Questions And Comments From Readers
I here at memphisevans got a surprisingly insistent, almost hostile denial response when I accused myself of a possible lack of professionalism. Read the comments from Chazz Vader on the previous post if you have not already.
Without using inflammatory, loaded, and value judgment types of terms such as "professional", "tight", or "smooth" I will try to explain more concretely some habits that I sometimes feel derail a typical show I might play:
-Long moments where the performers stare at the disordered set list in ten point type on the floor at their feet for 30 seconds or more, killing any momentum.
-Songs utterly destroyed by instruments that are dramatically out of tune with themselves or one another.
These are really the only things I can think of right now that I would completely eliminate. Other things that are questionable, but sometimes acceptable or even enjoyable would include:
-Blown chords and lyrics where other chords or lyrics are substituted on the spur of the moment.
-Playing songs we do not know (see also previous bullet point).
Things I enjoy and have no intention of getting rid of are:
-Leaving room for improvisation, whether it is a)a part of undefined length or melody in the middle of a song, b)playing a different song from the one on the set list, or c)completely making up a song on the spur of the moment.
-Responding to questions, requests, and general crowd mood
And speaking of questions, let's reply to some of the specific questions raised by Chazz:
CV: Isn't the point to be entertaining?
ME: Yes. But there are so many different ways to be entertaining. I certainly do not want to play things the same way a brazillian times or try to sound just like a given recording. But I want people who have never heard me before to be drawn in by something they can possibly begin to understand and feel they are a part of.
CV: What if, during Cowtown, you break a string. Does the list change? Does that event decrease your percieved "professionalism"?
ME: Yes, the list would change. What I think would be utterly, totally "professional" would be to have a backup guitar handed to me by a roadie during the song so that it would hardly be noticeable that I had broken a string. This is an area where economics has an impact on a band. I am not willing to purchase and bring an extra guitar to shows. I am not willing to pay a roadie or guitar tech. As it is, in a GUH show, Karl would do a tune or two by himself and I would go to a different room and change my string.
CV: Some of my favorite shows have been due to some strange, unexpected event that happens during the show. I don't consider this less "professional".
ME: This is very true. I like unique and strange events and value their ability to help create a unique and strange show, never to be repeated. That is always special. Honigman's "Nuclear War" at The Hall in Milltown WI occurs to me in this regard.
Lilpudn writes: Looked at the playlist for Saturday and was amazed at how many songs you do in a 2 hour show. It doesn't seem like that many.
ME: Actually, that may be a little over ambitious on my part. We will probably not get through that many songs. But we will have a possible roadmap we can either jump off from if we feel like it or completely rely on and stick to if we want to.
Thanks for the thoughtful, passionate comments on shows. I appreciate your interest and look forward to tonight's show. I have added a special "relentless melancholy" set pending Karl's approval. We'll see what we do when we do it.