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more... Gigging AdviceHow-TosMay 2007

How to Get the Gig, part 2

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How to get the gig Step Seven – Ask Relevant Questions
Music can be complex and everyone hears it differently, but remember, you’re not doing a book report – only ask something if it is musically relevant (e.g. something regarding a harmony or musical break that is not clear on the recording). Make sure they are not doing some “new arrangement” of a song that you are not aware of. Sometimes artists are used to a live version, but you’ve learned the song from the record.

Step Eight – Project Confidence
The more gigs you get, the more confident you’ll become. In the beginning, you might have to “fake it, till you make it.” You are probably your harshest critic. For some reason people tend to dwell on the one mistake than all the other parts you played well. So go out there and have fun with it. Remember it’s music! Rock n’ roll is supposed to be reckless – if you show your love of music in your playing, it will translate into something that people will want to be around.

Last but not least, thank the management or star if they are present for allowing you to audition. In the music business, as in every other business, making nice can translate into making it. And finally, if you play like Hendrix, look like Lenny Kravitz and are trying out for a gig that I want, disregard all of the above and go home immediately. Just kidding!

Good luck getting all those gigs.

Though the “right” guitar can help you – the wrong guitar can kill your chances of getting a gig. If you are trying out for Bonnie Raitt, don’t show up with a Flying V. Although people will tell you differently, a lot of musicians are snobbish when it comes to gear. Though there is no one guitar that rules the earth, you’re always pretty safe with one of the following: Les Paul, Strat or Tele. A PRS also works for a lot of gigs. From a sound and aesthetic perspective, you have to choose the guitar to match the job.

Also, because time is a factor, don’t bring too much stuff. People are not impressed with huge amounts of gear – especially if they take a lot of time to set up. Make sure that you can make noise within two to three minutes. If you are using pedals, make sure they are all ready to go. If your pedals are not in a rack, make sure there aren’t cables flying around everywhere. A messy rig is an indication of someone who is not taking the job seriously.

When it comes to guitars, bring the smallest number that you can get away with. Always bring an acoustic – you never know when a singer will want to hear you without all the effects. You can leave it in your car, in case it’s not needed.

Example: On one of my first auditions, the gig was for a keyboard player who could sing. They had given me the record and there were three or four songs to play at the tryout. After listening, I noticed that there were not that many keyboards prominent on the record but there were tons of layered guitars (electric and acoustic). So, I learned the song on acoustic and brought my guitar to the audition. Not only did I get the gig, I ended up playing guitar on more than half of the songs. The lesson is always listen to the music. An artist might not know exactly what they want until they hear it or see it. If you can, give them options.

Jim McGorman
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