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Performing, Honing Your Craft

Sep 22, 2015 08:00 AM

Blake Guthrie

9 Tips That Will Make Your Solo Acoustic Shows Way Less Boring to Watch

Sean Rowe. (Image via flickr.com)

Let's face it, solo acoustic performances are often boring as hell. Even when talented people are performing, there's a sense of sameness to the them. Ari Herstand wrote a great article recently giving 8 reasons why singer-songwriter shows are typically a snoozefest after being confronted by a journalist posing the question.

I can't count the number of times I've seen patrons walk into a bar or club and groan when they realize a person with an acoustic guitar is onstage. Or get up and leave when someone begins strumming in the corner of a coffee shop. Or, worse yet, ignore the singer while the chatter reaches decibel levels louder than what's coming out of the PA.

One reason I've seen this happen so much is because I've been the person onstage with the acoustic guitar. Over time, I've realized you can't please all the people all the time – many will always balk at the sight of a solo singer/songwriter – but you can please a lot of the people most of the time by taking some steps to help ensure your solo gigs don't suck. Here are nine solutions to keep people interested.

8 Successful Musicians Who Prove It's Possible to Work Through Mental Health Issues and Reclaim Your Career

Image via flickr.com

A recent study by the charity group Help Musicians UK surveyed the health and well-being of working musicians at all levels of the business. According to the results of the survey, mental health issues are a major concern among professional musicians. Over 60 percent of respondents reported dealing with serious psychological issues at some point in their career. And it's worse among musicians who tour on a regular basis. Touring is especially hard on independent acts.

It's not talked about often enough because of the stigma attached, but chances are that you or someone you know has been affected by mental health issues at some point. It's hard to maintain a career with untreated issues. It's also hard to admit you need help. But life, and your career, will get better once you do. Here are eight still alive, successful, working musicians who might know a thing or two about that. Some of the names may surprise you.

Nashville's Bluebird Cafe: How to Play There and What to Expect

Nashville's Bluebird Cafe may look small, but big things happen inside. (Image via flickr.com)

Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift were unknowns when they first performed at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. Now, they're superstars who both credit the club as the place where it all started for them.

In business since 1982, The Bluebird has arguably become one of Music City's most famous clubs and one of the most renowned listening rooms in the country. It's a place where connections are made, stars are born, and careers are catapulted. But most importantly, it's where the craft of songwriting is revered. The club has even taken its own turn in the spotlight as a primary location in movies and on TV, most recently in ABC's hit show Nashville.

5 Things You Need to Know About the New Rules for Flying With Musical Instruments

Don't get left out on the wing concerning the new rules for flying with a musical instrument. (Image via flickr.com)

Did you know the rules have changed concerning flying with musical instruments? Actually, there were no across-the-board rules before, just the whim of the airlines and their ever-changing policies. The US Dept. of Transportation changed all that in January when it announced the new rules that went into effect on March 6. Now, musicians finally have some federally mandated guidelines to go by when flying with an instrument.

How Much Money Can You Actually Make Playing House Concerts?

Jennifer Daniels performing at a house concert. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Daniels)

Every singer/songwriter or acoustic act who's played out enough knows the drill. You show up to a gig where you must perform underneath a TV showing the big game or in a coffeehouse with the erratic, nerve-jarring grinding and screeching of the espresso machine, or maybe in a bar with the incessant cackling of people doing shots five feet away from where you're performing, oblivious to your presence. And all this for very little pay, usually. House concerts are the antidote to such maddening scenarios.

If you don't know about house concerts yet, you're missing out on a network of potential fans and hosts who want to listen and pay you decent money for the privilege. Some acts have even taken to making house-concert-only tours, often doing better than they would playing the regular club and festival circuit.