Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back to the Bars: A Summer-Full of Gigs...

This has probably been my busiest summer ever, with lots of shows at festivals and bars alike. Many months ago, when I had an inkling I would be laid off from my "day job." , I began booking as much as I could for my band, 61 South and the end result is playing virtually every weekend from April though November. It's been great because I've gotten deeper into a groove and got to visit with so many friends, while making new ones, too! With that in mind, I have a few observations...

We always try to play as many requests as we can, especially when playing in a club. Unfortunately, we can't play ALL of them, especially when it just doesn't come remotely close to what we do and what we are. We get some weird requests from time to time. In the past, "Walk Like an Egyptian" and Psychedelic Furs. Not bad, but we're just not that animal! So far, the most off beat request this summer we've recieved is Styx, "Renegade." (We didn't play it) Stay tuned though, there's plenty of time left!

Many times we receive requests from audience members to "jam" with us or sing with us. I WOULD like to say, if we KNOW you and we KNOW you're talented, we'll INVITE you to join us onstage. The unwritten band etiquette rule is it's EXTREMELY RUDE to INVITE YOURSELF to play or sing with the band. The exception to the rule is if the club owner has a bartender or waitress who can sing or play and asks if they can join us for a song. Number one: They are our employer for the night so we're going to do everything we can to give them the show they want. Most times, they are right in knowing who can pull it off and who can't. They don't want to offend their clientele, so we trust the club owners to know what's right for their business!

For others, please don't ask or invite yourself. You may be a great singer or player, but we don't know that and can't just take your word for it. If we get to hear you later and discover you really are good, we'll invite you up! As a rule of thumb though: Many times, those who tell you over and over how great they are.....are usually NOT! Most of the REALLY GREAT ones are also really humble.

Only once, years ago, did I hand my guitar to an unknown and be blown away. I found out later, he had auditioned for & been offered a job as guitarist for Fleetwood Mac years earlier. He's been a great friend since!

At a festival, this rule is especially true because so many fans have heard us on XM or Sirius or bought our CDs and they want to hear US, not you. No offense, but we want to make sure the customer is satisfied! If you are great, you'll be heard and discovered without our help, anyway! Inviting yourself to play with the band is akin to inviting yourself to Sunday dinner at the home of someone you don't even know. Would you want someone to do this to you?

Also when playing festivals, we try to concentrate on OUR music instead of the covers. Please understand that many of the people who come to see us at blues festivals and other festivals are more interested in hearing our original material because they bought our CDs or heard us on the radio. There are plenty of bands who will appear at many of these festivals who will play your favorite cover songs, such as "Mustang Sally" or "Voodoo Chile" and do great jobs with those songs!

Please don't buy me drinks when I'm playing! I hope you don't think I'm being rude to YOU, but I'm there to play as best I can and I do it better when I'm sharp! I REALLY appreciate the offer, but I want to do the best show I possibly can for you! I tried it the other way years ago.....take my word for it! Buy drinks for your friends or that hot girl or guy! That will be a much better investment for you! As I told Glen at Fat Moe's once, "I'm not here to get drunk or get women! I'm here to to play the BLUES and do a JOB for YOU & YOUR customers, so they'll have a good time!!"

I love the festival shows and I love the clubs. The clubs are where we hone our act, learn new things, find out what works and what doesn't. Sometimes some of the coolest, weirdest and most interesting things happen in the clubs. At the festivals, it can be more intense at times, although at both, it's all about getting locked in the groove and channeling the energy of the music, the Blues!