I am a summertime busker – I am a wintertime gigger. My gigs are usually bar gigs. When I busk I rarely sing; when I do gigs I always sing. Here is what I know about singing on the stage at a bar gig: For singers, it’s difficult to remember all the lyrics to every song unless the singer is constantly singing these songs. I don’t do enough gigs to be constantly singing all my songs. If ROGER DALTREY and PETE TOWNSHEND, LEON RUSSELL and LUCINDA WILLIAMS, BOZ SCAGGS and BEV ZIZZY can take a stand on the stage, then so can I!
For every stage performance I sing only my original songs (though sometimes tossing in an obscure cover on the playlist – You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere in the style of GLEN HANSARD and MIC CHRISTOPHER when they were busking in Liverpool. GOOGLE it). Even though I write ‘em, I don’t always remember ‘em. Because this is my situation with my own songs, I always keep a music stand beside me on the stage.
Memorization is not my goal – Doing a good gig is my goal.
Isn’t it most important that I do my best? And if that means setting up a music stand to conquer any angst, then so be it.
Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, Leon Russell and Lucinda Williams, Boz Scaggs and Bev Zizzy, all perform with music stands in plain sight on the stage. Other performers such as Axl Rose, Ozzy Osbourne, and Bob Dylan use video monitors running their lyrics set at the foot of the stage.
These professionals know that having a stand in hand is better than singing the wrong lyrics!
|ROGER DALTREY AND PETE TOWNSHEND OF THE WHO, PERFORMING IN PARIS|
|BEV ZIZZY, A REGINA SINGER-SONGWRITER|
Poets recite their material use a lectern; authors giving public readings never memorize. Philharmonic singers, symphony players and jazz musicians always use music stands. Even professional rockers use either tele-prompters or … music stands.
(Sitting always in the upper deck at the Casino Regina Show Lounge, I’ve seen numerous performers with big cheat sheets placed strategically on the deck. As they tittup across the stage I notice even the top performers glancing down now and then to keep their spot in the song line.)
Does using a music stand affect my audience?
Is the club manager complaining if I take a music stand on the stage? If not (and it’s never happened), it’s a non-issue. Are the bottom lines of the band’s success being compromised?
Usually the music stand is there as a refresher just in case of the need for a word or two in a line address to the audience or lyric to a song.
Here’s my zero-sum choice: Not to take a stand and make the occasional mistake or take a stand and never make a mistake.
Most band members can perform and radiate themselves, even when burdened with a music stand. Of all the things audience members are going to notice about me as a performer upon a stage, the music stand is the least of my worries. A liquor-goggled audience is hardly inspectigating such trivia as a music stand placed on a stage. I mean, really, we rarely start a bar show before 9 o’clock!
Or to put it another way, if having a music stand on stage is the main concern of my audience members, I’ll be very fine, indeed.
Guitar thrumming I can fake; lyrics I cannot. Methinks it better to check in on a cheat sheet now and then, rather than publicly stumble and mumble through some songs, being disrespectful to the audience members, my band-mates, and myself.
Some general guidelines for those of you relying on a music stand:
- Bring your stand and only use it if absolutely necessary (a security blanket so to speak).
- If you use a music stand, do not hide your face behind it like KILROY WAS HERE, simply park it on the side out of your line of vision to the audience in a north/south position, the fat side facing you, the thin side facing the audience.
|SELF AT THE BUSHWAKKERS|
DON’T BE A STUMBLEBUM – TAKE A STAND!
(You, BUSKERS performing on the street, however, don’t ever take a stand,)