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jukeboxjoe
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May 12, 2009

Re: Old School ?

I'm with Gary.

Having said that, I'd rather see a competent musician with tracks than an incompetent one without. I appreciate good music regardless of the arrangement.

On that note, I do prefer it 100% live.
banditt
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May 13, 2006

Re: Old School ?

quote:
Originally posted by AJ:
quote:
I just don't understand backing tracks. Is it just how I am wired? If a track is present I go cold to your presentation. Its just a fact. Is anyone else afflicted with this? Is it a real phobia?

P

Amen AJ! Couldn't have said that better. You have to do what you have to do or just sit at home.
Hi

Having been a musician for over 50 years from 90 piece concert bands, 16 piece dance bands, and down to duo's and seeing work decreasing because club owners do not want to hire a sextet, quartet or even a trio because of cost I can honestly say that there is "nothing wrong with using backing tracks included in your performance. It's call entertainment and if you want to "work" you better stop whining about background tracks because they are here to stay. The true musician feels that background tracks are "cheating", while the competent DJ who of course uses pre-recorded music is working every weekend in a club or private functions such as Wedding's . Anniversary, Birthday parties etc while the "musician" sits home or plays for peanuts thrown in a tip jar in front of the 4 piece musicians on stage. I have been there and believe me I use pre-recorded tracks with my keyboard and with out my keyboard to entertain my venue. It works...it pays......and the profit margin is great. I still love to play and sing "live" but I also really love to put down my "AX" and step out front and belt out a tune with a screaming big band behind me that I did not have to hire. The people love it also. They want to be entertained ......so do what you do .do it well.....and "entertain".

Whew!


Aj
Class Entertainment
"music is neither new or old...it just "is".
PMWIZARD
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Dec 8, 2006

Re: Old School ?

I have heard a piano player who used a drum machine sparingly and a guy who used to have a band just use backing tracks. Also an Irish singer who used backing tracks with an acoustic guitar player. Each used it to their advantage.

I believe that if the main focus is the backing tracks and not the performance, then it usually is not a good performance. The backing tracks should only enhance the song, not be the main emphasis.
captacoustic
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Dec 14, 2003

Re: Old School ?

I never used backing tracks for years. Then, becoming a solo artist after playing in bands for years, I began to use them. I started using them too much I think, relying on them more than I think I should have.

Eventually, I backed off them some. These days I'll use them sparingly, preferring the real-life pulse of my acoustic instruments and vocals.

My biggest problem with backing tracks is playing with musicians who have no regard for my vocals and leads. If I start a half-measure early, they don't adjust and keep the groove going. It's as if they're not there; live in the moment.
tonyserzo
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Jan 16, 2014

Re: Old School ?

This is a really thoughtful, intelligent discussion and I especially want to thank whoever it was that talked about the need for each of us to find our niche. I've played in bands off and on over the years, but never in a really good, solid, tight band. It's something I've always wanted to do, but I'm a weekend warrior and, let's face it, you might find a great drummer or a great whatever at the semi-pro level, but you're never going to find 3 or 4 guys who are all top-notch on their instruments, willing to practice AND only want to play out a couple of times a month.

My dad was a professional keyboard player and band leader in NY in the 60s-80s. He used to hire side musicians if the budget was there, but if not he just played those gigs solo with a drum machine. He gave me my first rhythm box when I was 16, a little preset job with about a dozen rhythms, because he had bought himself a Roland and didn't need his old one any more. It was a great practice tool and kinda got me into the idea. I've played solo and in duos/trios with drum machines and later with backing tracks off and on over the years. I've always enjoyed it, but I also felt like it pegged me as a 2nd class musician, so I always felt a bit embarrassed about it.

But I'm over 50 now and I care a lot less about what other people think so I'm starting up a new solo act. I found these great bass and drum backing tracks online and I'm billing myself as a one-man power trio. The beats aren't programmed in a machine, they were recorded by a session drummer and bass player in L.A. With me singing and playing lead/rhythm guitar over it, I'm getting a pretty good sound now. I recorded a demo a few weeks ago if you're interested:

https://soundcloud.com/tonyp145/johnny-b-goode

I've been rehearsing this act for about two months and I've got my first gig this Sunday. I feel like after all these years (30+), I've finally found my niche (or at least accepted it), not as a limitation but as what it is -- a form of artistic expression that maybe isn't for everybody, but it's what I do and I think I'll find an audience for it.

Anyway, that's my .02, thanks again.
Eric_sson
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May 28, 2009

Re: Old School ?

Hi Tony,

That's a cool bit of guitar playing on your track mate.
tonyserzo
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Jan 16, 2014

Re: Old School ?

quote:
Originally posted by Eric'sson:
That's a cool bit of guitar playing on your track mate.


Thanks man, that's my strength, not my singing, though I try to embrace the philosophy of your signature and sing like I mean it. Good motto!
Musicianthomas
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Jan 22, 2014

Re: Old School ?

I'm a bit late jumping in, and really enjoyed all the comments and insights. As a solo performer I refuse to be a "juke box on a stool" and this has taken some real creative efforts. First I use personality and entertaining rapport......my first goal is to be likeable and to have a good time and feed that energy back and forth. True whether there are 6 folks or 60 folks. Audiences know when you are and when you aren't "into it". I use a looper for some very complex fingerstyle passages and I also use Voicelive Play GTX for vocals. We artists live as a two sided coin if we are in this in any real serious way. One side is artist, the other side is business. The trick is to keep the coin in the air and not on heads or tails, one or the other, all the time. The bottom line for returning over and over to the same gig is to make that venue money. period. (unless your Uncle Fred owns the bar and has pity on you). To do that the audience must be pleased enough to want to stick around.
I can tell by just a song or two whether it's going to be a "pull out the stops" or "solo it for the appreciation" night. I must be prepared for both to be professional. And I must be flexible and play songs that may not particularly be on my favorites to do list. Most times when I've seen folks using effects, I see their concentration ON the effects and timing, not the actual presentation of themselves and the song. THIS to me is what is distracting and lacking. An audience picks up on this easily......even when drinking! I know my material so well before performing that I do not have to look down or think to hit a switch or to time anything. Effective effects must be polished to a fine shine. They need to know when to fill it on up and when to shut it on up. When I hit the stage, my technical end is on auto-pilot. No thinking involved. The song and the connection gets the attention....and THAT makes a difference, believe me. Sounds harsh, but it is my performance, my gig, and my responsibility no matter how that gig goes. I could care less what any other musician thinks or has an opinion of what technology I'm using or how often I use it or whether they think it's "genuine art" or not. And again though sounding harsh, I watch many of them sit home with another night plugged up around the coffee table while I'm gigging and pleasing audiences and owner/management and collecting my fees and staying in work. I also learn most everything twice.....once full blown, ...once with only myself and guitar/keyboard. I'm prepared that way for any audience. Another thing that helps.....I keep my feet hidden with a classy facade and my footlights hidden by it as well. Gives a professional touch.... Eyes stay on me, not any movement of my feet or the apparatus showing. Really makes a difference. Long winded, but wanted to throw my 2¢ worth in. A great, great conversation.
Not applicable

Re: Old School ?

I was always amazed growing up by, 1 man, 1 guitar and the applause...but there was no backing tracks then. Had I been born into it today I may think different but I wasn't ,I am "old school" and proud of it Wink also I have a day job ,when I play gigs its a zen kind of thing happening for me. I am just lucky that people receive it well and...it gets me off the couch.
PhilipNZ
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Mar 6, 2011

Re: Old School ?

I was a late starter, it wasn't till i was in my late 20's that I sung or played in public. Equally bad on guitar or piano 🙂 That was when I joined a country music club and realised I wasn't the worst. Within weeks I formed a duo that did 700 gigs over 10 years before I "retired" We started off with just a drum machine (Roland CR1000, awesome little unit that I have just re-purchased), keyboard, guitar and vocals. This was pre-midi. Eventually, keeping up with technology, we started adding sequences until by the end we had full backing but still played guitar and most keyboard parts live. We were always busy and got good money. We could still play raw, one of our best gigs was when we turned up to a gig and the computer failed, we went back to our old drum machine and ripped the night up. The two of us loved the songs, we had about 200 to choose from and never used a setlist, we just played the crowd. Good days. If only we had had the L1's back then......

After a couple of years break I joined my first and only band. A 5 piece. We got pretty good but were always hampered by personalities and line-up changes. It seems you just get a good thing going and someone leaves. We were also hampered by a lead singer and guitarist that couldn't remember songs without sheets and if they hadn't played them for a couple of gigs then forget it. We had a song list of 100 but realistically only 50 that we played in the same order at every gig because thats how the latest singer arranged the songs in her book grrrrrrr.... I enjoyed playing the band but eventually felt we had achieved all we were going to. Venues dried up and pay rates came down to half what I'd been making in the duo, 10 years before.

I still had all my sequence gear and would play solo at home and for friends. After buying the L1 almost 5 years ago I have been slowing improving my act. The first thing was to cut away all the stuff you don't need. I play up-tempo pop and country music from the 50's to the 80's, not much outside that. Most of it is dance music. At first I ran vocal and guitar processors and sound modules but the songs don't need that, if people can sing it, they will dance to it or at least sing along and tap their feet under the tables.

First thing to go was the guitar processor. I went to direct in with PRS hollow body that had a piezo. I preferred the acoustic feel so put the PRS down and bought a Taylor 314ce and just plug straight in. That got rid of the tap dancing on pedals. I can still play riffs and small solo's but most of the songs don't need them but where it's needed, the acoustic is a funky way to do it without being expected to finger tap harmonic whammy's to the floor. Vocals are straight in to the T1, my dalliance with vocal processors was short lived. The L1 lets you use your voice fully. My forte is sounding like the artist I'm copying be it Neil Diamond or Gene Pitney. The L1 lets that shine

Then the sound module gave way to laptop sounds sitting beside me, then iPad on the mic stand that I can see without slipping my reading glasses on. No distractions, just me and the audience. I'm back to 200 sequenced songs and know all of them by heart. I can also pull off requests. I use midi files, some of which go back to my duo days but most I've bought recently. I heavily edit them to remove all backing "oohs and aahs" and most guitar parts. I make lots of room in the mix for vocals.

It's only the last 6 months that I have settled on my direction, setup and song list to get back into promoting myself as a solo act. The 4 gigs I've played this year have been the most fun of my life and the reaction the best. I only want to play publicly once a month or so.

What works for me is this....
The songs have to be songs I love to play, that will show in my performance
They have to be songs 95% of the audience will know and know most of the words to, that will show in their reaction
All vocals come from me live, no harmonies, no voice pads
Non-live guitar parts pared to the absolute minimum. Occasionally I'll change a lead guitar part to a sax or something if it's essential to the song and I'm playing another part
No instrumentals or extended solo's
Clean looking setup, simple to set up, transport and reliable

I wouldn't be able to do what I do without the L1. People are just amazed at the sound. The best part (coming from me) is it's me, it's what I love doing in the way I love doing it. And thats what it's all about. I don't lose sleep about what other people are up to.