As an opening act

Got to open for a national touring act from South Carolina called Prettier Than Matt.  They had actually wanted to play at Bear’s Place in Bloomington and Bear’s requires a local act to be included.  Prettier Than Matt then did a search on Reverbnation.com for local Bloomington artists and decided to ask me to open for them.  It was quite a thrill to be asked and they turned out to be a great act to work with, great musicians and they put on a fantastic show.  I am now a fan for sure.  Here is a shot of me onstage at Bear’s Place the night of the show.

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It was great to play there.  We had a professional sound man to run the PA and that really helped make it outstanding.  He had my voice perfect against Patsy, my electric guitar and it really inspired me to put all I could into the show.  Can’t wait for an opportunity to do that again!

The Job of a Musician

Played a gig recently where I was the solo performer for a two hour show in a coffee house.  This is a non-paying gig where the house provides a meal to the performer but does not pay the performer.  Pay is strictly from tips.  The house does provide tip jars and places them in convenient places within the room and will at times walk them around requesting tips for the music.

It was a good night musically.  I had my guitar with me and also played a couple of tunes on solo bass while singing.  The bass tunes feature a walking bass line and when I’m playing the songs I can see feet tapping and heads bobbing to the music.  This gig was no different and in the course of the two hours I had a nearly full house with people eating and drinking.  I also noticed people singing along with the songs I was playing.  All in all, it appeared that everyone was having a good time, including me.  My voice was spot on, my playing was good and the general feel of the room was very good.  Friends of mine were there and said that it was a very good show.

When I finished playing after two hours, I walked around and talked to some folks, packed up my gear and then checked the tips.  I had made $3.01 over the course of the entire evening.  Now I realize that the economy is down and that there is no obligation for people to put money in the tip jar but at the same time, people were obviously enjoying the music and the show.  There is a lot involved in playing music.  There is upkeep of the equipment, practicing, learning new songs, working the internet and print media to advertise shows, calling and setting up gigs, the cost of traveling to and from the gigs as well as actually playing music for two or three hours for a group of people.  There is much more involved than just the time you spend in the room listening to the musician(s) play.

Whenever I am in a place that has music, I look around for a tip jar.  Sometimes I will ask the server if the musicians are being paid or if they are relying on tips.  If it is tips, I will always put something in the tip jar.  After all, I am enjoying the music and appreciate the fact that the musicians are there to help make my time in the venue fun and enjoyable.  I also appreciate everything involved in bringing that performance to me.  Because of that, I always try and show the love by putting as much as I can in the tip jar, even if it’s just the left over money from paying the bill.  After all, the musician has to live too and where would we be without any live performance music to entertain us?  Where would be we with just silence in restaurants, bars and coffee houses?

The next time you are someplace that features live performance, show some love for the performer.  Especially if you are enjoying what they are doing.  They can see you tapping your toes and keeping time with your head or body.  And it’s very depressing to finish playing for a few hours only to find out you made no money even though people were obviously enjoying your performance.  Always remember to show some love.  It’s good karma.

Old is New

Getting to play a gig later today with my bandmate from the Lopers, Dave McConnell.  We played in the Lopers for 13 years and recorded two CD’s together.  Now, mostly due to health issues, Dave doesn’t get to play as much as he used to and I miss playing those great songs.  Today we’ll play a bunch of them along with songs written by Bloomington songwriter Laura Lashbrooks who also has a great singing voice.  It’s music we haven’t played together since March and it may be a while again so I will enjoy it while we are playing.

Its also a chance to play the dobro again, which I don’t get to do as much anymore.  I’m mostly playing bass now and yesterday I picked up a guitar for the first time in a few weeks and it felt so small in my hands.  I’ve gotten used the neck of my 5 string bass I guess.  Played dobro last night in rehearsal and it all came back to me, as it normally does.  We even played a few tunes that we haven’t played in over 5 years and the parts came back to me.  What a nice feeling.  Later this week I’ll be back on the 5 string bass supporting the Troubador band but tonight I get to kinda be a Loper again.  Revisiting old times is a wonderful thing!!

Having GAS!!!

It’s not what you think it is!!!!  GAS is Guitar Acquisition Syndrome and it is a fierce disease that almost all guitarist and bassist have.  It is the desire to have just one more instrument than you already have!!!  The quest for the perfect instrument.  Of course, we all know that doesn’t exist, but we always hope the next one is the last one.  Our spouses and significant others are usually hoping for that too!!!

Last week I saw a very good deal on a bass on craigslist and decided I would buy it and then flip it to make some cash.  It was in very good shape, was made in the US in the Washburn Guitars Custom Shop in Chicago, and was a steal.  I bought it and brought it home and then I made the mistake!!  I plugged it in and played it.  It sounded wonderful.  I decided to test drive it with the band.  At rehearsal, it sounded better than it did alone at home.  It weighs half of what my main Fender bass weighs and after some thought I decided to keep it and it is now my main bass.  So much for that idea!!!!

Here are some pics of my basses.  My former main bass is a 2011 Fender American Special Jazz bass that I also got a great deal on.  It is a 4 string and has been my main instrument since April.  I play it more than any of my other guitars.

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It is a great bass with a fantastic neck, a real joy to play.  It is completely stock except the pickguard which I changed when I bought the bass.

However, the bass above has passive pickups, which I didn’t think anything of until I bought this 1998 Washburn XB925 bass.

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This one has active Bartolini pickups with a preamp and it has amazing tone!!!  It will vibrate the floor even at low volume and it plays wonderfully.  I am having to adjust to the 5th string but it is very easy to do.  I have almost not put this bass down since I got it.  It was the top of the line bass Washburn made in 1998 and retailed for almost double what the Fender Jazz did new.  It’s does not have a very high resale value but it is definitely one of the most under appreciated models of bass out there.  This model was used as the primary instrument by Rick Savage of Def Leppard since 1999 and was also used by Bootsy Collins.  I can’t believe a bass this nice fell into my hands.  Now it’s my main bass.  Lucky me!!!!

 

Famous Guitars

Spent today at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis today seeing the “Roundup to Rockers” guitar exhibit.  It was quite a show.  There were guitars that were built in 1793 all the way up to present time.

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guitar built in 1793.

Saw all kinds of guitars from vintage Martin acoustics to many different resonator guitars to some seriously nice vintage electrics.  Gene Autry’s guitar was there along with a tooled leather guitar case that was beautiful.  Saw an exceptional 1934 National Tricone Resonator.

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1934 National Tricone

Lots of famous musician’s guitars were there too.

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Jerry Garcia’s custom “Tiger” used as his main guitar with the Grateful Dead.

 

Most famous, at least for me, were the following two guitars.  The first is a 1955 Fender Stratocaster that belongs to Ronnie Wood.  The second, and more important to me, was a 1952 Fender Telecaster belonging to my idol, Keith Richards.

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Ronnie Wood’s 1955 Fender Stratocaster

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Keith Richard’s 1952 Fender Telecaster

All in all, a great exhibit that I would highly recommend anyone see while they can.

 

Ch Ch Ch Changes

I’ve been playing bass with the Troubador Band now for quite a while.  We’ve been sounding great and building a good audience.  We even have quite a few repeat followers.  Unfortunately, we’ve also had quite a few line up changes, switching drummers, looking for led guitar players, etc.  Currently, we have our new drummer and had hope that we were going to add a lead guitar player who has been sitting in with us for the last few gigs.  He is pretty busy though playing with other bands and at least for now, we’re going to have to go with other options.  What we’ve decided to do, at least for the short haul, is to move me over to lead guitar and a friend of mine is now sitting in on bass guitar.  Last night was our first gig with the new configuration, including going with absolutely no prior practice and the bass player not meeting the full band until right before the gig.  And we pulled it off!!  As always, there were issues with sound, balance, etc and some of the songs were rough due to us not getting to rehearse.  But we made it though and everything went fine.  We had a happy audience and even dancers!  It’s always good when you have dancers!!!

 

Loving playing at the moment and how life is going.  I always wanted to live a life in music and while the pay is certainly no where near where it needs to be, at least I am earnng some money.

 

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Music is life!

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Now playing bass with the Troubador Band in Nashville, IN., I am also playing lead guitar with a Patsy Cline tribute show.  Wonderful music and very fun to play.  I’m also playing shows as a solo act performing on guitar, dobro and vocals.  Please check the schedule page for all of my playing activity.