The ‘complete package’ look, Chris Scruggs, Kevin Owens

Hi guys and gals,

I just wanted to remind everybody that Monday is the last day of the Labor Day sale but because I’m closed Monday, I’m going to extend the sale until Tuesday at 4 P.M. central time.

Here’s something that you may think is silly at first. But the more you think about it, the more serious you’ll know that I am and the more you’ll probably agree with me. A steel player needs to present himself as a complete package. Of course, we all know what he should sound like … but what should he look like? What theme player is he and from what era? What is the job he is playing and from what era? Is he playing old country standards in a band, doing a Patsy Cline show? Is he working a VFW show on Friday night where everyone in the audience is over 60 years old?

When you are in conflict in eras and styles, you are not sending the message that most people want to see and hear. What am I talking about? If you are hired for a steel playing job and the band is all over 50 years old and you are going to be playing 50’s country all night for the VFW crowd, don’t show up in a Toyota Camry with your hat and jeans on backwards, goatee, earrings and a tatoo of a skull on your forearm. Just the same as if you’re playing a hip-hop job with a group in their early twenties, don’t show up on your John Deere tractor and bib overalls.

Two of the coolest steel players in Nashville are Chris Scruggs and Kevin Owens. BR549 member Chris Scruggs is 19 years old, a great musician, the son of Randy Scruggs and Gail Davies, grandson of Earl Scruggs, loves old country music and plays a 1950’s Fender non-pedal double-neck. He combs his hair straight back with vaseline, wears horn-rimmed glasses, knows more about country music than people four times his age and plays it like it was played in the 50’s. The same thing can be said about Andy Gibson, another hard-working early era non-pedal player. Kevin Owens won’t drive a car any newer than the 60’s, plays a 63 Sho-Bud Permanent through a Sho-Bud amplifier … even his pack-a-seat and volume pedals are old Sho-Bud … dresses, acts, looks and plays like he just stepped off the stage from playing with Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours in the 1960’s. He has been working the Patsy Cline show in town for the last several years.

How many times have you seen a country band that sounded fine but looked horrible? Everybody showed up wearing their work clothes from around the house, dirty cutoff jeans and beer commercial t-shirts and rings in their noses and ears … and you said to yourself, this isn’t the way they used to do it back when I loved country music.

What I’m saying here is, if you’re gonna play the part, look the part. I am playing clubs around Nashville and I try to do this if for no other reason than to get myself in the mood which makes me play better. If it’s an old country job, I have a thousand dollar 1977 Buick Electra 225 with a trunk big enough to put an upright bass in. I’ll play a Permanent Sho-Bud or an old Emmons push-pull. If it’s a new tech, kick’em in the butt kind of job, I’ll play my new G.F.I. loaded D-10 and two Nashville 1000 amps.

I really feel that living the part that you are playing and looking like it is advantageous to your income, mood and overall image that you portray as the steel player that you were hired to be. Just like the clothes that you wear, you need to be coordinated. You don’t wear a Hawaiian shirt with a tuxedo or dress shoes to the beach. You should try to be congruent. Don’t be a conflict of styles and eras. Make everything match, not just your clothes. I’m sure you all have examples that you could email back to me. The image should fit the job and who you are.

Remember, you are being hired for your entire package, not for just the notes coming out of the front of your amp.

Your buddy,


P.S. I want to wish each and every one of you a happy Labor Day.

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