Archive for June, 2009

Rules of the Road for Guest Singers!

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

I usually don’t post in the middle of the month, but I’m bursting here so I’m going to change the rules for this month…maybe for good. Who knows? Many of you are asking for more frequent posts, so….

Over the weekend, I was asked to perform with a local band here in Corpus at the site of what is known here as the “Walk of Fame”. It emulates the “Stars” on Hollywood Blvd in Los Angeles, and pays tribute to some of the musicians here who have advanced the “live” music scene in town. The gentleman for whom I was performing is one of the guys who started the tradition of an annual Jazz Festival here in Corpus Christi, back in 1960, and who has been very helpful to me personally, so I was proud and honored to participate.

Now, I do not in any way wish to set myself up as a paragon of virtue with this blog, but I will express what I believe is an example of what is correct and respectful and what is NOT!

When my turn to sing came up, I stepped upon the stage, said a couple of words about the gentleman who was being honored, how much I admired him and appreciated being asked to help celebrate his star on the “walk of fame”, and then sang my songs.

When you sing with a Jazz group, it’s a collaboration, not a personal showcase.

After the first time through a song, the professional singer moves to the side and allows each instrumentalist who wishes to improvise on the song, ample time to do so, and this usually includes, the horns, the keyboard, the guitar, and the bass player, and on fast tunes, the drummer.

My first song was a slow one, so there was a sax solo and then a keyboard solo, and then I got the nod to come back in and I sang the song out. The second song was an up tempo jazz standard and everybody got into that one, including the bass player and the drummer, exchanging 4 bars each for an entire chorus of the song. Again, I was off on the side while the instrumentalists did their solos, and sang it out only after they indicated to me that they were finished. When I was finished with my 2 songs, I thanked the honoree for inviting me and the crowd for their reception and I left the stage. That was professional and appropriate for the occasion.

There was another singer there who had asked if he could sing with the band as well, and was offered an opportunity to do so. He stepped up, took the microphone and began what I can only refer to as “his Act”. We, the audience were “graced” with stories of where this singer came from, how many famous musicians he had traveled with all over the world, and after about 10 whole minutes of that, he finally got around to singing. He sang a ballad, and after the first time through, one of the horn players on the stage decided to take a solo. The singer obviously, unaware of bandstand protocol, despite his many travels with “famous” world-class musicians, interrupted the horn player by coming back in on the second half of the song, which automatically made it totally impossible for any other musician on stage to play a solo if he had wanted to.

He then proceeded to inform us, the audience that he had worked 4 jobs in the 3 nights leading up to this day, and his apologized for being hoarse, but then offered to sing another song anyway. (Who asked him?)

He did another ballad, (that in itself is just plain bad programming), and this time actually had the temerity to sing along with the intrumental solo, and then talk more in the middle of it.

I was incensed at first…until I got the idea from this amateurish, egomaniac’s performance to write a book on appropriate behavior on the bandstand when you are an invited guest singer.

Singers! Please understand!

Not every singing occasion is your personal showcase! You must adjust your behavior for different venues.

The young man who sang on Sunday for the inductee to the Walk of Fame was clueless to that fact, and took the opportunity as his chance to promote HIMSELF,  in a venue where it was simply not appropriate to do so.

I shall be writing a book on this subject and will keep you posted here on the blog site about it’s release date.

As always, I welcome your comments!