Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Can You Dig It?

"You are so great, I absolutely love what you do. I've been really paying close attention to your performance, and I really have a great appreciation for your talents....."

What musician wouldn't  enjoy hearing such a compliment? It's so good for the ego, and always nice to find out that someone is paying attention when often it seems like nobody is even listening. And yet...

Professional musicians also live in dread of the possible follow-ups that often come on the heels of such glowing praise. Two come immediately to mind:

1. "I love what you do... and I want to hire you. But I'll need you to basically change everything about what you do. I know you can do it, because you are so talented!"

2. "You are so great...do you ever let anyone sit in with you? I brought my harmonica/guitar/violin/horn. Lots of bands let me sit in. We can just jam and I'll solo over your groove." This one often comes after a few more lines of buildup, like: "I can really appreciate what you do, because I used to play professionally myself...I had a record contract...I just play for fun now...I do a lot of open mic nights..." and then he (or she) reveals he has a harmonica in his pocket, or his "axe" is in the car...

Now I understand that this is how some people show their appreciation. But frankly, some people think every musical performance is an opportunity to impress their friends and themselves with their amazing musical talents, by imposing themselves on a professional musician's gig.

Couldn't they just  say, "Hey man, I really dig what you're trying to do up there,"  and leave it at that? I think we could all live with that.


  1. HA! It happens. We (I) have two rules.
    1. No sitting in unless we ask you
    2. We never ask anyone..
    (There obviously some pretty rare opportunities to bend rule # 2)
    I always have in my mind when and where the open mic nights are and remind the "fan" that is a far better opportunity to showcase thier talents because that is what the crowd is there to see.
    Tonight the crowd is here to see our(my ) rehearsed show and we would be doing a disservice to all if we deviated.
    Works almost everytime and if they are still offended then they are "untreatable" and you have most certainly saved the audience and your self from an "over play-a-rama" any way..

  2. "Hey man, I really dig what you're trying to do up there,"

    I always try to be that guy.

    On the flip side, I've has some folks invite me to play with them. I'm working hard to get to where I can take them up on it.
    Steve K.

  3. How about this one:

    "Hey man, you sound pretty good. What instrument do you normally play?"

    Seriously though, what bugs me most about the sit-in inquiries is when they get insulted that you turn down their request. It's as if that brief little introductory calling card ("I used to play...") is supposed to assuage any fears that they won't suck. What they don't realize is that professional musicians never approach someone they don't know to ask if they can sit in. So the fact that they're even asking is a tip that it's probably not going to be a positive experience.

  4. I don't see what the big deal is. The people that follow cover bands are usually loyal fans of the band and know the band. If some guy wants to come up and sit in I say let him. If he or she sucks than they will suffer the humiliation and not the band. Who knows. They could be really great too. Why not give them their 2 to 5 minutes of fame. Lets not loose sight of what playing music is all about. Having fun and getting paid for it. Sometimes people just want to join in that fun. I see no problem as long as it doesn't get out of hand and you let yourself lose control over it plus the audience really doesn't care. Just let them come up on the last song of the last set when the audience is good and drunk and nobody will remember. LOL!. BTW, If you let someone sit in make sure they are not drunk so they don't fall down and wreck all your equipment. LOL!