Hello fans and fellow players,
This is Bob Hempker subbing for Bobbe Seymour today.
Let’s talk about playing for personal satisfaction as opposed to playing professionally for money. Playing professionally is rewarding in many ways in addition to financial. You get to make friends, you get to show off to audiences and fellow musicians.
Depending on your job, you get to see the world and do it in fine style. You make friends and make memories you can carry with you the rest of your life knowing that only a very few actually get to do the things you do and have done.
If you are with a big name artist, the money is good, the times are good and it sure beats a long, long list of others jobs you could have to earn your living with. Yes, playing professionally is very rewarding in very many ways.
But sometimes, when I’m off the road and home, I like to sit down and commune with my guitar. I like to play things the way I want to and experiment with different flavors and colors of sound and try out different techniques and styles.
Then sometimes I just want to sit and listen to steel guitar music played well. When I’m not in the mood for country, I reach for a couple of Bobbe’s CDs. Bobbe has a very creative approach to the music and to the way he portrays that music.
Bobbe’s “Rhythmatic” CD will open your ears to new vistas of steel guitar virtuosity. How’s that for a mouthful? Honestly though, I’d never heard anyone do what he does with a steel on this album. It inspires me to take my steel to new places and see what I can do with my own personal take on the songs. It stretches me as a steel player.
The other two CDs that offer the same sort of inspiration are Bobbe’s “As Time Goes By” CD and his “Cure For The Blues” CD. This trio of CDs will surely set your imagination on fire and motivate you to improve your playing as much as anything I can think of.
I asked Bobbe if we could put these into a package deal for anyone interested and he said to go for it. You can order them here: www.steelguitar.net/cds.html
When I’m in the mood for country and want to get inspired, actually fired up would be a better description, I pull out three of Bobbe’s country CDs. The “Bobbe Seymour Live” CD, the “Tennessee Country” CD and Bobbe’s tribute to Ray Price, the “Priceless” CD.
Bobbe said we could put these into a package deal as well. You can also order them here: www.steelguitar.net/cds.html
So there’s my rant for the day. I may make my living playing this beast, but when I’m all alone, there’s nothing that’s finer than sitting down behind my guitar and playing for my own amusement. I know you must feel the same.
Bobbe was so impressed with a reply to the newsletter Vic Lawson wrote, that he asked me to make sure we passed it on in the newsletter. I would like to say that Hurricane Mike Thompson wrote a masterpiece in this reply.
Here is Hurricane Mike’s reply:
I just had to respond. Thanks for this great newsletter! I tend to preach this stuff to all my fellow musicians in our quest for better music, and live by it myself even though I hardly have the acumen to call myself a consummate steel-player. I tend to get away with a lot by being careful when I play.
A few things I’ve taught myself to do is think, “driving”. It’s not just having to deal with the other “traffic” (other instruments,..) but we steelers have to stay outta the ditch. And that means, “Look to where you want to go.” Just like driving! I don’t just play a chord or note then slide off anywhere. I already have a destination in mind before I leave that fret. Take care and “steer” in the direction you wish to go by looking ahead. If I’m on the 5th fret at “A” say, and my next chord is a “D”, I’m fully aware that, that’s where I’m going as soon as I leave “A”. I don’t worry about “A” anymore! I THINK “D”! Once I get to “D” I think ahead to the next move. It takes a bit of practice starting out, but in time, I’m sure we all do it without really thinking about it a whole lot as much as we did in the beginning.
And I cannot stress how useful and utterly important, at least to me, The Nashville Number System has been. It sure de-“mist”-ifys the fogginess and blindspots while playing. That’s my road-map! I can’t always look up when I’m busy, so I’ve learned to “see” with my ears: Now I know a major from a minor, a 6th from a 7b etc. I can HEAR where the tune is going and anticipate changes accurately by getting used to the sounds of the chord and where it sits in the song.
As I come to the end of a phrase or a break, I look up with peripheral vision or take a quick glance at my surroundings for other traffic; or to see if I’m still expected to continue. My “road” is the music (represented by my fretboard) and my “vehicle” is my instrument. The “steering-wheel”, in this particular case, is the bar itself.
Playing simply like you suggest, in my opinion, is paramount for achieving taste. I constantly tell myself: “It’s not all about me! Always play like this is on a record! Bar-gigs never sounds like studio-playing. Pretend you’re listening to the song on the radio. And stay awake!” That way I don’t get in anyone else’s way and overplay; and I’m ready for any sudden changes or even my own turn.
The only way I look good is if I do my job of making someone else look good. Then I get noticed. It’s just the reverse of doing it wrong. Also, I tell myself, “Look both ways checking for other traffic before you pull out!” (Driving!).
And if it IS my solo, I have the green light and I get jumped on, (cut-off, side-swiped, running the red,..) I immediately give up that solo to the jumper. All his now! It’s a reflex. I just hit the brake: That bar is off the steel as soon as I hear someone else cut in. My foot is off the, “gas” (Volume-pedal). Sure, he might be a pig but the listeners don’t know that. And it still prevents a wreck. There will be other turns for me to play so it’s no big deal.
Another little quirk I have is, after it’s my turn, that bar comes right off the strings and is clasped in my hands, between my knees, while the other players rock on. They KNOW I’m not in their way! No anxiety! And I always watch for cues from my “host” guitarist or leader. (Usually the guitarist or whoever I’m paired up with that I can exchange trade-offs, phrases, etc. with. I follow his lead and wait to be “invited” if it isn’t a worked-out part. And, “Okay! Let’s hear that fiddle!”, doesn’t mean it’s time for the steel guitar,..and vice-versa. Just always watching.)
None of this has anything to with my lack of ability as a proficient steel-player; but is sure is a great way to fudge when I don’t know what I’m doing. (lol.)
Check out our monthly specials at www.steelguitar.net/monthlyspecials.html and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.
We will be closed for Labor Day.
Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday