You gigging musicians....your story

Discussion in 'General Music' started by living room rocker, Jan 31, 2019.

  1. living room rocker

    living room rocker Active Member

    Mar 15, 2018
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    At 59, I'm two years into this "journey" thing, pushing myself hard to learn the instrument yet striving to keep it fun too. I may never develop the skills to gig, but fantasizing of being on stage with a live band has made my bucket list even if it's nothing more than strumming some open position cowboy chords. How perfectly honed were your chops before your first gig? Did you execute perfectly; hit every note and chord, nail a wailing solo ala Jimmy Page, nervous? How many years were between that first axe and your first live gig?
    Trout26, Layne Matz and DaveInSoCal like this.
  2. Stark Naked

    Stark Naked Member

    Jul 6, 2018
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    I plunked around with an old Danelectro in my bedroom for about a year before a local working four piece band asked me to take over for their bass player who quit. Playing bass was a great way to strengthen my hands and learn scales and neck positions. Besides, they had a bass and amp for me to use. Stage fright quickly gave way to the intensity of playing complicated arrangements and staying on time. After a year of this great on stage training, I started my own group as lead guitarists. Which led to a thirty five year career in nightclubs, show bars, Honky Tonks and concerts. You've just gotta be ready for your opportunity when the door opens. If you want it go for it. Find other players who feel like you. Look for opportunities to play at parties, churches, bar's, jam night. Whatever. Good luck. But mostly enjoy.
  3. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2019
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    My first gigs were about five years after starting. I was 18, acoustic guitar/singer duo. First two were just a few songs for a talent show put on by my HS. Third was a nightmare, broke both G-strings on my 12-string and of course had no backup. It was great training in the show must go on thing, and that applause meant a bit more as I finished the set with a couple of strings hanging off the headstock.

    Murphy is always in the band, and he can tune up and start playing any time he wants. You make mistakes? Keep playing. A piece of gear fails? Take it out of the chain and keep playing. Nervous? That's nice, you and everyone else who's climbed on stage is nervous at one time or another.

    The funniest thing is that on some nights you know you've really thrown down and played above and beyond ... but the audience never gets beyond ice-cubes clinking in glasses and idle chatter. Other nights, you're sure you just stunk up the joint with a four-man clusterf**k, and compliments and free drinks flow. So, you don't get too carried away when you play well, and don't get too down on yourself for an off-night. You just work to be consistently good.

    I've never done more than twelve or fifteen gigs in a year, so this isn't professional advice, just observations from a hack.
  4. DaveInSoCal

    DaveInSoCal Active Member

    Jun 22, 2018
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    My first "gig" was when I was about 16, we opened for a bigger band just because we were the only option at the time. I was too timid to even turn around and face the crowd! :rofl:

    And so now here I am 40 years later and still gigging, I've been in many bands over the years but I still love it!

    In your case, I say just find some like minded folks and do the band thing when you're ready. There is nothing better than hanging out and jamming with friends. And if it leads from the garage to clubs / parties that's awesome! The most important thing for me is to have fun and become a better guitarist.

    I have a bar gig tomorrow night and even after all these years I'm still nervous, I will probably make a mistake or two but i'ts ok, it's my passion so I just dive in. :dude:
  5. Chubbles

    Chubbles Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2016
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    Remember, you will know what you're supposed to play better then the croud. Most of the time, they can't tell.
  6. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Well-Known Member

    Jan 2, 2018
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    Only had 7 actual gigs so far, thats was in Novemeber and Devember before my SG broke in two. Before that i had played with my acoustic on various streets of Nashville as well as the bus station more than a few times, only ever drew a crowd at the bus station and I hadnt gotten very proficient yet so I usually felt line it was a terrible mess. Worst was when I tried to sing, and scared people. The lyrics didnt help... Ever listened to The End by the Doors?

    I got a kick out of it either way, despite going home with my tail between my legs so to speak.

    The shows I've played recently were at house parties and two little local bars. Each instance has been circumstancial and posed its own challenges. I just try to observe my enviornment, everything i see, hear and feel to figure out how to best accomodate the situation. Sometimes something absurd or crazy can be useful. I try not to think of myself as any other guitarist but i cant help but feel i fall back on techniques and things ive learned from musicians that inspired and taught me. Little things I picked up while fiddling around figuring how to put sounds together, having a good ear and a great musical listening background helps in my experiences to aid your not choice and development of technique so even when you are dazed by all the commotion at a live event you can rely not only on muscle memory but on your highly trained ears to tell you whats right and whats wrong.

    BUT! As Miles Davis said, "A note can only be wrong dependign on the note that you play after it, becuase one not can sound bad but the one that comes right after can make it sound right with the other ones" (cant remember which interview he said this in, think it was with a european woman)

    Have you ever heard Led Zeppelin Live unedited? A lot of its gpd aweful and the whole band is put of time... Pages solos were totally hit or miss. He would let loose and if the timing was totoally off he would have a hard time getting his solos to fall back in with it. While this may not have been a mistake of notes he did not play it by ear and correct his mistakes as he heard them but coninued for some reason or another until his pre practiced solos were over and he fell back in with the rest of the band best he could. Im not talking him down but its very clearly evident in some of the recorded stuff, particularly the ones done live somewhere in America if I recall correctly.

    Here is a very important quote from Arthur Conan Doyle's The Return of Sherlock Holmes that i want you all to think about "But he had not the supreme gift of an artist, the knowledge of when to stop."

    One of the most important things a lead guitarist (as well as any musician or artist for that matter) can learn in my opinion is when the ideal and tasteful time to stop is. Not only to retain his or herself so as not to get too out of control, but to allow appropriate and tasteful room for the other musicians to play and take more of a lead role, even if briefly. Ive heard that Coltrane would solo for such a long time becuase he wasnt always sure how he could bring his solos to an appropriate end. Its common practice in jazz to take turns lead soloing, yet still playing a rythm and soloing beneath whoever is to be the focal point at that particumar part of the song. You can play a solo beneath someone elses to support theirs while still allowing yourself freedom to articulate- the key I think beimg to be supportive of who is playingthe focal lead solo. A lot of this is opinion and observation based on my experiences. Sometimes I hear bands in which the rythm section does nothing but the bare minimum while someone else is leading everything with their vocals or lead guitar. This is acceptable sometimes but I think that there should be more of a proactive attitude in how some people play, soloing should be enjoyable and or challenging rather than a chore as some seem to see it... Ahem, my bassist/rythm guitarist for instance.

    Just some points that I think help in preparing yourself to play live, hope you dont mind OP. Not that im highly experienced but I'm always observing things and thinking about them. One other thing is that venue owners do not take kindly to bands smoking anything, bassist got reprimanded for his cigarette. I only smoke cannabis but i dont suppose they'd be open to that either... Gone are the days when you can just light a joint in front of a crowd becuase someone is going to call the cops. I can vividly recall all the live recordings of 60s musicians smoking on stage. It's not a big deal but it changes the experience for everyone, I thinm its a lot less spiritual when all the audience gets is cheap beer or whatever they snuck in which probably isnt anything good these days. Doest help that they all have cell phones too, I hate seeing people on their phones while im playing for them but i think it makes me try harder.

    P.S. Always really preffered this guy over Page or Clapton, there is something to be said about John McLaughlin though who gave page lessons- and Beck even said he's the best guitarist alive today.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2019
    living room rocker likes this.
  7. Bad Penguin

    Bad Penguin Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2018
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    Started gigging with a band on bass after about 1 year of practice. Played with various incarnations of that band for about 10 years, switching between bass, guitar, and guitar synth. Then started playing with various other bands for about.... God, I'm old, 25 or so years. Now I have had to retire due to arthritis.

    First few gigs were horrid. Simply horrid. Over time, it became less horrid, moved up to merely bad, to mehhh, and finally, up to "that wasn't terrible." And eventually, got to good.

    Stage fright? Oh hell yes. Every single time, to this day, those opening few notes are the most terrifying thing on the planet. Then, it turns to, "ok, I got this." then finally, I stop thinking about it, and just play.

    Every gig has it's joys, and it's little nightmares. The infamous, "Crap, forgot my ______________ (fill in the blank). To, "Is the amp supposed to smoke like that?", and the always unforgettable, "Last time I saw ___________ (again, fill in the blank), it was on top of the car as we were loading up."

    As bad as the above is, the joys of having a few people ACTUALLY paying attention to what you are doing and enjoying it as much as you are playing it, is worth it.

    My advice to the beginning gigging idiot, I mean musician, is HAVE A BACKUP. Amp, guitar, batteries, strings, adaptors, cables, oh God ESPECIALLY cables, cheat sheets, if you use it, have a backup. Learn how to play that song that NEEDS that pedal, that you can ONLY play with that special pedal, without that pedal. (It will die on you. Trust me, it will.) Learn how to play with the amp. Especially that one weird knob: VOLUME.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
  8. Ray

    Ray Well-Known Member

    Oct 25, 2018
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    I played my first gig before I even had a guitar. Yep. Drums were empty paint-cans and me and a friend used our voices for making an endless list of cool, distorted riffs while "playing" our songs. Yeah! I guess I was nine years or so. Our "guitars" were made of wood sticks. I had a "flying V" stick guitar. And actually I played bass, the neck on my axe were a bit longer. We expanded to clapboard guitars before the band broke up, haha!... I have pics of that first gig. Gotta find and post them some day.

    Fast forward to the age of twelve, got my first real guitar, bought it second hand via an ad in a paper. But I didn't know any "proper" drummers (read: a guy with a real drumkit) before I was round 14-15. Then I got serious with bandstuff at the age of 16 and I played my first paid gigs at hairy, amphetamine-fuelled bikerclubs, which was real cool we thought, since alcohol was limitied for those over 18 years of age, but not for us "musicians."

    If you want advice:
    -Use new strings, preferably changed the day before the gig and played a few hours.
    -Be friendly to all the people involved with the arrangement. (I'm 46 and still working on that)
    -Get to be friends with the soundguy!
    -Do your best
    -Dont drink yourself wasted (but if you find yourself useless and wasted before a gig, the important thing is that the whole band is insanely wasted and useless. By doing so you will find that some audiences (read: unheard-of diehard punkrockers) considers such idiocy as "real punk". :facepalm:

    Stagefright ... Well, I concentrate on my playing mostly and to me every gig is over in a flash... I enjoy playing live, but I just do what I do at the rehearsals mostly. The chops are usually in place (I hope) and I don't do a lot of show-off stuff and running around on stage, I gotta admit. Also I'm "just" the lead guitar player; our singer/rhythm player the main focus, so I'm fine with standing there minding my playing and taking the occasional steps forward every time its time for some wailing solo noise.

    Also I occansionally put my foot on one of the monitors, but that's only if its really rocking. He he.
    living room rocker and Worblehat like this.
  9. Worblehat

    Worblehat Well-Known Member

    Mar 14, 2018
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    We definitely need to see those pics of your first "gig"! :lol:

    Oh and as you mentioned being wasted on stage: I recently saw this video which I've found interesting where the guy talks about beeing stoned on stage and why it was not a pleasant experience.

    Well in fact he's not that much wasted in the way punks would call "real punk" as Ray mentioned but still...
    living room rocker and Ray like this.
  10. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2017
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    Virginia, USA
    I played my first gig, a pool party, within a year and a half of when I started, if i remember right. We were all bad but were payed $50. As Joe Walsh put in on Live at Daryl's House, "At first you are awful... and you stink! But you bring that up, you don't really get better, you just bring awful UP... So you're not THAT awful!" Daryl replied, "That's my favorite kind of music: when awful gets on a higher level!" On that first gig my leads were trash, but within a couple of years they were better. Five and a half years after the first gig I was in a band that was made an offer by a label. We turned it down by a vote of four-to-one. It was the best vote I ever lost. Two years after that I played my first recording session while studying recording engineering at college and the door to my future was opened.

    These days i play sessions more than live dates and love recording.

  11. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2019
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    lol, my first decent-sized gig was a backyard kegger, plywood/milkcrate stage, drunk or otherwise-influenced kids puking, the whole nine yards. The only thing we didn't have was the cops ... that came a few weeks later at another kegger.

    I'm here to tell you -- I stunk up the joint. Nervous, didn't know the sets like I should have, the only thing I didn't do was get blitzed, thank Buddha. 'Cause I sucked enough as it was.

    I guess now I just embrace the suckage.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
  12. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2012
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    I started playing and singing in a family band and in church. I can't remember my first public performance, though it may well have been at Capilano Elementary School in Vancouver BC.. My first instrument was clarinet and I didn't pick up a guitar until I was about 14 and my brother left his Harmony sovereign home when he went in the Air Force. At 15, I started my own blues band and played a gig at Arden Junior High School. After that I was kind of swept up in the music scene, playing in acid rock, blues and folk groups for most of the 70's. I came home and settled into weekend bar gigs, but took a few leaves of absence over the next 30 years to go on the road. Loved it all and still do. Music is my religion and gigging is communion.
    Worblehat likes this.

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