Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy

Providing Contrast For an Audience

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Well I am writing this after a day and a half of preparing & uploading YouTube videos. Will I ever get off the computer?? Oh nooooo…..

As a freelancer a lot of work with no up front results need to go in. I.E. – one must have faith that what one is doing will yield a result. I do. And there’s no getting around it at the time of this writing – if you are a musician and not on youtube, you are missing out. What a cool way to get people to see you play music! In just a few short weeks I have been able to send video links to bookers & record labels – and not to mention, get new fans.

It’s funny, being a performer and understanding (or trying to understand) what audiences like. Crafting an act is a little bit like what they tell you about picking up girls – you gotta be a little bit of a prick. Be nice, be charming – but just a smidge cocky, but in a friendly, confident way. Being too sensitive, too nice looks like you are weak. Ever try to be nice & sensitive and see the girl you have a crush on go for the prickiest guy in the room? I have been that guy!

You can be the prick, and then when you got the “girl” feel free to be nice and show the sensitive side. Similarly – give the audience the “show” tunes and once you got ’em, ballads are ok.

Were I left to my own devices, I’d probably play ballads all the time. I love playing notes and letting them ring out and I can just stay in that meditative state forever. Nice for me, but not for the listener after an hour. I gotta tell you – audiences keep me on my toes. I know that I have to entertain and create excitement. It’s a little bit like what I mentioned about being a “pick up” artist.

A big part of my interest in acoustic guitar as opposed to a straight ahead jazz sound is that I can get that “roar” out of an acoustic when it is strummed. I had been missing that with the clean electric sound I was getting. Seems like a paradox, I know.

Ok, if you are an icon like James Taylor then maybe you can go and play ballads all night. But I’m not (yet).

So, in offering a “balanced” solo acoustic guitar act – I am keeping in mind that I need a healthy mix / awareness of

tempos – fast, medium, slow
rhythmic ideas – different grooves
tunes – melodic, funky, fast, more classical, more bluesy
a few freaky technical display tunes, just for the circus act
originals vs cover tunes
textures – arpeggios, single line, contrapuntal stuff
dynamics!!! everything from big flamenco strums down to whispery harmonics
shmoozing vs playing
how I will start & end the act!

If any of these elements is not there, it could potentially be a Thanksgiving meal without stuffing, or a Japanese meal without wasabi. Know what I mean?

I love how Tommy Emmanuel has a bulletproof show. I went with some friends, and there was something for all of us. I loved his ballady, melodic originals the most but I think the more typical audience members (non musicians) liked the energy, the contrasts – and even the sillier stuff like him singing “Heartbreak Hotel”. I mean – whoa – this guy kept everyone’s attention for 2 hours – just a man and a guitar. That is equally, if not more amazing than the playing itself!

That being said I invite you to watch the vids on you tube. The only “pretty one” I have uploaded at this time is “She’s Leaving Home” by The Beatles. All the others are tricky freaky audience attention grabbers.

No more Mr. Nice guy – I want to “pick up the chicks” !!! (musically speaking) 🙂

I sincerely hope you are entertained!

Until next time –


Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

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