What music are you playing these days?

I have been trying to find music that means something to my audience today. That is, a different audience than I have known in the decades gone by.

Have you changed the content of your show lately?

How do you choose what to play?

Things that I have been doing lately:

  • Asking the staff and management at the places where I play for ideas.
  • Listening to music has been written lately. For me, that's anything written in this century.
  • Learning some of this new material, performing it and then talking to the audience (usually one-on-one) about it.
  • Wondering if it is better to be age appropriate and to stick to the music from my era, or press ahead at the risk of being the old guy playing Hey there Delilah, Whistle For The Choir, 1234, Gravity. Oh - but I do so love it when people sing along to tunes like this.
  • Thinking about putting together another band to do ...?



What about you? How do you decide what to play? If you are incorporating contemporary music in your show, how are you doing that? Where do find that music?

Thanks for any input here.


Background
A lot has changed for me since the beginning of the year. I got a steady gig playing solo and have recently been having people sit in with me as accompanists.

This means that I get to pick the songs, set the arrangements, and give other folks the nod when it's their time to solo.

For most of my musical life, I've been a side-man and occasional on-stage musical director. Taking centre stage and having others to support me is really different.

From the side, I always played whatever the headliner or the band wanted to play with respect to the music and the arrangements. I might have some input but ultimately I ceded most of the decisions to someone else. That's all changed now and it gives me the ability and responsibility to choose the music.

In the beginning I went back through all the tunes I have played on a regular basis and

  • Learned the lyrics (no small feat)
  • Did arrangements to do them solo, indulging myself in being able to do them as I had always wanted to, except for the inherent limitations of playing solo
  • Hit a little culture shock when I realized that almost everything in the list was at least 25 years old.



The L1® connection here? I KNOW that I would not be playing solo or headlining if it weren't for the lessons I've learned and the changes I've made in the last four years. Most of these were because with the L1® I can actually hear myself. But just being here in the message board has had a huge impact on the way I think about and experience music.

So back to you.

What about you? How do you decide what to play? If you are incorporating contemporary music in your show, how are you doing that? Where do you find that music.

Edit: grammar

Original Post
ST - wonderful question, discussion & starting point!

I still play the same old stuff, I bet most OLDER than 25 years. Except for the "new" Eagles song, which was actually written 17 years ago, or in the 70's, I can't remember. That strikes me funny for some reason.

A year or so ago I bought some new CD's, trying to find a contemporary song or few, same intent as you now. I bought Mayer, Coldplay, couple of others I don't recall right now. I don't guess I found anything that struck me. I'm on a Coldplay internet list, for some reason.

If I WAS to really learn something new, from what I hear, it would be easier to find a country song than rock. I fear I am an old fogie with regard to new rock(?) or alternative or whatever it is.

In our band, it seems our performances are most often pretty limited in terms of TIME to play, and we have so many very good songs already, I have great trouble deciding what to drop, for any new ones to add. We recently added That Thing You Do by "The Wonders" - movie song, and Lies by the Knickerbockers. Those are basically Beatle songs anyway...

So, once every 3rd or 4th gig I get one request for Dave Matthews or somebody like that, obviously from a 20-something. I feel bad having to say "No". I SHOULD learn at least some snippets from these newer artists - that would be better than my usual "Do I LOOK like I know any Dave Matthews?" - trying for the lighter response, but I may be being too smart-castic. At least I didn't say smart-asterisk...

If I could find new songs, that I like, that I feel I could do justice to as well as bring in a little of myself, I would. I wonder if a new song fitting that criteria would be a lot "like" the great older songs, which I already like and already know?

Thanks for bringing this up - I will watch with interest.

Mike
quote:
Where do find that music?

Hi ST!

Interestingly, I have recently stumbled onto an application called Pandora. For those not familiar with it, I’ll try to explain briefly. It’s an Internet program that lets you enter your favorite artists and/or style of music and then through the power of artificial intelligence of some kind and Internet searching facilities, it searches out other artists and songs which have similar characteristics and plays that music for you. I have found several artists and songs I had never heard of before via Pandora and continue to find interesting songs and artists. It’s just fascinating! This is really one of the first times I feel I have tapped the real power of the Internet and the resources available for information retrieval. This is an amazing application for musical exploration, in my opinion.

quote:
Have you changed the content of your show lately?

No, we really haven’t changed much in the last decade or so. I doubt we will any time soon, either. Our music repertoire is composed of songs from the turn of the 20th century to today, which are in the acoustic folk arena, bluegrass, and old-tyme music genres. But, I find myself listening today to much more new-age Bluegrass (if that’s a genre) and strictly acoustic type music performed on mandolin, banjo, fiddle or guitar. Stuff like; Russ Barenberg, Matt Flinner, or David Grier. These artists play a more contemporary style of music, compared to the Bill Monrore and Flatt & Scruggs style of Bluegrass music. I’d like to play more of this music, but I don’t see us doing it anytime soon.

So there you go….relevance of music in the 21st century for me…. I’ll admit, since being involved with the L1 for the last couple of years, my technical and “listening” skills have expanded immensely. I can not listen to amplified music any longer without critiquing it for balance, quality, sound, etc. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not… sometimes I can’t get past the problems I hear, to enjoy the music of a live performance. Being involved with the L1 has certainly raised my standards for a good musical performance and entertaining evening. Is that relevant?

Great topic...thanks for bringing it up...and like Mike-in-Texas, I'll be watching for others to chime in here.
I'm like the rest of you - I get requests for newer stuff mostly play the old stuff. It's hard for me to play music that I can't connect with personally. (I'm trying to be kind here. There's some decent stuff out there, but I'm too old to "get" most of it.)

Tom
I'm pretty up front with my audience. I usually state early in the show that I take requests, but I don't know anything recent.

As some of you may recall I have been computerizing my song/lyric list. I keep finding songs that I forgot that I knew! Searching the name of most any artist gives you all of their discography. I find myself saying "Oh, I know that one, and that one". Of course some of these are not worthy of reviving, but it is keeping me pretty busy. I think my audience (especially regulars) are liking it.

Respect,
Col. Andy
Well... I'm in the same boat as the rest of you guys... I tend to play the older songs that I liked when I was younger (60's thru the early 80's). However, I do listen for newer songs that I like and lend themselves to the type of solo music that I play (John Mayer comes to mind).
I play at a country club here in town [with a crowd about my age... only MUCH wealthier ;-)] and get lots of comments about how much they enjoy the choice of music.

On the other side of the coin, I recently played at a place where some of my friend's kids came... I was talking to them afterwards and one guy said " Boy, I only recognized one or two of the songs you played tonite." I asked "Which ones?"... turns out the ones he recognized were covered by a couple of the groups getting airplay now...

AS far as requests, I accomodate when I can (that's where the larger tips seem to come from)... and I also carry 8-10 copies of my playlist (song titles and artists) and if I don't know the request, I give the person requesting the song a copy of the list so that he/she can take a look and see if there's something else they might like to hear... works fairly well... helps to jog their memory...

I cringe when I remember this, but at one gig I overheard someone say "Who are the Beatles?"... go figure...

Dan
I copied my song list from my official site below (sorry it's long). I have the ability to remember lyrics. I actually never realized that this was an 'ability' until I started playing with other musicians more often and found out that many can't do this so easily. I play about a hundred more songs than indicated in the list, but for commercial reasons I don't list them and stick to the meat of my material. I was interviewed recently by a Newport RI newspaper and I told the guy that I was concentrating on learning newer stuff, like Green Day. He said, "Well, they're not that new anymore". I laughed. He's right.

For me, a mostly solo performer who covers songs from bluegrass to rock and pop, it comes down to having to like a song and finding a way to identify with it most of the time. At the same time, I recognize that someone will want to hear American Pie or Sweet Caroline. Not my favorites to perform, but I've figured them out enough to get 'em done.

I write my own material and perform it. Doing the occasional song I don't like so much keeps me employed and let's me do my originals and the covers I like. When I do covers, I try to bring an original feel to the song while not reinventing it so much that people might get annoyed. I finally figured out James Taylor's Country Road after so many years of being too lazy to work out the fingerpicking on it. But at the end, you know where JT starts going, "na na na na na na na...."? I just add my own vocal there by stretching some notes out and going into head voice a bit. What I'm getting at is that I keep the majority of the tune intact but have some fun reworking the melody line a bit.

I can't sing some songs (like Delilah, ST) if I feel too uncomfortable with the age/experience thing. Someone once asked Johnny Cash how he could learn a modern tune and make it his own and he said something to the effect of, "Well, you just have to do it again and again until you own it". That's my approach. Recently, I've forged into previously untapped (for me) territory and acquired a Taylor T5 electric. I'm trying to learn some Stray Cats rockabilly stuff and use it for some upbeat numbers where I add some bass and drum tracks (about 80 percent of what I do is solo acoustic, minus the tracks but they do liven up the right venue if need be).

I love talking about this stuff. Can you tell?

SONG LIST

Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
Take it Easy - Eagles
Norwegian Wood - Beatles
Wild Night - Van Morrison
Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffett
Sweet Baby James - James Taylor
Down on the Corner - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Play Me Stairway to Heaven - Wayne Morrison
Mr. Bojangles - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Sympathy for the Devil - Rolling Stones
Babylon - David Gray
Gravity - John Mayer
No Woman, No Cry - Bob Marley
Rhode Island Blues - Wayne Morrison
I Will Follow You into the Dark - Death Cab For Cutie
Birthday - Beatles
Drift Away - Dobie Gray
In the Early Morning Rain - Gordon Lightfoot
A Pirate Looks at Forty - Jimmy Buffett
Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian - John Prine
Beautiful Boy - John Lennon
Third Rate Romance - Amazing Rhythm Aces
Who'll Stop the Rain - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Throw It Back - Wayne Morrison
A Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash
I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty
The River - Bruce Springsteen
The Weight - The Band
I Got a Name - Jim Croce
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing - Jack Johnson
The Finish Line - Wayne Morrison
Angel From Montgomery - John Prine/Bonnie Raitt
Long Black Veil - The Band
Strawberry Fields Forever - Beatles
Soldier of Fortune - Wayne Morrison
Son of a Son of a Sailor - Jimmy Buffett
Handy Man - James Taylor
These Boots are Made for Walking - Nancy Sinatra
Father and Son - Cat Stevens
The House of the Rising Sun - Traditional Folk
That's Allright Mama - Elvis/Rod Stewart
Lodi - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Carmelita - Warren Zevon
A Whiter Shade of Pale - Procul Harum
Desperado - Eagles
My My Hey Hey - Neil Young
Blackbird - Beatles
Deja Vu All Over Again - John Fogerty
You Can Be a Star Just Like Me - Wayne Morrison
Working Class Hero - John Lennon/Green Day
Shake, Rattle and Roll - Bill Haley
Mustang Sally - Wilson Pickett
It Take a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry - Bob Dylan
Rocky Raccoon - Beatles
Bad Moon Risin' - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Lay Lady Lay - Bob Dylan
El Condor Pasa - Simon and Garfunkel
Unhappy Anniversary - Loudon Wainwright III
Across the Universe - Beatles
La Bamba - Richie Valens
Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan
Why Don't We Get Drunk - Jimmy Buffett
Country Road - James Taylor
Angie - Rolling Stones
I Believe You Might See This Differently - Wayne Morrison
All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan
Peaceful, Easy Feeling - The Eagles
Dancing in the Dark - Bruce Springsteen
She Thinks I Still Care - James Taylor/George Jones
Wild Horses - Rolling Stones
Yellow - Cold Play
Cheeseburger in Paradise - Jimmy Buffett
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere - Byrds/Dylan
Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
Wake Me Up When September Ends - Green Day
Man Smart, Woman Smarter - King Radio
Sunday Morning Coming Down - Kris Kristofferson
Looking East - Wayne Morrison
Memphis - Chuck Berry
Get Back - Beatles
Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan
Sunshine Superman - Donovan
Battle of New Orleans - Johnny Horton
Runaround Sue - Dion
The Wine Song - Wayne Morrison
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Little Sister - Ry Cooder/Elvis
I Fought the Law - Bobby Fuller Four
I'll Never Write a Song for Me and You - Wayne Morrison
Domino - Van Morrison
Wagon Wheel - Old Crow Medicine Show
Fire on the Mountain - Marshall Tucker Band
Twist and Shout - Isley Bros./Beatles
Keep Your Hands to Yourself - Georgia Satellites
Jambalaya - John Fogerty/Hank Williams
Lori - Wayne Morrison
Hey Good Lookin' - Hank Williams
Help - Beatles
The Wedding Song - Paul Stookey
Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
Sweet Home Rhode Island - lyrics by W. Morrison (apologies to Lynyrd Skynyrd)
I've Just Seen a Face - Beatles
What's Left Behind - Wayne Morrison
Volcano - Jimmy Buffett
Living on Tulsa Time - Eric Clapton
Behind Blue Eyes - The Who
Sloop John B. - Beach Boys
New York's Not My Home - Jim Croce
Ticket to Ride - The Beatles
Long Gone Lonesome Blues - Hank Williams/Sheryl Crow
Crazy Love - Van Morrison
Rain - Beatles
Have You Ever Seen Rain - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Fields of Gold - Sting
Jealous Guy - John Lennon
You're a Big Girl Now - Bob Dylan
All I Have To Do Is Dream - Everly Brothers
I Hear You Knockin' - Dave Edmunds
Cats in the Cradle - Harry Chapin
Come Together - Beatles
Havana Daydreaming - Jimmy Buffett
Out On the Weekend - Neil Young
Can You Hear Me Captain - Wayne Morrison
Pancho and Lefty - Jerry Jeff Walker/Merle Haggard/Willy Nelson
Honky Tonk Women - Rolling Stones
Fishin' Blues - Taj Mahal/Wayne Morrison
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away - Beatles
Just Another Town Along the Road - Jackson Browne
You Don't Mess Around With Jim - Jim Croce
My Hometown - Bruce Springsteen
Season of the Witch - Donovan
Kansas City Blues - Muddy Waters
Biloxi - Jimmy Buffett
Stir It Up - Bob Marley
Peggy Sue - Buddy Holly
Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley/Rufus Wainwright
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road - Loudon Wainwright III
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
On the Blue Train - Wayne Morrison
The Banana Republic - Steve Goodman/Jimmy Buffet
Someday Never Comes - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Our Country - John Mellencamp
Move it on Over - George Thorogood/Hank Williams
I Saw Her Standing There - The Beatles
The City of New Orleans - Arlo Guthrie
Imagine - John Lennon
Blue Suede Shoes - Elvis
Is She Really Going Out With Him - Joe Jackson
Green River - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Stuck in the Middle With You - Stealers Wheel
Fisherman Blues - The Waterboys
Saint James Bar Room - Traditional Blues
Steel Rail Blues - Gordon Lightfoot
Magnolia - J.J. Cale
Simple Kind of Man - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Up On Cripple Creek - The Band
Squeezebox - The Who
Square One - Tom Petty
Solitary Man - Neil Diamond
Instant Karma - John Lennon
Carolina In My Mind - James Taylor
Don't Let Me Down - The Beatles
Knocking on Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
One Man Guy - Loudon Wainwright III
American Pie - Don McLean
I Walk the Line - Johnny Cash
In My Life - The Beatles
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - Bob Dylan
What Light - Wilco
I'm Gonna Love You Like There's no Tomorrow - Peter Rowan
Ophelia - The Band
Play With Fire - Rolling Stones
Truckin' - The Grateful Dead
Losing My Religion - R.E.M.
Slip Slidin' Away - Paul Simon
I Will be the One - Wayne Morrison
Helplessly Hoping - Crosby, Stills & Nash
Broken Down Cowboy - John Fogerty
Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes - Jimmy Buffett
Good Riddance (I Hope You Had The Time Of Your Life) - Green Day
Jailhouse Rock - Elvis
The Pilgrim - Kris Kristofferson
Roadhouse Blues - The Doors
Positively 4th Street - Bob Dylan
Why Don't Ya Love Me - Hank Williams
IRISH SONGS
The Wild Rover
Keep Your Hands Off Red-Haired Mary
Sailor's Prayer
The Galway Shawl
Wild Mountain Thyme
Dirty Old Town
Leave Her Johnny
You're Not Irish
What Will We Do With a Drunken Sailor
Mountain Dew
Whiskey in the Jar
Blow the Man Down
The Town I Loved so Well
The Grey Funnel Line
Molly Malone
The Leaving of Liverpool
Danny Boy
I'll Tell Me Ma
The Rare Auld Times
Bound for South Australia
Carrickfergus
Haul Boys Haul
Green Fields of France
Finnegan’s Wake
The Holy Ground
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
The Parting Glass
By the Rising of the Moon
The Irish Rover
GUITAR TUNES
Pachebel's Canon in D
Ode to Joy
Sonata in A
The Wedding Chorus
Morrison's Pig
The Captain's Farewell
Saint Anne's Reel
Cattle in the Cane
The Road to Lisdoonvarna
Sailor's Hornpipe
Cookoo's Nest
Staten Island Hornpipe
Whiskey Before Breakfast
Darcy's Guitar
Red Haired Boy
Done Gone
Whingding
Flop Eared Mule
Key to the Kingdom
BANJO TUNES
Dueling Banjos
Dear Old Dixie
Banjo Signal
Cripple Creek
Rueben's Train
Brian Boru's March
Clinch Mountain Backstep
John Hardy
Fireball Mail
Theme Time
Jesus Maloney
Old Joe Clark
Wildwood Flower
Nashville Skyline Rag
Lonesome Road Blues
Foggy Mountain Breakdown

For the holidays, I perform a selection of seasonal tunes.

As for my bluegrass band, Looking East, we have a large catalog of traditional and modern songs and tunes available upon request.
Hello jayare,
Yes, songs from the 30's 40's and 50's were being played in the sixties, but by older musician's than we were. I was 11 when I started playing and singing for nickles and dimes in corner bars in 1962.In these bars there were men in their 50's playng Hank Williams Sr. and the like on their song list. I was playing songs by the Animals,Kinks and such that that age group couldn't grasp. I learned quick that in order to please the crowd I had to learn the songs they were acustomed to. During this phase I learned music appreciation and still play some very old stuff I learned then and still like. Some day this 2000 music will be Classic 2000 to a whole new era of kids. The cycle goes on , life is great.
I learn a new song when it really speaks to me or I need to learn it for a wedding or event. Currently I'm doing:

"Heaven" by Los Lonely Boys
"Baby Got Back" folk version which is a recent remake by Jonathan Coulton
"Rack 'Em Up" by Jonny Lang
"Here in the Real World" by Alan Jackson
Several new original folk songs by folk writers in my area

There are several more that I can't find in my last save off the laptop.

I get younger folks coming out to hear me quite often because they want to hear 70's songs.

Tom
Hey Everybody,

Thank you for all the food for thought. The song lists are interesting and fun. Maybe we should start another discussion thread for comparing those. Done. See: Song Lists

I am really interested in the thinking or feeling that goes into deciding what you will play. In lead post, I described a little of the background to this question. After reading the replies so far, I realized that many of the songs in my repertoire are songs that were relevant to the people I accompanied, and the audiences that they wanted to reach. Most of those performers are still reaching out to those same audiences. I mean the same people, the same bump in the demographic. I guess they are all floating on the same raft in the river of time.

quote:
What about you? How do you decide what to play? If you are incorporating contemporary music in your show, how are you doing that? Where do you find that music.


Thanks folks.
Actually...I like a LOT of different styles,and I like to try my hand at everything..which can be a hassle when someone says.."Well,what kind of music do you play?"
---Since I generally make my own backing tracks..which can take anywhere from hours,to weeks..Some of my "decision makers" for incorporating a song (new or old)into my list are:
1--Has it been requested more than once?
2--Will the audience like it?
2--will I be able to pull it off,vocal-wise
and/or musically?
3--Am I going to be getting a LOT of
mileage out of this tune?
4--Will it work for a lot of different
audiences?
5--Will I enjoy playing it (notice this is last!)

PS---The New Kenny Chesney song(Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven) ...is gonna work ...
Well, pick the songs that speak to you & that you can do in your way. Then read the crowd & see how they are reacting to them. That's my best advice.

I find new music either on iTunes or sometimes even on Pandora. I subscribe to the World Cafe podcast & etown where I hear new stuff I like sometimes as well.

Tom
quote:
What about you? How do you decide what to play? If you are incorporating contemporary music in your show, how are you doing that? Where do you find that music.


Well...ST...let me take a stab, but my experience may not be terribly relevant. Our music is mostly original songs that are written about things that our type of audience cares about. I usually write the lyrics first. Then I work on the chord structure and rythm that provides an emotional base that matches those lyrics. I pretty much ignore stylistic constraints, though songs written with a guitar tend to be different than those written with a keyboard, for example.

The melody comes last, and it almost writes itself. I usually work over a song until it sticks and I can really get into it. The more I lose myself in the song, the more the audience gets it. I think that is really the key, no matter what you play.

Music that isn't alive in your mind will never come alive in your fingers and voice. And if it doesn't come alive for you, then how can an audience expect to identify. On the other hand, it has become clear to me that if it resonates with me, then there are certain people who will gravitate to it.

We do some other music that we haven't written (about 20%), and that ranges from some done in the 1600's all the way to the 2000's. The only constant is that it has to come alive in our minds first, then when the audience is exposed to it, they resonate with it. Sometimes they are surprised to find out it was one of those "old" songs that their great grandmother used to sing.

So...I chose music that is real and alive to me, and I trust that this will transfer to the audience. Light your heart on fire and stoke it to a white hot flame. People will come to watch you burn no matter what you sing.
Tom, regarding your comment on writing a song that is 'alive in your mind' (I love that phrase, by the way), Paul McCartney said he and Lennon used to throw songs out in the air. If they couldn't remember the song the next day and pick up the writing process again, they figured it wasn't worth pursuing at all.

Wish I had a couple of the ones they threw away.....
Yeah, the response thing is the real key in performing I think. Sometimes I have to abandon a tune I really want to do because it doesn't connect the way I'd like it to.

Sometimes in live performing, a simple rhythmic lick gets a lot more response than a comples guitar run does. I think the musicians dig the run but the audience wants the groove.
Side note: I've posted more in the last couple of days than all summer. I bet you're in the same boat? When summer cools down the gigs slow down and more time on hands? I can't remember if I told you at the Bose gathering in MA but I used to live in Aurora back in the ancient seventies.
Cool, Wayne. Yes, I have more time on my hands right now too. I'm trying to get booked up & get busy though. I'm always happy to help here when I can.

I'm glad ST started this topic. It's making me really think about why I play what I play.

I don't make set lists unless I'm playing with players who want that. I pretty much fly with what I read in my audience. I pick my songs as a mix of what is requested & what I like. I can usually plug some of myself into a song to make it my own. It is hard to find new songs that I can connect with. I tend to head toward new folk & western music more than rock since those songs bear more resemblance to the songs of my youth. Sometimes I hear something that speaks to me.

The funny thing is that some of the requests I get from younger people are songs that THEY think I will do well after listening to me play. So sometimes it's very valuable to listen to those requests.

Tom
Hi John (JohnNell),

quote:
Originally posted by JohnNell:
quote:
Where do you find that music?

Hi ST!

Interestingly, I have recently stumbled onto an application called Pandora. For those not familiar with it, I’ll try to explain briefly. It’s an Internet program that lets you enter your favorite artists and/or style of music and then through the power of artificial intelligence of some kind and Internet searching facilities, it searches out other artists and songs which have similar characteristics and plays that music for you.

Thanks for this John. This sounds like an interesting service. I checked into it and unfortunately Pandora tracks who is using their site. Their service is not available to people in Canada.
quote:

quote:
Have you changed the content of your show lately?

No, we really haven’t changed much in the last decade or so. I doubt we will any time soon, either. Our music repertoire is composed of songs from the turn of the 20th century to today, which are in the acoustic folk arena, bluegrass, and old-tyme music genres. ...


I play with different acts on a regular basis. They play different kinds of music and have different audiences. One of the reasons that it has been relatively easy move in and out of these different acts is, they are pretty stable, consistently playing the same tunes they always have. That's okay — they are all crowd pleasers.
quote:


So there you go….relevance of music in the 21st century for me….


Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this.
quote:


I’ll admit, since being involved with the L1 for the last couple of years, my technical and “listening” skills have expanded immensely.

I can not listen to amplified music any longer without critiquing it for balance, quality, sound, etc. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not… sometimes I can’t get past the problems I hear, to enjoy the music of a live performance. Being involved with the L1 has certainly raised my standards for a good musical performance and entertaining evening. Is that relevant?


I think it is relevant.

Except when I am providing the sound-reinforcement, I try really hard to hear the music and tune out the interference. Let me put that into context.

"Learning a second language can be affected by the patterns of the first language. This is referred to as linguistic interference."
—— source: Learning Language (This is a really interesting topic and there are many parallels to our L1® experience).

I think that this issue affects the way some people approach playing through the L1®. I think it affects some of us after we have grown accustomed to the L1®.

But however much the L1® has affected the way I perceive music, the way that it has demanded more while leveraging what I give it has been well worth the little discomfort that hearing better brings.
Hi Wayne (captbanjo)

quote:
Originally posted by captbanjo:
... I have the ability to remember lyrics...

Most of the people I accompany have huge (to me) repertoires. I can play along with them, knowing what I need to in the moment, and knowing virtually nothing of the experience once the song is over. I guess we are all wired a little differently.
quote:


I was interviewed recently by a Newport RI newspaper and I told the guy that I was concentrating on learning newer stuff, like Green Day. He said, "Well, they're not that new anymore". I laughed. He's right.

I get this completely...

I just don't know how people find new music any more. By the time I hear it, it's not that new.
quote:


For me, a mostly solo performer who covers songs from bluegrass to rock and pop, it comes down to having to like a song and finding a way to identify with it most of the time. At the same time, I recognize that someone will want to hear American Pie or Sweet Caroline. Not my favorites to perform, but I've figured them out enough to get 'em done.

Most of the songs that I know I learned by playing with people who were doing covers. Sometimes that's good and sometimes not so.
quote:


I write my own material and perform it. Doing the occasional song I don't like so much keeps me employed and let's me do my originals and the covers I like. When I do covers, I try to bring an original feel to the song while not reinventing it so much that people might get annoyed...


Many of the songs that really speak to me and that I love to share are relatively obscure. Obscure enough that people used to ask if I wrote them. I would take that as a wonderful compliment. These days, playing solo more, I can take a moment to introduce songs and tell people a little bit about the songwriter or the person who taught it to me.

I am a terrible mimic and so I don't fare well with songs that have a strong signature sound. At least I don't fare well if I try to mimic that signature sound.
quote:

I can't sing some songs (like Delilah, ST) if I feel too uncomfortable with the age/experience thing. Someone once asked Johnny Cash how he could learn a modern tune and make it his own and he said something to the effect of, "Well, you just have to do it again and again until you own it". That's my approach.

Hey There Delilah was an experiment and is a huge stretch, as are 1234 and Whisper for the Choir. 1234 was really out there for me, but Feist is Canadian and that goes over big in some crowds. I get the impression from some of the older folks in my audience, that they like going with me to that place of innocent optimism. I also know someone who candidly tells me that I am foolish to be doing these songs, but that person NEVER goes out to hear live music.
quote:


Recently, I've forged into previously untapped (for me) territory and acquired a Taylor T5 electric. I'm trying to learn some Stray Cats rockabilly stuff and use it for some upbeat numbers where I add some bass and drum tracks (about 80 percent of what I do is solo acoustic, minus the tracks but they do liven up the right venue if need be).


It sounds like interesting and fun times for you Wayne.

I really have to get some serious play time with a T5. I was having a problem and it was real struggle to play standing up for a few years - especially with an acoustic. That's getting better now and I am enjoying that whole different energy I have, especially vocally when standing. I still prefer to play the acoustic guitars sitting down so I can keep the neck really stable. It helps me to keep the rhythm. If I'm standing, I'm playing electric and there is a rhythm section.

quote:


I love talking about this stuff. Can you tell?



It shows.

I am sorry we didn't have more time to talk in Ashland.
Hi Dan, (dandyman)

quote:
Originally posted by dandyman:
...

On the other side of the coin, I recently played at a place where some of my friend's kids came... I was talking to them afterwards and one guy said " Boy, I only recognized one or two of the songs you played tonite." I asked "Which ones?"... turns out the ones he recognized were covered by a couple of the groups getting airplay now...

In one of my forays to find find new music I came across a song being played by a lesser known Canadian alternative rocker. I thought that he had written it when he recorded it, 2006 I think. I really liked the song, and worked it into my repertoire. I was quite excited to add this contemporary song to the list.

I played it one night and a fellow my age came over and thanked me for reviving this tune and sharing it with the younger audience (the crowd that night). It turns out that this song Don't Want to Know - John Martyn is perhaps 30 years old. John Martyn is 60 years old this week. If you want to explore his music, there is plenty of it on youtube, and all the lyrics are on his web site. I am working on a couple more of his tunes now. This one goes over well with all ages May You Never.

Maybe sharing the older music is still relevant in the 21st century.
Hi Mike (Mike-in-Texas)

quote:
Originally posted by Mike in Texas:

A year or so ago I bought some new CD's, trying to find a contemporary song or few, same intent as you now. I bought Mayer, Coldplay, couple of others I don't recall right now. I don't guess I found anything that struck me. I'm on a Coldplay internet list, for some reason.

I've been spending too much time on youtube lately. — guilty!
quote:


...

So, once every 3rd or 4th gig I get one request for Dave Matthews or somebody like that, obviously from a 20-something. I feel bad having to say "No". I SHOULD learn at least some snippets from these newer artists - that would be better than my usual "Do I LOOK like I know any Dave Matthews?"

I couldn't let this go unacknowledged.

quote:


If I could find new songs, that I like, that I feel I could do justice to as well as bring in a little of myself, I would. I wonder if a new song fitting that criteria would be a lot "like" the great older songs, which I already like and already know?


Great question.

At a recent show, there was a young fellow (I'll call him Lance) who seemed to be really enjoying the music, and who had a player's fascination with my instruments. During a break I learned that he works for a boutique-ish music store that tries to carry lesser known but worthy instruments from local luthiers. I haven't been to that store in a decade. It's a little out of my way and I haven't really felt the need to get another acoustic Guitar since 1998.

To get to the point...
I went to the shop with an instrument I rarely play to get it appraised and to see what was new and interesting. The store owner offered my a decent price for the Guitar I brought in, so I looked around the store.

Lance, the fellow who was at the gig was there, and he energetically brought me all kinds of wonderful instruments to try.

After an hour or so it was obvious that everything I liked sounded very similar to the Guitars that I gig with now.

Lance notice this. Oddly, I had missed it. Having heard what I am playing now, Lance said, "We would still like to buy that Guitar you brought in, but I don't think we have anything to sell you that is an improvement on what you've got". The subtext was, "I have shown you lots of things but your tastes are your tastes, and the best we could do is to sell you something very similar to something you already have".

So if I were to look at new material the way I looked at instruments that day, there would be no reason to reach forward into the present and make the investment in contemporary music.

I think the difference is, the audiences are not there to relate to the instruments. If we are lucky, they are there to relate to the music or maybe, as some have suggested, to relate to us the performers. If their musical palette has been conditioned by their version of contemporary music (as ours was by the music of "our" day), are we more relevant if we are playing music that sounds like it could have been written today?
Hi Col. Andy

quote:
Originally posted by Col. Andy:
I'm pretty up front with my audience. I usually state early in the show that I take requests, but I don't know anything recent.

As some of you may recall I have been computerizing my song/lyric list. I keep finding songs that I forgot that I knew! Searching the name of most any artist gives you all of their discography. I find myself saying "Oh, I know that one, and that one". Of course some of these are not worthy of reviving, but it is keeping me pretty busy. I think my audience (especially regulars) are liking it.

Respect,
Col. Andy


I am finding that at least some of the regulars notice and appreciate that we keep working at the craft, refining, expanding, culling and rejuvenating the material.

Sounds like your audience is like that. Nice challenge.
Hi jayare,

Thanks for sharing decision makers with us.

quote:
Originally posted by jayare:
Actually...I like a LOT of different styles,and I like to try my hand at everything..which can be a hassle when someone says.."Well,what kind of music do you play?"
---Since I generally make my own backing tracks..which can take anywhere from hours,to weeks..Some of my "decision makers" for incorporating a song (new or old)into my list are:
1--Has it been requested more than once?
2--Will the audience like it?
2--will I be able to pull it off,vocal-wise
and/or musically?
3--Am I going to be getting a LOT of
mileage out of this tune?
4--Will it work for a lot of different
audiences?
5--Will I enjoy playing it (notice this is last!)




I haven't figured out how to incorporate backing tracks let alone make 'em

quote:

... which can take anywhere from hours,to weeks



but it takes me a ridiculously long time to learn a song. Nothing as short as hours, and weeks or months is closer to reality for me.

I'll probably have to put more conscious thought into the selection criteria (just as you have done). So thanks for sharing that.
Music is neither young or old......"it just is". I refuse to let the "standards" die and always do at least 10 standards during the evening. In fact last night I did "moonglow" and the dance floor filled with mid 20's age group along with middle aged and retirement aged guests. One young lady came over and said......."I just love that song"!. So I moduated into "Where or When" and I swear everyone was kissing on the dance floor! Ahhhhhhh........you guys don't know what your missing if you dont' do some middle of the road standard tunes. Why do you thing Rod Stwart, and Manilow, and Kenny Rogers and some of the "rockers" are not paying for studio time to record the standards? It's because they want to prove that "they" can also sing the songs of the great arrangers! OH well..I can't wait for the "fallout" from my comments here! LOL!
Hey Tom,


quote:
Originally posted by Tom Munch:

I'm like the rest of you - I get requests for newer stuff mostly play the old stuff. It's hard for me to play music that I can't connect with personally. (I'm trying to be kind here. There's some decent stuff out there, but I'm too old to "get" most of it.)

Tom


This is to all of us who might have nodded as we read this (above).

It sounds to me like, within a nickel or a dime most of us are in the same time slot.
And I hate to admit it, but in the last ten years I've grumbled more than once, "I'm too old to ..."

  • Sometimes in sad recognition that these old hands aren't what they once might have been. Call it humility.
  • Sometimes in indignation when confronted with a situation where I should have been humble.
  • And inexcusably, when I dismissed the "foolishness of youth" in others.

    This week I had occasion to ponder the life of a tireless soul. He worked at what he valued until he died. I marvelled just last year, as I watched him work for hours to mentor and inspire someone fifty years his junior as that person wrestled with issues peculiar to his (middle) age. At the time I wondered why he insisted that I be there.

    As I was writing the points above, I remembered him. As I was writing the points above, I realized that I never heard him say, "I'm too old to..."
  • quote:
    This week I had occasion to ponder the life of a tireless soul. He worked at what he valued until he died. I marvelled just last year, as I watched him work for hours to mentor and inspire someone fifty years his junior as that person wrestled with issues peculiar to his (middle) age. At the time I wondered why he insisted that I be there.

    As I was writing the points above, I remembered him. As I was writing the points above, I realized that I never heard him say, "I'm too old to..."


    Thanks for this, ST.
    quote:
    Hey Tom, have you ever heard "Sailing to Philadelphia" by Mark Knopfler (performed with James Taylor)? After I heard it for the first time I thought it might be well suited for you. The lyrics are of a historic nature, I couldn't help but think of that one CD you've done when I hear it.


    David,

    Thanks. Another friend said the same thing when he first heard my historical stuff. I have the song but haven't learned it - yet.

    Tom
    Hi David,

    Thanks for this.

    quote:
    Originally posted by David A:
    quote:

    but it takes me a ridiculously long time to learn a song. Nothing as short as hours, and weeks or months is closer to reality for me.
    I guess we're more seat of the pants, and since we don't require as much preparation, we're more likely to impulsively try out something new...also, as an instrumental duo we don't have to worry about the lyrics, which is a huge factor.

    A recent example of a song we learned: my daughter was listening to the Moody Blues doing "Tuesday Afternoon." I said, "Hey let's learn that for the art fair tomorrow" and so we did! It helps that my daughter is fantastic at playing music by ear, and as long as I have the chord structure, I do okay.


    Well there's things that I'll play at the drop of a hat, and then there are things that take longer.

    If someone else is doing lead vocals that makes things easier. If I can work off a chart and read on stage then it's a LOT easier. But I prefer not to read on stage. If I'm there to play lead guitar and sing harmonies - as long as I can hear the lead vocalist - I'm there - now.

    The things that take the most time for me are learning the lyrics and figuring out the phrasing to go with the accompaniment that I am doing on the Guitar. Then I get to sort out the arrangement if I'm working solo, or another arrangement if I'm working with others.

    Most of this discussion is, for me, in the context where I am doing the lead vocals and holding down the arrangement.
    Hi J.D.

    quote:
    Originally posted by J.D. Puente:
    Hello jayare,
    Yes, songs from the 30's 40's and 50's were being played in the sixties, but by older musician's than we were. I was 11 when I started playing and singing for nickles and dimes in corner bars in 1962.In these bars there were men in their 50's playing Hank Williams Sr. and the like on their song list. I was playing songs by the Animals,Kinks and such that that age group couldn't grasp. I learned quick that in order to please the crowd I had to learn the songs they were accustomed to. During this phase I learned music appreciation and still play some very old stuff I learned then and still like. Some day this 2000 music will be Classic 2000 to a whole new era of kids. The cycle goes on , life is great.


    "I learned quick that in order to please the crowd I had to learn the songs they were accustomed to".

    Up until recently, I was just letting others' take the lead in figuring out what would please the crowd.

    How do YOU decide what is relevant to the audiences you have today.
    Hi AJ,

    No fallout from me.

    quote:
    Originally posted by AJ:
    Music is neither young or old......"it just is".

    I don't disagree, but I have to ask — do you think that our audiences, young or old, have any tendency to decide if we are relevant based on the "age" of the music we offer them?
    quote:


    I refuse to let the "standards" die and always do at least 10 standards during the evening. In fact last night I did "moonglow" and the dance floor filled with mid 20's age group along with middle aged and retirement aged guests. One young lady came over and said......."I just love that song"!. So I moduated into "Where or When" and I swear everyone was kissing on the dance floor! Ahhhhhhh........you guys don't know what your missing if you dont' do some middle of the road standard tunes.


    Time and place. Time and place

    And what is a middle of the road standard tune?
    Sinatra -- One for my baby, One More for the Road
    Lynrd Skynrd -- One More for the Road
    Peggy Lee -- Black Coffee
    Bob Dylan -- One More Cup of Coffee

    That's rhetorical.
    quote:

    OH well..I can't wait for the "fallout" from my comments here! LOL!


    No fallout, just a question.

    If you always do ten standards during the evening, are there other things you always do?

    If so, why?
    It seems that the only "new" music I'm learning these days ( new = written in the last 5 years) is contemp. Christian Praise & Worship stuff. Timeless message - new config.

    I freely admit, much if it is quite simple.

    In our church, the debate rages endlessly about new vs old music and hymns. It seems the generation gap is mostly clearly defined over what style of music should be played on Sunday.
    - and that's why we have 3 services every Sunday. <sigh> even tho 2 of them are far from full. I add this, not to kill this thread **as I so often do ** but to note that relevance and audience ( or congragational) preferences are always on us church players' minds as well.

    I like a ton of stuff from both sides of the time line - but I try and point out that that big book we use has " sing to ME a new song" several times..but not much of anything like, "play it again Sam" anywhere.
    Wow..Great Thread...

    Really ,the only thing that matters is results.
    If your calendar is as full as you want it to be..then you are doing the right tunes!
    But make sure you are havin' some fun ,also..
    Bottom line for me is..If people are willing to actually pay me to pick and grin,then I'm gonna keep on!!
    PS--The L1 has made it possible(and Easier)!
    Hi Tom,

    Thank you for your input.


    quote:
    Originally posted by tpryde3:
    Well...ST...let me take a stab, but my experience may not be terribly relevant.

    Of course it's relevant. At least, it is to me.
    quote:

    Our music is mostly original songs that are written about things that our type of audience cares about. I usually write the lyrics first. Then I work on the chord structure and rhythm that provides an emotional base that matches those lyrics.

    Thank you for this insight. This makes complete sense given the title of your site Sermons In Song, and the subtext "Where Biblical exposition blends with musical expression"

    Thinking back on the songs that I have heard or played in the context of shared faith (I hope that's a fair allusion) , "the word" was paramount. But for me, this is not how I normally experience music.

    Except for novelty songs, I tend to be drawn to songs for their sound and mood, and these stick with me long after the fleeting comprehension of the lyrics. Music for me is often the only respite from a seemingly endless onslaught of words.
    quote:

    I pretty much ignore stylistic constraints, though songs written with a guitar tend to be different than those written with a keyboard, for example.

    The melody comes last, and it almost writes itself. I usually work over a song until it sticks and I can really get into it.

    Lights are going on in the abyss for me. Thank you. It just occurred to me that when I play, just play for me, I often play the rhythm part for the solo I hear in my head. I'm a lead guitar player a lot of the time. And for me, often, the words inform the emotion that fuels the solo, and the solo is just the emotion without having reduced the feelings to the intermediate symbolic form of words.

    You're a wordsmith Tom. I hope that made sense.

    I may finally have come to peace with the idea that for me, the melody *is* the final product. Now maybe I can move past that to some words to make my music more accessible.
    quote:


    The more I lose myself in the song, the more the audience gets it. I think that is really the key, no matter what you play.
    Music that isn't alive in your mind will never come alive in your fingers and voice. And if it doesn't come alive for you, then how can an audience expect to identify. On the other hand, it has become clear to me that if it resonates with me, then there are certain people who will gravitate to it.

    Vocally, not verbally, for me, nothing is quite so transparent of the soul as scatting. Some people get it and others just wait for the words to resume.
    quote:


    We do some other music that we haven't written (about 20%), and that ranges from some done in the 1600's all the way to the 2000's. The only constant is that it has to come alive in our minds first, then when the audience is exposed to it, they resonate with it. Sometimes they are surprised to find out it was one of those "old" songs that their great grandmother used to sing.

    So...I chose music that is real and alive to me, and I trust that this will transfer to the audience. Light your heart on fire and stoke it to a white hot flame. People will come to watch you burn no matter what you sing.


    Thank you Tom. This has been the proverbial whack-on-the-side-of-the-head.
    quote:
    Originally posted by ST:
    Hi J.D.

    quote:
    Originally posted by J.D. Puente:
    Hello jayare,
    Yes, songs from the 30's 40's and 50's were being played in the sixties, but by older musician's than we were. I was 11 when I started playing and singing for nickles and dimes in corner bars in 1962.In these bars there were men in their 50's playing Hank Williams Sr. and the like on their song list. I was playing songs by the Animals,Kinks and such that that age group couldn't grasp. I learned quick that in order to please the crowd I had to learn the songs they were accustomed to. During this phase I learned music appreciation and still play some very old stuff I learned then and still like. Some day this 2000 music will be Classic 2000 to a whole new era of kids. The cycle goes on , life is great.


    "I learned quick that in order to please the crowd I had to learn the songs they were accustomed to".

    Up until recently, I was just letting others' take the lead in figuring out what would please the crowd.

    How do YOU decide what is relevant to the audiences you have today.


    With 40+ years of various music in my repertoire, I can pretty well get a good response with any of the songs I play. For me ,the trick is doing a variety of songs right from the start. I'll start with a CCR, then Hank Jr., and then a blues number. Watching the crowd,I can see which one got the best reaction and I just go from there. All the places I play at, they are not hung up on any particular style so I just do a variety of songs and pretty well cover everybody. Most of the songs I play are mostly Classic Country,Rock and Blues.
    Tne newest song I do is by Kid Rock "All Summer Long" which he does to the music of "Werevolves of London". Pretty simple, but a crowd pleaser. - J.D.

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