Why I will take the time to set up my whole rig from now on


Most people who know me or have seen me play know that I have a pretty complicated set up. Especially considering most bass players are trying to carry the bare minimum for amplification. Effects, synth bass and looping are generally reserved for higher paying situations where someone else is doing the setting up. Local club and church situations are lucky to get an amplifier. But I have a different way of seeing things.
I recently did a church service at a local Seventh Day Adventist church. It was a very easy service with music that was not too challenging and didn’t require more than a bass running naked through an amplifier. Since this was the case, I decided to set up just that. The laptop would get to take a break for this one. I was unlikely to start creating loops and improvising over them in this service.
Part way through the service, the keyboard player turned to me and points out that there is supposed to be a saxophonist to play Oh Come On Come Emanuel (this was a Christmas Sabbath service). Well, the he was nowhere to be found so I was asked (told) me to play the melody. I had never played the song before, let alone the melody. But I have been blessed to have a pretty decent ear so I figured it out and I think it turned out cool. The congregation didn’t cringe or anything negative. But I can’t help but think that I could have made it better had I set up my full rig. I could have added some delay and/or flange effects on my bass sound. Or maybe I could have stacked a lead synth sound on top of my bass sound. Or maybe I could have done swells with my expression pedal. None of these things were available to me at the time because my laptop was chillin in the corner in my book bag probably mocking me the whole time. Don’t get me wrong, I am a capable bass player. I can make an old Squire bass with 20 year old strings running through a Gorilla amp sound hot. But I choose to play some of the best equipment available because it makes my job easier. It allowed me to hear different things and explore new textures and timbres. I don’t need to be able to run effects, play backing tracks, trigger drum loops and play a harmonica solo on most of my gigs. But there is that situation where any one of these things would make a huge difference and add value to what I do. It’s called being prepared to give your best. If I do just one of these things and makes a situation better, who do you think will get called the next time, me or the bass player who just brings an amplifier to run their bass?

We as musicians must realize that everyone can play. There are many people that play circles around me. How are you going to make yourself more valuable to a particular situation? How will you stand out? That is why I will drag my whole rig to every gig from now on.

Money, Emotions and your worth as a musician

Money

I have done a bit of reading about finances and how to make money work for you. I am a huge Robert Kiyosaki fan. Probably the biggest thing that I have learned about money in my reading is that money is really an idea. It has little value in and of itself. It is created by people with the cunning to convince people to trade their most precious resource, their time, for something that is not worth the paper it is printed on. Even the value of money is easily manipulated by emotion. I constantly hear on the news how the markets lost value because people got scared. That may be a slight oversimplification. But it is the truth nonetheless.

You may ask what this has to do with music. Well I think it has everything to do with music. This bit of knowledge can give you some power. Especially if you are trying to get more work as a musician. The reason Pop records sell more than Jazz records is because Pop appeals to base emotions and feelings. Primarily lust and a desire to have a good time. This is not to say that Jazz doesn’t elicit emotion. I find few forms of music as expressive as Jazz. But with Jazz, you have to go through too many layers of thought to get to the emotions. And most people are not trying to experience the emotions that the Jazz artist may be expressing while trying to get drunk and find a date.

I also see this in the hiring of musicians. The days of hiring the best player are long past. Not just on the big shows. But the local club gig is the same way. If you can get an emotional connection with the owner of the club, then you can probably get the gig. You can even get a band fired and your band hired. If the artist gets goose bumps because of the way you hold your instrument, you can probably keep the gig as long as you want it. If the audience likes the way you play that one note, as simple as it may be, you will get the standing ovation. I have even seen churches want to hire someone who never learned any of the music, but the musician made them feel a certain way when he played.

I say all of this to say the if you can tap into peoples emotions as you play, then you can make yourself more valuable as a musician. More people will want to hire you. More audiences will want to see (not necessarily hear) you play. There are a number of factors that go into this. One of the biggest being your appearance. You have to look the part if you want people to connect with you. You also have to look engaged. Nobody wants to pay the band any attention if you as a performer look like you want to get home because Scandal is on.  Your stage presence is very key in this. But I will discuss this more in a later post.

 

B Easy