The Joker

July 14, 1987 Steve Miller receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!


I’ve known this song The Joker since I’m a teen, but it took my son Dylan saying, “Dad this would be a good song for you to sing” for me to play it and now it’s usually my number two song in the Skip Brevis Band set list.

It has an intro that my audience immediately recognizes and it always gets the thumbs up. I think most great songs have to win you over in the first four bars.  And when I plan a set list for myself and other artists I try to pick songs that win right away. Audiences don’t seem to have the patience to wait for a song to get good. Neither do I.

When I was working with Javier Colon (a phenomenal singer) we both made a set list that had the audience excited in the beginning of every song, and having that kind of set list guaranteed a successful tour. On Monday I have to prepare a set list for a teen pop artist and I’ve been playing each of her songs in a different order to get some sense of what’s most recognizable and what’s exciting.  Most important is what song you open with and what song you close with.

It’s the same sensibility I have when preparing a show for a jazz artist singing all standards.

Steve Miller wins big with The Joker no matter where it gets placed in the set list.  It’s just that kind of a song!


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