Hello everyone! The biggest question I used to get asked when I was teaching, and mentoring was this: as a singer/songwriter, what should I bring to a gig?
Having been gigging myself for nine years (omg what?!), I felt like I could probably answer this question. The most immediate ones are obvious, like a jack lead, capo and tuner. Not that I’m exempt from forgetting these things; not so long ago, I went to a gig without any of them. Not my finest hour!
I’d also recommend bringing spare strings. I know, this can be a bit of a ball ache, and sometimes it’s a bit expensive always having a spare set, but trust me, it’s so worth it. I play in my own unique tuning, which relies on the harmony of each string, and that kinda gets a bit messed up if you break one. When I first started playing percussively, I used to break them a lot. A couple of years ago, I broke one mid-set during a performance in Soho, but I carried on playing. Would you believe it, I broke another one a few minutes later! I was pretty much forced to stop playing after that. Do yourself a favour, and carry spares.
Next up, which is vital for any artist serious about promoting themselves. Business cards, or promo flyers, or anything physical you can hand out to audience members for free that has your name, website and social profiles on it. If, like me, you have a name that’s ridiculously hard to spell, anyone interested in your music will genuinely want to take one. The amount of times I’ve been at a gig without them is too high to count, and I ended up encouraging people to come chat to me after the set to find out how to spell my name. Interestingly enough, this did work pretty well – I
made some personal connections too, but it would have been a heck of a lot easier if I’d had cards to hand over, rather than writing my name in their notes. There were also a bunch of people that found me online later, and said they were too shy or nervous to come up and talk to me. By this logic, there must have been more people like this that just never found me. So, display your name somewhere clearly while you’re performing.
Lastly, I always carry a bottle of water, and a tube of fruit pastilles, for some vocal care on the way home. Water is obviously a must, but why fruit pastilles? Well, when I was ten, I had a real bad case of nodules, and was instructed by my speech therapist not to speak for a year to make them go away on their own. Thankfully, they did, and I’m totally okay now, but she did leave me with one great piece of advice that really stuck. Fruit pastilles are much better for your throat than any other throat sweet out there, because they don’t contain any form of anaesthetic. The idea of throat sweets is to lubricate your vocal chords, but they add a numbing ingredient to alleviate your pain. While this is great, it often leaves you unaware of when you’re pushing your throat too hard, because you can’t feel it, so can actually make it worse. Plus, fruit pastilles are tasty and make the tube home a lot more fun!
So that’s what’s in my gig bag. Any other musicians out there have anything to add to this?