A few weeks ago, I talked about performing at a Durango Songwriters meet and greet and how the lighting was such that I could not see my fret board and made mistakes that I just normally would not make.
I go to thinking about it and realized that the situation where the lighting was bad impacting my performance was essentially my fault.
Here’s what you have to remember, as a performer. If something can go wrong, at some point it will. You have to be prepared for every situation in advance because you never know what snag is going to show up.
And something shows up every single time. I can’t tell you what it will be, but something always goes awry and you have to handle it on the fly, so try to think of everything that could go wrong and think about how to deal with it now, when you are not in the spotlight.
That’s why you bring extra strings, bridge pins, cords, batteries, straps, wall warts …and I also carry an SM58 mic just in case. But sometimes even that isn’t enough evidently.
I recently played a well regarded room and when I got there the sound man wanted to know if I was going to need stands and mics. I was amazed, as I’d played there before and these things were provided.
It turned out that they had no boom stands and as a guitar player that means you must hold your guitar away from the stand while leaning into the mic; awkward and uncomfortable and sure to impact your show.
So if you are driving, also make certain you have a boom stand a thirty foot mic low impedence mic cable and a vocal mic.
If you are expecting them to provide that stuff, be sure and check before you leave for the road that everything you need will be there when you get there. Put it in the rider of your contract. And if you don’t do contracts, then start. Makes the whole process easier. Everyone’s responsibility layed out.
Now with regard to the lighting and not being able to see your fretboard or keyboard, here’s what I suggest. And I did it myself today for an hour.
Play your instrument with your eyes closed. Don’t open your eyes while you are playing a song. At first you are going to make a lot of mistakes, but in about fifteen minutes, your body will get the proportions and you can simply play without looking.
And once you can do that, it doesn’t matter what the lighting situation is, you simply play.