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Thirsty Lion Setlist Thoughts (And Blog 6)...


One of the things I like about local budget committees is they seem to regard me as a good financial manager—which I guess I am. Or was. I haven’t done it for a living for a while. Every now and then I manage to come up with a good idea. I wish there was still a demand for that stuff. (Got compliments on the articles I did for the paper, too. That was nice as well.)

I do not know—yet—if I’m invited to the Thirsty Lion on March 27, the closest to St. Leif’s Day (March 29) that they’ll be having one of their Songwriter Showcases. I’ve asked host Eric. If I (or we—I’d love to have accompaniment for this) am (or are) on, I (or we) will have to do “The Six-Legged Polka,†my St. Leif’s Day song. It is my only St.Leif’s Day song, however. I (or we) will have to do five (or four) other things along with it.

One plays to the venue—endeavoring to give the audience (or what I think will be the audience) what I think they’ll appreciate. What do we have here? The Thirsty Lion is a tavern; the crowd is over 21, so adult material is okay, and they’ve been drinking (especially if the Songwriter Showcase comes on the heels of a playoff game on the big-screen TVs), so one has to work a little harder to get their attention, and keep things fairly easy to understand, because a lot of ‘em won’t be operating with a full set of brain cells. I’ll start with something slow and sleazy—that usually will get their attention—and then alternate fast and slow numbers if I can.

Many of the folks in the audience will have come to hear one of the other “acts†perform, which means they’re inclined to be attentive, but not necessarily attentive to me. I try on principle not to do songs I’ve done there before, but that’s for host Eric John Kaiser’s benefit, not the audience’s; most of the audience have never heard me before anyway. Assuming I’ll have accompaniment, I’ll want to make the setlist conist of songs that work well with that accompaniment. And I don’t want to do anything serious. I’ll leave that up to the other “acts†(who will usually more than make up for my lack of seriousness).

Tall order? Maybe not; with over 80 songs, I can usually come up with something to fit almost any occasion. And I do have a complete list of my songs handy—it’s what I’ve been working off to assemble the lyrics for the New Joe Songbook. How about:

Can I Have Your Car When the Rapture Comes?—slow & sleazy

50 Ways to Cure the Depression—folk-rock

Invitation to St. Patrick—mod. tempo blues

The Six-Legged Polka—fast bluegrass

Bungee Jumpin’ Jesus—deliberate Gospel

The “Rapture†song is a good attention-getter; I haven’t performed that or “Bungee Jumpin’ Jesus†at the Lion for a long time. I’ve never played the St. Patrick song there—and our show date is reasonably close to St. Patrick’s Day. “50 Ways†would give ‘em a little tongue-in-cheek (and memorable) social commentary along with their beer.

It’s nice if a short setlist can at least fit the “describe what you do in one sentence†description I gave Songstuff when I first joined: “Happy, upbeat, uptempo songs about death, lost love, betrayal, religion, and dead animals.†(That way, I can mention it in the Rap.) The above setlist actually includes everything except dead animals, unless one considers the ants in “The Six-Legged Polka†as qualifying (they were going to die, but St. Leif saved them).

And if I have to do the show solo again, I’ll change the setlist. I’ll have six songs instead of five, and will pick ones that either don’t have or don’t need a lead break.



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