Preparing for those important jobs

Hi guys and gals,

Mental preparation for those important jobs.

Remember when you were in high school and the coach would scream at you and the whole team in the lockerroom about how you were gonna murder the bums from the opposing school? Any important event will require mental preparation. Remember some of the first important steel guitar jobs you had? Or remember some of the regular playing jobs you went on where you forgot your cords or volume pedal? I can even remember going to a job once and had forgotten two of the four legs on my steel guitar. Of course, I played the job with the back of it propped up on a chair. Needless to say, the quality of my performance suffered.

There are two different ways of preparing yourself for a job, one of which is preparing your physical properties like guitar, amps, cords, picks and all other accessories. A checklist before you leave the house to make sure you have everything you need is almost a necessity in this day and time since we as steel players, have acquired so much necessary equipment to play a job. As a pilot, I have to have a checklist for everything I do pertaining to preflight, pre-takeoff, takeoff, a cruise checklist and a preparation for landing checklist. After all, it is sort of expensive to land on an asphalt runway with the wheels still retracted. A checklist glued to the top section of the inside of your pack-a-seat or steel guitar case could save you the problems of an embarassing evening. Remember, if it only works once in five years, it’s more than worth the trouble of doing it. After all, how many times have you shown up on a gig and wished you had remembered to add something else to your arsenal.

Now the most important thing possibly is preparing your mental attitude for doing the job well. If you’re hired to play a job that doesn’t really matter and you don’t care what attitude you have, possibly you shouldn’t have accepted the job in the first place. What I’m trying to say here is … give a hundred percent even on the horrible jobs that you work, even if the singer can’t sing and the lead guitar player is drunk and doesn’t care one way or the other himself and the drummer has to put a big crash at the end of every beautiful ballad. Bite your tongue and grin and bear it because remember, it’s you that you’re probably really playing for and preparing for the more important jobs down the line. And it goes without saying that you’re still getting paid by the club owner and bandleader to do a good job regardless of the ignorance that may be possibly going on around you.

As a studio player in Nashville, and even now preparing to do a major overdub on one of my own albums at a major studio, I am mentally preparing myself to play the best that I’ve ever played before. I know I have to be creative, different, have astounding tone and execute my musical passages perfectly in order to meet my own standards that I have imposed upon myself. My equipment is all at the studio with spares for each item in case of failure, but most of all, I’m thinking about the material and mentally playing each song ahead of time. I am well rested, have put all minor daily personal problems behind me and have surrounded myself with the finest crew possible so there will be no undue stress or tension in my working team. A cell phone with an extra battery, good tires and a full tank of gasoline in the car, which has also undergone a maintainance, preflight walkaround because nothing is more embarrassing than having car trouble on the way to the job. Total physical and mental preparation can determine the quality of the performance you deliver. Be prepared for any unforseen problem and you will work happier and make more money.

For example, I was on the road with Johnny Duncan in 1981 and I was playing on of Albuquerque’s famous clubs and everything was fine. The show was going beautifully when suddenly my volume went full on. I reached back, turned my amplifier off, lifted my Emmons volume pedal, looked at the bottom of it and noticed the string had broken and the spring had pulled the volume full on. I knew that in sixteen bars from where I was in the song, I had a major instrumental turn-around. I stood up and opened my pack-a-seat, pulled out my extra volume pedal, plugged it in, attached it to the pedal bar, turned the amp volume back up and played as good an instrumental turn-around as I ever had. What if I hadn’t been prepared?

Why don’t you email me a quick situation that you went through where you weren’t prepared, then maybe I’ll be brave enough to give you some examples of when I wasn’t prepared.

I have had hundreds of new subscribers in the last month and I would like to welcome all of you and let you know that your feedback is appreciated. I try to answer steel players real concerns in this newsletter and the way I find out what they are is when you email me.

The Christmas CD was released yesterday. You can order it from the website for $9.95 plus $2. shipping and handling. This low, low price is my Christmas gift to everyone. If you want me to sign it, email me and I’ll be happy to do it for you. If you live outside the United States, please email me with the correct way to address the mailing label to be sure it gets delivered properly.

Your buddy,


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