As every Djug Django fan knows, the band invites guest
singers to perform during the second half of the
weekly shows in Ithaca.
Djug Django does this out of a sense of committment to the community.
We enjoy giving seasoned professionals a chance to strut their stuff
and we also like to encourage beginners. We want to
make it a fun experience for everyone.
The Guest Singer segment has been a part of the weekly Djug Django show for
many years. Rather than being an "Open Mic", it is a more controlled event
which relies heavily on the hard work, patience, compassion and
"good sportsmanship" of singers and band members alike.
We have devised a system to help
keep the proceedings organized and sane.
Here are the band's recommendations and suggestions:
- Prospective guest singers should be properly prepared to both sing their song and have fun.
- Prospective guest singers need to 'sign up' using the official Guest Singer Signup Sheet on the clipboard next to the tip jar, before 8:00 pm.
- Prospective guest singers absolutely need to know their key and should have legible sheet music or chord charts that can be easily read by the elderly band members in the dim lighting conditions of the venue.
- Prospective singers need to be able to "count off" their song so that the band has an idea of the desired tempo and "feel". This might be the most difficult thing for beginners to pull off, and should be practiced at home!
- Importantly, prospective guest singers should fully realize and accept that they may not be called to sing, even when they sign up. Connected to this 'realization and acceptance' is the understanding that singing with Djug Django is not an entitlement and that selection of guest singers is done at the band's perogative which may change week-to-week depending on circumstances, whim, simple forgetfullness and, occasionally, on the singer's skill level. This also means that displays of irritation and hurt feelings are likely to remind the band members of their first wives and will not get you anywhere.
WHAT NOT TO DO , a cautionary story based on a composite of actual events :
A singer is called up. Almost everything that happens after that is wrong.
Can you spot the problems?
The singer gets on stage with the band. He has arrived at Lot 10 only minutes earlier, since his real concern is being appreciated as a singer and he has no real interest in the band, the band's music, or the Djug Django scene. In fact, he is still a little miffed that he was not called to sing the previous week, even though he had put his name on the "Guest Singer Signup Sheet".
He has one copy of the sheet music for his chosen song, "The Very Thought of Our Night and Our Day" by Coleira Gerhsporter. He gives the sheet music to Brian. Brian hands the sheet to Doug. The sheet music is a xerox of a lead sheet from a fake book with very small print. No one else in the band can see the sheet music, so they will try to follow Doug's guitar chords by watching his fingers.
The singer says "This sheet music is not the right key for me." Doug and Harry say, in unison, "OK, sing a little bit of the song to us right now." The singer sings part of the song, very softly. "What?", replies Doug. The singer again softly sings a fragment of the song. "I think he wants F Major", Doug shouts to the band members. Doug then says , "How fast would you like the song?" The singer mumbles something. "What?", replies Doug. The singer again mumbles something. "Can you count us in?", Doug asks. The singer counts "1-2-3-4-" in a whisper, clapping his hands on the number "1" and the number "3". Doug starts playing a standard 2-measure jazz turnaround in the key of F Major in the tempo indicated by the singer. The band waits for the singer to begin his song. The singer exchanges a deer-in-headlights look with Doug, then starts singing the song in the middle of the turnaround. He begins singing "The Very Thought of Our Night and Our Day" in the key of C Major. The band plays incorrect chords as they stare at Doug's fingers as he plays incorrect chords while trying to read the barely legible print on the singer's chart.
Dave figures out what's wrong and yells, "He's in C!" The band makes a frantic effort to change to the key of C Major. The song finally congeals as the singer finishes the first time through the form and Brian begins a clarinet solo. The singer starts singing the song after 8 bars of Brian's solo. "No, not yet !" Dave and Doug yell in unison. "Can you come in on the Bridge?", Doug yells to the singer. The singer nods and begins the song at the beginning of the form, before Brian has finished his solo. The band jumps to the beginning of the song. The singer completes the form and sings an extended ending with a repeated tag that he has practiced at home. The band plays a stock blues ending. The band's ending is shorter than the one the singer practiced at home so the music ends and the singer keeps singing without accompaniment.
HOW TO DO IT RIGHT
A singer is called up ...
The singer has four copies of the sheet music for his or her chosen song, "The Very Thought of Our Night and Our Day" by Coleira Gerhsporter. He gives copies to Dave, Doug, Brian, and Chad. The sheet music is a chord chart with chord symbols in 22-pt bold type, proper bold measure lines, double lines at the beginning of each section of the song, and correct "roadmap" markings.
The sheet music is in the key the singer needs. Doug says , "How fast do you want it ?" The singer says "medium swing", and then counts the song off in a loud clear voice that all the band members can hear: "1 (pause), 2 (pause), 1-2-3-4-" with the singer snapping her fingers loudly on beats number 2 and number 4. Doug starts playing a standard 2-measure jazz turnaround in the key written on the sheet music. The singer hears and understands the rhythm and structure of the turnaround and knows that it is meant as an 'intro' and that the singer is to begin when she is ready. The singer launches into the song at the end of the second time through the turnaround and sings "The Very Thought of Our Night and Our Day" in the key written on the sheet music.
After the singer completes the first time through the form Brian plays a clarinet solo. The singer hums the song's melody in her head so that she can keep his place in the song. As Brian finishes the song's 2nd 'A' section, Doug and the singer exchange a quick glance and wiggle their eyebrows in a way that communicates an unmistakeable thought: "Start singing at the Bridge". The singer comes in at the Bridge and sings the song to its end. Knowing that there had not been any time to discuss the ending with the band, the singer listens carefully and senses that the band has spontaneously moved into a standard blues ending. The singer latches on and sings along with the band's ending.
Show-stopping applause from audience and band members alike.
| Watershed Arts Main Page. |. .Doug