Author Topic: Pubsing  (Read 4723 times)

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Offline will paisley

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2010, 11:35:06 AM »
Will, points well taken.  To further define what I mean by a "Prescribed" set list:  A list of songs that the performers must choose from.  No other songs can be performed.  That is radically different from the list the MC makes just before (or sometimes during) the pub sing.  It must be controlled for obvious reasons like timing or appropriateness but to have a list of songs that the ED picks and the performers cannot stray from is what I'm calling bad form.

As much as I appreciate letting Entertainment Directors "direct", that sounds like a recipe for Pub Sing to turn into a snooze fest by the end of the third week or so.
Minstrel, Interrupted, Bard #400 (CD)
Faire Name: "Flo's Husband"
Yeoman-Purser of the Frigate Up Royally

Offline GirlChris

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2010, 10:30:26 PM »
Will, points well taken.  To further define what I mean by a "Prescribed" set list:  A list of songs that the performers must choose from.  No other songs can be performed.  That is radically different from the list the MC makes just before (or sometimes during) the pub sing.  It must be controlled for obvious reasons like timing or appropriateness but to have a list of songs that the ED picks and the performers cannot stray from is what I'm calling bad form.

As much as I appreciate letting Entertainment Directors "direct", that sounds like a recipe for Pub Sing to turn into a snooze fest by the end of the third week or so.

Actually, it can work really well. I've only done a couple of multi-week events, but both of them had basically a list of songs that we sing. They were the songs we would sing because they were the songs we knew and they songs we had rehearsed. Same thing every day for a seven weekend run. Even at the faires I do now, where we only go for one weekend, we do the same thing each day.

If the performers are into the songs enough and are, themselves, having a ball, it's FUN!

Maybe it's because I'm more of an actor than a musician, but since I've started performing at faires I've looked at pub sings I perform at as "The Show in Which I Sing These Songs," as opposed to "The Show in Which I Pretend to Hit These People" or "The Show in Which I Say That Speech." I do my best to sing the song the same every time, with the same rhythms, the same key, the same gestures, the same jokes. Because that's how the show goes. That's the stuff we do at this time of day.

Until this thread, I'd never even thought of it as a restriction! It's just what we do.

Offline will paisley

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2010, 10:33:13 AM »
Will, points well taken.  To further define what I mean by a "Prescribed" set list:  A list of songs that the performers must choose from.  No other songs can be performed.  That is radically different from the list the MC makes just before (or sometimes during) the pub sing.  It must be controlled for obvious reasons like timing or appropriateness but to have a list of songs that the ED picks and the performers cannot stray from is what I'm calling bad form.

As much as I appreciate letting Entertainment Directors "direct", that sounds like a recipe for Pub Sing to turn into a snooze fest by the end of the third week or so.

Actually, it can work really well. I've only done a couple of multi-week events, but both of them had basically a list of songs that we sing. They were the songs we would sing because they were the songs we knew and they songs we had rehearsed. Same thing every day for a seven weekend run. Even at the faires I do now, where we only go for one weekend, we do the same thing each day.

To me, it would depend on the number of songs (not to mention the length of the pub sing).

Every pub sing I've ever been to has "favorites", songs they could do every night and people would still yell for them the next night.  Others don't bear repetition quite so well.  Even for those that do, there can be a strong tendency for the cast to get tired of them.  There's a reason that Wild Mountain Thyme often gets an "F" embedded in its acronym, or why The Wild Rover has a parody about "never sing(ing) the Wild Rover no more".  What I've seen happen at vairous faires is for some songs to get "popular", while others get retired for a few years and get brought back just as everybody gets tired of the popular ones, sort of like a Disney Vault for folk songs.

Still, it's virtually impossible to sing along (as an audience) to a new song. I have seen instances where a pub sing will try to introduce a new (to pub sing) song that they suspect people will already know from other sources, and watched it fall flat on its face.  The best method I've witnessed for introducing new songs to the audience is as either as serious performance piece or as a comic piece.  It can often take several weeks (or even seasons) to catch on, by which time it's not really "new".  The best and most recent example of this I've seen was a parody of the Mingulay Boat Song, which encapsulates the entire dilemma.  It worked as a comic piece, based on how tired performers get of singing Mingulay all the time.  It was successful by virtue of being simultaneously an old, familiar song and by being "new" (and making fun of the tedium of singing an old, familiar song).  It started off as a comic piece people listened to and laughed over, but by the end of the run, everybody was singing along, as it had become a "new" old, familiar song (making fun of having to sing an old, familiar song).
Minstrel, Interrupted, Bard #400 (CD)
Faire Name: "Flo's Husband"
Yeoman-Purser of the Frigate Up Royally

Offline Queen Maggie

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2010, 10:14:10 AM »

Maybe it's because I'm more of an actor than a musician, but since I've started performing at faires I've looked at pub sings I perform at as "The Show in Which I Sing These Songs," as opposed to "The Show in Which I Pretend to Hit These People" or "The Show in Which I Say That Speech." I do my best to sing the song the same every time, with the same rhythms, the same key, the same gestures, the same jokes. Because that's how the show goes. That's the stuff we do at this time of day.

Until this thread, I'd never even thought of it as a restriction! It's just what we do.

And THIS is the reason I started the thread in the first place: The assumption that This Is The Way Things Are Done. I know I have been to a lot of faires, and travelled and performed East, West, North and South ... but what I didn't know was what the assumptions were. So I'm listening to hear what people say, and from those whom I know, and know which faires they're dissecting.... I'm getting even more info!
Thanks!
Queen Maggie
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aka Mistress Mannerly, Goodlief Bailey, Cousin Undine Mannerly, Mother Lowe

Offline stonebiscuit

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2010, 10:01:24 AM »
As a performer, I expect that pub sing, should I chose to attend, will be a time when I can let my hair down a little. I expect everyone will stay in character, but I do expect that I'll be able to mingle with patrons in a less formal way than on the streets.

On a more general note, a successful pub sing, should feel like the gathering of a village at the end of the day. Some of the people are best friends, some are enemies, some are lovers, some have never met, but everyone is in the same place to rest from our hard day's work. Sing-along songs are perfect for this, provided the audience is taught the words to the chorus prior to the song being sung.

I think pub sing should feel spontaneous. I look at it like long-form improv, which is basically what it is: there are rules (never deny, never hurt anyone), there are guidelines (you may be THIS bawdy and no more, no stupid parodies), there is a theme and characters and a basic semblance of plot (we open with this song, we close with this one, we do toasts and whatnot in between), and beyond that, things happen naturally. A strong pair (trio, whatever) of leaders is essential. I think acts should be allowed to perform more or less whatever they like (within the rules/guidelines/theme, obviously), with the catchy sing-alongs interspersed so everyone feels included. Managed variety, I think is the term, or perhaps organized chaos.

Offline will paisley

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2010, 10:34:50 AM »

Maybe it's because I'm more of an actor than a musician, but since I've started performing at faires I've looked at pub sings I perform at as "The Show in Which I Sing These Songs," as opposed to "The Show in Which I Pretend to Hit These People" or "The Show in Which I Say That Speech." I do my best to sing the song the same every time, with the same rhythms, the same key, the same gestures, the same jokes. Because that's how the show goes. That's the stuff we do at this time of day.

Until this thread, I'd never even thought of it as a restriction! It's just what we do.

And THIS is the reason I started the thread in the first place: The assumption that This Is The Way Things Are Done. I know I have been to a lot of faires, and travelled and performed East, West, North and South ... but what I didn't know was what the assumptions were. So I'm listening to hear what people say, and from those whom I know, and know which faires they're dissecting.... I'm getting even more info!
Thanks!

And my mindset of This Is What Pub Sing Is is so strong I completely missed (or misunderstood) GirlChris' point in that paragraph.  The idea of Pub Sing being one show that is always different, every performance, is so ingrained in me that describing a Pub Sing in terms of a standard show (which is the same every day) is like trying to explain air to a fish.  This is very similar to how PARF approaches their Finale In Song (which I always describe as Pub Sing by Stephen Spielberg); they start off with the same introduction, have guest acts at the same spots, always have the same (huge) production number somewhere towards the end, and finish with the same grand singalong (and confetti fireworks).  A tremendous show and spectacle, but not something I would watch every single weekend (not that that's their goal).

Complementing (or perhaps contrasting) what GirlChris said, I've been a part of shows where we have the same reactions and say the same things in exactly the same way because that's how the show goes, and had no trouble with it.  Until her (and Maggie's) post, I'd never thought of Pub Sing being this kind of performance.
Minstrel, Interrupted, Bard #400 (CD)
Faire Name: "Flo's Husband"
Yeoman-Purser of the Frigate Up Royally

Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2010, 11:28:44 AM »
I think the reason for this thread is that Queen Maggie would like to know the answers to exactly what we are debating.  It seems that the two capacities of musicians and actors will have a different slant on what a pub sing should be.  I was wishing more musicians besides Will and I would contribute their ideas but the ultimate definition should lie with the patron.  What would the patron like to see at the end of the day.  The trouble with that being that each patron is biased according to what their home faire does.  I have seen pub sing as both working musician and patron.  By having been a participant as musician, my opinion is, naturally, the same while being a patron but the pub sings that I have enjoyed the most are those that appear to be spontaneous.  Songs lead by musicians where everyone sings and plays along with a final and meaningful song to wrap up the day. 

This past weekend I attended the Great Lakes Medieval Faire in Ohio and, imho, it is one of the best.  Each musician that performed during the day got a featured number and did a song that the rest of the musicians could play along with and the audience could sing on the chorus.  The final song, "Health to the Company" was lead by Owen Fife.  He gives the words to the chorus before singing the song.  During each chorus, the assembled crowd moves around and clinks glasses with both friends and strangers.  This has a special meaning to the audience and serves as a "fairwell" to friends.  Especially on the last day where hugs are often given along with the clink and sometimes tears are shed because the faire is over for another year.  Yes, it leaves on a sad note but one that will be remembered and cherished until they can come back again.  With the "Disney-like" approach that some faires have taken it is refreshing to experience a bit of emotion between dear friends.  "Mickey and Mini" can wave goodbye at the gate but people will remember the camaraderie of pub sing more.
"There's a unicorn that's hangin' in what's known as father's room......"

Offline stonebiscuit

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2010, 12:33:14 PM »
Terry, that's very similar to how the Georgia does pub sing. A local musician wrote a song for the festival some time ago, "Old Newcastle Town," and that's the closing number more often than not.

Offline Village Idiots - Kevin

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2010, 09:20:05 AM »
I see two sides to this. One, the performers play the same thing every week and the regular audience gets a chance to learn some songs and sing along by the third weeekend. The other, performers play something different all the time and the audience gets excited to hear what is gonna be thrown out there each week. At the Michigan Renaissance Festival, the first seems to the the preferred method. My old show strayed once or twice from Johnny Jump Up and you would have thought we'd overthrown the queen! ;) Our pub sing is very laid back...whoever wants to come and sing will sing, in no particular order.
Kevin Starnes
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http://www.rennieidiots.com

Offline oneill

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2010, 02:50:23 AM »
Pub Sing formats generally follow the wishes of the "hosts" and the E.D. I do agree the ones that are less presentational and more a gathering of the villagers are generally better because they invite the audience "in". Songs that everyone can catch on to quickly with a memorable chorus get everyone singing that much quicker. Ultimately, it should be about the fellowship and the music. Variety acts add a special element if they become part of the village rather than the central focus. A monarch should be acknowledged and make a request but again, not be the central focus. Pacing is really important. Too much down time with scenes and lines really breaks up the bonding with the audience. It creates that famous Fourth Wall of theater which makes the audience observers rather than participants. Sometimes lyric books are fine and other times they slow everything down. Those who want to sing, will try their best while others who want to be part of the gathering can be without the pressure of performing. One thing that absolutely works is scattering some cast members throughout the crowd to interact and be a touchstone to the event. Songs that have gestures, like "O Ho the Rattlin' Bog" unify folks too. I've lead pub sings where the audience contributes verses to repetitive songs. We had signals to make sure that cast members and the audience got to contribute.
A closing song is a nice touch. Those who come back to the festival will have a memory of the day. Now, that song could rotate from among a few familiars, again according to the energy of the audience. Some days are sentimental and others are raucous. Your host(s) should have a good read on this. Those who do stick around for the pub sing will remember how welcome they felt and will want to come again.

Offline bunnie

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2010, 10:02:18 AM »
 ;D

Hey all;

As the member of a troupe that hosts a few different pubsings at a few different faires; this is our take on it.

We try, as the Hosts to make it a fun, exciting, upbeat show where EVERYONE participates. We ask the cast, the stage acts, heck we've even got the jousters up one year to sing us a song.
We try to have everyone get up and do a bit, or a song, or a joke, or a toast.
 We like to end it all by wrapping up the show with a finale song; like Health To the Company, or Parting Glass, or if the show has it's own Theme Song then we do that.
Ideally, we like to have ALL the cast & performers at the front for a FABU photo op at the end of the day, doin' the sway thang up on stage together.

We have a few guidelines when you do your thing and they are:
1. Short and Sweet! Keep your bit shorter than 1 min and your song shorter than 3. Theres' often a lot of people to get up to perform.
2. Remember, not everyone is hammered and so clean-ish material is preferred, although we do tend to lean to the naughty side...:)
3. Prefereably upbeat; if you must do a ballad then it MUST be under 3 mins.

We encourage mash-ups as well, for instance, bands colliding, or other performers you never knew could sing/play getting up there to do a bit.
We encourage a FRIENDLY SAFE environment so if you want to try something, no one will be mean to you.
We encourage almost a 'laugh-in' style of show, and we try to keep it fast paced.

The key when hosting is to remember this is the Finale; it is an Ensemble piece. It is not about the hosts and their pals. Include everyone, for it is everyone's end of day party.

Hope this helps, we do like hosting the pub sing. It's a lot of extra work but it's fun. And we hope the audience enjoys it as much as we do!

Bunnie
The Limeybirds



Offline stonebiscuit

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2010, 10:16:16 AM »
Bunnie, you've basically described my ideal pub sing (as a patron and a performer).

Offline Lady Nicolette

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2010, 11:21:25 AM »
I can see the point about wanting people to leave Faire happy (choosing upbeat material)...On the other hand, for many people, the bittersweet flavor of "Health To The Company," is an absolute must-have.  I remember when Empty Hats came to TN the first year and many people were miffed that they ended with "Beggars To God," instead of "Health To The Company."  There was an impromptu singing of "Health To The Company," at the gates by most of the cast and participants that year.   Now people are accustomed to Empty Hats' ending of the Pub Sing and often during the course of the Pub Sing show, "Health To The Company" will be one of the featured songs.

Most that I have seen have a short act by most of the performers of all types (very much fun to watch Washing Well Wenches join in with them and parody belly dancing acts!) and end in a singalong.  Some of them switch around a bit here and there during the run and some don't.

When I first started Faire, there were no pub sings (gasp! shock! chagrin!), or at least not in that way, during patron hours.  There were plenty after hours, however and silly games and such for the working rennies.   The Pub Sings as they are done now are much more something that evolved over time and individually and they'll probably continue to do so.  Change is inevitable over time and some will like it and others won't...You just can't please everyone all of the time!
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Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2010, 11:21:43 AM »
Bunnie, you've basically described my ideal pub sing (as a patron and a performer).
I agree absolutely.
"There's a unicorn that's hangin' in what's known as father's room......"

Offline MMario

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #29 on: September 20, 2010, 11:56:49 AM »
Hi Maggie!

I've seen many a pub sing in the last *cough* number of years...and been involved as patron and actor.  I know that in both roles I prefer the type pub sing that **APPEARS** to be spontaneous even if it isn't.

I know that some of the most spontaneous appearing pub sings are anything but....and a few I've seen that appeared to be rigorously controlled were actually off the cuff .


 

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