Rules to Playing at a Songwriter Stage in Nashville
I saw this written by Gary Cavanauagh about playing in Nashville at an open mic night. I totally agree 100%.He stated 7 great points to remember if you are playing in Nashville or anywhere for that matter. I have held songwriters stages at Bost Harley Davidson and at the Fontanel. There are many things that make your fellow players comfortable and things you can do that will not help you in building your songwriter network. There are several things listed here that is just common sense and a few you may not have thought about.
I add this one just because I have held so many shows and this one gets me every time. Unless you are someone who can tell a story while tuning your guitar please do it outside before you play. However I have seen folks tune and tell jokes or a little story at the same time and it was very entertaining. It is just another skill you need to work on.
Here are Gary Cavanauagh's suggestions:
1. Be ready to play your set , be in tune and DO NOT tune or talk on stage while another performer is singing.Do this in a place away from the stage, do not sit at a table while another group of performers are playing and tune your guitar. This shows a disrespect for your fellow artist
2.Stay here and support the other performers whenever possible. Nashville is a community of writers and artists and we need to show total support for each other. Leaving after you set is finished shows that you do not support the other writers on your night
3. Listen to the other writers and performers because you will learn something from every performer , it might be a new chord, the way they phrase a song, the way they talk to an audience or a myriad of other things that may help you become a better performer and writer. Keep in mind that a lot the writers have cuts, hit songs and have performed in front of thousands of people.
4. Remember there may be someone in the audience that can help your career. Publishers do come to writers nights but they will usually not attract attention to themselves sitting at the bar or a corner table so they can listen to the songs. i know of 4 friends of mine who are now hit songwriters with pub deals that resulted from playing at a writers night
5. Keep in mind that you are performing in Nashville where songwriting is held in the highest esteem. If you came here it is assumed your goal is to be a hit writer a megastar or both and the way you conduct yourself while networking, performing etc will have an impact on your career.
6. Know your songs. Be sure you have rehearsed and know the songs that you are playing backwards and forwards. While some of us old guys have senior moments it is still not professional to forget a song on stage.
7. Be aware that other artists and songwriters are waiting to perform. Keep your preamble short and your songs within five minutes so everyone gets to perform
You will of course ask what qualifies me to post this. I was a songwriter night host at three different venues in Nashville over the years and hosted a open mike at a large venue in Colorado fro many years. I hope this helps everyone better understand the etiquette behind a professional writers night and I wish all my fellow songwriters and artists the very best!!