There is something I dread almost every time I play a gig, the fine balance between keeping an audience captivated and entertained and playing to the back of a bunch of people’s heads and a Bruins game on a big screen (Go Bruins!).
It’s something I am sure that all artists struggle with. Let’s face it, there are only so many rooms in this city geared towards hosting an audience that actually shows up to listen (Passim, Lizard, Toad…) . The vast majority of spots are watering holes where, so long as your voice isn’t an abomination, people could pretty much be indifferent to what they are hearing. Sure, there is the polite applause at the end of a set or a really good solo, but more and more I find it difficult to play gigs without tossing in a tune (or teasing one at least) that people find familiar or engaging. Quite frankly, that sucks, it sucks real bad.
What do you guys do to keep an audience engaged? Do you always have the “recognizable cover card” up your sleeve? Do you do an excellent cover rendition of Darius Rucker’s cover of “Wagon Wheel” (shoot me in the face)? Wear a low cut shirt and bend over often (talking to you gentlemen)? I mean, really, is the world out there truly accepting of original music or are we all fighting for the slots at that handful of venues where your music and heard and not simply background noise?