A wild stab in the dark here but...

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  • @metalfoot  Mar 17

    I'm thinking of doing a coffeehouse/open mic this Friday. I will have an up-to-10-minute slot, so I'm thinking of woodshedding 2-3 songs for that. The problem is (as you know) I have too stinking many songs. Are there any songs of mine you would think would work well in a coffeehouse/open mic environment?

  • @johnstaples  Mar 17

    Narrow it down to a list of those you perform well and that are all 3 minutes or less in length. Then, from that list, pick a sad one to start with, an uptempo one to get them clapping and a funny one to end with.

  • @metalfoot  Mar 17

    "Perform well" is a bit of a subjective criterion insofar as I rarely perform at all! πŸ˜€ But this is a helpful suggestion. Weeds out any of the songs which (for me) require overdubs to realize in the way I like them.

  • @tcelliott  Mar 17

    Just this morning I was putting together a short(er) list of songs I could learn and start playing out at open mics etc., Maybe actually start getting something going, even if it's a rare me and my guitar appearance. It's hard to choose in a lot of ways. But in some ways it's easy. If I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna start with easier to play songs that I like the most. Once I have those down I'm gonna start learning other songs that may not be as easy. If I actually start this plan, I plan on playing 3-4 songs and get some feedback then do it again with a different 3-4 songs etc., The idea being that eventually I'll have 20 songs that work fairly well that I know and can play. At that point I either need to get a band together or get serious about a solo performance thing.

  • @mikeb Mar 18

    What's the open mic like? A coffeehouse (not 'shop'!) event is much different than a bar/restaurant one.
    At the first, everyone will be listening to each song, at the second, you've got to grab their attention and hold it - most often that means cover songs everyone knows. In that type of place, I'll do a cover song, an original, then a sing-along-type of cover song. Slower singer-songwriter songs can work if the place is quiet, otherwise - no mater how good your song is or you are - the general ADD people stop listening pretty quickly.

  • @tcelliott  Mar 18

    Assuming you give a damn about the audience. If you're using the open mic to get stage experience then a tough audience might be better in the long run.

  • @postcardhelicopters  Mar 18

    I really like your periodic table project, so my suggestion (while likely impractical to have ready by Friday) would be, in this order for a roughly ten-minute slot:


    Those three, would be a gas. (pause for groaning sounds...) Also, they flow nicely as a group in terms of opening with something big and energizing, then slowing down in the middle and then picking back up again for the end.

    But I don't do coffeehouse performances so take my suggestion with a grain of sodium chloride.

    As to a group that might work better in a coffeehouse setting, I'd suggest these, in this order:

    "I'll Never Get Tired of You" (this is a really sweet song, by the way, and lets you explain what a "skirmish / feast" is, in terms of FAWM.)

    "Nitrogen" (to introduce your periodic table series, and using that great mandolin.)

    "Who I Really Am" (to me, this would make a beautiful closing song to any coffeehouse gig, and if you have a looper for doing the doo wop background, so much better.)

    This group might give you time for a fourth one, or just time to talk about how you came about to write over sixty songs in February.

    Whatever you choose -- Good Luck and Great Success! Let us know how it goes, OK?

  • @ceilidh  Mar 18

    Audiences will forgive a lot more faults if you give them short and funny instead of long and sad/morose. If you have an audience filled with people who like to sing, then a good rousing sing-along with easy-to-learn chorus is good -- and if it's funny, even better!

  • @postcardhelicopters  Mar 18


    Some alternates:

    To highlight collaborations, I'd suggest either:

    "Summer Day"


    "Chicken, Beef or Fish?"

    And then, perhaps:

    "February in Manitoba" for featuring the 10x10 challenge


    "Can't Fake It" as another example of a Challenge song, highlighting a challenge you began and that was well-received.

    You see where I'm coming from? Picking things that give a nice container for the songs, things that relate to where all these songs came from and how you came to write them, so trying to pick one from each type of song that is FAWM-specific so that it gives a taste of how all the songs came together. In that way it's like an EP of the experience.

  • @metalfoot  Mar 18

    Open Mic is in an art gallery co-sponsored by the public library. Will be a mix of poetry readings, music, etc. So I'm going for more a mellow acoustic vibe for my setlist. I like the idea of doing an elements set but I think for now I'll do something less... nerdy. LOL

  • @rainchaser  Mar 18

    Coffeehouse? Try jazz 😎 or soul stuff! So I'm thinking Baron, Carbon, and A Silly Love Song will work well!!

  • @siebass Mar 18

    When I play out solo for a set, I will say I prioritize starting with an easy song or two that I can play and sing well, as a nice warmup and confidence boost, and then move into other songs that are more interesting and/or difficult. It depends on your goal and comfort playing out, really, Alex. I can only speak for myself, but I always benefit from the confidence boost of playing a song I know well and getting a nice reaction from the crowd to start (I know this is FAWM land, so I may get blasted for saying this, but a popular cover song *covers head with hands* can sometimes be a great way to start a set).

    My recommendations for a set would vary based on what YOU want to get out of it as well; perform well? Share particular songs/themes? Surely have fun, but do you want to do a silly, kid friendly set, or a more adult set, or a mix? I personally think that what you want to get out of it/what you want to share should play more into your selection than any other criteria.

  • @siebass Mar 18

    Just 2 cents from your friendly neighborhood Siebass, so take with a grain of salt, or a bag, just don't blame me for the hypertension.

  • @guatecoop  Mar 18

    @metalfoot go for nerdy!! It’s sponsored by the library! Embrace the nerd in you, as many of us do!

  • @jwhanberry  Mar 18

    Ditto easy song first. Simple guitar, comfortable vocal range.

    In general I want songs I can sell as an artist. We write lots of cute skirmish songs but many I wouldn't sing in public. Sometimes there have even been "good" songs that I couldn't get behind and sell to a crowd. It's a very personal thing. Ya gotta really believe it.

  • @julesbf Mar 19

    I cant give you specific suggestions as you have far too many songs but I think there has been some great advice above. Much like @tcelliott states I have been thinking of doing the same thing and picking out the ones I am confident in are going to be the starting point for me. Whether this is your priority of choosing ones that fit together better depends on your confidence level I guess. Of course, picking the wrong songs just because you can play them well might impact confidence so this might be a circuitous problem. Sorry cant be more help but good luck with it. Kudos to those that go out and perform what they have written.

  • @ustaknow Mar 19

    Remember, - people want/like to be entertained.

    And, I remember you having a few of those πŸ˜€ - entertaining.

    I get feeds from coffee houses to track for various reasons and all are covers. I get put off by the third "Day Tripper" or "Jagged Little Pill" angst song. So, you say this is "original" stuff, - wonderful.

    Be the best entertaining you, you can be, and hope it connects. And, don't assume it didn't, as I've found out weeks later!

    If you "walk up, do it, and get off the stage" - maybe don't bother?

    ~ Mindset ~

    ... will do more for you than even practicing.

    Can you turn a "mistake" into part of the "act"? I can.

    I have allot to say on stage presence, but, well, who'd care, πŸ˜€ so, leave it there, approximately 😝

    --- If you're the 10th performer up, and they all did "country-rock" and it got luke warm reaction, or only Mom/Dad/10 cousins clapped, - maybe don't do that.

    Eh, maybe one more logic point - 10 minutes? So, did you *hear that as 10 min of music, or 10 for *U?!

    Tom Waits has a great odd video, live at the piano, and his vocal krappe - IS a big part of why he's entertaining (I enjoy it). 3 - 3 min songs? or 1.5 with you walking on e.g., taking off your collar and explaining, no hymns tonight? You won't be forgotten. And I know you won't be ir-rev-rent πŸ˜€ 😝 cause, well, Uno πŸ˜€ (as example only).

    Anyway, then - once folks "know" you, or "no" you 😝 you build from there.

    Don't do what others do - follow a formula; get up/"do" 3 songs. You may be "successful" ? that way, pending how you define that. Be yourself, - it's good'nuff, great even; ask your family or others here.

    - No one here can know your audience, only you; and every night is different, well, usually πŸ˜€ or the same; make it different, make it *entertaining.

  • @metalfoot  Mar 19

    I have a max 10 minute slot of time on stage, if I do this, is what I was told. πŸ˜€ So a 3 song set tops. Last coffeehouse I did I had a 2-song set; I did Northern Lights and Lost Socks (with kids on backing vox for Lost Socks). I want to vary it up and not use either of those. I have tons of material from which to draw (here's where my 1-guitar-1-vocal preferred recording method leaves me OPTIONS galore...!)

    Some good advice, everyone. And this is a small enough area that collar or no, everyone in town knows who I am... I remember going to a Paul McCartney concert in Winnipeg with my wife some years back, and someone I didn't recognize at all yells at me, "Hello Pastor Klages!" So I can't hide, even out of town. LOL

  • @coolparadiso  Mar 20

    It is hard to be specific. i perform every week and often i try judge the audience. if i know nothing i would play 3 i play really well and enjoy playing. If you play well and the audience see you are enjoying it you are well on your way.

  • @coolparadiso  Mar 20

    someone taught me years ago to have at least 3 songs (he called them pocket songs). these 3 you can play anywhere anytime without music or without words. the 3 slowly change but at least i can always roll something out.

  • @siebass Mar 20

    @coolparadiso I like that idea a lot; I will say I do have roughly that number of songs I can play well cold through many repetitions.

  • @metalfoot  Mar 22

    Hey folks-- thanks for all the input/insight. I am not feeling well enough to perform this evening so (as it was a drop-in style coffeehouse thing) I don't think I'll be going anywhere. I need to take care of myself and my health. Been running too hard and pushing too much of late.

  • @siebass Mar 22

    Feel better dude. Hopefully you were able to at least choose your songs even if they went unplayed this time

  • @metalfoot  Mar 23

    Ended up going anyway, did two collabs from 2018-- Greenstone Carver (with @stephenwordsmith) and For Us (with @kristi). Very good and happy crowd; very supportive!

  • @postcardhelicopters  Mar 23

    @metalfoot - Glad to hear it turned out okay! Cheers!

    Here's to hoping you have some quality time to recuperate, as well.

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