• "Importance of Good Live Sound"

    For many acoustic performers, it can be difficult enough to afford a good quality instrument (a must), but equally important is the ability to perform your music (live) so that it sounds good.  Thus it is imperative to have quality sound reinforcement. 


    Many venues have ‘house systems’, but since many acoustic venues work on a shoe-string budget (live music being almost an afterthought), the quality of the ‘house system’ may be low-cost and/or over-used, at best.  This can be a major problem when one arrives for a gig only to find that the house-owned mics don’t work, the cables are missing-in-action, or the PA amp has a blown fuse.  I’ve heard many a horror story about how a performer ended up doing a purely acoustic gig in a noisy room because the house PA didn’t work.


    Reproducing your music live should be well-planned out.  Make sure you have extra strings, extra batteries, a replacement cable, a tuner, etc.  Invest in a good quality instrument if you don’t already own one.  And, invest in a good quality PA, and most importantly, learn how to use it.


    Live sound isn’t difficult if you aren’t fussy.  Turn on the PA, raise the volume and you’ve got noise.  But just remember, you don’t want to just ‘make noise’, you want to ‘make music’.  


    Research information on how to amplify acoustic music (Google, books, magazine articles, etc), then put that information into practice.  Note the word ‘practice’.  Just like practicing your music, you’ll need to practice sound reinforcement.  Set the PA up in your house and learn what the knobs do.  Every new PA comes with a set of directions to explain the function of each knob.  Learn them.  Try them.  Once you’re comfortable with the sound you’re trying to get, put it into use at your next gig.  Remember that room noises (Barista machines, audience noise, room echo, etc) may require some tweaking, but with practice you’ll get a good sound.


    Invest in a decent PA system.  If you have a day job (hopefully), save until you can purchase your own system.  If you are a full-time musician you should already own a PA.  If not, shame on you.  Never rely on the venue, or a friend of a friend.  Getting paid for making music means you’re a professional.  You need to look, act and sound like a professional.  


    Todd C Walker

    Wispy Mop Music

    F.A.M.E. Board of Directors

    SAW Board of Directors

  • It's All About the Performance

    from Rick Hill, President

    It took me a long time to figure out that, no matter how good a singer, songwriter or guitarist I was, there was still something missing.  When I saw groups like Robin and Linda Williams, Kim and Reggie Harris, Arlo Guthrie and others I began to see that there was much more to a performance than simply presenting some songs.  A good performer will create an experience for the audience.  The audience will leave that performance feeling changed - uplifted, challenged, energized, etc.  For a performer that means more than just putting out some fancy guitar licks, or hitting each note perfectly.  It means really connecting with the audience.  That connection is through eye contact, conversation, or singing aboout shared experiences. 

    All of that is no easy feat.  It takes practice - in front of an audience.  It can be practiced at open mics, showcases, music circles, etc.  It means breaking down what theater people call the fourth wall and interacting with yoour audience.  For every performer it will be different.  Some tell jokes, some tell stories, some walk into the audience and engage them that way.  One time I was performing with the Barefoot Boys and Rich Bala, our lead singer, couldn't decide what song to sing next.  So he sent the set list  out into the audience and let them decide what song we shoould sing next.  It was hilarious!  And it really got the audience engaged!  They had a great time, we had a grreat time.

    If you are a new performer, work hard at making eye contact with folks in the audience.  Be friendly, engaging, approachable.  It will make a huge difference in your show!