August 1, 2013
Fired again for being too country. This is Vic Lawson.
Yes folks, it’s true. Another country band fired for being too country in Nashville. I’ve been playing a few gigs here and there with a young man from California that enjoyed and loves playing traditional country and western swing music and we ended up playing a few gigs in Nashville recently.
He ended up picking up a month of Thursday nights at a club called Big Shotz on Second Avenue. Our first night there was last Thursday night. We played his normal set list which consisted of typical George Strait, Mark Chestnut, Keith Whitley and some originals.
The gig went well. Then I got a call last night saying we were fired because we were too country. This is getting more common in Nashville these days. I can see that there should be a club or two that wants to have more pop style music, but nowadays, it’s the opposite. There’s more pop style music and less traditional country.
I’m not sure about the rest of the country, but here in Nashville it seems the bartenders determine what kind of music is played above anyone else. For example, one of the bartenders at Big Shotz looked like she fell in a tackle box with all the piercings and tattoos.
She said, “You all are good, but kind of boring.” Even though we had a half capacity audience which we thought was good for a Thursday night.
Keep in mind this wasn’t some slouch band. We had a session player, James Mitchell playing lead guitar. Everybody in the band was a class A player. I told Buck I was ashamed to live here from a steel players point of view.
With that being said, if you come to Nashville, don’t get your hopes up too much to find traditional country music. I think it’s sad that people have let it come to this.
Here’s another story that underscores the developing situation in the Nashville music scene.
Ben Probus is Hoot Hester’s nephew. Any Grand Ole Opry fan will recognize Hoot as the Opry staff band’s fiddle player. Ben got the idea to have a jam session to help players who are new in town by giving them a chance to get up and play and show people what they can do and network and get known around town.
I was happy to be called to be the house band’s steel player. I thought it would be a cool gig. Of course, there were no new steel players to sit in which in itself didn’t surprise me. However, what I was surprised about was that out of four hours, I only played on maybe eight songs.
Not that I couldn’t have played on some of them, but I felt a little out of place because no one there was singing anything country, nor did the drummers know any of the country feels for any of the songs we wanted to do as the house band. Instead of a country jam, it ended up being a pop, rock and blues jam because that’s all these newcomers could play.
In fact, a good friend of mine, who is a female vocalist, came and put her name on the list to show support for Ben. At one point after she’d been there for an hour and a half, she told me that she was going to leave because she felt that I was the only one in the place that knew her songs and I agreed.
So to make a long story short, instead of a country jam night in Nashville, it turned out to be a pop and rock jam night. I don’t mean to sound like I dislike other genres of music. That is not the case.
From a steel players point of view, I felt out of place and I don’t think a steel player should feel that way being in Nashville. I felt like I was in some place where steel guitar was a novelty.
I can’t understand why players come to Nashville thinking they’re going to break into the country music business and make a living without knowing how to play a country song when there’s a lot of country players who can’t make a living playing country music.
Enough about this subject. I gotta keep my blood pressure under control.
I remember back in Oklahoma as a kid I had a gig about three hours from home. As I loaded my gear, I noticed a spare amp that I had setting in the corner and thought to myself, I think I’ll just take both amps tonight and I ended up glad that I went with my gut feeling because about a set into the gig, my Session 500 gave up the ghost.
I was extremely glad that I had the spare amp which was actually a bass amp, but it got me out of what could’ve been a difficult situation. If your amp lays down on you, you can’t usually run home and pick up a spare.
Even though it’s rare that you’ll need it, it’s always good to have a spare amp and volume pedal available. If you need a spare, we’ve got several used amps and volume pedals at this time and so our special this week is free shipping on all used amps shipped within the lower 48 States.
As always, we have free shipping on our new amps within the lower 48 states in case you want a brand new one.
Remember, we cater to steel players, not sound men.
Steel Guitar Nashville
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Hendersonville, TN. 37075
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