You’ve been working on a totally awesome new lick all week and you spring it on the band Fri night, and, miraculously, it comes off great but nobody notices. WTF? Later on you hit a big ol’ clam and nobody seems to notice that, either. So you start to wonder if you should turn up, like to 11.
The sad reality is that the guys in the band are probably not as eat up with steel guitar as you are, and they’re just listening to themselves or watching chicks on the dance floor, whereas you’re listening to the whole band, what everybody is doing, and how you can best complement the whole prerformance. Huh.
So it’s pretty nice when you can work with pickers who are steel guitar fans. One of my first gigs was with a guitar player who loved Lloyd Green and I learned a bunch of stuff from him. I learned the “Night Life” intro from a guitar player who got it from Jimmy Day.
Singers might bend an ear if you sound kinda like Buddy Emmons or Ralph Mooney or whoever played on the material they do, but once they get a feel for how you play you’re a known entity and then they can safely ignore you.
Some singers might have a little more respect for the steel guitar, but most of them usually aren’t gonna notice you unless you get in their way. Singers are the focus of attention, right? And you exist merely to support them, right?
This can lead to becoming jaded and ignoring singers except for their particular phrasing, necessary since they’re ususally required to have a gig. Shit, how many singers have you played “Crazy Arms” with? Not counting tonight? After a few hundred of ’em, including Ray Price and Chuck Seals, it’s hard to get all impressed.
Well, anyway, you’ve learned a new lick and proved to yourself that you can play it, at least on a good night, and that’s what really matters.