Mudcat Café message #1249385 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #72464   Message #1249385
Posted By: wysiwyg
17-Aug-04 - 10:58 AM
Thread Name: Tech: Accoustic or Plugged
Subject: Churches for Performing Experience
There is a folk society not far from us that hosts a variety of events at several venues. One venue is ACOUSTIC ONLY, and anyone booked there (monthly events) is expected to perform totally acoustic. Period, no exceptions. And it's run as a listening room.

I recommend that if playing either acoustic or amped is a new approach for anyone, because you've usually done it the other way, try it out in a setting where you can play around with things and learn how to make it work for you. Don't wait till the Big Gig to make the change.

Our band's core members play weekly for a church service, and sometimes I also play/songlead alone or with one partner at other churches. It's amazing how much one can learn about performing by playing for church services. For one thing, the show really must go on, and the weekly commitment leaves no room for "But I'm sick and have no voice today" and so forth. At our church, we also have to set up ALL the sound equipment we may use, each and every time, and break it down again afterwards. So sometimes we do it all unplugged, and sometimes we amplify.

Basically, we CAN do either, but the choice of material may vary, as will the way in which each of us plays or sings or part to reach the back and sound clear, and to balance one another. One thing I always keep in mind, and have since we started as a jam/songleading group, is that if I am the sole vocalist putting the song across, the people will need to hear the vocal very clearly over the instruments, and some of us play quite loudly. So there are times I mic up for the vocal and let the rest go unplugged. Now I have a new co-leader so there are weeks I can toss the vocal job to him, if I'm off, but I would say in the last year that I did about 46 weeks out of the 52.

I remember one nightmare event we went out to play for-- another church's large picnic singalong-- with no sound equipment whatever. With one look at the site I knew we were in trouble, especially me. But we were over an hour from home base. The people sat in a huge spread-out circle after supper for a good sing-- and refused to move their lawn chairs up to sit closer (burpppp). So not only could I not easily reach THEM, they could not even hear each other sing! Despite this and despite the mistake of putting the singing AFTER supper instead of BEFORE, we put across a good solid hour, and I learned a lot about singing in those conditions.

Doing all this for years means that I've had lots of chances to make do with whatever is available or not available. Wherever we are asked to play, whoever I have snagged to join the line-up, or whatever sub-type of material we choose to suit the event's needs-- I have accumulated a reliable gut-sense of what can and cannot be done, and that we CAN give the people a good time in almost any circumstances. As our main singer this gives me enough confidence to relax my throat and sing well, and as our band's leader it gives me the experience to direct the band and reassure the nervous members credibly.

Churches are not the only place to gain low-risk performance experience, but they are grateful for people to come by when they can and play an offertory. Belief is generally not required. Last week a visiting flute/pennywhistle player gave us a great offertory with an O'Carolan piece AND helped me teach the band members how to play it, who had no experience with that sort of playing at all!