Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Tim's Latest Show

Years ago, after a couple of years of trying it, we swore off scheduling our own shows at our own risk. The risk was too great, the reward too small. Generally speaking, we found that only 10% of the people who said they would come did, and generally speaking a "successful" show broke even. There was no income in producing your own show, and it was a LOT of work.

This summer, though, we decided to try it again. The problem we've been having is that Tim has a fairly strong reputation as an a capella comedy guy, and that's not what he's doing anymore. To further complicate things, even when we explain what he IS doing, nobody really understands it because they have no frame of reference to stick it in. He is doing something that is rather unique (not completely, but unique enough in the broader musical world that not many people have seen or heard of it before), and that means hard to market. The videos we have of him "doing his thing" are not nearly as cool as seeing it live, too, so that further complicates things.

The sum total of all that is that, after 3 months of trying, we couldn't get anyone in Utah or Colorado to book Tim into their concert series. It's not that we don't know what we're doing: the "traditional" a cappella group he put together is doing plenty of shows, getting gigs off contacts, etc. And that without any performance video at all!

The non-traditional things, though, have been really hard to book. For example, Tim has put together an incredible a cappella rock group. We can't get anyone to book it because a cappella audiences aren't interested in a) original music or b) rock, and rock audiences have zero interest in a cappella. There IS absolutely an audience for this group--we just can't access it because the entertainment BUYERS don't know what to do with it.

Anyway, his solo show has been especially tricky to market. It actually is very cool and has broad appeal, but nobody knows what "solo vocal live looping" is. Even live loopers and their fans are perplexed by it. Solo Vocal Live Looping is an emerging field in music that so few people have the actual ability to do that there isn't a huge community building it--just a handful of a cappella singers/beatboxers in the WHOLE WORLD have the skills to make it work, and even fewer have the songwriting ability to support it and make it viable musically. (It involves being able to beatbox, do multiple instrument sounds, sing with a range that covers 3+ normal vocal ranges so you can harmonize with yourself, set up and run equipment including mixing on the fly from on stage while you're performing, creating the whole sound setup and design because most sound guys can't do what Tim is doing, plus writing and arranging songs based on layers of loops instead of traditional song models without them getting boring. It requires incredible pitch, musicality, and rhythm, as well as the ability to concentrate on multiple things at the same time and still engage the audience.)

Live Looping, too, generally doesn't describe what Tim is doing. Most Loopers do DJ/House music. It has a real strong techno bent to it, and most Vocal Live Loopers do a heavy beatboxing show, and mostly dance music.

ANYWAY, we really wanted him to perform in Utah, so we gave in and broke our own rule and self-produced a show here for family and friends, mostly, to see, so they, at the very least, would understand what Tim does.

And, for the first time ever in booking our own shows, this show sold out. HOORAY!

And it was amazingly good. Hard to believe how impressive it was, and I watched him prepare it. It took 5 years, really, for him to develop the technology, write the songs, prepare the show, etc.  And five years of work created one incredible show.

That nobody who saw it can describe. Not really.

At the request of some who missed the show, we've scheduled a second performance, and even the people who saw it last time, when asked, "What does Tim do?", just say, "It is INCREDIBLE. Coolest thing you'll ever see. You just have to go see it."

So what does Tim do?  Using only his voice, he sings all the parts to songs, live. He does the drums, he does the instruments, and he harmonizes with himself. But even when I say it, it doesn't sound as cool as it actually was. And is.

So that's what I've been pondering all week. We don't even know whether to market the show as a theater or a concert piece. Trying to get better video of it, but I'm not sure video will ever really show what it is.

It's just really cool.

You have to see it.

Last scheduled chance in Utah is July 9, at the Covey Center Black Box theater.

And THEN we have to figure out where we go from here. Now that the show is ready, what next?

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