I'm sorry if I'm copying the sticky on the top of the bandleading page but I wanted to ask a more specific question. I want to start playing at cafes/bookstores/ basically to whoever will allow me to play for free. At this point, I don't care if i get paid or not i just want to gain some experience. I just want to know as a newbie what should I play first like covers to get the audience attention and then play a few originals(i don't have any but asking this hypothetical question anyway), does this sound alright?

Can anyone share their experiences playing on their own for the locals?
It depends on the situation I suppose.

I use to hit up open mic nights at this local restaurant/bar every week. They had a decent PA system and a house guitar for anyone to use. Since it was a bar and more of a party atmosphere, I decided to play all covers. I stuck mostly to Stone Temple Pilots, Pink Floyd, and Tom Petty songs. I did this for almost a year straight, and it was difficult learning three new songs a week, but I did it and it helped a lot.

For an atmosphere like that I would suggest covers, and lots of them.

As for a cafe or a bookstore, it depends. You have to think that most people who will be in your audience won't be listening to you play for very long, so what you play wont matter as much. Whereas, in a bar, most of the people sit at one table and drink beer for a few hours while you play.

So, if you're at a cafe or something, you can play a mix of originals and covers and you'll be fine.
yeah, have like several covers, and several originals, and just play, make it up as you go, most single acoustic guys do that.
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usually, i try and start with more up-tempo covers, something people will know. cafes and bookstores arent really party atmospheres, so they arent necisarilly the place you break out songs like "slide" or "what i got" that are generally singalongs. normally when i play solo at cafes, i will start up-tempo, then drop into the slower ballad type songs, and finish on a steady not to fast but not too slow tempo song. keep in mind (in my area at least) the people hanging around bookstores and cafes are socially observant and strongly opinionated politically, and usually the anti-war crowd. so politically fueled songs normally work very well. also, try and play songs with a steady downbeat that people will sub-conciously tap there foot along with. bookstores and cafes are chill places, and you gotta treat them like that, and with respect. cafes and bars are completely different venues, so go in there knowing that. i have completely different songs i play in bars than in cafes, excluding one song i play in both. just know people in bookstores are gonna enjoy the music, but not focus on it. just know this, and respect your venue, and your music, and it will all work out fine.
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