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5 Christmas Cracking Songs

06/12/2017
As entertainers we’ll be bringing plenty of festive cheer to pubs and parties across the country. That means throwing a few holiday songs into the set to get audiences in the mood. The much loved standards and classics, like “Fairytale of New York” and “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” will get many a rendition. But there are plenty of other Christmas themed tunes that lend themselves to a party or singsong. Here are 5 lesser known festive songs worth considering:

1 - “Must Be Santa” - Bob Dylan: Mr. Zimmerman has credited the Clancy’s and other Irish Folk artists as being major influences on his career. He must have heard them play “The Ratlan Bog” at some point and taken inspiration for this one. Great craic for a singalong. The video is fun too!
- https://youtu.be/a8qE6WQmNus

2 - “The Night Santa Went Crazy” - “Weird Al” Yankovic: Christmas songs don’t get much funnier than this. Who’d have guessed Santa had such a dark side?!
- https://youtu.be/HTGlUMvbhSw

3 - “White Wine in the Sun” - Tim Minchin: This song has everything; a beautiful melody and chords, touching and heart-warming lyrics, and just enough wit and comedy to take the edge off it!
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvZqpa-7Q

4 - “How to Make Gravy” - Paul Kelly: No one said Christmas songs had to be jolly, and Joe’s story certainly isn’t. But it’s touching and sentimental all the same, and a perfect ballad for that late-in-the-evening session!
- https://youtu.be/fh79619xxk8

5 - “Goin’ Back” - Dusty Springfield: Anyone old enough to remember the 80’s ESB ad can’t help but feel nostalgic upon hearing this one. Written by Carole King, it’s a goldie that’s not just for the oldies!
- https://youtu.be/pN9_WwkKARY


5 Tips to Keep Your Band Safe this Christmas

28/11/2017
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The Christmas season not only sees a spike in the number of gigs bands play, it also sees an increase in the quality of those gigs. Because audiences feel more relaxed and just want to have fun, they get to their feet or start singing earlier than at any other time of year, and they do so with a gusto seemingly reserved for the holiday season.

But with the plethora of great gigs, comes greater risk to the Act and those around them. Here are five tips to help keep you, your colleagues, and those you’re entertaining a little bit safer:

1 - Leave Early for the Gig: Most people may be on holidays, but over Christmas the roads are as busy as ever, and the pubs are even busier. To avoid potential problems, give yourself at least an extra half hour to get to the gig. Not only will you arrive more relaxed, you’ll also be able to get the gear unloaded and inside before the masses arrive and you have to dangerously battle your way through the throng.

2 - Be Tidy & Secure: Pubs and venues tend to be busier over Christmas. But not only that, audiences are in better form and more prone to throw caution to the wind and become more excitable. Ensure their (and the band’s) safety by keeping the set-up fast and tidy, making sure all cables on floor level are stuck down with gaffa tape, and that all speakers and equipment is secure and cannot fall on anyone.

3 - Control the Gig: With most venues being packed, and most audiences being up for it, gigs at Christmas can quickly get out of control. It doesn’t take much for a few people jumping around to turn into a full scale mosh (or worse still, a row). As a band, this interaction with your performance is great for the ego, and it’s easy to say it’s “Not my problem”. But it is your problem! You have a moral responsibility to help ensure the safety of the people you are entertaining, and a professional duty to do what is the best interest of whomever booked you. Part of that duty means not putting their customers or guests in danger.

4 - Don’t do Too Much: With so many gigs around in such a short space of time, it can be tempting to grab as many as you can. But apart from burning yourself out performance-wise, overdoing it can lead to tiredness, frustration, and stress, all of which can lead to accidents. None of us are robots, know your limits and stick to them.

5 - Say “No Thanks”: What is it about Christmas that brings out the generosity in people? In a single gig, you’ll be offered more drinks than January to November combined. With spirits high, and the craic flowing it can be hard to say “no” to this generosity. However, if you’re getting behind the wheel after the gig, that’s exactly what you have to say! YOu may be invincible on stage, but you’re not on the open road!

Undoubtedly Christmas is the best time of year for live Acts. There are lots of gigs, more money, and a general air of happiness and contentment. Don’t ruin it for you or anyone else, by letting a momentary lapse of common sense result in an accident.

5 Reasons to Consider Backing Tracks

28/11/2017
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Who should pay for our water has undoubtedly been one of the most hotly debated topics of our time. But for many musicians, it pales into insignificance in terms of the longevity, divisiveness, and fallings-out that have accompanied that exclusively music subject; Backing Tracks!

But are they as bad as some of our colleagues would espouse? Undoubtedly, some of the cheaper or free backing tracks available should be banned under the UN Convention for Human Rights due to their torturous tones. Others however, are note perfect, and when accompanied by a live instrument and/or the right vocals, they can be amazing. Here are five reasons we think live Acts should consider (good quality!) backing tracks, especially if you’re a one, two, or three piece:

1 - You Sound Professional: As a general rule, punters listening to a covers Act want them as close to the real thing as possible. Backing tracks allow you to do that by filling in the instrumentation you cannot play yourself.

2 - Instant Sound Check: Even the greatest detractors have to admit that when it comes to sound checking, tracks win hands down. For most, plugging in a machine with the instruments professionally mixed, beats the hell out of twisting knobs for an hour in the hope of getting a reasonable sound.

3 - Never Need a Dep: Backing tracks don’t get sick, don’t take holidays, and won’t take a higher paying gig than the one you’re offering. They’re loyal, reliable, and never need to be dep’d.

4 - Makes Learning New Songs Easy: Unlike playing a song completely live, where every note and section has to be learned, backing tracks mean you only need to learn the lyrics and essential music parts. Simple!

5 - Less Hassle: No matter where the gigs is, what time it’s at, or who it’s for, your tracks will never whinge to you. They’ll never argue over what songs to include in a set, or demand more money on specific nights of the year. All in all, tracks are no hassle!

As with all technologies, backing tracks are not for everyone. Even some pubs and Bookers loathe the thought of them, making sure to only book Acts that play 100% live. And that’s their choice. But it doesn’t mean that tracks don’t have their place, just ask any of the 1000’s of solos, duos, and even 4 and 5 piece bands, that use them!

5 Reasons to Consider Backing Tracks

28/11/2017
blogImage

Who should pay for our water has undoubtedly been one of the most hotly debated topics of our time. But for many musicians, it pales into insignificance in terms of the longevity, divisiveness, and fallings-out that have accompanied that exclusively music subject; Backing Tracks!

But are they as bad as some of our colleagues would espouse? Undoubtedly, some of the cheaper or free backing tracks available should be banned under the UN Convention for Human Rights due to their torturous tones. Others however, are note perfect, and when accompanied by a live instrument and/or the right vocals, they can be amazing. Here are five reasons we think live Acts should consider (good quality!) backing tracks, especially if you’re a one, two, or three piece:

1 - You Sound Professional: As a general rule, punters listening to a covers Act want them as close to the real thing as possible. Backing tracks allow you to do that by filling in the instrumentation you cannot play yourself.

2 - Instant Sound Check: Even the greatest detractors have to admit that when it comes to sound checking, tracks win hands down. For most, plugging in a machine with the instruments professionally mixed, beats the hell out of twisting knobs for an hour in the hope of getting a reasonable sound.

3 - Never Need a Dep: Backing tracks don’t get sick, don’t take holidays, and won’t take a higher paying gig than the one you’re offering. They’re loyal, reliable, and never need to be dep’d.

4 - Makes Learning New Songs Easy: Unlike playing a song completely live, where every note and section has to be learned, backing tracks mean you only need to learn the lyrics and essential music parts. Simple!

5 - Less Hassle: No matter where the gigs is, what time it’s at, or who it’s for, your tracks will never whinge to you. They’ll never argue over what songs to include in a set, or demand more money on specific nights of the year. All in all, tracks are no hassle!

As with all technologies, backing tracks are not for everyone. Even some pubs and Bookers loathe the thought of them, making sure to only book Acts that play 100% live. And that’s their choice. But it doesn’t mean that tracks don’t have their place, just ask any of the 1000’s of solos, duos, and even 4 and 5 piece bands, that use them!

5 Christmas Cracking Songs

06/12/2017
As entertainers we’ll be bringing plenty of festive cheer to pubs and parties across the country. That means throwing a few holiday songs into the set to get audiences in the mood. The much loved standards and classics, like “Fairytale of New York” and “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” will get many a rendition. But there are plenty of other Christmas themed tunes that lend themselves to a party or singsong. Here are 5 lesser known festive songs worth considering:

1 - “Must Be Santa” - Bob Dylan: Mr. Zimmerman has credited the Clancy’s and other Irish Folk artists as being major influences on his career. He must have heard them play “The Ratlan Bog” at some point and taken inspiration for this one. Great craic for a singalong. The video is fun too!
- https://youtu.be/a8qE6WQmNus

2 - “The Night Santa Went Crazy” - “Weird Al” Yankovic: Christmas songs don’t get much funnier than this. Who’d have guessed Santa had such a dark side?!
- https://youtu.be/HTGlUMvbhSw

3 - “White Wine in the Sun” - Tim Minchin: This song has everything; a beautiful melody and chords, touching and heart-warming lyrics, and just enough wit and comedy to take the edge off it!
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvZqpa-7Q

4 - “How to Make Gravy” - Paul Kelly: No one said Christmas songs had to be jolly, and Joe’s story certainly isn’t. But it’s touching and sentimental all the same, and a perfect ballad for that late-in-the-evening session!
- https://youtu.be/fh79619xxk8

5 - “Goin’ Back” - Dusty Springfield: Anyone old enough to remember the 80’s ESB ad can’t help but feel nostalgic upon hearing this one. Written by Carole King, it’s a goldie that’s not just for the oldies!
- https://youtu.be/pN9_WwkKARY


5 Ways to a Super Speedy Set-Up

28/11/2017
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The set-up and sound check. Long the bane of brides and publicans alike, it has been known to drive even the staunchest non-smoker into the puffing area for a bit of peace. Between the noise, the mess, and the coming and goings of the band, setting up for a live gig can flatten the most upbeat of party atmospheres. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil and just a part of being a live Act. However, with a bit of smarts, the process can become a super speedy affair.

This was exactly what I witnessed at a recent covers gig. I can only describe it as the most amazingly efficient set-up and sound check I have ever witnessed; a 5-piece band, set-up, sound checked, and started within about 10 minutes of the first piece of gear going onto the stage! So how did they do it?

1 - Lie of the Land: Before bringing anything in, the band checked out not just where the stage was and how they would get the gear to it, but what the layout of it was. Then starting with multi-socket extension leads and a multi-core, the gear was loaded in, in the order in which it would go onto the stage, with each piece going onto it’s final position immediately.

2 - Prepped Outside: Each piece of equipment was prepped outside; removed from its case (which went straight back into the van), cables inserted, and tones and volume set. As soon as it was plugged in, it was ready to go. Traditionally one of the slowest instruments to set up, the drums were on a folding rack and pre-mic'd.

3 - Breaking Through the Crowd: Although the stage was reasonably close to the loading door, the venue was packed, so they still had 6 or 7 rows of people to get through. Rather than trying individually push their way through, they came through 3 or 4 guys at a time in a row. The person in front didn’t carrying anything, instead he cleared the way for the rest, thus making it faster and reducing the risk of injury to either the audience or the guys in the band.

4 - Working as a Team: As soon as the gear was in place, each band member went about connecting up the remaining cables and plugs. It was obvious that they had a system for this and practiced it before. Working as a team, each person knew exactly what they had to do, and in what sequence.

5 - Pre-Sound-Sound-Check: Most impressive, was their being able to just walk on stage and start! No “1,2! 1, 2!”, banging of drums, or tuning up guitars. The front man simply introduced them, the drummer started, and bang, they were all in and the place was rocking. How they were able to do this, was by having default settings on all equipment that would allow them to start any gig, and have an acceptable sound. The first song or two is then used to make tweaks and changes until the sound is perfect.

Obviously every band and every gig is different. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fast and unobtrusive set-up and sound check. Just like putting a professional sounding set together, getting from the van to the point of playing also takes planning and practice.

5 Tips to Keep Your Band Safe this Christmas

28/11/2017
blogImage

The Christmas season not only sees a spike in the number of gigs bands play, it also sees an increase in the quality of those gigs. Because audiences feel more relaxed and just want to have fun, they get to their feet or start singing earlier than at any other time of year, and they do so with a gusto seemingly reserved for the holiday season.

But with the plethora of great gigs, comes greater risk to the Act and those around them. Here are five tips to help keep you, your colleagues, and those you’re entertaining a little bit safer:

1 - Leave Early for the Gig: Most people may be on holidays, but over Christmas the roads are as busy as ever, and the pubs are even busier. To avoid potential problems, give yourself at least an extra half hour to get to the gig. Not only will you arrive more relaxed, you’ll also be able to get the gear unloaded and inside before the masses arrive and you have to dangerously battle your way through the throng.

2 - Be Tidy & Secure: Pubs and venues tend to be busier over Christmas. But not only that, audiences are in better form and more prone to throw caution to the wind and become more excitable. Ensure their (and the band’s) safety by keeping the set-up fast and tidy, making sure all cables on floor level are stuck down with gaffa tape, and that all speakers and equipment is secure and cannot fall on anyone.

3 - Control the Gig: With most venues being packed, and most audiences being up for it, gigs at Christmas can quickly get out of control. It doesn’t take much for a few people jumping around to turn into a full scale mosh (or worse still, a row). As a band, this interaction with your performance is great for the ego, and it’s easy to say it’s “Not my problem”. But it is your problem! You have a moral responsibility to help ensure the safety of the people you are entertaining, and a professional duty to do what is the best interest of whomever booked you. Part of that duty means not putting their customers or guests in danger.

4 - Don’t do Too Much: With so many gigs around in such a short space of time, it can be tempting to grab as many as you can. But apart from burning yourself out performance-wise, overdoing it can lead to tiredness, frustration, and stress, all of which can lead to accidents. None of us are robots, know your limits and stick to them.

5 - Say “No Thanks”: What is it about Christmas that brings out the generosity in people? In a single gig, you’ll be offered more drinks than January to November combined. With spirits high, and the craic flowing it can be hard to say “no” to this generosity. However, if you’re getting behind the wheel after the gig, that’s exactly what you have to say! YOu may be invincible on stage, but you’re not on the open road!

Undoubtedly Christmas is the best time of year for live Acts. There are lots of gigs, more money, and a general air of happiness and contentment. Don’t ruin it for you or anyone else, by letting a momentary lapse of common sense result in an accident.

5 Things to Consider Before Giving a Discount.

28/11/2017
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Sometimes pubs and other venues that play live music will ask you for a discount. It can be a great way to get your foot in the door, or help you fill your online calendar. However, you need to be careful that you’re not giving away money for nothing.

As musicians and entertainers, what we do and the services we provide have a significant value. The exact value depends on how good you are and how well you promote yourself, amongst other things. The more you perform, the more you will find your niche and determine your “going rate”. However, sometimes it may be tempting, or even necessary, to accept a discounted rate. Here are five things to consider before you do:

1 - Is there a Long Term Benefit? When you give a discount, you’re taking money straight out of your wallet. So you need to ask yourself; is there a long term benefit to doing it, such as plenty more repeat gigs?

2 - Are They Just Chancing Their Arm? Everyone loves getting a discount. Sometimes you need it, and other times you’ll just chance your arm. Publicans are no different. You have to decide whether you need to drop your price to get the gig, or whether they’re playing Dell Boy with you.

3 - Are you a Busy Fool? It’s great to have a full calendar, and regularly giving discounts can help ensure that. But being busy gigging for less than you’re worth is selling yourself short. If your discount is anyway significant, you are better off sticking to your rates, and doing less gigs for the same money.

4 - Is the Gig Worth it? Every Gig you do has monetary costs associated with it. In addition to travel and other expenses, your time and abilities have a value. Even if you’re someone who loves gigging for the sake of it, you have to ask yourself; are my time and talents being taken advantage of?

5 - You’re Setting a Precedent Once you give someone a discount, they know they can get it again. If you get a name for being cheap, then that’s how people will view you, and your fees and the respect you get, will reflect that!

Discounts are not a bad thing. Used properly they can be very effective. But used incorrectly, they can damage your Act’s prospects, and those of your peers too!