I'm playing a five hour outdoor gig in October, any suggestions?

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In early October I will be performing at an evening music and art type of walk here in Fort Myers where there will be artists tables and musicians at various venues along a local street in a older shopping center that is now mostly businesses and some studios, connecting the yoga studio, Yoga Bird that I attend and occasionally play at an Acoustic Flow class, and the Lee County Alliance For The Arts, where I play regularly at the Greenmarket.

I anticipate that most of the patrons will be passing through. Nearby vendors will be my captive audience. A couple of times I have performed outdoors for 3 to 3-1/2 hours so this is stretching that experience. I have been told I can take breaks, and probably will. I have enough songs in my head and on a tablet that I will have a variety of music to play to minimize repeating the same songs. Potentially tired fingers and a tired voice may be a factor. Any shared long gig experiences or suggestions would be appreciated.

Well, I'll come play a few at your spot and give you a break!
And since the crowd will be passing through, repeating songs is fine.
It will be just after the end of 50/90, so at the rate you're going your entire 50/90 output would fill the time.

I've been a vendor at many fairs where there was music and the music that seemed to work was upbeat, catchy things - even heard someone do "the Edmond Fitzgerald" once - he took it a little fast for the casual drink-in-hand listen, but the faster pace seemed to energize people. Light-hearted, catchy, fun stuff went over well, as well as old campfire and 70's favorites. Repeating is okay, but remember your vendors are truly a captive audience and they can get grumpy.... Smile at least I can when subjected to the same 5 Mamas and Papas tunes. LOL Smile

Five hours is a very long time to play! I'd for sure take Chip up on his offer to give you a break. I'd probably try find even to another musician to take a slot too, but that's because the way I sing, I'd blow my voice singing that long. But use your breaks to rest your voice, drink plenty fluids and go in well rested. 5 hours! That's a crazy longtime to ask one musician to play. Anyway, I wouldn't worry much about repeating some your best songs, because as you said, the audience will be passing through. And yes, the vendors next to you will hear it again, but if they ever listen to the radio, the same thing happens.

@AndyGetch is referring to an event along the street where our yoga studio is located, and I'm in charge of getting the music performers. The event is from 5-10 pm, but I'm not asking anyone to play that long - I'm not that strict! In fact, one of the performers thinks she only has 2 hours in her, and I'm fine with that.
Knowing Andy as I do, and knowing the mentality of a committed 5090er, he may try to fill as much of the 5 hours as he can.
I've done 4-hour gigs before with 2-3 short breaks, so really about 3 hours of music. In the shade, I can go for a long time.

@AndyGetch, is it a paid gig? If so work out a regular break schedule in advance. If you are not paid then break whenever you want! Smile And also be sure and place your tip jar prominently!! Five hours is a really long time to play and sing especially outside, in Florida!!! Regular breaks...lots of water or other non-alcoholic drinks...shade...don't worry too much about repeats! Have fun!!!

Five hours is nuts. Drink a LOT of water. You have my complete respect. Smile

@johnstaples not paid in $, but I believe in supporting art so getting paid in karma and yeah I will take lots of breaks. @Valerie Cox Yes drinking LOTS of water is the #1 important todo for me to sing. This will be a background music type of deal, so I will not be singing on full power. I will mix in lots of talking songs too Smile @TomS I am nuts enough to play the whole time but will welcome relief singers like @Chip Withrow. I also play more instrumental sections to save my voice. [@brrrse] I will play 5090 songs including the wind is still blowing Smile

Drink water, have little snacks too. And try to have fun with it!

OMG really? omg!! Oh, if someone records that I wanna see it. I'm getting all teary eyed....That song fits you, man....and I am honored that it suits you so well! Smile I bow humbly to you, good sir! Smile

Big yes to snacks @metalfoot I also hope to also play Riding Smile Really [@brrrse], I have been recording some parts of my gigs to cobble together a best of me and guitar live thing for Bandcamp later, maybe post 5090 this year. I plan to take my recorder and lots of batteries Smile

No pay? Not even uppers like they gave The Beatles when they played for hours in Hamburg? Wink

@AndyGetch, I need you to talk to my landlord...he refuses to accept my karma payments! Biggrin

i'd do relaxed 20 min sets, with a longer break now and then as audience flow dictates. i would focus on doing the strong ones when it is busy and trying out new ones you fancy on appropriate whims/environment. i would have my "setlist" as a menu form of long ones, short ones, keys/chords or memos. lyriic prompts. a pallette to choose from and pace yourself and allow an audience specific responsive setlist. lots of interaction.

obvs scrub the 20 min stuff if the audience is on diff rate than that. overall advice: play it by ear

but still have songs written down with any helpful prompt, so you got it all to hand to choose from, get running motif's going. repeat and vary. keep a watchful eye on The Now. Have Fun!

@corinne54 @johnstaples LOL @wobbie wobbit Thanks, its the first night for the event, likely will be mostly passersby, maybe a few will stop to linger for brief periods. I have an app with several setlists, and a few e-books of guitar chord lead sheets. There will be a lot of play it by ear and fun!

Best of luck and have fun . I thought I was gonna die when I had to do 2 hours!

@corinne54 was it two hours non-stop or did you have an intermission or breaks?

Long gigs are a fast track to big improvements in your music. The Beatles used to play *eight* hour stints when they were in Hamburg. In his book "Outliers" Malcolm Gladwell suggests this was why they got so good so quickly.

If you can stretch your songs out to ~30 minutes each, that's only 10 songs. Easy! Biggrin

Good luck and have fun!

@headfirstonly Maybe I can get @Chip Withrow to exhort me to "Mak Show" like Bruno Koschmider at the Indra club. So true, for my first six years of performing, the longest I had performed was about 45 minutes. That was not a gig per se, maybe 15 Fridays a year, it was more like outdoor practice (one step below busking) during Friday lunch with a coworker in a downtown park. Other than that it was a few times of about 20 minutes or less opening at our Americana Community Music Association, and 10-20 minutes maybe a hundred times at open mics. In the last two years I have been playing once a month or so for several hours, with open mics in between and it does make a huge difference. I would also suggest the commitment to get my own P.A. also made a difference. @Mel Gargamel LOL the song I co-wrote with [@brrrse] is over nine minutes, and there are a few other ten minute songs I will be sure to play. Or I could do like dinosaur rock bands did in their live versions and double the length of my songs Smile

it was pretty much non-stop. It was hard to be "on" in terms of patter and being engaged with the audience for that length of time. It was mostly just me and my guitar, but a couple of friends joined in on a few songs, so I could take a break but singing and talking non-stop for a bit!

I would suggest taking a trip to colorado and fill up on that legal stuff they have out there. That would make the time pass.

@corinne54 For this 5 hour gig, I anticipate that people and being engaged and listening will be among the rare moments. As noted above, I have played short sets where people actually were listening and felt drained after 30 minutes. I don't know how Springsteen does these three to four hour shows. @Kevin Emmrich I will be filling up on water, ROFL

Thanks for the support and interest everyone. The gig was tonight. I was set up outside between outdoor vendors and the entrance to an open artist studios. The event was SoCoSWFL, a new monthly Art Walk type of event with scheduled indoor activities in various locations. I drank about 1/2 gallon of water and a few friends stopped by to say hi. Not a whole lot of foot traffic and most were on their way into the artist studio upstairs next art spot. Safe to say no one was really engaged (except my wife), and it was like a practice session. There was a concert on the other side of the campus for the first two hours and I attempted to use the bass, which is all I could hear, as rhythm for songs I played. Otherwise I took it easy on my voice and fingers, and played what I felt like playing, probably a total of about 4 hours. I did some recording of my songs and tried out some different cover songs, finished with about 1/2 hour of Leonard Cohen since my voice was nice and raspy at that point.

Sounds like an non-stressful performance. Good for you!