When playing a request-based show, sometimes you are faced with a conundrum – you just don’t have any requests to play! This happens a lot of times at the beginning of a show while people are still getting situated, their drinks ordered, etc. Sometimes it can happen during a longer show if the crowd is in the middle of a turnover. Hell, sometimes the crowd just wants to sit back and listen without having to constantly think of another clever tune. Well, what do you play? It’s easy to panic and not be able to think of even ONE of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of songs you know you can play at that moment. That is where the “go-list” comes in handy. The go-list is simply a list of songs that you know can work at any time.
These lists are also useful when you’d like to change the direction the requests have been going. For instance, when a lot of people come to a piano-bar show, they limit themselves to only thinking of “typical piano songs” (Elton John, Billy Joel, Rat Pack, etc.). They don’t realize that we can play guitar-heavy songs, too. It’s times like these when a well-placed rocker by the Stones or even some Def Leppard can step up the request game. The go-list is a great way to remind yourself of that perfect song.
There are countless ways of putting your go-list together. You can jot down a list on the back of a request slip before the show starts. Some folks use a Post-It note. I prefer a spreadsheet on Google Drive that I can access at any time from my phone or my tablet [nerd alert]. I maintain a couple of them – one dance-heavy list for wedding receptions and another one for solo shows that I have separated into three categories based on the pacing of the show (low, mid, and high energy).
The go-list is a great tool to keep up your sleeve. You never know when you’ll need it. Keep it updated and keep it handy.