Acoustic Night Suggestions

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NYC Poke

The Veil of Ignorance
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#1
I've played guitar on and off (mostly off) since I was 7. I'm competent but I realized back in junior high that I wasn't talented enough to be great, and I've just continued playing for fun whenever an opportunity arose or when my Mom pestered me enough.

My last guitar was stolen when my apartment was broken into in NYC, but I really wasn't playing much there because you can't shake a tree there without a professional musician falling out of it; even stupid little open mic things were packed with musicians far more talented than me.

Thankfully I'd kept an old Seagull at my Mom's place and I've been using my time in East Texas Exile to reconnect with my musical roots. I picked up another acoustic, a Fender Jumbo cutaway with a pick-up, just because I liked the tone and the price was right. Sure enough, right after that I stumbled into an opportunity to play rhythm at the Circle C Cowboy Church in Mount Pleasant, which is cool because I like the church and the band is excellent (I'm definitely the weak link, but fortunately it's mostly boom-chikka-boom-chikka C-F-G stuff). So I picked up a little acoustic amp (oxymoron?). Actually, I've picked up three of them, one at a time, looking for the right sound. Fortunately I've been able to trade out and trade up each time.

So anyway, after I started doing this, I started getting offers to appear at little acoustic nights in the area. At first I did it mainly to make my Mom happy, as she enjoys seeing me play in public far more than I enjoy performing. But I've met some cool people and some pretty girls doing this, so I've been doing more of it.

So the problem:

I seem kind of stuck in a rut with my selection of songs. I tend heavily towards the Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, John Prine, and James Taylor (whose songs I learned when I was like 9 or 10, I probably wouldn't have the patience to learn them now). They tend to suit my voice and my ability level, and they are all amazing songwriters and they go over well with the natives.

I was in an acoustic band in law school and we did acoustic versions of a lot of non-traditionally acoustic songs like War Pigs, Hungry Like the Wolf, Stayin' Alive, 99 Red Balloons, Bizarre Love Triangle, some Flaming Lips songs, and a reggae version of Comfortably Numb.* But that was a different audience than what I'm playing to now. I'm willing to think outside the box, but I don't want to get shot, like I would be if I played Tod Snider's "Conservative Christians" or CCR's "Boys From Oklahoma."

So what up? Any suggestions? Steer me towards some good acoustic numbers that also allow me to get home safely.



*We also did a wonderfully juvenile original song that my roommate and I wrote called "My Wood." It was an experiment in writing a pop song. The first thing to do when writing a pop song is to rip off another pop song. I built it around the hook from The Outfield's "I Don't Want to Lose Your Love Tonight" and a couple of other songs. People called our song "totally retarded but really catchy."
 

Carneyman14

I wanna be formal, but I'm here to party
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Oct 20, 2008
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#2
I've played guitar on and off (mostly off) since I was 7. I'm competent but I realized back in junior high that I wasn't talented enough to be great, and I've just continued playing for fun whenever an opportunity arose or when my Mom pestered me enough.

My last guitar was stolen when my apartment was broken into in NYC, but I really wasn't playing much there because you can't shake a tree there without a professional musician falling out of it; even stupid little open mic things were packed with musicians far more talented than me.

Thankfully I'd kept an old Seagull at my Mom's place and I've been using my time in East Texas Exile to reconnect with my musical roots. I picked up another acoustic, a Fender Jumbo cutaway with a pick-up, just because I liked the tone and the price was right. Sure enough, right after that I stumbled into an opportunity to play rhythm at the Circle C Cowboy Church in Mount Pleasant, which is cool because I like the church and the band is excellent (I'm definitely the weak link, but fortunately it's mostly boom-chikka-boom-chikka C-F-G stuff). So I picked up a little acoustic amp (oxymoron?). Actually, I've picked up three of them, one at a time, looking for the right sound. Fortunately I've been able to trade out and trade up each time.

So anyway, after I started doing this, I started getting offers to appear at little acoustic nights in the area. At first I did it mainly to make my Mom happy, as she enjoys seeing me play in public far more than I enjoy performing. But I've met some cool people and some pretty girls doing this, so I've been doing more of it.

So the problem:

I seem kind of stuck in a rut with my selection of songs. I tend heavily towards the Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, John Prine, and James Taylor (whose songs I learned when I was like 9 or 10, I probably wouldn't have the patience to learn them now). They tend to suit my voice and my ability level, and they are all amazing songwriters and they go over well with the natives.

I was in an acoustic band in law school and we did acoustic versions of a lot of non-traditionally acoustic songs like War Pigs, Hungry Like the Wolf, Stayin' Alive, 99 Red Balloons, Bizarre Love Triangle, some Flaming Lips songs, and a reggae version of Comfortably Numb.* But that was a different audience than what I'm playing to now. I'm willing to think outside the box, but I don't want to get shot, like I would be if I played Tod Snider's "Conservative Christians" or CCR's "Boys From Oklahoma."

So what up? Any suggestions? Steer me towards some good acoustic numbers that also allow me to get home safely.



*We also did a wonderfully juvenile original song that my roommate and I wrote called "My Wood." It was an experiment in writing a pop song. The first thing to do when writing a pop song is to rip off another pop song. I built it around the hook from The Outfield's "I Don't Want to Lose Your Love Tonight" and a couple of other songs. People called our song "totally retarded but really catchy."
Why would you get shot for this song?

Oh and youtube "Reckless Kelly"-Play that
 

NYC Poke

The Veil of Ignorance
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#3
Why would you get shot for this song?

Oh and youtube "Reckless Kelly"-Play that
I've heard Reckless Kelly at ACL. Good stuff. Thanks.

As for CCR, people bring their kids out to these shows, so I try to be kinda careful about language and subject matter, lest anyone be offended. I did Lyle Lovett's "Skinny Legs" one night and found myself re-checking the audience for kids before I said the word "ass."

I'm probably being overly sensitive about it. Probably the raciest thing I've done is "Like a Virgin" at a karaoke night (on a dare from my brother) and I was kind of shocked by the lyrics -- I'd never really listened to the song before -- but it went over well, believe it or not. I was tipped while singing, a car full of girls stopped and honked at me as I walked to the truck, and as I passed a young cowboy, he said "Man, you gotta be a real man to sing that song." I think he meant it as a compliment.
 

Donnyboy

Lettin' the high times carry the low....
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Take really well written Leonard Cohen songs and arrange them to Merritt feel of your set. They move so slow they are easily manipulated and he is a supurb writer with no range so the vocals shouldn't be a stretch.

To not have to change anything..... Ray Wiley Hubbard, James McMurty, Tommy Alverson
 
Jan 13, 2007
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#7
Amos Lee has some great acoustic numbers, not too difficult and some are pretty catchy. Great for attracting the fairer sex, by the by.

Wilco has some interesting songs that I have done acoustically.

Reckless Kelly is a great suggestion.

I am always playing some Steve Earle.

One I had not thought of but I change all the time is Warren Zevon. Earle & Reckless Kelly did a remake of his "Reconsider Me", on his tribute album. I love that version and if you have someone to harmonize with, it is a great one to perform.

Upload some of your performances, I would love to hear them. You seem to be in the same musical vein as I am.
 

State

Russian Bot
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#8
The past couple Tuesdays I've gone to acoustic night at a bar in Saginaw called the Eagle's Nest. They have two regulars with a different guest each week. One guy played quite a few of Clapton's older songs and it worked well.

Where are you living now? I might come watch you one night.
 

NYC Poke

The Veil of Ignorance
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Hey, everybody, thanks for all the great suggestions. You guys are really on the same page. Sorry I took so long to respond, life intervened for a bit. But this is great, I've got some new stuff to work on.

Take really well written Leonard Cohen songs and arrange them to Merritt feel of your set.
Great idea, I definitely need to learn some. And I don't know if "Merritt" was a typo or autocorrect thing, but I'm a big fan of Stephen Merritt, the genius behind Magnetic Fields. He writes great songs, and I could definitely rework some into something I can use.

How about some Jim Croce?
Good call. I already have "Operator" in the can (OSU-connection note: I used that song to win Freshman Follies Individual Act in 1985 -- now I feel old).

Amos Lee has some great acoustic numbers, not too difficult and some are pretty catchy. Great for attracting the fairer sex, by the by.


Wilco has some interesting songs that I have done acoustically.


Reckless Kelly is a great suggestion.


I am always playing some Steve Earle.


One I had not thought of but I change all the time is Warren Zevon. Earle & Reckless Kelly did a remake of his "Reconsider Me", on his tribute album. I love that version and if you have someone to harmonize with, it is a great one to perform.


Upload some of your performances, I would love to hear them. You seem to be in the same musical vein as I am.

Great suggestions. Interesting that you brought up Warren Zevon. I've been doing a version of "Poor Poor PItiful Me" based on this performance at South Station in Boston:


I learned it mainly to experiment with DADGAD tuning (I don't do the solo because I really don't want to mess with looping and effects peddles, like I said, I'm lazy). I'm pretty sure I could do Copperhead Road in DADGAD, which would eliminate the major drawback of alternate tunings, i.e., retuning your guitar between numbers. I need to learn some more Steve Earle, though. That dude is cool, and it reminds me that I need to learn more Townes Van Zandt.

The past couple Tuesdays I've gone to acoustic night at a bar in Saginaw called the Eagle's Nest. They have two regulars with a different guest each week. One guy played quite a few of Clapton's older songs and it worked well.


Where are you living now? I might come watch you one night.
I'm in NE Texas, north of both Tyler and Longview. The only regular gig I've been doing, other than the cowboy church (which is a really cool experince in and of itself) is an acoustic night in Winnsboro on Mondays. I'll let you know well in advance if I start pickin up weekend gigs, which would probably be easier.

If you wanted to to make it a long-weekend destination type of thing. Winnsboro is actually kind of a cool little town. There's a very nice B&B right in downtown (or we'll put you up in the living quarters of our horse trailer), there's good fishing all around, and the downtown area has good restaurants (they serve beer and wine -- for liquor you have to go to the liquor store right across the county line) and nice little boutiques, including a pottery shop that offers wet clay classes, a stained glass store, and a custom clothing store that makes custom Western shirts and dresses. Your beer will be on me.

And Donny, that offer still stands for you. Things got kind of crazy for a while and that whole thing dropped off my radar for a while. But we still have pigs that need killin'.
 

Donnyboy

Lettin' the high times carry the low....
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If you're gonna go Warren Zevon..... Try My Ride is Here, biblical and Texas references, would be right up your crowds alley but it's a great song
 

H2Orange

Sitting on the Group W bench
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Steve Earle is always a great choice. "Transendental Blues" is a good place to start.

Chris Knight. Check out Trailer I and Trailer II. Both are acoustic albums (guitar only) and were recorded by him in his trailer when he was getting started.

Blues? Check out Alvin Youngblood Hart, his early stuff from the mid 90's.
 
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#20
I would also suggest John Denver or Ryan Adams. Ryan Adams has a bunch of great stuff from his Whiskeytown days and when he played with the Cardinals. He does a great cover of Oasis' Wonderwall that you should check out.