My first Gypsy Jazz gig

ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH6, AJL Silent Guitar
in Technique Posts: 341
Set up a nice gig and a very low-key coffeehouse in New Orleans where I used to play 35 years ago. (What a long strange trip it’s been.) Music came off well with the audience, Though I felt like my fingers were made out of play-doh sometimes. But again, I’m my own worst critic. Then again, it was a milestone: my first Gypsy Jazz gig.

I checked out some of the tips in the forum remind me how to put this performance together as smoothly as possible. One major difference between between rehearsing with the group in the studio or home and playing on the stage is that, even when trying to play softly, sometimes there is a need to play a little more forcefully, especially if we’re trying to keep it mostly acoustic. May need to practice that way, or look into a little bit of amplification to keep things clean but hearable.

I’ve played lots of music on lots of stages, but this is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted to do well. Looking forward to the challenge.


  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 465
    Congrats Adolph! Light amplification does make things easier. Just beware of the fact that as you get louder, so does the crowd. And like all things musical, the first 30 years are the hardest. :)

    How is my old Dupont treating you?
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH6, AJL Silent Guitar
    Posts: 341
    My DuPont is my number one axe.. It’s the one I’d take to a desert island. Got to thank you so much for selling it to me. It’s found a good home.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Hey congrats Chief!
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 877
    Love hearing about stuff like this...congrats and hope there are many more!
  • ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH6, AJL Silent Guitar
    Posts: 341
    Alright, guys. Here's the real deal about this first gig.

    One, just before the gig, I started feeling ill--like about-to-get-the-flu ill. It continued as we played, the room was pretty warm, my head is getting hot, and I'm mopping my brow like Louis Armstrong throughout most of it.

    Two, I've played Minor Swing and I'll See You in My Dreams hundreds of times in practice and alone. I take a lot of pride in playing Django's solos in these tunes and adding my own. That night, my fingers felt like putty and I was muffing notes left and right. It wasn't a disaster by any stretch, and what I put in place and kept going with was fine, but I knew I wasn't hitting what I wanted to hit.

    I rallied shortly thereafter and pulled off very nice versions of Bistro Fada and other standards. In an homage to Fats Domino here in NOLA, I put in a swinging version of My Blue Heaven.

    I guess what I'm saying is, I haven't played a gig in a long time, and this was my first GJ one, and it was like juggling a lot of balls in the air at once. We pretty much nailed beginnings and endings. My bandmates came through with attentive supportive backup, even though they are relatively new to the form. (The bass player--on an acoustic but not standup bass, by the way--had not played in this style ever until a month ago.)

    Yet . . . call me overwrought, if you will, but I'm hypercritical of my playing. Muffing what I know I can do well is tremendously annoying. No matter that the audience reaction was attentive and enthusiastic, I know I could have done a lot better.

    OK, there. Done with whining. I'd love to hear about experiences in honing stagecraft and dealing with live gig issues, especially about solving on-stage issues on the fly.
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2018 Posts: 877
    mass quantities of alcohol.

    Actually the same as it always is, doing it enough times that you feel comfortable in your environment. I came at this from RnB where I am totally comfortable and it was like baby steps again. It is about repetition. Even rehearsing with bandmates, while it helps, is still not the same as when you get on stage in an uncontrolled environment. hopefully you get to play enough times in front of an audience so you are comfortable and can "enjoy" the experience (isn't that the ultimate goal?).

    One of the best things I have done to get comfortable is creating usable setups for various situations. I have a concert setup where I know people will all be listening all the way to a noisy bar setup where only a few people will listen. It is handy having setups that you know will work in those situations so your sound is not a distraction to yourself.
    Jim KaznoskyBuco
  • Getting out there and creating a playing situation for yourself takes courage. That's pretty hard and congratulate yourself for that. Now that you've gotten your set together and have gotten that first gig out of the way, I'd suggest immediately scheduling that second gig, to build on the momentum. Play as much as you can afford to.

    Man, I don't think they've created a number for how many times I've made mistakes on a gig. It sounds like you did come back and that is not as easy as it sounds. I second what Scoredog is saying, which is that you obviously love the music, so trying to enjoy the music, as far fetched as that might be on a first gig, is one of the end goals.

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Yes, focus on enjoying the music. That's what I do when I am starting to feel self-conscious and/or nervous. A little nervousness is normal and probably ok since it gets the energy flowing. Too much causes tension and mistakes. I think of stage fright and self-consciousness as misplaced ego. It isn't about you or me as players, it's about the music and creating something for others (and the band) to enjoy. I hope that helps!

    PS- and of course being prepared after a lot of time in the shed.
  • @Chiefbigeasy my Dupont is my main acoustic gigging axe too.

    Get a copy of Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner. Read it, practice it, and works...
    Jim Kaznosky
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,858
    Congratulations, chief! And I know exactly what you mean about the difference between practising something a million times and then trying to play it on a gig.

    Now here's the good news--- although it didn't feel like it at the time, your solo probably went a lot better than you thought!

    And I know this how?

    Well, the bass player in my trio records every gig our band plays, with a little thumb drive that fits right into our mixing board. So you get a chance to hear everything all over again later.

    And of course, this has given me a lot of insight into my own playing--- the good the bad and the ugly.

    But the big thing I've learned is... just keep playing right through those unintended notes, because as long as you keep things in motion it's ok... it's not a mistake until you actually commit yourself to LANDING on that clanger!

    From my reading into my jazz heroes, including Bix and even Django, even with their amazing, amazing ears, even they sometimes hit unintended notes... the difference between them and us regular mortals is that this didn't seem to phase them one little bit!

    And for extra inspiration, there is this quote from Ted Williams

    "Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer."

    In jazz we probably need to succeed a little more often than that, but luckily for us, still not ten out of ten!
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
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