The season is upon us and it’s time to play those holiday gigs that come to all working live bands. I don’t know if your band is like mine, but it seems like every year we talk about learning a Christmas song or two and we just never seem to get around to it. So the holidays come and we just play the same old stuff at our shows. That’s why I’m going to give you some tips on preparing some holiday songs for your live band so you can be ready for the season.
Obviously the most important thing is timing when to learn the song. It’s better to learn the song well before your holiday shows. So if you’re planning on playing some Christmas songs in December, it’s a good idea to start learning them in October. By learning the songs that far in advance, you’ll be able to iron out the rough spots and really do a good performance of the song when your holiday shows come. Believe me, your audience will be able to tell if you learned the song 3 days before the show.
The next thing you want to do is pick some songs to fit the occasion. If you’re going to be playing in a dance club, then pulling out Bing Crosby’s version of “White Christmas” probably isn’t going to go over really well. There are some great danceable Christmas songs like “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” that would really fly at a dance gig. If you’re playing some corporate parties for the holidays then some good old Christmas classics like “The Christmas Song” could really fit the bill.
Another thing you want to remember when it comes to playing Christmas songs in your live band is to be sure your audience is ready and wants to hear a Christmas song. I’ve been shouted down doing a Christmas song because the people in the club were not in a Christmas mood even though Christmas was about two weeks away! The best thing to do is get on the microphone and with a cheerful shout say “Who wants a rockin’ Christmas song!!”. Your audience will let you know if they’re ready to hear one.
Finally, don’t play too many holiday songs unless the management has specifically asked you to play a lot of them. It’s always better to just play one or two holiday songs and leave the audience wanting more. Some of my favorite holiday shows have featured exactly one Christmas song, as an encore. It leaves everyone in a a positive and upbeat mood and will have them talking about your band all the way home.