Advice from Eddie Dunlap

September 26, 2013

Today’s newsletter comes from Eddie Dunlap, one of Nashville’s up and coming youngsters. In Eddie’s own words, he’s “living the dream!” Eddie started hanging around Steel Guitar Nashville when he was 16 or 17. He’s 24 years old now and has definitely come a long, long way. It’s Eddie’s show now …

I’m currently with Clay Walker. I’ve been with Clay for about 3 years. We do about 60 dates a year. It’s a good pace. I like it because it gives me a chance to stay in town and try to do recording sessions. I have had the chance to do a lot of traveling and I’ve been to almost every state and all over Canada. We tend to stay out west probably the most.

Doing sessions is my ultimate goal. That’s what I want to learn to get better at. I like recording because I like learning from the other musicians in the room. It’s cool because it’s an influence on my playing to hear what the keyboardist or guitar player is coming up with.

It’s harder to find the traditional country music that I grew up with like Mel Street, George Jones, Conway, that kind of stuff. But music has to change. It’s always evolving. I feel that steel guitar is just as popular as it was 40 years ago, it’s just taken another form.

I haven’t found it to be a frustrating endeavor to find work. It takes awhile, but I just pretty much answer the phone and wherever I play, I meet other people and get called for other jobs. I usually have the opportunity of working in the future with the people I meet. To me it’s like a business, you show up on time and do the job.

It definitely helps if you treat it like a job. Sometimes it’s sporadic and sometimes things are going pretty well, so you never really know what the future holds, but something always seems to pop up. Patience is the biggest thing in building a reputation for reliability.

To me, I just like playing music in general and playing with other people because it helps me grow as a musician. CJ Udeen, Travis Toy and Randall Curry have really done a lot of innovating for the newer players.

Of course, people like Sonny Garrish, Weldon Myrick, Tommy White, Buddy Emmons, Lloyd Green, Paul Franklin and Mike Johnson, you can go back in their playing and still find timeless music. They’re still making music today that’s paving the way for steel guitar.

My approach is to play behind the singer, in others words, support what he’s doing and to compliment the rest of the band. It would be really discourteous to just trample all over everybody and take the whole song. I approach it as a team effort rather than me being the star of the show. I don’t showboat. I’d rather leave that to the hot players that can really do it.

If you’re interesting in really getting into music, I’d recommend meeting as many people as you can and learning what they do. I’m not talking about just steel players. I’m talking about songwriters, label people, publicists, bookers, everybody who plays a part in the music business, whether in front of an audience or behind the scenes.

A lot of younger people tend to not go back and listen to what’s already been done and it’s really helped me to listen to the innovators like Jimmy Capps, Spider Wilson, Bob Moore and guys like Pig Robbins. To me there’s an endless amount of wisdom to be learned from listening to them, not only from the records they’ve already done, but what they’re doing today as well.

Don’t just learn to play country songs. Look at Broadway musicals, orchestral music, even electronic group like Daft Punk. Anything that’s music, no matter what the genre, you can learn something from.

I grew up every weekend watching the Opry. I love the staff band. That was the beginning for me. I had a dream of one day playing on that stage where so many of my heroes have played. That dream became reality August 22, 2011. That was a milestone event in my life I’ll never forget. And I’ll always be grateful to the musicians who paved the way before me.

Steel Guitar Nashville is one of my favorite places to hang out. If it ain’t there, it ain’t anywhere.

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