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Ground Rules, Some Do's and a Don't
By Jonathan Miller
In the February '94 edition of the LMN, songwriters interested in performing on a Songwriter Showcase were invited to call Jonathan Miller. What we forgot was to include our ground rules and other info about the process. The LASC (okay, Jonathan) apologizes for the oversight.
The ground rules are simple. Since the LASC presents the Songwriter Showcases, solo performers must be members of the organization. If a group wants to perform, at least one member of the group must be an LASC member. (See info on how to join the LASC.) Original music is the focus, so cover songs should be kept at a minimum and omitted entirely if possible.
DO call Jonathan Miller at 569-2532 (W) or 244-9717 (H) (but not during dinner hours, please!) if you're a songwriter looking for a performance opportunity that is completely different from an open stage. Showcases are 35-to 40-minute performance blocks; there is publicity, a sound person, a cover charge, a program, etc.
DO plan to spend a few minutes on the phone with Jonathan. Be prepared to describe your songwriting and performance experience, your material, your musicianship, and how you would perform (solo, karaoke-style, with friends on a few songs, as part of a group, etc.)
DO expect to be asked to provide a demo tape featuring your original material. If you don't have a demo tape, a live audition can be arranged.
DO recognize that if you commit to a particular action, you need to follow up on it.
DO expect that only scheduled performers will appear on the stage at Songwriter Showcases.
DO plan to attend a Showcase you're not performing on to see how they work and what to expect. (See elsewhere in this issue for a description of the March 5 Songwriter Showcase.)
DO come early on the night of your Showcase to set up, tune up, go through a sound check, and get ready. For 9 p.m. starts, the sound check is usually scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
DO invite your friends, family, and fans to come. If you don't, who will? Do invite them to stay for the entire evening — they may hear something they really like from someone else!
DO watch the emcee/stage manager for signals, normally a raised index finger meaning "one more song." It's the stage manager's job to watch the time, keep things moving, and fit the intermission into the evening.
DO plan your spoken introductions for your songs. This planning is one of the keys to a smooth performance. Some performers like to write out their introductory stories in advance and edit them the same way they rewrite songs — taking out all the unnecessary words.
DO use a capo if you need to. Use one that's easy to move and simple to put on and take off.
DO bring a favorite microphone, if you have one, and a 3-pin (XLR) cord at least 20 feet long.
DO plan your song list for variety. Use different keys; mix funny and serious songs; vary your strumming/picking patterns and rhythms; or work with someone who does these things. It's your job to keep the audience entertained!
DON'T worry about the atmosphere. The LASC guarantees a warm and supportive atmosphere and friendly, receptive songwriters in the audience. Nobody has ever ended their Showcase appearance prematurely by being "gonged" or "El Kabonged." At least, not that we'll admit . . . .