Hello fans and fellow players,
I’m going to tell you a story today that proves you should always stay up on your playing game because you never know what kind of a job offer is going to come along. I was sitting at home one evening when my cell phone started to ring. I did not recognize the number but decided to answer it anyway since the commercial was on, on the TV show I was watching.
The strange voice on the other end said, “Mr. Seymour, I’m in a rather well-known rock n roll band from England and I am getting married next Saturday and need some entertainment. I asked where and he told me and I recognized the address as being a very posh section of Nashville.
So I said, “I guess the whole bands gonna be there, huh?”
He explained, “Yes, this will be a pretty high class event with several record label types being present along with several international tour managers.”
I said, “Just exactly what do you want me to do?”
He said, “I want you to play in the reception area and I promise you’ll enjoy it.”
I said, “Well, it doesn’t sound like a good deal to me, but what does it pay?”
He said, “Twelve hundred dollars.”
To which I replied, “Yes. You’re right. I think I’ll enjoy it.”
I said, “Who am I going to be working with?”
His reply was, “No one.” He said, “You’ll be doing a solo.”
I said, “And you know I play steel guitar, right?”
His answer was, “Oh yes, we are all very familiar with you.”
I said, “Well what do you want me to play? What style? Do you want me to play just Hawaiian?”
He replied, “Oh no. Play everything.”
Well anyway, this was about the strangest request I had ever gotten, so here I was accepting a job to play a solo in the middle of Nashville’s finest, ritziest section for cream of the crop, big money international musicians and to do so for a pretty good sum.
I started to say no, then I said, “Well, give me directions and the exact time and I’ll be there.”
I showed up about an hour before and unloaded my guitars, amps and anything I thought I might need to dazzle, amaze and bewilder the educated audience. As I was walking inside with my first load of equipment, I was shocked to have some folks come up with a strange accent that seemed to be quite familiar with my playing.
After setting up, they invited me to the food bar which was very exotic, but it didn’t take long to get used to the caviar, lobster and oysters Rockefeller. I started off my part of this extravaganza playing some big band tunes as soft and sweetly as I could. Here Comes That Rainy Day, Tenderly, Misty, until somebody said, “Pick it up and give us some excitement.”
So I said under my breath, “Here I am all by myself playing a wedding reception for what could be known as some of the world’s finest rock musicians with support teams, their record label executives and they want me to play something a little swingier.”
So I did some Sunshine Superman, Moanin’ and Watermelon Man and about the time the crowd was really getting into what I was doing, they said, “Hey, we have a country singer here that we hired also, named Clay Canfield.”
I said, “Good. Get him out here.”
I had never met Clay and was not familiar with his work, but he came out in an old slouch, beat up cowboy hat, dressed clean, but looked like he’d just gotten off the range. He said, “Do you have an amp I can plug into?”
I thought “Uh oh. This can go either way now.” But the crowd started screaming, “Good. Do some country.”
Clay broke into Workin’ Man Blues. The crowd started dancing, clapping and yelling. I thought, “Holy cow! They aren’t used to hearing this, but they are loving it.”
Clay and I entertained them together for about an hour and a half, then Clay went on break to hit the exotic food bar again. I had filled up but decided to make the announcement that I’d play anything they wanted to hear. I had many people line up with suggestions, many of which were rock songs from the sixties. Everything from Magic Carpet Ride to I’m Not Lisa.
I thought, “I’ll never be able to pull this off.” But forty five minutes later, most of the crowd had pulled their chairs up as close as they could to me, watching my hands and feet and knee levers and seemed totally fascinated.
Then Clay came back and we totally ruled the night. Even though I had great success, I was very glad Clay was there. Finally about one in the morning people started wandering up and telling us good night. We finally started shutting down, they handed me my check and Clay got his check which both checks were for twelve hundred dollars for a total of twenty four hundred dollars.
I told him we should form a duo and go on the road. He replied, “As long as we can do these things around Nashville, we don’t need to.”
Naturally these great jobs don’t happen every day, but I’ll have to admit they are very lucrative. Between the friends I met, the food and the money, I’m glad I’m a steel guitar player. The moral of the story is, keep your chops up, be prepared to do any job at any time and let everybody know that you’re able to do any job at any time and I’m sure some nice surprises will come your way.
Summertime is a great time to be surprised with wonderful jobs from out of the blue. If you’re in the union in your local area, you might let them know what you can do or what you want to do and possibly they can steer some work your way. Just don’t expect every job to be a Ray Price sound alike band or gig.
You don’t have to be a professional musician to have a lot of fun and make some decent money with your guitar. Just have the right attitude and say yes to everything. Just remember, it is your practicing alone at home by yourself where you can learn all these things you need to know to play solo jobs.
Effects can make your guitar exciting if you use them correctly and learn a lot of different kinds of music. There are some wonderful blues, rock standards and classic songs that everybody will know and you can be highly loved and pretty well paid for playing them at times.
Guys, give me some feedback here. I’d like to find out how much interest there would be if I did a series of videos showing how to do solo gigs and what specific questions you would like answered if I did do such a series.
Check out our monthly specials at www.steelguitar.net/monthlyspecials.html and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.
Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday