Sunday, April 26, 2009

Concert Survival Guide!

Getting Ready to Go On Stage at the NJ Folk Festival! Warm weather & sunny skies contributed to a massive turnout. Headstock Tuner and Woodstock Guitar Strap by Planet Waves. Denim jacket and Special Edition D-18 guitar in sustainable cherry wood both by C.F. Martin & Co. and made in the U.S.A.

PHOTO: NJ Folk Festival performers Magda Miczak, (harmonica) and Ray Rettger, (banjo), stay late to jam after the show with two event attendees.

Well, there's no denying it. Our concert season began this weekend at the 35th New Jersey Folk Festival! Record crowds were in attendance as the sunshine filled temperatures soared into the 90's. When playing the summer concerts and festivals, you'll need to observe a few rules of the road so you'll last the distance. First off, you'll need to make sure to stay hydrated. Caffeine filled sodas, coffee and tea beverages are actually diuretics meaning they help rid your body of fluids. So drinking them instead of pure water will actually dehydrate you even more. You'll also need to choose your clothing carefully. Pick outfits that not only show up well on stage but allow proper ventilation to your skin. Most of us sweat even a little when we perform but large dark perspiration stains on your shirt (or pants!), look really scary on stage. Remember the saying, "Never let 'em see you sweat"?

Staying Cool On Stage

What I have found are a few essentials that help me endure the harsh conditions of outdoor concerts and jams. Here I am after playing a set in 90 degree, sunny weather. The cowboy hat isn't a prop. It is by Dorfman-Pacific and offers serious sun protection so my face doesn't get burned. It is made of airy straw with lots of meshing in the crown so my hair isn't soaking wet from being steamed. My blouse is by ExOfficio, and is called the Next-To-Nothing Zeph'r for good reason. It completely allowed my skin to feel every passing breeze while I was performing. I might have been a bit misty but it surely didn't show. More than that, I was entirely comfortable through out the whole festival. This blouse is wrinkle resistant so it's perfect for throwing in my gigbag or overnight case. Every bit as road-worthy as my guitar! In fact all of ExOfficio's pieces pack extremely well. This shirt is lightweight, super quick drying and even has a secret zippered security pocket. 3/4 length sleeves stay out of the way of my guitar strings. What more could you ask for?

Festival Players Warming Up
Life on the road can disrupt your usual practice schedule and routine.
Increase your studio time now and you will be able to make the transition with ease. The best thing to do is to arrive early as you see my Bluegrass friends doing here, and warm up. I used Planet Waves' new Headstock Tuner this year. Very accurate and compact enough to leave on the guitar while playing. While you are tuning your instruments you will also tune your voice so you don't lose it in the middle of a performance. I often take along a saline nasal mister because it quickly hydrates the upper nasal passages and back of the throat. This clears your head and gives your voice extra clarity and resonance. Arriving early also allows your set list to come together with decisions on what key you'll be playing in being made before you go on stage. This is the time to hydrate yourself with plenty of water which is especially true if it is hot and dry. Take a quick restroom stop before you hit the boards and knock 'em dead! If you don't get enough water before going on, well, you may be the one getting knocked dead.

Jamming After the Concert

Ideally, you'll want to have plenty of juice left at the end of your concert to get together with a few people after the show to talk and play. This is how you grow as a musician and performer. I can't emphasize this enough. If you are so wiped after a weekend of travel, rehearsals and performing that you miss the "real party" afterwards, its time to rethink your diet and exercise program. Great tours don't just happen. You have to condition yourself for them. Your training table should consist of lots of complex carbohydrates, whole grains and nuts, lean meats and LOTS of pure water. Try to walk or ride your bike for shorter errands now that the weather is getting warmer. This will all add up to increased stamina on the road and you can be the last man or woman standing when all is said and done. Here I am still picking until late after most performers had left. People must have liked the sound of my Martin D-18 because it kept getting borrowed! I really wasn't tired and enjoyed meeting a lot of new musician friends and fans after the show. That's what it's all about, right?

PODCAST ALERT! You can check out many of the items mentioned in the article in the banner ad section to your left. Didn't get a chance to attend this festival? Listen to a LIVE Podcast from the 35th Annual New Jersey Folk Festival at
: Dr. M's Radio Show,

IN THE MIX: We'll be road testing the Audio-Technica 3000 Series Wireless Microphone System this season! It comes with the acclaimed ATM710 condenser mic and is available with its own case so it is perfect for going on tour. See you out there!

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