One of the major challenges of a seven piece band is fitting on a stage. There are seven bodies, drum set, keyboards, microphone stands, pedalboards, amplifiers, music stands, etc… The New Yorker, while a nice place, has a relatively small stage. Granted, it is an actual stage. Usually, we have a cordoned off area in a section of the club, this was an honest-to-goodness raised stage, complete with back door and parking lot for loading (sweet). The acoustics of the place were good, not particularly bouncy, bassy, or tinny.

On this particular evening, we were being filmed. The video will soon be appearing on the Ricky Blues website. Below are some pictures of the evening.

Created with flickr slideshow.

When playing rock n’ roll, musicians prefer a slightly raucous crowd. People that are singing along, jumping up and down, and crowding closer to the stage are the best. The worst are the people that grab the microphone to sing along, jump up and down on guitar pedals, and crowd too close to the stage bumping members of the band. No one wants to deal with that guy.

The New Yorker was neither. I am not implying that the crowd was not appreciative. They clapped, sang along occasionally, but literally and figuratively maintained their distance.

I understand their hesitance at first. There were video cameras, cameramen, and umbrella lights set up in the first half of the club. No one wants to bump into someones expensive equipment, knock over a light, or interfere with the filming. I appreciate their caution and concern.

The equipment was gone after the first set, but by that point the gulf had been established, and we could not reclaim that ground.

I recall someone writing (I think it was Robert Fripp) that a performance should have three parts.

  1. Hook the crowd.
  2. Take them someplace interesting.
  3. Bring them back.

I think every performing musician knows the first one, but what may not be understood is that there may be impediments to that beyond his control. They can vary. Perhaps there is a playoff game on the bar’s television. Maybe there are two scantily clad women dancing on the bar (even you’re probably watching that one instead of concentrating on your playing). There are any number of unforeseen reasons.

What to do? Try to get the crowd involved at your earliest opportunity. Try to get them engaged. Though you may try this, despite your best efforts, you may not grab them. Hooking the crowd is like a first impression, most times you only get one chance.