Hi all. I've been sort of lurking and adding a snippet or two occassionally
since I joined the list and this one is near and dear to my heart.
We have had a regular session in Boulder, CO for the last 8 years that has
had at least 3 different homes. Currently, we are in one of the best venues
for audience that we have had. Even though playing a session in a coffee
house without a liquor license is sort of weird (try a polka set after a tall
latte grande), the room is cozy and the management is actively trying to
establish a listening place. Recently, they added a sound system which is
great for vocals and solo pieces but weird for general session ambiance. But
I digress from the point.
We have discovered over the years that the trick in getting audiences to
listen is to balance tolerance for a little noise with a well placed shushing
when necessary. One of our singers even stops in the middle if the crowd
isn't listening. These techniques work for the most part, although nothing
helps a table full of obnoxious loud mouths. What has worked the best is to
'develop' the ear of the audience with some explanation/history, etc and a
subtle projection of expectation. In many cases, the audience begins to
participate in policing noisy people.
As far as using the landlord goes - our man is pretty watchful for
drunks/crazies, etc. Buchanan's is on The Hill in Boulder, which is directly
across from the University and has a reputation. Even though they don't have
a liquor license, there are several different bars within a block and we get
an occassional drifter through the door. However, normal crowd buzz is not
within his parameters.
The basic message is that if you are active in making your audience part of
the session, they come to listen and usually exhibit fairly good manners.
Enough on audience. If any of you are out here in Colorado looking for a
session, we meet at Buchanan's Coffee Pub located at Pennsylvania and
Broadway (on The Hill) from 8 to 11ish every Tuesday. Also, there is a
session in Colorado Springs that goes from 7 or 8 to 10 at Poor Richard on
Thursdays. Give me a shout if you're going to be in the neighborhood.