by Andrew sings…..
By Andrew Tait
Well, we’ve just finished a busy weekend of 3 gigs. Friday night was a busy restaurant night with a lively crowd keen to dance. Saturday night’s venue had a friendly group in celebrating a 70th birthday party, and judging by the way they were dancing you’d have thought they were forty years younger. Sunday afternoon was a little quieter, but nevertheless the crowd was still in a dancing mood, and the couple from somewhere in Northern Europe (their accents suggested either German or Dutch) were fabulous dancers and had the rest of the house looking on in amazement, and bursting into rounds of rapturous applause. What a weekend !
Looking back at the weekend, it has reminded us that the summer season ahead is going to be busy, hectic, tiring and hard work – but more importantly it will be full of fun, friendship, frivolity and fabulousness 😀
But the season doesn’t just happen. There are lots of preparations that have to be undertaken.
For the last couple of months we have been busy talking with prospective clients, visiting venues, and negotiating diary dates and fees. Just sorting out the diary takes hours to organise, and it is critical to ensuring we stay organised, keep our clients happy and keep their customers informed properly about where we are performing and when. Also we do like to ensure the venues we take on will be suitable for our type of music. The core of our performance is (hopefully) the right balance between easy listening and dance from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s including mainstream pop, soul, swing, disco, ballads as well as an appropriate selection of more contemporary pop. Ideal for restaurant and hotel environments, but not really for rock halls or night clubs 😀
However, we can (and do) arrange full party sets for a whole night of dance – but again these need to be prepared for. And so this brings me on to the next big prep job – arranging some standard sets. With over 300 songs in our continually growing repertoire, a full summer schedule of evening gigs, and the knowledge that people will only keep supporting us if we regularly change our set lists, we spend hours setting out our playlists so that our audiences can enjoy a wide variety of music however many times they may happen to come and see us perform. We have 8 different ballad/easy listening sets and 4 different dance sets from which we have created 3 different party sets. We also have 2 full sets for each of our Rat Pack, Tom & Engelbert, Swinging 60s and 70s Nostalgia shows. Finally we have a standard set for each of our James Bond Theme, Country & Western and Hollywood shows, which we can do on request. So indeed a varied and comprehensive repertoire.
These sets are also always evolving with the addition of new songs. Now of course learning new songs during a busy season is not the easiest thing to do. So winter time is also the time for adding to the repertoire, and this winter has been no exception with an additional 50 or so songs being added so far. Choosing which songs to learn is not that straightforward either. We spend time looking through YouTube, listening to radio, and studying what people post on social websites, as well as taking account of feedback from our followers and of course our own musical preferences. And then there is the time spent searching for the backing tracks through the various websites that sell the tracks commercially. Tracks sometimes have supporting backing vocals attached to them, and sometimes not. If we are lucky they sometimes come with a choice. So depending on what key we need the track in, any backing vocals can cause us huge problems, because when you change the key to the track the vocals can sound like Alvin and The Chipmunks, or alternatively like Louis Armstrong with a heavy cold 😀 So, as you can see, not as simple as it might seem at first.
Promotional activity is important to us, and we are always keen to keep a consistent brand image. So working with our clients and on our own promotional material and activities also takes a huge amount of time. We try to use our ‘Andrew sings….’ name and logo consistently to build customer recognition. But sometimes the media and some of our clients’ promotional materials, albeit with the best intentions, do not display it in the consistent way we would like. And of course we recognise that our clients have an image they want to create beyond just our performance at their venue. Writing articles for blogs, posting events on social websites and forum calendars, as well as keeping the various media aware of what we are doing also takes time. Whatever other activities suffer when we get too busy, we always give time to our promotional activity as we understand how important it is to keep our name out there and to keep our followers informed.
Finally, and extremely importantly, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our sound system, both for us and for our audiences. Our equipment needs servicing, items need replacing and renewing, we look for additional equipment to enhance our performances, and of course just general ways in which we can make our hectic work life a little easier with new technology and gadgets. This year for example we are considering what lighting we could add to help our audiences enjoy their evening more. Sounds like a small detail, but it is extremely important to us to ensure the right ambience is created for a great night out !
So, as you can see there is a lot to consider when getting ourselves ready for this summer. Oh, and of course we need some time to relax and charge the batteries before we launch into that hectic schedule. So, we have booked a couple of small breaks away from home and away from the computer. Soon we are off to Salamis, near Famagusta, for a couple of nights of 5 star pampering. And then next month we are taking the opportunity for a 5 night break in Paphos on the south side of the Cyprus divide. Our intention is to get away from it and relax for a while 😀 Although when you are sitting in bars and restaurants listening to music, you can never truly turn off and we are always listening out for that next song to learn, and the next idea for our shows.
Hopefully, on our return to daily life we will be able to post a blog about our short breaks and the fabulous times we’ve had. Then it’s back to business as usual and meeting and entertaining friends and followers, new and old, in the bars and restaurants of North Cyprus. We hope we see many new people during this our first full season here, and we hope to have made many new friends by the time we come out the other end, however bedraggled and weary we are when we get there.
Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.
To read more of Andrew sings….. adventures, please click here