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Your Show, Your Vision

     I realize I risk critique from writers everywhere with this blog, in that it goes in many different directions and doesn’t have one specific subject. But, I don’t care.  Fact is, there were so many things touring artists need to be reminded of, that came up in a recent week of rehearsals, that I felt I needed to just put them out there.  So, the blog and the video are an amalgam of thoughts and reminders for your vision for your show (in [*] form).

     I had the privilege again, of working with my friends Sidewalk Prophets, to prepare them for their upcoming headline tour.  These guys are no strangers to the stage, as they’ve been together for 10+ years.
The band recently took a much needed 2 months off, plus added two new members to the band, along with some new crew.  These changes have re-energized them and I knew rehearsals were going to go well. [*KNOW WHEN TO TAKE TIME OFF]



     In previous meetings with Ben McDonald (formerly a band member, but in a selfless move, recently took himself out of the band to be their manager), he filled me in on the vision he had for the band. [*DO WHAT’S BEST FOR THE BAND]

     He had a story-line written out and wanted to turn it into a movie to incorporate into their show.  The screenplay was being developed and planned out during our rehearsals so there wasn’t time to figure out segues in and out of those video clips, so I focused mainly on the song moments and staging, knowing we’d have to fit that in later.  [*GET A VISION FOR YOUR SHOW]

     Before we started rehearsal, I was invited to meet with the band, crew, Ben, and their videographer to discuss ideas and to plan things out.  After the story idea was laid out, we talked about how to bring in physical elements onstage to provide continuity to the video.  [*COLLABORATE]

     There were some crazy but great ideas thrown around, some which seemed impossible, but the band had the right idea; put the vision out there, then ask ‘how do we get this done?’, instead of ‘that’s too hard, I don’t think it will work’.  [*FIGURE OUT A WAY TO BRING THE VISION TO LIFE]

     They’ve added some ramps, platforms and LED screens – to add dimension to the stage and to show the video story.  They are taking things to the next level – figuratively AND literally!  I love having these options, but I didn’t want to rely solely on props to ‘be the show’…the show has to have the right arrangements and moments first and be able to stand on its own.  [*KEEP BUILDING IN NEW ELEMENTS TO YOUR SHOW]

     Since I’ve worked with them many times now, (as has Tom) they know what to expect.  They also have great ideas, so rehearsals are productive and uber creative.  One aspect of these rehearsals was to get the new guys up to speed on putting on a great performance and getting them clued in to make a connection with the audience.  

     I started by watching and videoing the entire current show and writing down ideas to try throughout the week.

     We came up with some great stuff – revamping some songs quite a bit, and others just a tweak or two. We got rid of some parts that were weighing the show down as well, since it’s an ambitious 70 minutes of music plus video.  [*GET RID OF WHAT’S NOT WORKING]

     As I got staging – and even some prop ideas, I’d run them by the band and crew and they were able to make some of them happen right away, or at least let me know what it would take moving forward.  [*THINK CREATIVELY HOW TO MAKE IDEAS REALITY]

     When the week ended I knew there was much more I wanted to work on…time and budget just didn’t allow it.  [*REMEMBER THAT IT’S A PROCESS]  

     However, they are well on track for their tour and it will be interesting to see how these video elements enhance the show.

     The take-away from this?  Get a vision.  Dream big.  Figure out how to MAKE things happen, and if it’s logistically not possible right now, scale it down – do what you can.  But, having a vision of what you want the audience to experience is key.

     Do your songs tell a story?  Is there a theme present?  A message? Maybe your thing is to just make people happy and celebrate with your music and you create a party show.  Maybe your goal is to make people think…so your show is intimate, small-scale and acoustic.  

     Whatever it is, put some thought into the overall big picture and make it happen!

Amy Wolter

As a trained Live Music Producer for Tom Jackson Productions, Amy Wolter brings her years onstage as a lead singer & keyboardist - along with her experience as a producer, arranger, and songwriter - to singers and bands who won’t settle for ‘good enough’. She’s worked with artists at all levels, and genres ranging from Rock to Celtic, empowering them to have confidence and authority onstage, and put on memorable live shows, a few of whom have been on two of the largest US tours in recent history. Some of her clients include Grammy award winners The Band Perry & Lacrae, CMA and ACM –winning country acts, Gloriana & Thompson Square, 2016 The Voice contestant Mary Sarah, CCMA (Canada) winners High Valley, Jess Moskaluke & Chad Brownlee, and Winter Jam Tour veterans Sidewalk Prophets & Love and The Outcome.

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Greenroom Comments

  1. One thing I always wanted to do was add instrumental interludes to my vocal songs. It used to be when I played an instrumental it was an instrumental and a vocal was a vocal. I still do this sometimes.

    But other times I add the instrumental interludes. I wanted to try some different things this summer, so I worked on this and I liked the result!

    I had a vision to change how I present certain songs to the audience and so far, it seems to be working well!

    Like you said it is a process and I feel like little steps are eventually how one changes their whole approach to playing live!

  2. I wish that classical musicians thought this way! And you are absolutely right, there are so many things that touring musicians have to think about… you covered it very well and I know you have much more to tell us!

  3. Love it!!

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