Prepping for My First Gig

Balancing a part time music career with a full time job and a family takes careful planning, so that none of those get left out.

Prepping for My First Gig

In preparing for my first gig, I realized that I had a lot to do. But let me back up first and start from the beginning.

The coffee shop/pub where I have my gig is a new place that opened just a few weeks ago. I happen to know the people that run the place, so my family and I decided to check it out. As I expected, there were not very many people in there (this being a pandemic and all). However, my friend that runs it was there. He stopped by our table to chat and I was going to ask him if he would consider letting me play some live music there. Well, before I had the chance to ask him, he asked me if I'd play. I accepted and we set a date that was two weeks out.

At the time, I didn't think much about the two weeks lead time. I was not available in one week, so two weeks was the soonest I could make it. Once I got home and started figuring out everything I needed to do to get ready I realized that two weeks may not be enough time. It was in the end, but it was a lot of work.

First thing I needed was a setlist. I've been writing songs and doing cover's on YouTube for a little over 6 months so I had plenty of content for a two hour gig. I wrote down all the songs I thought I'd like to do again and that were not related to a holiday (no need to play Christmas songs in April). I added a few I've been meaning to do and haven't yet.

Next I needed to put the songs in order and rehearse them. Rehearsing was the most time consuming part, mainly because I had forgotten some of the songs and needed to relearn them. In fact, for some of them, I rewatched my YouTube videos to remember how I did the song - the key, the tempo, etc.

And then there's the question of memorization. True confessions: I don't memorize the songs I record for my YouTube channel. There, I've said it. It's out there. Well, now the question is, do I try to memorize them for a live gig? I did have another option. I have a tablet and a page-turning pedal which I have used in some occasions. So I decided that memorizing was a lower priority. In the end, I did not really memorize any of the songs, except for a couple of the instrumental numbers I already had memorized.

I borrowed some sound equipment from a friend which I set up in my living room to test it out and rehearsed almost every evening for a week leading up to the gig. I rehearsed in the evening because I still have a full time job, which I needed to do during the day. In the end, I missed out on family time those evenings. Or it was cut short. This is the unfortunate side effect of being a part time musician while having a family and a full time job.

I will say that my family was super supportive throughout the whole thing. They helped with signs and wardrobe. My partner even sang with me on a few songs. I am so grateful to them for all the support that have given me over the last several months of me doing this part time music thing.

While it did take a lot of time, it was time well spent and the gig went off really well. I'll leave my thoughts for things I could change or do better next time for another post.