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Showing posts from September 2, 2007

On Planning a Set: Hook, Line, and Sinker

prepared for fellow NEFFA workshop participants, NEFFA News, Spring 2000 by L.E. Noel

October is the deadline for NEFFA applications, and I've had several requests to republish this piece from the NEFFA News. Thanks for your interest!So, you have a festival gig. You know your venue, audience, time, location, and set length. You have your performers, and you know what they can do. You have a workshop title, which is probably a theme of some sort. You probably also have a list--a long list--of material you'd like to present, from which you need to select, arrange, and rehearse a set in not-enough time. How do you get from here to there, where THERE is the applause at the end of a dynamite set?

There are lots of ways to organize a set list. The easy way is to go round robin, but we know how to do that. How do you develop a theme? Here's how I work with material that has a lot of content and narrative flow: entertain first, educate second . Start with the basic rule of 1-2-3.

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A silly bit of doggerel (c) 2001 Lynn Noel

There once was a spinach burrito
Plump with posole and beans
And barbecued pollo con frio
And salsa, cilantro, and greens.

Bought in a moment of impulse
It could have fed four, 'twas so big
A couple of bites per musician
And the rest shared out after the gig.

But the burrito soon had competition
In the form of a friend of the group
Who offered them all a late supper
At a pub that made great oxtail soup.

Hey, lunch is just fine for burritos.
We'll wrap it in foil to save
As a bite of refrito reheato
And pollo con el microwave.

Ah, pity the spinach burrito
Forgotten, abandoned and lost
In a car in a bag in the back seat.
In the morning, 'twas covered in frost.

Sad is the burrito owner
Who hastens too swift and too fleet
To an eight a.m. morning appointment
And leaves a dog in the back seat.

Ay de mi! Pobrecito!
The search was too late. Naught availed.
There was nothing but scraps of clean foil
Shaped like two ears--and this tale.