Boo Wah, Steel Guitar Stage Antics – Are They Acceptable?

I was asked about the Boo Wah technique. I once worked a job with Hank III (Hank Williams grandson) and had to play Don Helms and Jerry Byrd things, so I’ll explain how we did the Boo Wah technique.

It was all done with my hand on a bass treble control on top of the four neck Fender I was playing. What you do of course is just pick a triad in the key you’re playing in then reach with your right hand over and turn the control from bass to treble several times.

There is also a volume pedal made that has a sideways tone control ability. Fender makes one and Bigsby made one for many years. However, most professional steel players that have a guitar with a tone control mounted on it, prefer to use their hand to do the Boo Wah bass to treble sound.

I was asked to give my thoughts about stage presence and showmanship. Actually it depends on the band or group you’re working with. If you go see a symphony orchestra play, you’ll see that the string section doesn’t jump up and act like Doug Kershaw playing his fiddle or the rhythm guitar player in the symphony doesn’t act like Peter Townsend with The Who.

Rock n roll groups demand that you do more than just sit there. However, jazz and older country groups have no call for these antics. However, it sure doesn’t hurt to show that you’re alive and well sitting behind your steel guitar. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with the singer or whomever if you have a microphone in front of you, getting clearance of course to do some things ahead of time.

On my stage shows where I’m the star in steel guitar shows, I always try to have some jokes ready and maybe a couple of stories to keep the women and kids from going to sleep. But I don’t get up and run around, slam my steel guitar on the floor or set it on fire.

Antics definitely take away from your ability to play well. There’s a steel player that played with the now defunct Poco group that was pretty famous for his show biz antics. He was also a pretty good player. Rusty Young is his name and he definitely made the group worth watching.

And then of course, we have The Robert Randolph Family Band which sells his playing with antics. Rusty and Robert are actually pretty good players but they are doing their shows for the masses of people in the audience, not just the music fans.Showmanship is important. Even if you have the personality of wallpaper, you can at least smile, nod and acknowledge people in the audience, maybe even say it’s nice to be here tonight and thank you for coming. Or you could join a symphony.

We are now handling the Bradshaw Resonator accessory for steel guitar that will make your steel guitar sound like a dobro. It looks beautiful and sounds great. We try to carry everything you need for your steel guitar shows. We are also doing a lot of repair and restoration work again and look forward to serving you.

Remember, when you’re ready for that new guitar, we take trades and we stand behind everything we sell which hardly anybody does anymore. They certainly don’t do repair work or upgrades on eBay. Please come by and see us in our store anytime. We are open every Saturday until Christmas.

There’s nothing better for a stocking stuffer than a gift card from Steel Guitar Nashville. It covers everything from picks, bars and strings to new steel guitars and amplifiers.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Steel Guitar Nashville.

Bobbe Seymour

Listen To Steel Guitar Music Streaming 24 Hours A Day!

Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Open 9AM – 2Pm every Saturday until Christmas
Closed Sunday

This entry was posted in Bobbe's Tips. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.