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#240062 - 08/15/08 03:52 PM For anyone who performs at Retirement Communities...
Bill in Dayton Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 2161
Loc: Dayton, OH USA
I had a very interesting conversation this week with a long term client. She voiced concerns about two other acts' shows and asked my advice...

#1) She and other staff members were watching a duo perform recently when they both noticed he was lip-syncing to a CD of his. This isn't what he was hired to do and she had no knowledge of this before hand. He's been there a fairly long time. His basic act is that he works the room while he sings over CD's...

#2) Another act is well liked but always plays the same tunes, in the same order every show. The foodservice staff at this venue jokes that if so & so are here, that means such and such will be the 1st song...

AD was curious if these were grounds for dismissal...

I told her in my opinion she needed to talk to both entertainers. In the case of the lipsyncing, ask them straight out if they have ever lip synced in her facility. If they say no, I suggested letting them go because people are already aware of it.

If they say yes, then come to some agreement on the issue. No lipsyncing is ok, some is ok, whatever..

As far as the other act always playing the same songs, tell them they can't play a place every month and not change their content, especially if they wish to continue playing there.

Both underscore some of the disrespect some musicians have for these type gigs. I wouldn't dream of trying to fool people with lipsyncing, and most of you on this forum wouldn't either.

As far as keeping our set lists fresh, its a thing we all should watch. We all get a number of requests and we should play those, but vary the other songs monthly. For example, I have a standing request for "I Don't Know Why I Love You Like I Do" at a nursing home. In the last 3 months, I've done it as a ballad, a gentle swing and this month as a latin...



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Bill in Dayton
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#240063 - 08/15/08 04:45 PM Re: For anyone who performs at Retirement Communities...
travlin'easy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/08/02
Posts: 14719
Loc: Forest Hill, MD USA
Bill,

Variety is the "Spice Of Life", even in the nursing homes, retirement communities, etc.. The same holds true in the nightclub circuit. Play the same stuff, week after week, month after month, and even clients with their gray matter somewhat scrambled will be bored to tears.

I created several Music Finder Directories for the PSR-3000 for the NH circuit. And, these are edited frequently using Michael Bedesem's Music Finder View program, which allows the insertion of new songs and the deletion of ones you no longer use. Granted, there are a few that are old standbys that keeps these places rocking, but throwing in some 60s, 70s and even 80s stuff add a lot to the performance.

As for the lip-synch guy, he wouldn't last five minutes in this part of the world. The ADs would send him packin' for some bar room gig in Billy Bob land.

Cheers,

Gary

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Travlin' Easy
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#240064 - 08/15/08 05:37 PM Re: For anyone who performs at Retirement Communities...
Beakybird Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/27/01
Posts: 2207
Maybe Milli Vanilli is doing NH gigs now.

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#240065 - 08/15/08 08:16 PM Re: For anyone who performs at Retirement Communities...
GlennT Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 1774
Loc: Medina, OH, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by travlin'easy:
Play the same stuff, week after week, month after month, and even clients with their gray matter somewhat scrambled will be bored to tears


I would be bored to death playing the same songs all the time. Don't know why so many entertainers do just that... I suppose it's easier not to learn new songs, but it soon gets to be a boring job. With 100s if not 1000s of good songs, your cheating yourself as well as your clients.

I agree, she needs to communicate with her entertainers. The lipsyncing is BS. Nobody deserves that.

Glenn

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#240066 - 08/15/08 09:24 PM Re: For anyone who performs at Retirement Communities...
Lucky2Bhere Offline
Member

Registered: 03/04/06
Posts: 533
Isn't the bottom line, when entertaining a senior residence NOT what YOU are doing but how is the audience RESPONDING to what you are doing? If you're lip-syncing, or you're playing the same songs all the time, or you're letting MIDI files wander mindlessly all over the room while you read the sports page, or doing bench presses with your keyboard, etc, does it really matter as long as the audience is being well entertained? Isn't the primary mission of an entertainer to please the audience and second to entertain everyone that's left (including all AD's)?

Yes, I'm playing Devil's advocate! In reality, I have no respect for the entertainers Bill described here. But I also have to go with....if the residents are happy with what they're hearing then THAT is what matters in theory.

I throw this out as fodder for remarks from other members about how they see our role as musician/entertainers? Do you please the Activity Director, do you please the onlookers, do you please yourself, do you please your peers, do you please your Higher Power...or...as in this case...do you please your audience?

Lucky

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#240067 - 08/15/08 09:42 PM Re: For anyone who performs at Retirement Communities...
Gord Offline
Member

Registered: 03/19/01
Posts: 117
Loc: Kelowna,British Columbia,Canad...
I can't imagine lip syncing or playing from the same tune list Ugh! I always make up a fairly long tune list for a NH,(perhaps at least 15-20 more tunes than I need) take requests-record what I played with my Zoom H4 (so I can check what I actually played on that date)& make sure that when I return to that facility - most of the tunes are different.

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#240068 - 08/15/08 10:00 PM Re: For anyone who performs at Retirement Communities...
Gord Offline
Member

Registered: 03/19/01
Posts: 117
Loc: Kelowna,British Columbia,Canad...
Hi Lucky
-My wife has been an AD for 20 some years, and still is-she says -always play for the residents-they will tell the AD how they enjoyed the performance. The performance is always rated via feedback from residents/family

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#240069 - 08/16/08 03:21 AM Re: For anyone who performs at Retirement Communities...
Bill in Dayton Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 2161
Loc: Dayton, OH USA
Lucky-

Activity Director is to bar / club owner as residents are to bar/club customers.

Sometimes the AD doesn't care for the act themselves, but if the residents really like them, then they're kept on.

Generally, the residents come first. I told the AD that her loyalties are to her residents and her employer, not the entertainer. If she's not willing to step up and be an advocate for her residents, then who will?

Addressing the specific question of "If the residents are happy, isn't that the bottom line?"

Yes and no...

When an entertainer is hired to provide a specific service, the issue of whether its live or a recording is strongly implied, to say the least, during the initial sales call/approach/etc. If the client is paying for what they think is live entertainment, then they get a lipsyncer, its fraud, IMO. What's to suggest that the voice they hear coming out of the PA is even the guy with the mic in the room? Maybe he's just a pretty face?

It has do with respect for your client, audience and IMO, yourself. Now, I have no issues with a act who are up front, hey this is what we do...Caveat emptor, baby. But, if this isn't communicated up front...and the ages, alertness and memory challenges of this population are being exploited, then its beyond belief unprofessional.

Its my biggest gripe about this type of entertaiment. I hear stories after stories about entertainers who aren't what they allege they are. This same AD told me of a guy (who I know and have used as a sideman on occassion,) who sent in this marvelous demo. Well, she hires him for 3 jobs based on that and discovers his live act doesn't come close to what she heard on the demo. He has one more chance to make a good impression. He hasn't asked for feedback and has mostly ignored her suggestions.

I think AD's should set a higher standard for entertainers. There's usually at least one activites staff person in the room during the gig. Have them track the requests or the number of times the entertainer actually interacts with the audience. There's no damn good reason why guys like us can't learn a standard request in time for our next time there. NONE...We can turn a new tune around much faster than a band can, for example.

This is not rocket science, right?






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Bill in Dayton

[This message has been edited by Bill in Dayton (edited 08-16-2008).]
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#240070 - 08/16/08 07:27 AM Re: For anyone who performs at Retirement Communities...
mikeathome1 Offline
Member

Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 1208
Loc: Syracuse NY
Sometimes the residents/patrons don't care about musical ability they just want to be entertained.
I believe it is the age old argument about musician or entertainer.
I wouldn't hire or go see the lip "syncer"(?) but maybe the residents enjoy the way he works the room, or banter between songs, or his smiling face.

Maybe he wasn't hired to specifically sing live but to entertain. You could go further midi vs live player, arranger vs live band. I mean its not opera at the Met.

We, as musicians want to chastise anyone that doesn't live up to our standards or our skill level. (Why would they hire them instead of me?) But the truth is there will always be jugglers, mimes, storytellers, comedians, karaoke and people that enjoy them.

As far as the other act always playing the same songs, tell them we're bored if you can't change things up we're gonna go with someone that can.
Of course really, if they don't have a contract they need no explanation at all to either act. Skip them and see if the residents miss them.
IMHO

[This message has been edited by mikeathome1 (edited 08-16-2008).]
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#240071 - 08/16/08 07:44 AM Re: For anyone who performs at Retirement Communities...
travlin'easy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/08/02
Posts: 14719
Loc: Forest Hill, MD USA
I don't know about what takes place in other regions of the nation, but here in the Mid-Atlantic Region must of the nursing homes, assisted living centers and retirement communities have "Resident's Councils." They usually meet one a month and make recommendations to management about what they like and don't like. If they don't like what you're doing you're history.

The other thing that takes place is an annual meeting of ADs, which is usually a regional thing. One of the topics that frequently comes up pertains to the entertainment skills of those of us who work the NH circuit. They exchange information about entertainers, which frequently leads to jobs at new locations.

From my point of view, I am entertaining the residents/patients first and foremost. They're paying the bills. If an AD or someone from the attending staff want to hear a particular song, I'll usually play it, but only if the song is appropriate for the residents too. In almost all instances, the song requested is something everyone will enjoy. If not, I usually tell the person requesting the song that I would love to play the song, but I can't remember all the chords or lyrics.

Cheers,

Gary

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Travlin' Easy
_________________________
PSR-S950, TC Helicon Harmony-M, Digitech VR, Samson Q7, Sennheiser E855, Custom Console, and lots of other silly stuff!

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