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Provocalists

Provocalists
Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

I just played a gig with a vocalist who chose to open the set with "Misty." He announced it to the audience by saying "Here's a song that needs no introduction." My question is, how were we supposed to start it?

—I Can't Get Started


Dear ICGS:

Here's the thing: His announcement itself was an introduction, a miraculous bit of self-fulfilling irony. So at that point if "Misty" really needed no introduction, he had already ruined it; if "Misty" actually did need an introduction, he had already taken care of it.

What should you have done? Let him start it himself—what vocalist wouldn't love to stand alone in the spotlight singing "Look at me"?

Dear Mr. P.C.:

At my gig tonight, the singer came up to me beforehand to talk about one of the tunes. She was trying to describe the feel she wanted, and she told me the song was about a "tightrope of hope." That's the short version, but it was quite a narrative. I could see her lips moving and hear her, but in my head I was thinking "C minor 7, F7, Bb major 7..." and hearing the time and the melody. Is it true that vocalists are from Venus and pianists are from Mars?

—Mike the Martian
 

Dear Mike:

How can I possibly answer that? Did the Cmin7 have a flatted fifth? Was the F7 altered? Did the Bbmaj7 have a sharp eleventh? Write back when you're ready to tell the whole story.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

I'm hired by a vocalist for a three-hour gig. When the three hours are up and there are about ten people left in the audience, all friends of hers, she says "Can we do one more? I really wanted to do this song tonight." Then after we play it, one of her friends stands up shouting "Encore!" So naturally the singer wants to do another.

Three hours of this particular gig was more than enough. What was I supposed to do? Refuse to play more? Charge her more? Seems like this kind of problem comes up a lot.

—No Overtime, Feel As If Robbed


Dear NO FAIR:

Surely you have some friends of your own. The real question is: Why don't they support you like the singer's friends support her? The answer is sure to reveal some painful abandonment issues, especially since you say this happens a lot.

Charging the singer more or refusing to play might give you brief satisfaction, but it completely glosses over the root problem. There's a much better solution: Go out and make some friends who actually care about you.

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