Last Friday (November 8, 2013) I performed at a Songwriter Showcase at Kick Butt Coffee Music & Booze in Austin, TX with some other talented musicians: Fight The Liar, Jay Ziegler, and Pinetree, who hosts the Thursday night open mic and asked me to play.
Each of the acts played two 30 minute sets each, one earlier in the evening and one later, with our host Pinetree performing in the middle of the show. This allowed me to put together two unique set lists while approaching my second set as a sort of sequel to my first set.
Usually I’ll start by picking out opening and closing songs (sometimes first two/last two songs), then work in everything else. I try not to play my songs in the order they appear on albums, but sometimes it works out that way. I’m not very strict about that. Some songs work best side by side, so why separate them? (That’s the romantic in me talking.)
Each new set list is an opportunity to revisit themes, and songs can take on different meanings in new surroundings. The set could end up being a sweet love story or an existentialist post-apocalyptic tale, depending on my mood. Sometimes it’s both.
When it comes to playing the songs live things can change again. Sometimes I’ll skip a song if I don’t think I can do it justice or if the mood doesn’t feel right. I’ll play a song I hadn’t rehearsed with that set because it makes sense in the live setting. I like having a plan for my shows, but it’s also important to let my emotions guide me.
Here are my set lists for the Kick Butt Coffee show, since we’re talking about it.
- breathe easy (52-28) (mandolin)
- street i’ve never seen (guitar)
- to get lost (52-38) (guitar and harmonica)
- the time that passes (guitar and harmonica)
- let’s find fall (octave mandolin and harmonica)
- the eclipsed moon (52-18)
(I accidentally skipped this one, even with my yellow ukulele smiling at me every time I made an instrument change.)
- nine states (guitar)
- some sense of purpose (guitar)
- no alarms (52-34) (guitar and harmonica)
- all these things (banjo)
- with your truck door open (guitar and harmonica)
- just passing by (52-10) (guitar)
- your pretty black bow (52-40) (guitar and harmonica)
- dust (52-46) (guitar)
- the road between (mandolin)
- natural disasters, haircuts, and more (guitar and harmonica)