In my early days in Nashville I made almost half a living just subbing, when I wasn’t busy with a regular gig. Guys who had an artist gig and a club gig were always needing a sub when they went out on the road, and sometimes they just needed a sub for one set when they had to go do an Opry spot. It was just a matter of hanging out a lot, sitting in, being available, and having the ability to at least fake your way through every country song in the world.
I had a Sun-Mon gig at a place called Reel Country, and one week I had to go out with Faron and I got Phil Kuntz to sub for me. Well, the band got fired while I was gone, and they even got severance pay, something that doesn’t happen very often in the music business, and Phil got my money. After I’d been doing the gig for several months. Geez!
Another time I subbed on a short road trip with a MOA (Major Opry Act) because his steel player was sick. When we got back to town the DABP (Dumb Ass Bass Player) told me we had a couple Opry spots that weekend, and I should show up to do them. I’m like, isn’t the regular steel player gonna be there? Nah, he said, we want you. I had some misgivings, but I showed up anyway, and the regular steel player was there with his axe. Shit, how awkward. Well, we’ll get you to do one spot and the regular guy to do the other, the DABP said, but the MOA said, hell no, that’s not right. And it wouldn’t have been right, the Opry wouldn’t go for that, so I just hung around the Opry all night and listened to Sonny, Hal and Weldon and learned a couple new licks.