Musicians

I had intentions of writing this edition of the blog about something else but then I ran across this interview with legendary bassist, Leland Sklar. http://www.musicradar.com/news/guitars/lee-sklars-top-5-tips-for-bassists-605744

He touches on topics that affect all musicians. Touring musicians and session players alike (the guys that play on records but rarely if ever go on tour). Leland Sklar is a legend and a giant among bass players. He's played on records for Ray Charles, Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, B.B. King, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and on and on. He's toured plenty too. The article was directed towards bass players but it certainly applies to anyone who plays music for a living. I've been fortunate enough to do both. I have not been and never will be a session player. I'll never be that good. They typically are the cream of the crop but as Sklar mentions in this article you have to have a good personality as well great chops, because as he puts it, "If you're a dick, you're not going to get calls, no matter how great a player you are." The session experiences I've had have basically been thru my own records or NewFound Road records. Almost all of those experiences were great. There were times however, when I noticed some things that Lee Sklar brings up, like a musician just not caring about what's happening in the studio. There have been times when it was clear to me that a guy was there for one reason, a pay check. I was usually the guy either paying out of pocket for these sessions or in charge of the budget given by the label. It's disheartening to say the least when you're the one signing checks, and the recipients really could care less about the end result of what they were just paid to do. Recently I was able to hire a great bass player, and a monster musician on my forthcoming record, Dave LaBruyere. Dave has toured with John Mayer as well as having played on many of his huge records. Now he's a sought after session player in Nashville. The thing I noticed about Dave was the fact that he cared. He actually gave a flying flip about what was happening on my record. In the music business, I'm a nobody, yet Dave was treating this session as if I were a somebody. That makes a HUGE difference. I don't need anyone kissing my rear to satisfy me, however when someone of his caliper and status in the music world plays on my record and acts like it's important to him what going on, that makes a major difference in the session. I have to say the others involved on this record that Dave played on were great to work with as well. Dave even thanked me via text for having him play on the record after he left and headed back to Nashville.

I wrote all of that to echo the article. Whether you're a session player, or touring musician working for an artist or band, don't be the guy just showing up for a paycheck. Don't be the guy that is a pain to deal with or complains constantly about the sound onstage or the lighting or the weather or any other issue that happens to affect you. Don't pout onstage if your ear monitors aren't perfect or the front of house sucks.  We all have problems and we all want things to run smoothly, sometimes they do, other times they don't. Don't be the guy that starts drinking early in the day before a show, so that come showtime you're drunk. Nobody in the audience wants to see that or hear you try and sing or play while inebriated. It's going to suck. The band members don't want to be onstage with it either. It's embarrassing and unprofessional. The audience doesn't want to spend their hard earned money to buy a ticket to hear you trying to play or sing while wasted. The talent buyer won't have you back either. If you work for someone else and most of us do in some capacity, be the guy that everyone wants to hire. Be positive if at all possible, not phony, and don't be a suck up but try and be an asset. It's probably going to help you in the long run. It's definitely going to help the artist and or the guy in charge of the band. There's always is a guy (or gal) or two in charge. Someone is responsible for what happens on a record or a tour. Just don't be "that guy" that always gripes and pisses and moans about work. The music business isn't easy but it really isn't work in the traditional sense. Try roofing a building in 90 degree heat or welding in a shop that's a 120 degrees. THAT'S hard work! I know from experience that as a musician you have to pull your weight. Driving all night, playing a show on little to no sleep while touring and trying to make it look fun under those circumstances, or dealing with the business side of things isn't always pleasant but it's not hard labor by any means. Just don't be that guy. Be an asset.  Thanks for reading this.

 

Tim