It's Not That Weird Once I Explain It
I am, along with preparing for the funeral, getting ready for an intensive week in L.A. I have some gigs coming up this summer with a singer that I admire and respect. This is how I prepare for something like that. I practice my fucking ass off. For this set of shows I am playing (no order of importance here just as I think of them) harp (I'm bringing two, brass strings and nylon), guitar (two electrics so I have one for slide work, two standard acoustics, one National Steel Body for slide, 5 string banjo, and a mandolin just in case). I have to be ready to kick ass on every single one of them. Most folks don't understand the big differences in the instruments. Other than the physical way the sound is produced there is little similarity in the guitar and the banjo. Harp? Well, that's truly its ownself. I'm not as good a harper as I could be because of the demands of the other instruments. I have also seen my versalitiy translate into readily available work. Most of the people I work for would rather see me schlepping through the airport with two carts of instruments and my luggage than have to keep track of another musician. It also gives a lot of flexibility to the performance.
I have hours of tape from live shows that I'm listening too almost every waking hour. I'm listening not only for how the song works and what the singer likes to do, I'm listening for what works in performance and what doesn't. I play along with the tapes/videos so and figure out what I need to do. I'm not only looking for what will sound good with this guy, I'm looking for weaknesses. Does he oversing here, does he suddenly speed up, will he need some help finishing this phrase, where can I fit in? Lots of things happen onstage. It can go straight into the shitter in less than a heartbeat. There are also, small, little touches that can turn something good into something great, turn something great into something magical. It's about being aware of the performance as a whole, living entity. If I see another player who can run scales while he's on the speakerphone, or watch a game while he's practicing, I know I've found a kindred spirit. I know that this is somebody that will not withdraw into their own little world when we're up there together. This is somebody that will pay attention to all of it. These are the kind of players I look forward to going onstage with.
Next week we are going to be doing two hour sessions (I hate, absolutely loathe rehearsals so we are calling this week a tune-up session, a beach party, it's a cognitive dissonance thing, transparent but it works) twice a day. Morning and late afternoon. In between times, I have about the same amount of practicing to do. I figure it this way; hard practice makes easy shows..
If my posting next week is a little light, you can hopefully understand why now...
I'll try and do little updates when I am in a hot spot for wireless.