I have lately found doing solo acoustic gigs very rewarding in addition to my usual band-oriented gigs. It’s easily one of the most satisfying ways to perform and to connect with an audience, and if you can get over the initial “jitters” it can give you, that energy can really be transformed into a true artistic performer’s experience!
One thing I have really noticed right off the bat, is how much musical “space” you have to work with and work within when performing solo. I mean, you can get the place rocking, have the audience clapping along with you, and you can suddenly just STOP, and they fill that space for you by continuing the groove! Automatically, the people out there feel a deeper connection with you, and certainly must feel much more like they are a part of the show itself. Also, the “give and take” of it all becomes much more apparent as the show progresses, because of the wonderful energy that flows from the audience to performer and back again! It’s really amazing when it works, and you feel on top of the world!
Certainly, one of the key differences between the solo thing and the band gig, is how one tends to rely and “lean” on the other members of the band at certain times, while when you’re alone up there, you have to learn to “lean” on yourself, and dig a little bit deeper for what really matters. There are no ways out when you’re playing solo, and you may as well be naked up there, because as far as the audience is concerned, you are! They see, hear and feel everything you are conveying to them, and believe me, most of the time they’ll be able to tell if you’re uncomfortable, or if you’re not being straight with them!
I also have been doing “solo” type gigs where my daughter, Lexie joins me and sings songs. This allows me to take a little “side seat” to her, and enables me to feel less pressure, and also to show off my “backup” chops as a player, which has always been a big part of what I do anyway. Of course, I’m sympathetically feeling the added pressure that is now on her, but she can look to me for reassurance, both emotionally as well as musically.
So, even if you’re doing a lot of band-oriented playing and gigs, the solo, or even duet route is a great one to take, especially if you want to really get more in touch with the “feel” of your music, and if you want to gain in performing experience in leaps and bounds. Hey, it’s basically how I learned; right in front of audiences everywhere, with pure survival in mind!