alcohol fueled crowd. They just got louder. I did this several times over the course of the evening. They just kept getting louder each time I turned up the volume.

However, turning down, as I've been asked to do in some restaurants and coffeehouses, seems to be a signal that the managers/owners merely want sonic wallpaper. Personally, I'm not interested in that kind of role.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 01 Oct 20 - 01:09 PM

It’s impossible to get any satisfaction from playing for free to a noisy audience and my immediate (personal) solution would be to pack up and play somewhere else. If money was involved, my fee would increase to the point where the benefit exceeded the annoyance caused by the audience.

One technique I often used when running a sound system with noisy audiences was not to try and compete with them but turn the volume down until the act was barely audible above the noise which tended to quieten them down. I admit there is little you can do with espresso machines, fruit/pinball machines etc.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: reggie miles
Date: 01 Oct 20 - 12:49 PM

I have noticed that, generally speaking, in this part of the Pacific NW, coffee houses, pubs, restaurants... and their open mic hosts, who don't give a hoot about the audience noise factor, seem mostly uninterested in trying to do something or anything about it. The hosts are primarily in it for the money they receive. They don't go out of their way to apply guidelines on those in attendance, drinkers, eaters, socializers... to make their events better suited for the presentation of those venturing on stage with their various forms of entertainment. The scenes in this area tend to be a free-for-all.

First and foremost, the owners have their own concepts about what they deem will provide them with the best patron base and bottom line and since they pay the bills, their determinations are most often followed within the space. I imagine that makes it tough for an open mic host to apply their own concepts to their three hour events. Performers tend to get the short end of the stick, having to suffer with all of the contemporary distractions that usually accompany those venues.

Pubs and bars tend to be the worst about including distractions to appease their patron's desires. Big screen broadcasts of every sort of sport are common, as are pool tables, dart boards, various electronic gambling machines... Restaurants tend to have limitations on performer's volume, due to food and socializing being their primary features. They primarily treat anything like music as sonic wallpaper. Most coffeehouse's espresso machines tend to be primary sources of ambient noise to contend with. All of the above make presenting a live acoustic music open mic scene in most business spaces an uphill battle for players/performers.

All of the above said, I've been personally astounded when my musical offerings have managed to completely command the attention of an entire room full of alcohol fueled conversation within arguably the worst open mic stage conditions possible. Even when my personal folk music heroes failed miserably at the same task.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Bobert
Date: 07 Apr 03 - 09:22 PM

James:

I quit performing a couple of years earlier in 1976. Just had different interests, like getting married. I didn't know about the CD. I did paly a couple gigs in '77 at Wally's Main Street Grill and, hey, you might have played at some of our parties. We had a massave "Rites of Spring" party at out 11 acre community on Fulton Hill that used to draw just about every musican in the city. If you were at any of them, you'd remember them.... er' maybe you wouldn't.

I was in Richmond a few weeks ago and was driving east on Franklin St. and swear I saw a sign for the Crossrroads Coffee House.

Yeah, awesome place to play. Man, I remember sitting on the floor in the men's room, tuning and being about scared out of my mind before going on....

Oh, those were some good time and a danged good coffee house..

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: GUEST,Jaze
Date: 07 Apr 03 - 08:46 PM

HI Bobert, glad your endeavor went well. I used to go to the Crossroads Coffeehouse in the late 70's and early 80's. What a great place! There were some incredibly talented people performing there. I don't think Crossroads is still there now, but some of those performers do a yearly concert called "Among Friends". These concerts are recorded on cd each year. I have the first one and it's great. When I was in college, the Crossroads was great for a saturday night out. It cost 75 cents to get in (if you had it), but you got $75 dollars worth of talent. Did you get the lp they recorded and sold there? I still play it.As I remember, the audiences were always respectful, only occasionally requiring a stern Shush! when some rowdies came in and were too noisy. James


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Bobert
Date: 07 Apr 03 - 06:52 PM

Uncle DaveO and Blues=Life;

Leesburg, Va., which is 40 miles north west of Washington, D.C. Love to have either of you,m or both.

Kendall:

You be da man. When I grow up I want to be just like you.

Dave and Sandy:

Thanks fir yer input. Loved the putdowns, Dave...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 07 Apr 03 - 10:37 AM

I don't play for a living. I only do fundraiser type stuff not usually in bars, but more often in a concert setting .
However a few years back a friend of mine from out of town was playing a gig at a local bar, so I went to see him. I was not in this place before and he had not played there before.
   When I went in he was playing on a small stage directly behind a pool table. The listening audience was seated on the other side and several people were playing pool in the middle while he was trying to sing. I was horrified that people would be so ignorant as to play while he was performing . At break time I stated my feelings to my friend. He said that he felt no anger towards the players as that was probably the reason that they came there in the first place. As for the management of the place he said : "Sandy, I make my living playing music and I will be paid my rate. I feel bad that those who came to hear me may be disappointed, but that I can't control. I depend on bookings and I will not ruin my reputation by not playing this gig , but I won't return".
I did speak to the manager , saying that the place had the stupidest layout that I had ever seen.
I am sure that there are threads on "Venues from Hell" but my point here is that someone running the show can control a lot by also running the seating.
       Sandy


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 07 Apr 03 - 09:50 AM

You could always call in an airstrike - trouble is from what we've seen in Iraq, they'll probably hit the hospital next door.

Seriously though, I've only sung in a few coffee houses and they've all been known as folk music venues: The Troubador, Bunjies etc. Over here in the UK, pubs are much more usual venues. Folk clubs in pubs are not usually any problem - the organiser and regulars usually keep the audience in check.

Non-club bookings in pubs can be a different matter. For smaller venues which we work at frequently we would probably perform accoustically - the closer contact with the audience often keeps them more involved and they tend to shut up and listen. For larger venues we use a small (50w + 50w) PA, more as sound reinforcement. I will often position the speakers some distance away - especially if the bar is an irregular shape, and try to directly entertain those of the audience reasonably near to me, so that those who wish to talk can sit further away and hear the PA. I have several songs which I will actually take out into the body of the pub in which I actually single out individuals with different verses (Landlord Fill or Sussex Toast etc) and others with a fair bit of theatricals (Sweeney Todd for example). I usually find that I can get the audiences attention with these, and then I'm usually OK for a while.

I know plenty of good heckler put-downs as well.

I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.
Why don't you go over to the back wall - that's plastered as well.
Don't get smart with me mate - I'm a pro like your mum was.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: kendall
Date: 07 Apr 03 - 09:43 AM

C.H. is right. There are audiences that will not listen to anyone. Jesus found that out, and he was certainly "worthy".

I had an agent a few years ago, and I told him from the start that if he ever booked me into a place where I did not belong, I would fire him. He did, and I did.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Blues=Life
Date: 07 Apr 03 - 09:30 AM

Bobert,
Where and when, my friend? (I wish!)
Doubt I could make it, but I'd bring my harps and back you up if I could.
More info!
Blues


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 06 Apr 03 - 10:32 PM

Where are you?

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Bobert
Date: 06 Apr 03 - 08:48 PM

Yo, Blues=Life,

LOL, my friend. After the gig we were kinda brainstormin' with a few of the folks who had played and Mike Carr, who closed out the evening brought up something that they used in a coffee house back in Colorado. One person with helmet with "Noise Police" painted on it going around to the offeneders and rather than say anything just point at the helmit.

Also, we didn't have the cards for the tables. That fell threw the cracks this time but won't for the next one.

Ahhhh, the next one is gonna be a blues one. Wanta play? Looks like I'm gonna have to do a little double duty that night since I haven't found one Delta player to sign up. Lot of Peidmonters so I figure someone has to represent the Delta and looks like Iz gonna be it. Unless you want to?

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Blues=Life
Date: 06 Apr 03 - 12:47 PM

So Bobert, does this mean the next thread will be titled: How to Quiet Singers?
*G*
Glad it went well.
Maybe you need to find a "Master of Arms" to complement your role of "Master of Ceromonies". Got any cop friends who like music, who'd be willing to do the shushing?
Keep us posted.
Blues


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Bobert
Date: 05 Apr 03 - 08:05 PM

Well, danged! I'm here to say that everyone was right. Even Clinton Hammond. Things went well, but as fir my abilities to keep the peanut gallery under control, I'd give myself a "Gentleman's 'C'".

Unfortunately, I didn't have entire control of this thing and my partner in crime had brought a PA system which was overkill. Thorw in the fact that any of these folks are professionals, it was knidof hard to tone it down.

Yeah, there was some talking but it wasn't a problem until late when a bunch of folks who had been at the jam up the street showed up, pumped and ready to make a lot of noise. Well, I did corral them to an area that was back in the corner and off to the side and then the rest of use used the "hairy eye ball' on 'em until they quieted down. I di give one lady a "hush" and it looked like she was gonna cry then I went over and whispered in her ear that I hadn't given her any demerits and and then she got the group she came in with to settle down.

But, I felt like a cop at the end of the night. Yeah, I probably did waht I could and I'm probably grading my job too critically but this ain't a fun job.

Had to rough up a couple of ol' gals who have a habit of taking any music thing over. They got amd and walked out when it became apparent that I wasn't gonna squeeze them in when I had the entire event packed with other folks. Hey, they never called to see I could schedule them. Plus, once they get a stage, no one gets to play any more. I know. I've been bumped out of line bythem a half a dozen times over the years...

But all in all, I'm satisfied that we're on to starting something special...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Bobert
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 09:40 PM

Well danged. I'm real comfy with tomorrow night. I have a *check list* and the details will be taken care of. Whew! I have no worries about roudy folks. I can handle them with a mix of humor and cajoling to get them up the street to the blue grass jam. Then they are out of our deal.

Everything is going to go fine. I still don't have a riser yet but I'm gonna be on the phone in the am with the rental folks. Everything is gonna be fine....

Thanks to all for the contributions. You can't believe how many will be in place tomorrow night that wouldn't have been in place without your ideas and experiences.

Thanks, Part 3...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 08:49 PM

Back when I was VERRY stupid...and playing idiot cages (cuz they'd pay well) I'd have to deal with occasional assholes. I'd turn a flashlite on 'em. Did this at least five or six times........and am still alive to tell about it. That would totally infuriate them, and usually I'd be able to get into some kind of stream of consciousness thing that would make the audience laugh.

On the other hand....when I left bars for good (16 years ago) I DID go to a shrink to talk about why I dreams about killing people in my audiences.....and I wasn't joking.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 05:44 PM

"IF....the performer is worthy,...the audience will be also"

I'm sorry but that's a load of bollocks... I've seen good (And better than good) performers go down in flames before crappy audiences...


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 05:32 PM

To read small yellow letters, highlight them with your mouse.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 03:21 PM

RR, I'm not sure I would really want to investigate streams coming down from above, especially if they are yellow! Nevertheless, this is what the Gargoyle has emitted from some orifice or other:
It appears, Bobert, your only intent for this thread was to brag about the two simultaneous gigs and boast about the "nice thing" you have going....as I noted above. . . .
(sigh)

Ignore the ugly sculpture clinging to the eaves of the outhouse, Bobert. If you have a "nice thing" going, I say congratulations!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 02:11 PM

Gargoyle, I can never read your small print when it's in yellow. I feel deprived of half of your smart-assed-ness!
Hey Bobert, sounds like you have a lot of good advice to go on, hope your show turns out great! Have fun.
peace. Rustic


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 01:19 PM

sic sorcha on them.... BG


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: kendall
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 01:18 PM

Better still, stay the hell out of those dumps.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Midchuck
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 01:10 PM

And finally, if it looks like it's going to get ugly, put your accoustic away and pick up a good, cheap, solid-body guitar. (Hitting someone in the chops with a Martin breaks the Martin. Hitting someone in the chops with a Telecaster breaks the chops.)

An older Guild Dread is almost as good. Bigchuck just got hisself a well used Guild Jumbo. I'll let him deal with any future problems.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 01:02 PM

gargoyle gär' goil' n. 1. A roof spout in the form of a grotesque or fantastic creature projecting from a gutter to carry rainwater clear of the wall; 2. A grotesque ornamental figure or projection; 3. A bizarre or grotesque person.

From an architecture web site:
A gargoyle was an ugly stone figure that was common on Gothic buildings. They could be found on the roof or eaves. The original purpose of a gargoyle was to act as a spout for rainwater, to prevent roof run-off and seepage from damaging the building. People believed they could scare away evil spirits and serve a practical function at the same time.
So if you feel like something is puking dirty water on you, that's where it's coming from. Consider the source.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Blues=Life
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 11:11 AM

How to control a trouble maker in the audience?

The Blues=Life method.

Be Large.(At 6'4" and 230 pounds, it's hard to ignore me.)

Stand VERY close to troublemaker. (Objects in mirror look a whole lot bigger when they're within 5 inches of your nose)

Talk quietly. (When presented with a very large, very close, and very quiet person, people tend to get quieter.)

Follow the RoadHouse rules of bouncing. (Expect the unexpected; Take it outside; Be NICE)

If alcohol is involved, be ready to jab them in a soft place. (A drunk asshole is a drunk asshole...sometimes there's not much else you can do.)

And finally, if it looks like it's going to get ugly, put your accoustic away and pick up a good, cheap, solid-body guitar. (Hitting someone in the chops with a Martin breaks the Martin. Hitting someone in the chops with a Telecaster breaks the chops.)

Remember all possible details, stories like that are worth re-telling!*G*

Good luck, Bobert. Wish I could come and see the show!

Blues


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 08:59 AM

Oh I can't stop laughing.... "duplipitous"!!! BEST new word of the..... millenium!

"Thtop! You'we being duPLIPitous!!"

~S~


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 08:44 AM

Veteran (ie just a bit older than me!) UK guitarist Joe Brown explains the reason he decorated his guitar strap with horse brasses: when the rowdy crowd stormed the stage he swung it round his head to hold them off while the rest of the band grabbed their instruments and the drum kit and legged it!

RtS
(I have no problem -people stop talking while they run for the exits!)


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: kendall
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 08:38 AM

I've had a lot of fun with hecklers. On the rare times they have tried it, that is. Remember, the performer has the mike, so, it is easy to make a fool out of a heckler, because, in many cases, they already have a head start.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Bobert
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 08:25 AM

Well, danged! Maybe ol' Bobert ougtta get a cage for postin' here in the Catbox? Awww, jus' funnin'....

Actually, Gargoyle's post was good because it should toughen me up in the case of a "heckler", right? Nice thing about being from a small town is that knowing just about everyone should make it easier to control a possible heckler.

But thanks for the distration, Gargoyle..

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: alanabit
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 08:08 AM

Gargoyle - an ugly distraction which one ignores on the way to better things...


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Deni-C
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 04:44 AM

That remark about the cage made me laugh. When I did rock music, it was a very real problem. sometimes fights would break out in clubs and no-one was nastier than the band when combatants were trampling all over their gear., and one I played in actually had the stage set 7 feet abouve the audience (don't know the meteric measurememnt , but taller than a very very very tall man) it also had railings round it and two bolted doors on the staircase entrance at top & bottom. despite all this, we occasionally had people trying to jump up and hang on to the railings. VERY Errol Flynn.

bet you don't get THAT much trouble in coffee houses!!

D


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 11:32 PM

Gargoyle ... I don't know what your problem is, but it's postings like your last one that make me want to hang it up. Bob


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 11:24 PM

You are a real work Mr. Bobert!!! -

You cheated the forum in your original posting...and it is apparent you cheat your audiences...and they know it. You can never command respect with such a duplipitous attitude.

You provided the answer to your original riddle....we are doing a blue grass jam four dooors up at another resturant and I'll be running between the two.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

It appears, Bobert, your only intent for this thread was to brag about the two simultaneous gigs and boast about the "nice thing" you have going....as I noted above IF....the performer is worthy,...the audience will be also.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 09:37 PM

Bobert ... funny you should mention the cage for musician protection. Here in Seattle we have an annual event called the "Bumbershoot Festival." About 25 years ago, when it was very new, maybe it's second year, I was hired to be one of the performing folkies on one of the stages in a tavern. I was one of three. Halfway through our first song, beer bottles came flying out of the audience toward us. I grabbed my guitar and ran. I think that was the LAST time I ever sang in front of a drinking crowd. By the way, I do believe that the Seattle Police Dept., uses videos of those earlier Bumbershoots as training films for the SWAT teams. CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Bobert
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 09:17 PM

Cluin:

LOL!

Ahhh, got any recommendations for the guage of wire caging we should use to protect the musicans?

Jus' funnin...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Cluin
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 09:07 PM

Turn up the volume on the system.

And throw a few swears into your songs/act. They'll listen.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Bobert
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 08:37 PM

LOL, Don. But, yeah, I might have to become a heavy. Buty I have this quirky sense of humor that makes even my heaviest only *lite heavy*.

One nice thing about where we are doing this is that there are three different major rooms to the joint and if folks wanta talk they can find another place with out leaving the joint. Another good thing is that we are doing a blue grass jam four dooors up at another resturant and I'll be running between the two, while talking with folks in one of the other rooms about future performances.

I'm taking my guitar but probably will not play until after the organized program. Plus, I'm going to play at the next one when the theme will be blues.

Thanks everyone. This is all good stuff.

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 12:58 PM

Well, I've had a lot of experience singing in coffeehouses. Not so much in the boozers.

In Seattle, the association between coffeehouses and folk music was established within the first few weeks after the first coffeehouse in Seattle opened in 1958. Most people went to a coffeehouse both to enjoy the coffees, teas, and pastries and to hear the singer or singers, so there was rarely a problem. Occasionally you would get a couple of people or sometimes a small group who were a bit loud and rowdy, once or twice actually heckling the singer, but they were usually dealt with by the management. For example, Stan James (a good singer himself), who ran The Corroboree, spent most of his time in the kitchen, but he kept an ear on what was going on out front. He would come out of the kitchen, assess the situation, and either politely point out to them that people came there to listen to the singer, and they were causing a disruption. A few times he tore up their check and told them to get the hell out and not ever come back. I've actually seen the audience break into applause when this happened, so Stan didn't have to repeat himself. This was pretty much the way things were handled in most of the coffeehouses around here.

Occasionally I had to deal with the matter myself. On one occasion, I was asked to sing at a new coffeehouse in Port Angeles, out on the Olympic peninsula. The coffeehouse had only been open for a few weeks, and I was the first singer they engaged. They also hired a young girl named Marilla Waesche. Marilla was very much a beginner to coffeehouse singing, but she knew some unusual songs, she had charm, and she had a lovely singing voice. I was introduced and I began to sing. The audience in general was pretty unreceptive. Some people wanted to listen and tried to shush the others, but the louder I sang, the louder they talked. No intervention from the management (who, incidentally, was very young and didn't really know what he was doing), so I finished my set and rose to introduce Marilla.

By then, I was pretty angry. I can put on a fairly loud and commanding voice when so inclined. I thanked those who were listening, but suggested that the others were apparently not familiar with civilized ways. Suddenly they were listening, and some of them were not too pleased with me. I just flat lectured them like a bunch of rowdy high school students (which some of them were). "Apparently some of you don't know how to behave in a place that offers entertainment. It's customary to listen to the entertainer. If you're are not interested or don't like the entertainer, you can leave—or you can shut up so you're not spoiling it for those who do. That's how it's done in the big city, folks! Now! Marilla Waesche is fairly new to singing in coffeehouses and, understandably, she's a bit nervous. But if you show her a little courtesy, you'll make this a pleasant experience for her, and you'll see that it's a pleasant experience for you, too. So let's give Marilla a warm welcome!" Suddenly, big applause!! From that point on, it was a good, attentive audience. The following night, some of those I had read out came back, and they were educating the newcomers. Sometime you just have to let people how they're supposed to behave.

And sometimes its just one person who is a chronic disruption. A guy named Alex used to frequent a coffeehouse where I sang regularly. He fancied himself an actor, and although he hadn't actually done much acting, he was full of advice for people such as myself who entertained. While someone was singing, he often ran his mouth while others were trying to listen. When spoken to about this, he asserted that it was the entertainer's responsibility to capture his attention, and if they didn't, well, tough Nabiscos. He reserved the right to behave as he wished. One evening, he was holding forth at a table when I began my set. I figured he'd quiet down once I started singing, but he didn't. He just raised his voice to talk over me and the PA system, despite the fact that he was embarrassing the people at the table with him, and people at other tables were giving him dirty looks. Stan was sufficiently occupied in the kitchen that he wasn't aware that Alex was doing it again. I figured it was time to deal with Alex once and for all. When I finished my first song of the set, I leaned very close into the microphone.

Suddenly, the Voice of God boomed and echoed through the place.
"ALEX. . . ." it said.
Alex looked up, surprised.
"ALEX, SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!"
The place burst into applause. Alex hesitated for a few seconds, then got up and walked out. That's the last I ever saw of him.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: JennyO
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 10:06 AM

My folk club is set up like a coffee shop. It is a unique situation, actually. During the week, in the daytime, it actually functions as one, as well as being a plant nursery, It is in the grounds of a former psychiatric hospital, in a beautiful old stone building with marvellous acoustics.

Because the audience know what they are there for, and have to pay to get in, we have no trouble with people talking at the wrong time, but we make sure that there are breaks where people have an opportunity to talk and get a coffee. We realised pretty early on that the singers could not compete very well with the coffee machine (with the notable exception of the Wheeze'n'Suck Band, who are known for their ability to drown out even the coffee machine) so it is turned off during the performances.

I think we have the best of both worlds! And we'll be doing it all again tomorrow night.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: kendall
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 09:50 AM

If someone puts the rowdies in their place, the ones who came to listen will appreciate it.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 09:24 AM

I'm not so sure that "If the performer is worthy the audience will be also". If there is a lot of talking going on even a worthy performer won't be heard properly and even if there is one loud table it will detract from the performance and make it difficult for those who want to listen to concentrate.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 08:22 AM

Bobert, I wasn't clear on that 30 minute "period." A typical math classroom (grades 6-12) for mainstream students has 30 minutes of teacher "on stage" activities, then uses the remaining time for doing homework assignments during classtime. This teacher-controlled time is analogous to performimg. It can be lecture to explain how to work a math problem...DON'T TALK MORE THAN 10 MINUTES; group question-and- answer dialog; challenge questions; boardwork; games for younger students; previous homework problems done on the board by students.

Think of your typical church service. The sermon is only about 20 minutes, but seems like forever if the speaker is not particularly gifted in public speaking.

Over the long run of a "performance," it really helps to vary the activity...with no one narrative longer than 10 minutes...be that a ballad, a type of music, or just any controlled activity. Hopefully, the various performers have arranged their sets to hold the audience's attention, but don't count on it. If you are the emcee, your main jobs will be to get the audience back and to facilitate smooth transitions.

PS: I like the idea of the quilt. Seems like that would set a "homey" atmosphere. As a side...Montessori classrooms emphasize the visual surroundings...they reduce the visual stimuli in order to promote a calm atmosphere.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Deni-C
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 02:32 AM

I think I would just put little stand-up cards on the tables asking (no RESPECTFULLY requesting )the patrons to keep talking to a minumum while the artists are on. That way you don't have to keep nagging. Allow the breaks between artists to be long enough so the poor beggars can chat occasionally as the social thing is what they're there for.

I agree with the guy who said take command, entertain them and they'll shut up. On the other hand sometimes audiences ARE just discussing and appreciate the music.


BUT give the audience too much stick and they'll think it's all a crashing bore and stay away in future. PA is also the best idea. Not too loud.....

good luck with the venture.

Deni


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 02:32 AM

Bobert, it strikes me that you have scant need of the advice of the likes of us! Your attitude as far as I can see would be hard to better. Audiences are fickle. If a venue is not a regular "music spot", then it will always take an m/c with a talent for being everybody's friend---plus a fair measure of the qualities suggested by Friend Gargoyle, above----


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: Jazzyjack
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 01:44 AM

Back in the fall I arrived at an open mic early and the host and I chatted about how rude it was to be talking during performance. After she did her thing, I got up AND SHE PROCEEDED TO TALK CONSTANTLY as I sang. Now I am the host of an open mic and although I was disgusted by her behavior, I find THAT I CAN'T SHUT UP COMPLETELY EITHER. People are trying to chat up the host all the time and discuss the music. Solution; Make sure it is not all acoustic. Have a loud enough sound system AND MONITOR so that the performers can hear themselves. They'll get used to it and the best will get the attention they deserve. Otherwise you'll find the experience of hosting to be a big pain.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 11:44 PM

Where you teach, Kentucky?



divide the period into three segments of about 10 minutes each



Never known a period less than 45 minutes, most ar 55/60 and some run 2 hours on block-schedule.



Holy Holly - no wondeer de litteracey rait be sow low in de woods.


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: open mike
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 11:44 PM

the espresso machine, as mentioned earlier, is harder to
cope with than conversation--you might ask the customers
to wait to order drinks requiring the steam engine bzzzzzzzzzz
to wait until break time, them make sure to leave a "coffee break"
in the middle , or between performers, for the cappuccino...
i have had trouble with ice machines, too sometimes, making
a racket. Will you have several performers? HOw do you
determine who plays when? Are there sign-ups? Is there
a pre-determined length for each time slot? Good LUCK!
enjoy and i hope your players and listeners enjoy, too!


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Subject: RE: Coffee House: How to Quiet Audience?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 11:40 PM

If the performer is worthy...the audience will be also.



Sincerely,

Gargoyle


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