The Secret...

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The Secret...

Postby Honeyboy » Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:26 pm

What gets and keeps your audience's attention. In my opinion it's about creating Tension and Resolution in your playing. Of course the entire band has to do it too.

You do it harmonically, rhythmically, and dynamically.

Discuss...

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Re: The Secret...

Postby jeffl » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:07 pm

You might be correct.. if you include elements other than just the music in your summation. For example, I play both harp and keyboards, and I'm a sideman, not a frontman, BUT I've noticed that when I play harp out in front of my keyboard, I'm very animated physically; and when I'm playing keyboards and singing at the same time, my head and shoulders hardly move. So, I think I connect physically better on harp.
Phrasing and dynamics seem to be a big part of the tension & resolution thing, not to mention the use of suspended chords, dissonance (in forms other than the blues), etc.
I've always felt that the musicians who grew up playing headbanging music did not benefit from the greater emphasis placed on dynamics in other genres. That's a generalization though.
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Re: The Secret...

Postby j bird » Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:02 pm

I agree dynamics plays a big part of how we try and keep the audience engaged. Front men that can read a crowd well is probably as critical as anything....when the audience appears animated, dancing etc, it's good to keep that momentum going but also important to feel when it's time to slow it down.

Around here, what I witness as the single largest band foul in blues circles is to drag songs out considerably longer than they need to be. I don't care how great a soloist is in a band...I don't need to hear 2 minutes of solos per song. I think any song performed live that is over 4 minutes is too long w/ 3 minutes being the sweet spot for blues especially. It actually bothers me when our singer encourages a solo longer than 2 rounds. I just don't have that much to say generally...
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Re: The Secret...

Postby jeffl » Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:52 pm

j bird wrote:I agree dynamics plays a big part of how we try and keep the audience engaged. Front men that can read a crowd well is probably as critical as anything....when the audience appears animated, dancing etc, it's good to keep that momentum going but also important to feel when it's time to slow it down.

Around here, what I witness as the single largest band foul in blues circles is to drag songs out considerably longer than they need to be. I don't care how great a soloist is in a band...I don't need to hear 2 minutes of solos per song. I think any song performed live that is over 4 minutes is too long w/ 3 minutes being the sweet spot for blues especially. It actually bothers me when our singer encourages a solo longer than 2 rounds. I just don't have that much to say generally...

Generally, I agree with those sentiments about tune length. Jamming however is a different matter.
I jammed for years with a guy who I started calling "3:32", in jest.
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Re: The Secret...

Postby j bird » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:52 pm

I love jamming but I'll stand by my statement...I've seen it run patrons out the door all the time. I live in Austin though and this city is a magnet for Stevie Ray Wrongs....extended little wing, voodoo chile and sky is crying jams all day long :wha:
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Re: The Secret...

Postby jeffl » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:56 pm

Yer on the right track there, no doubt. One of the things I like about keeping tunes at that "sweet length" is you can build momentum in the crowd by keepin' the tunes coming & catchin' peoples' ears from a different angle continually.
It helps when different instruments are featured on different tunes, if you've got the lineup to do it. That's where the 3-piece power blues trios have to mix it up when they can. I have the luxury of playing harp or keyboards, ''n' that's fun for me.
Your points need to be remembered.
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Re: The Secret...

Postby j bird » Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:24 pm

Yeah, a lot of my perspective obviously relates to our line up. Our band is a support system to our singer. He writes all of his material...including the rhythm parts. His music doesn't stray much once the pattern is set...so there are no bridges, double time, etc happenin here. I think jazz blues or bands that introduce some significant changes in the tune along the way can pull off the longer jams much better than we can.

Your comments about instrumentation...totally agree. In our band a lot of the trade off is between my harp man and myself. I do about 80% of our songs on lap steel and then trade off on guitar for the rest. The steel / harp combination really gives the audience something different from the typical two guitar line up. I'm waiting on a custom baritone steel which I want to add to my live gear as well just to give yet another flavor element at times during the night. I would LOVE to have some keys in our band to do piano, B3 & rhodes.
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Re: The Secret...

Postby jeffl » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:33 pm

One of the guys who used to play mainly rhythm git for us also played lap. He was a house painter by trade, although he gigged constantly, but he was painting a house and stumbled across a Valco lap steel with an old '67 valco twin 18-watter tube (need I say tube?). The guy was gonna flat give it to him, but Muddy told him to at least accept a few hundred dollars.
I played harp through that little monster once. Hellacious harp amp. Lap really adds texture to darn near any genre.
All of these different elements help to keep the audience connected by refreshing their ears. I think sometimes we get lost in the playing end of the tune and forget that the listeners aren't participating in it as fully as we are.
I'm always amazed by how immersed you can get in playing a tune, to the point where you may not even be fully aware of some of the things you're doing. As a sideman, I feel like somebody looking out the window of a car going down the road: I'm seeing (hearing) different things constantly as they're rolling by. After the set one of the guys'll say something about your playing, and you can't even remember doing it.
Another thing, primarily for front man, but not necessarily: SMILE-- in fact, grin -- and you'll connect better. Fun is contagious, and it's all about fun. I have to remind myself to enjoy the experience, and grin continuously when the tune is leaning on a guitar or whatever. Alot of the best frontmen I've watched have a way of smiling at people & pullin' 'em into the tune.
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Re: The Secret...

Postby gatorblue » Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:46 am

I don't know if there is one secret, but I'll offer this. You need some variety to keep a crowd involved. I've had guys come up (I call 'em blues nazi's) and say somethng like--"you guys are pretty good, but XXX song you played was soul, not blues"---or ----"what are you doing playing Let it Bleed? I thought you guys were a blues band."
My answer is always the same--go to the the Smithsonian in DC where they have the song list Muddy Waters was using in Mississippi the week that Alan Lomax first recorded him in the delta. You'll find a lot of great blues songs, but you'll also find songs by Gene Autry, Hoagy Carmichael standards, and jazz hits of the day. My point is, Muddy realized that if you don't give the crowd some variety you're probably not going to be playing much.

A few years ago, I doubled up from my blues gigs and started doing a side-deal ---an acoustic gig that was 3-4 guys, depending on the nite. We did a lot of standards from the 40s as well as some Fats Waller and ragtime. We had guitars, mandolins, banjos, harp, and even an oboe some nights. It was a great time, we found a whole new audience and I learned a great deal playing that music which had much more complicated chord progressions and changes than blues songs. Blind Blake did some pretty heavy stuff--just play it sometime and you'll realize how deep the guy could be.

I think it gets back to not just playing for yourself, but playing for the audience too. Many blues musicians forget that. You can be as pure as you like, but deal with the crowd you can draw accordingly.
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Re: The Secret...

Postby houserocker » Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:13 pm

Blues Nazi's LOL I know a few of them down here in Fla!! Honeyboy we need to get together and play some day were both in the same area. Lord knows they have enough Open jams around here, lets play some Blues!
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Re: The Secret...

Postby Lo-Fi » Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:40 pm

I played my first gig in 1966 but gotta be honest I don't think I have ever once thought about things like tension and resolution.

But back when I was living in Mississippi I ended up going down a path similar to the one gatorblue took. To heck with the folks who had come to listen, I had reached a point where I was boring myself to death. So I took da bluz down some side roads and started adding all kinds of spices to the stew. I might show up one night with some ladies from a Baptist church choir to help with vocals and the next night with an accordian player. Yeah, we played "Let It Bleed" as well as "Salt of the Earth." If the guy with the accordian was there you might just hear "Wooly Bully" or "96 Tears" sandwiched in between some Kid Bailey, Bessie Smith or Lighnin' Hopkins. Not saying it was a great technical achievement in music. I think part of what was boring me was that I had become hung up on pursuing technique as diligently as possible. It was loose and boozy and lyrics and endings could get messed up in a hearbeat. But it was fun and that fun could be infectious.
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Re: The Secret...

Postby Honeyboy » Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:50 pm

Here's a band from down here in Florida that totally gets it. This live song is over 12 minutes long and I wasn't bored for a second. That's because they understand dynamics and how to create tension and resolution.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFPhYoR9Ebs

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Re: The Secret...

Postby jeffl » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:13 pm

Yer right Honeyboy. Lotsa space in there too, for not being a small band. Also, lotsa smilin'. And apparently not too much volume either. Alla those things son. yer right.
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Re: The Secret...

Postby 1four5 » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:39 am

Write songs about prominent people places stories and events in your city. People eat that up. Change lyrics to match up to your city. We do a blues version of Route 66, only changed it to the highway and towns that come through our state. People love it. Do a few rounds of "Who threw the whiskey in the well" and pick on audience members with it. Don't pass up a chance to sing happy birthday if you notice a birthday party going on. We have a great "My six pack has turned into a keg" getting older song that works great here. We could play complicated skilled musical pieces and fancy covers all night and loose a crowd. But we can suck and cut up and laugh and poke fun at people and our city and interact with our songs and instruments, and the tip jar fills up and we stay late playing encores.
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Re: The Secret...

Postby jeffl » Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:35 pm

really good tips onefer.
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