The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival is a celebration of storytelling, folklore, and the interesting art of spinning tales which attracts around 10,000 people each year to Utah Valley.
We had the priviledge of being the headlining musical event at this year’s festival.
The music organizer for the event had this to say about our performance:
“Rob Bennion and the group of musicians who make up his band are amazing. Rob’s band kept an eclectic mix of 2500 folks happy for more than an hour. Rob’s music was meant to be “pre-game show” music, but what happened was wonderful – the outdoor audience, waiting for the main show, quit visiting and listened to a tight, dynamic, powerful, enthusiastic group of musicians with tunes that took them from Chattanooga to Ipanema and back. Rob is a phenomenal musician of his own accord, and he surrounded himself with musicians who truly complimented each other. I was so pleased with the Rob Bennion Band’s performance that I instantly booked them for a private party, and I will place Rob top on my list for musicians I am happy to work with. And – Rob is the model gentleman. .”
Today’s lesson is about being prepared for a performance. There are many different types of performances, from playing background music at a restaurant to a festival crowd where ou are the main event people paid to come see. Here are some tips to help you be better prepared for your next gig:
1. Knowing your audience is crucial to pulling off a great performance. What age group is the crowd going to be? Think of which songs and what style to play them in. If you’re performing for a wedding reception, you won’t want to pull out the hard-rockin’ blues chart, unless it’s later in the night and people are wanting to dance to a blues song. Be sensitive especially about volume levels. In a restaurant setting, play it safe and be as quiet as possible, volume will naturally increase during the course of a performance as the night goes on.
2. Get feedback from the people in charge/people who hired you. If playing at a bar/restaurant, ask the waiters/bartenders about your volume, song choices, get whatever feedback you can. these are the people the manager will talk to to see if you get to come back again. Make especially sure to motivate the crowds to tip their waiters/waitresses/bartenders well, this gets you extra points. Get feedback before, during, and after a performance.
3. Make a set list beforehand, but don’t be afraid to alter it as you go. A well-chosen set list gives the band time to prepare and think about the songs before you announce it on the bandstand. It gives you and others peace of mind and cuts down on time between songs. When making the list, keep your audience, band members, the venue, ll aspects of the performance in mind. A good way to organize your set is to perform 3-4 songs in a row with little to no break in between, then take a 20-30 second breather to talk to the crowd, let the band rest a second. Audiences like to have a breather and talking helps increase anticipating for the next song (in moderation of course!)
4. Take good care of your band members, treat them well and the overall performance will be much better. Bring water for them, help everyone with their gear, compliment them on their playing, etc. Making sure they all know beforehand what to expect as far as times, dress, songs, instrumentation, will avoid confusion and possible conflicts.
5. Whenever possible, carpool. This gives you time to chat and get over nerves on the way to a performance, as well as to ensure that you arrive together and on time. When I perform, I like to bring my rythm section with me, so that even if some members are late, the basics are covered.
6. Be adaptable to the needs and wants of your audience. Take requests when possible, extend songs when people are dancing, change your set list to keep the crowd engaged.