Sunday, January 24, 2010

Prince and Creating Spontaneity

Dez Dickerson and Prince

The former guitar player for Prince was telling me about their rehearsals. If you’ve seen any video of Prince or seen him live, he goes off on jams that appear completely spontaneous. Sometimes they’re so off the wall, you wonder where they came up with the stuff they did!

I asked him, how did you get from that place to this funky thing to this Pink Floyd thing to this breakdown, to this jammin’ stuff — and it all seems so spontaneous? And he said one word…“practice.” In practice they got an instinct, they were jamming, and they went down that road in practice. The idea came to them, they stopped, went back, fleshed it out, and rehearsed it to where it was really tight and they didn’t have to think about it.

Those of us who have just “jammed” know that it might be magical….one night. And then on other nights it’s just terrible. So the key is this: if you understand the fundamentals in your preparation, and you know how to hold the mic, and you know placement on stage, and you know what it takes visually onstage, then they’re in your arsenal and you can use them (be spontaneous with them) onstage. They’ll come naturally – without thinking about them.

Otherwise, you get an instinct, and if you haven’t rehearsed the fundamentals, then you have to think about it, and all the audience sees is you thinking about what you’re doing. And that’s not exciting.

I have a good friend who lives in Chicago. When he flies into town he doesn’t give me a call and say “hey, Tom, lets go down to the library and watch people read!” We don’t want to watch people read. And no one wants to watch people think!

So what we need to do is plan, practice it in rehearsals, and then we can go out and do it. And when we’re onstage, IF we have the fundamentals, then we can follow our instinct, and it’s natural. We’ve done it over and over and over again. It looks spontaneous even though the basics are things we’ve worked out in rehearsals.

On a football team, those players are not just playing their 19th, 20th game of the year when they get to the Super Bowl. Before the Super Bowl, they had six weeks of training, and before that they had a 6-inch thick playbook of plays that the team runs, and they study those plays. The truth is, everyone knows their role. They run the plays over and over and over again. Then the coaches have a game plan.

THAT’S what a live show should be! You’ve studied a playbook, you’ve rehearsed it, and where the spontaneity comes in is that every night, every audience is different. So just like the running back, you don’t run through the same hole every play. You try left, you try right, you try jumping over them, you pitch the ball back…. that’s where the spontaneity comes in.

Everyone needs to know the role they have and the goal of each play. That’s the way a song should be, too. That’s what should happen onstage – a combination of rehearsal and spontaneity. No one is thinking! The running back isn’t thinking when he runs up to the hole, and the hole is closed, “oh, maybe I should run this way” – he just reacts. Why? Because he has the fundamentals!

Having the fundamentals down because you’ve done your wood shedding is the first step. Then planning the show – getting a vision for what you want each song to look like, and what you want your show to look like – that’s the next step.

It’s important to find the balance between form and spontaneity, and to understand the creative process. That means brooding over your songs, listening to them in different ways, planning, getting ideas,…and then working it until it becomes a part of who you are onstage. Something natural, something creative, something unique – and that’s what your audience wants to see!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tribute to RUSTY WIER!! (FROM: DAVID CARD) Poor David's Pub...Please Support!!

Dear Folks:

KNON and I are cooperating in a final Tribute to Rusty Wier . His passing away in October of 2009
has left many of us in the area without closure . After expenses, the proceeds will be split between KNON radio which Rusty loved and supported (as KNON loved and supported him) and his family to reduce whatever debts remain relative to his passing.

We are asking a donation of $15, advance, $20 at the door, and each donation will receive a copy of one or the other of "Rusty Wier, Live at Poor David's Pub"
or "Rusty and Son" Live at Poor David's Pub. This premium lasts until the inventory is depleted.

We are also combining this with a "Rusty Wier Memorial Chili Cookoff"--$25 entry fee, all going to
the good causes.

Date is 2/28/10- the beginning of Poor David's 33rd anniversary month (March) Time is 4-9pm.


We are limiting the Chili Cookoff to 10 entries and we are putting out a casting call for acts who would
like to perform in honor and memory of His Greatness, The Rusty.

At one point during the tribute a yet-to-be-announced band is going to play "Don't It Make You Wanna Dance". Rusty's signature song. Anyone inside the building that is not dancing will have to throw another $10 into the pot! Get your dancing boots ready!

All in all, we just want to have a good time remembering Rusty who was the A Master of having a good time,
and the cause of many a great time had by many of us.

So please volunteer you services, get your chili ready, shine your dancing boots and participate in any way
that's meaningful to you because while Rusty may be gone, He is not forgotten...