Vixy & Tony General Performance Guidelines and Rider
This document is for anyone contacting the band Vixy & Tony about possibly performing at your venue or event.
This document outlines what the band Vixy & Tony needs in order to do a performance. These are more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules. Think of this as a checklist to make the overall experience go smoothly for both the band and the venue. We're not trying to be picky, it's just experience: nearly every one of the items in this document is there because of something specific that went disastrously wrong for us in the past. Remember, we want to play for you! So help us make that happen, and make sure to go over each of the items below, to make sure everything fits. If there's something listed here that you can't do, let us know, talk to us, we can likely work something out.
Our preferred communication email is firstname.lastname@example.org, which is my (Tony's) personal email address. We also like cell phone calls and SMS text messages. Please use that email address to exchange private cell phone numbers with us. During email exchanges, I might also loop in the other band members. If I do, please remember to Reply-All when you reply so that they get all of the critical information too.
By the way, this document is a work in progress, ever-changing and malleable. If you have an opinion or a suggestion as to how we could improve this document, please let us know. Thank you!
Types of events
Vixy & Tony enjoy playing at sci-fi, comic, gaming, and Filk conventions, coffee shops and bookstores, house concerts, theaters, auditoriums, community centers, and many other types of venues. We particularly enjoy playing to people from the geek/fandom culture, and actively seek out shows where we can do that. We are known for a couple of Firefly/Serenity songs, so Browncoat events are a particularly good match for us.
We cannot play to indifferent audiences. Our shows are always focused musical concert performances with an emphasis on the storytelling in the lyrics, rather than background music. This means no weddings, parties, bars, halftimes, busking, etc. We can sometimes make exceptions to this rule in special situations: For example, we have played parties, but in those cases, the primary focus of the party was our house concert, and the party invitees were already our fans. We have busked, but it wasn't really busking, it was actually a geek music concert staged guerilla-style in the hallway at a comic convention.
Before we can accept an invitation to play at an event, we would need a clear statement of what the type of event is, what our level of participation is expected to be, and what kind of audience we would expect to find there.
Fees and tickets (if any)
Our fee will be determined by the venue, the situation, and what other compensation we're receiving, such as travel and lodging expenses. The fees and other compensation, if any, must be agreed upon before we will accept an invitation to play at an event. In many cases, we do not charge a fee if our other needs are met. If the event is a ticketed event, the percentage split of ticket profits between the band and the venue must be agreed upon before we will accept an invitation. Unless otherwise agreed upon in advance, it is the venue's responsibility to man the door and collect tickets from the attendees.
A four-person band
Though the Vixy & Tony core band was originally only two people (Vixy on lead vocals, and Tony on guitar), and we've kept the name, these days we are actually a quartet which includes Betsy Tinney (cellist) and Sunnie Larsen (fiddler). Our intention is to exclusively play with Betsy and Sunnie, and to stop doing any shows with just a duo. If you extend an invitation to Vixy & Tony, assume that you are also extending the invitation to Betsy and Sunnie, and make your plans (and budget) accordingly.
Sadly, Betsy and Sunnie aren't always available. They play in other bands, too, so sometimes they have previous commitments. Whenever possible, we actively avoid doing any shows without having our full band, so if Betsy or Sunnie can't come, we tend to just turn down the invitation. Occasionally we will make a special exception and do a show with two or three people, but it's the exception rather than the rule. As early as possible in the process of setting up a show, we will try to get solid confirmation as to exactly which band members will be available and participating. Just to be safe, until you get solid confirmation about which band members will be participating, advertise only the band name and don't specifically list which band members will be there.
Although we play acoustic instruments, we are an amplified band (our instruments plug in, or are mic'd), and the venue must be one that supports amplified concert volumes.
As a backup band
We are often tapped to be backup performers for other artists, an activity we enjoy very much. Please note that we only do this kind of a performance when we're also playing our own set at the same event. For instance, if we are scheduled to play our own concert set at a convention, then we will sometimes be the backup band for another artist playing at the same convention. Such an arrangement requires significant rehearsal ahead of time, and the details of our participation must be carefully worked out with the other artist. In some cases, we will need to work with the convention staff to arrange a rehearsal space and a scheduled rehearsal time at the convention.
If you're the event organizer, and you have some specific song favorites that you want us to play, make sure to let us know early in the process, so that we can discuss them with you, and if we're game, put them into the set list and rehearse them. Do not, however, suggest, in the billing or advertising, that any particular song will be played, unless agreed upon in advance. Our band bio might mention song titles, for example, but it is careful not to suggest that those particular songs will be played at any given concert.
When we are participating at a weekend-long convention, we are usually happy to participate on a couple of panels in addition to our concert. Examples of panels that have gone well for us have been: Home Recording, Performing Tips, and Songwriting Tips. However, it's important that we are not the only panelists; schedule others to share the panel with us, please. Do not schedule us for the following types of panels: Kid's programming, filking 101, harmony workshops, Sing-Alongs, subject-themed filk circles (unless we get to dictate the theme), memorials, contest judging, masquerade half-time. Please consult with us directly before scheduling us on any panels.
Timing and scheduling
Do not schedule against x at conventions
If we are attending a festival or convention, our concert set must not be scheduled at the same time as certain primary events. Examples:
Be careful not to schedule us gainst other musical acts containing our friends, those who would be likely to participate in our set, or vice versa. Example: Our cellist, Betsy Tinney, plays for many other acts who might be at the same convention, so don't schedule us against those acts. We can work directly with the programming coordinator to ensure they know which other artists are likely to fall into this category, have them contact us if this is a concern.
- SF Con Masquerade Ball (we have cosplay friends and may need to help them with backstage prep).
- SF Con Awards Ceremonies (we have author friends and might be attending as their +1).
- Worldcon Hugo award receptions/parties (see above).
- Certain other bands we might share members with (details below).
- Events that would split our primary fan base between the event and our concert (Filk, Browncoat, geek music).
Do not schedule panels before concerts at conventions
If we are participating in panels, do not schedule our panels to fall before our concert. Talking on panels is hard on your voice, and we want our voices to be in tip-top shape for concert performances.
Allow for rehearsal time/space at conventions
If we are participating as part of a larger band at a convention, we may need to arrange for a rehearsal time and location while at the convention. We might require the help of the convention staff with arranging this. For example, if we are playing a concert as Seanan McGuire's backup band, then the convention needs to have a slot in both her schedule and our schedule that can be used for rehearsal.
Minimum/Maximum set length
For most events, we expect to be able to play for a minimum of 20 total minutes if we are an opening act, and a minimum of 45 total minutes if we are a main act. We can play sets up to 120 minutes in overall length, provided that there is at least one short break mid-set. We can make exceptions in some cases: If you have something else in mind, please let us know early on in the process so that we can discuss options.
Clearly defined start and end times
Before confirming the gig, we will need to know the exact time on the clock that we (and any other opening/following acts) are expected to start playing, and the time that we are expected to stop playing.
It is important that we have a firm, confirmed set of clock times right away, at the beginning of the planning process, because some of us have day jobs and/or night jobs which might interfere. Also, we can't begin advertising the gig until we know the start time.
If there is room to run slightly past the end time (for example, if we are asked for an encore, or if a prior act ran long, thus forcing us to start late), then we need to know what level of flexibility is available. If the end time is a hard-stop, i.e., no flexibility no matter what our start time was, then that must be communicated clearly to us, with no ambiguity, well in advance, so that we can plan our set list accordingly. If you do not tell us in advance about a hard-stop, we will assume that we can run a little long if the audience asks for it.
Clearly defined peripheral events and times
If the event includes other non-musical elements mixed with the concert, such as film showings, book readings, sketches/vignettes, raffle drawings, etc., we need to know the exact times that those are expected to occur, and how we're expected to integrate our set into the event as a whole. We need to plan our set list and breaks in advance, working around these other elements.
Clearly defined load-in time
We will need to know, in advance, the exact time that we will be arriving at the venue to load in our gear. Please make sure there is room in the schedule for this, and that this is communicated to us.
Clearly defined setup and sound check time
Before confirming the gig, we will need to know exactly how much time is allotted to set up our gear and sound check. Depending on the event, which band members we have with us, and the complexity of the performance, this time will need to be anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes before the expected doors-open time. If the sound crew has a modern digital board with storage of memory presets, then sound check can sometimes be done at an earlier time of day, and our band's settings can be reloaded at showtime.
During sound check, it is expected that the room will be available and in the proper state for show prep, i.e., the stage is clear and we have full access to it. If the venue is supplying the sound crew, it is expected that the PA gear is fully set up and connected before we arrive for sound check, and that sound crew will be present and participating in the sound check. When possible, the room should be empty of all other people except band members, VIPs, and sound/technical crew (we understand this is not possible for shows at coffee shops, or similar locations which stay open for customers).
Make sure to leave time to set up the PA gear before sound check
If the venue is supplying the PA gear, remember that there is time required to set it up, including setting up monitor speakers, microphones, and cabling on the stage. In some venues, this can frequently take an hour or more all by itself. There must be an open slot in the schedule so that this can be done. The time spent setting up the PA is not part of the band's setup and sound check; in most cases the band can't do anything until the PA is completely set up. The band needs at least 30 minutes after the PA is set up in order to complete the sound check.
Clearly defined doors-open time
For shows that are in a closed auditorium, we will need to know, in advance, the exact time that the doors to the venue will open for attendees. Ideally, we will need this to be known far enough in advance so that it can be part of the advertising we do for the gig. Also, it's important that this be clearly defined so that we know what the the hard-stop for the setup and sound check is.
Clearly defined load-out time
Before confirming the gig, we will need to know exactly how much time is allotted for tearing down our gear and leaving the venue. Depending on the situation, this might need to be anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes after the last note is played. During this time, it is expected that there will be some time spent schmoozing with fans as we pack out our gear, so we need to know what our hard exit time will be, so that we know whether to shoo the fans out the door quickly.
We expect the venue to advertise the event, as well as allowing us to advertise the event ourselves simultaneously. Please let us know when it is safe to place the show on our public calendar and begin advertising it on social media.
Ticketing and show URLs
If it is a ticketed event, please provide us ASAP with the URL for fans to obtain tickets in advance. If there is going to be a general advertising "landing page" URL specifically for this show, please provide us with that page so that we can include it in our show announcements.
Extra information for private venues and house concerts
If we will be playing a private invitation-only event, please make that absolutely clear, so that we know not to advertise it ourselves. If this is a house concert, please let us know the RSVP email/procedure, whether we are allowed to publicly list the house address, and any details about food or potluck at the event. If the house has pets, let us know, so that we can place that into our advertising, to warn our allergic fans.
If we will be playing at a venue that has an age limit for entry, we need to know that ahead of time, so that it can be included in our advertising.
List as the band in the program, but give us individual badges
If we are playing at a convention, and there is an events list or a programming grid, please list us only under the band name, and only once as a single entry. Do not list the individual performer names unless it is part of a more detailed description of the band. What we're trying to avoid here is some cons whose programming systems don't seem to understand bands, and will list "8pm, Concert, Tony Fabris, Michelle Dockrey, Betsy Tinney, Sunnie Larsen". Although that's accurate, it is not marketing our band name. The listing should say "8pm, Concert, Vixy & Tony". Also acceptable would be "8pm, Vixy & Tony Concert, (Michelle Dockrey, Tony Fabris, Betsy Tinney, Sunnie Larsen)". The problem here is that this often makes the con's registration database require the badge entries as "Vixy & Tony", and then the concert listing says "Vixy & Tony, Vixy & Tony, Vixy & Tony, Vixy & Tony", and of course that's a problem as well. All we're asking is that the billing looks correct when you proofread it; this is surprisingly hard for some cons' scheduling systems. Just do what you need to do in order to make it look right.
When listing the band name on your event billing, or when making voice announcements, our name must be listed exactly as follows:
Vixy & Tony
The names must be spelled correctly, there must be an ampersand instead of the word "and", and the names must be in the correct order. You wouldn't say "Garfunkel and Simon", would you? If you are listing the individual band member names, spell them correctly and pay particular attention to the exact spelling of Vixy's last name, which ends in R-E-Y rather than E-R-Y. The correct band member name spellings are:
Note: If making a voice announcement, pronunciation of Tony's last name is "fuh-BREE".
Band photos and bio
For advertising the event, or for convention programs, etc., here are links to general band photos and biographical information, contact us if you need something more special than these:
Specific photos that we like:
Vixy & Tony's lighthearted folk/rock musical style combines with science fiction and fantasy lyrics to tell engaging and beautiful stories. Their energetic performances can be enjoyed by both sci-fi fans and mainstream music fans alike, earning them the Best Performer Pegasus Award in 2008. Michelle "Vixy" Dockrey and Tony Fabris have joined forces with cellist Betsy Tinney and violinist Sunnie Larsen to form a "four-person duo" with a lush, amazing sound. Their music can be found at VixyAndTony.com.
If you need anything other than the above, i.e., a special bio custom-written for your event, then please let us know well in advance; we need a long lead-time (30 days or more) if anything new needs to get written.
If we are traveling to the venue by airplane, we will be unable to bring our djembe with us. If the venue can provide us with one, that will increase the range of songs we can put into the set list. If not, our set list will be much more limited. We'd be looking for a properly-tuned Remo 14" Djembe, or an approximate equivalent, with a sturdy angled Djembe stand, or an approximate equivalent. Please let us know in advance if such an item is available at the venue, so that we can plan our set list accordingly. (Note that at some conventions, other attendees might have brought one that we could borrow.) This is only important if we are flying to the venue, if we're driving then we'll bring our own djembe.
Before accepting an invitation to play, we will need to know whether we're expected to provide our own PA equipment, or whether the venue will supply that equipment, and if the venue's equipment is sufficient. Note that the only way we can supply our own equipment is if the event is local to Seattle. If the venue supplies the PA, it must have main speakers, at least two wedge monitors (critical) and a mixer with at least six channels and a separate monitor mix.
This bears repeating: There must be at least two wedge monitors, preferably four, with independent monitor mix capability.
Before accepting an invitation to play, we will need to know whether we'll need to bring our own sound crew, or whether the venue will supply people to run the sound. If we are supplying the sound crew, the fees and compensation will need to include them. If the venue is supplying sound crew, their main sound technician must be present for load-in, setup, and sound check, as well as being present at the mixing board for the entire set.
Before accepting an invitation to play, we will need to know what the stage dimensions are. It will need to be large enough to accommodate all four band members and gear. Approximately 24 feet wide by 12 feet deep is ideal. Half that if we don't have Betsy and Sunnie with us. Smaller can be worked with (we've done some pretty tiny house concerts), but it's uncomfortable. A riser is desired, but not required.
The stage area must have available electricity for amps and accessories. For a small room, one or two 20-amp circuits should be enough. If we are doing our own sound, and bringing a large sound system to fill a large room, we will need at least two 40-amp circuits at the stage and at least one 40-amp circuit back at the sound board location.
Venue is expected to provide seating for all audience members. Note: if the venue is local to Seattle, Betsy and Dave can sometimes provide a limited number of folding chairs to supplement what the venue can provide. Make sure to let us know well in advance if this will be needed.
At a bare minimum, the venue is expected to be able to light the stage area so that all performers are visible. Note: if the venue is local to Seattle, Betsy and Dave can sometimes provide lighting trees. Make sure to let us know well in advance if this will be needed. Additional electrical circuits will also be required to support lighting trees if we need to bring them.
Vixy vocal microphone, SM-58 or equivalent, boom stand.
Tony vocal microphone, SM-58 or equivalent, boom stand.
Tony acoustic guitar, plugs into PA via a direct-in (DI) box, venue supplies DI and 1/4" cable.
If we have a djembe:
Vixy djembe instrument mic, SM-57 or equivalent, boom stand.
If Betsy is participating:
Betsy vocal microphone, SM-58 or equivalent, boom stand.
Betsy cello plugs directly into PA via either XLR cable or 1/4" DI. Needs two AC outlets on her side of the stage.
Betsy clip-on instrument mic for bodhran drum (possibly, depending on which songs are in the set).
If Sunnie is participating:
Sunnie vocal microphone, SM-58 or equivalent, boom stand.
Sunnie violin, plugs into PA via a direct-in (DI) box, venue supplies DI and 1/4" cable. Needs two AC outlets on her side of the stage.
Possible other performer, depending on the set:
Keyboardist with vocal mic, SM-58 or equivalent, boom stand, electronic keyboard, 1/4" instrument plug.
Stage plot (approximate)
Stage far left: Sunnie, Violin, vocal microphone, music stand, (possibly) violin amp, wedge monitor.
Stage left of centerline: Tony, Guitar, vocal microphone, wedge monitor.
Centerline: Music stand.
Stage right of centerline: Vixy, vocal microphone, djembe on stand, djembe microphone, wedge monitor.
Stage far right: Betsy, Cello, vocal microphone, music stand, wedge monitor.
Wherever she can fit: (only for some sets): Keyboardist, vocal microphone, wedge monitor.
Badges, passes, bracelets, backstage passes
If the venue requires tickets or badges for admittance, then the venue must provide passes to all members of the band, sound/support crew, our merch minions, and any loved ones who are attending the event with us. If the event is a days-long convention or festival, these badges must be good for the entire event, not just the day of the performance. We can work directly with the venue to determine the total number of passes that need to be made available, have the venue's guest liason contact us regarding this.
Clear description of where we obtain badges
If the venue requires badges or passes to get in, then please tell us exactly when and where to pick up the badges. For example, if we are at a convention, do we pick up our badges at the main registration desk, or the green room? And if the latter, where exactly is the green room and what are its hours?
Comps and discounts
If the venue requires tickets or badges for admittance, we need to know in advance how many, if any, complimentary tickets we can make available to friends and family, and what the procedure is for obtaining them. If it's a convention where we get a discount for guests, please let us know what the procedure is for getting a discounted guest pass purchased, and what its deadline is.
We must be able to sell our merchandise during our performance, at a table in the same room as the concert performance, manned by our merch minions (or the venue's merch minions if that's a requirement). If the venue needs a percentage of the merch profits, this needs to be made clear ahead of time, with a clear statement of how the profits will be split and how the settling-up will occur at the end of the night. If the event is a convention or festival that has a dealer's section, we also want to consign our merch with those dealers (and will actively encourage attendees to buy from those dealers instead of from our table).
If parking at the venue is complex or is any sort of an issue, we need to be provided with a close-in spot to the stage to unload our gear. Detailed directions to reach the stage entrance are needed. If parking near the venue is expensive, we expect to be compensated for it.
Transportation and lodging
Unless otherwise agreed in advance, if we are playing at a venue that is not local to Seattle, we expect to be fully compensated for all transportation and lodging expenses, for whichever band members are attending. For air travel, we prefer to book coach seats ourselves and then be repaid via PayPal. If we are traveling by air, we expect someone from the venue to pick us up at the airport (keeping in mind that it might be all four band members plus all our gear), or compensate us for airport shuttle fees if any. Finally, if traveling by air, we expect to be reimbursed for both the ticket price and for baggage check fees.
We prefer to be reimbursed by PayPal at the address email@example.com whenever possible. If reimbursement is to be made by check, email us at that same address to get our mailing address.
If we are flying to an unfamiliar city, please let us know which airport is the most convenient destination for booking our flight. Please include the 3-letter airport code, to ensure that we're going to land at the same airport you intend to pick us up at.