Learn your damn part, damnit

I worked with a guitar player who sang great, but didn’t really know how to play guitar.

I worked with a guitar player who sang great, but didn’t really know how to play guitar. He couldn’t play the intro to “Mama Tried”, “Workin’ Man Blues”, “Satin Sheets’… and the list goes on. He’d tune before the first set and never even look at his tuner the rest of the night. He had 4 or 5 licks and played them in every song. He was a lazy bastard.

Good country drummers are hard to come by. Country drumming can be kinda boring, but, damn, if you’re hired for the gig and getting paid, please try to play something appropriate, if you possibly can. One drummer I worked with, who sang one song, didn’t know the ending on “Neon Moon”, where there’s this little thing that cues the band. He never did learn it. I put a picture of Buddy Harman on his snare one night and he went around asking everyone who it was.

Bass players – holy shit, some of em’ think they’re lead players, especially if they play with a pick. Have they ever really listened to what the bass is doing on “The Other Woman” or “Swinging’ Doors”? Bass players almost always sing.

I worked with a piano player who would show up 5 minutes before the downbeat and then complain about the PA during the 1st set, and how his mike was set. Duh, he coulda got there a little sooner in time for a sound check. He liked to play between songs, too, just diddling around, while someone was announcing the next song or a birthday on the mike. He also made faces when someone hit a bad note, and complained between songs about the drummer and the bass player – the audience could see and hear all this. This was a guy who’d worked a lot of big time gigs, and I don’t get how he could be so unprofessional. He did know the piano parts on our set list, so he at least had that going for him.

Many years ago a singer got up and called “Night Life” and introduced me as this great steel guitar player who was going to kick it off. Well, I didn’t know it. My excuse was that I’d only been playing a couple of years and I couldn’t know every damn intro yet. But I learned it as quick as I could, actually from a guitar player, Lonnie Atkinson, who got it from Jimmy Day. It was the only thing Lonnie knew on steel guitar.

If I’m on a gig and the band does a song I don’t know I’ll learn it when I get home and be ready the next time. I’m not gonna get caught again. I don’t know how some of these guys can go for years in public without learning their parts. Seems like they would be embarrassed or something. But I guess not. I guess they’re just fucking slugs.

I don’t sing, because I can’t, but maybe if I did I’d be able to get away with this kind of unprofessional shit, too, although I wouldn’t want to.

Author: Cal Sharp

Nashville pedal steel guitarist for over 30 years. Credits include Stonewall Jackson, Little Jimmy Dickens, Red Sovine, Faron Young, Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, Johnny Russell, George Fox, Vern Gosdin, Del Reeves, Gilley's, the Palomino Club and a few others. Retired from the road, playing sessions and clubs locally. I also develop websites, like this one and other music-related sites. Contact me if you need a website. Email: cal at caligraphics dot net or fill out the contact form. http://www.caligraphicsdesign.com/contact/

2 thoughts on “Learn your damn part, damnit”

  1. Yeah man. Some people just need to accept the fact that they’re no good at live gigs (cause they don’t prepare) and just stick to jamming at parties or with friends.

  2. There’s a guitar player/singer I sometimes work with who does the picking around before the gig, between songs, etc. It bugs me more than anything that he’s so unprofessional. We did an outdoor gig last summer using my pa system because it was big enough to handle the gig. I had a cd playing until we got ready to start and he’s up there jamming with the cd. I turned his guitar down in the mains but you could still hear him. I coulda choked him.

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