I’ve just been chosen to perform on the Mainstage Showcases at the North Eastern Regional Folk Alliance Conference (www.nerfa.org) and the Far West Folk Alliance (www.far-west.org) in November. In all my years being associated with the Folk Alliance, this is the first time I’ve been chosen for this and I’m thrilled. It happens thefirst and second weekends in November and I’m thinking about what to do already. How does one prepare for a showcase? Let’s talk about that.
First off, you want to find out how long you are going to be required to perform. If they say the slot is twenty minutes, sometimes that includes the stage change and that can really mess up your planned show if you find out as you go on, that your set has to be six minutes shorter than you planned.
Secondly, if you have a large repertoire, you want to consider who you are performing for and, my favorite question, what do you want to have happen?
I want to bring down the house. I want to be the talk of the conference and I want to create a lot of work for myself over the coming year. I also have a new CD, Backstage At The Resurrection, that I’m working on and I want to tour behind it all of next year, and I want radio exposure to help insure attendance.
Now down to the brass tacks.
If you have tapes of live shows, then by all means, listen to them all and be critical and honest. Where do you shine? Where do you falter? Remove all the falter, all the equivocation, all the sloppiness, all the places where you can’t quite hit the note, etc. What’s left is what you have to work with.
I am going to go thru my live shows over the past year and pick what I believe are the best songs and the best bits that I have. Then I ‘m going to put it together in such an order that the show flows, one thing into the other, seamlessly, like a play; unfolding and taking the audience on a journey, albeit, a brief one.
After I have put the set together, I am going to go to every open mic and venue with whom I have a rapport and ask them if I can do the twenty minutes, or fifteen minutes or whatever it is. I will perform it as many times as I can between now and November.
I will also be doing my regular two hour concert at various venues around the country over the next few months, so I can do that twenty minutes in there as well.
Practicing a set until you have it down, gives you a confidence on stage that nothing else will give you. You also have to recognize when you have done it too much. You want to keep it fresh, and you want to be able to incorporate anything spontaneous that shows up. So don’t practice the life out of it. Just practice til you own every note you use.
Wish me luck.