Always take the gig. Always take the gig. Breathe in deep, now breathe out all the way and repeat. Doesn’t that feel nice? Always take the gig. It's a goddamn mantra repeat and repeat again. Ommmmmmmmmm always take the damn gig.
After being berated as grown men for over-partying, we were of course absolutely defensive and found many ways/excuses to continue our belligerency. Scott said brilliantly," I look at it like this, if I stay home I know exactly what's going to happen, when you go out anything could happen". Spoken like a true networker and connector I wholeheartedly agreed. When you're out on the town, out on the gig, anything can happen. You could fall down drunk on your face or you could meet someone with an opportunity that could change your life or career. Of course this is not carte blanche for excessive partying. In fact It’s just the opposite. What I'm saying is this. You will often have a choice, to take time off or to gig, to watch a show or play a show, to go to a party or entertain the party? These choices can and will shape your career as a musician.
Now lets approach our theme here shall we? Always take the gig. I look at it like this. You can watch somebody else play or you can be the one up there playing. Whether it's a house party, a gig, or a bonfire in the woods, someone is going to be slinging a guitar and jamming. Are you going to be standing around talking or are you going to be jamming.
Since high school I've been jamming parties and bonfires, open mics and street corners, cafes and corner bars every chance I could get. I'm a bit of a nervous person socially and I can never quite seem to understand how people can just stand around and shoot the shit all night at a bar. I want to do something man! I want to jam! I would always have a harmonica or guitar or some spoons ready to jam a party. I've come up with so many hooks and songs during those jams. That's where it happens. If you want to be a creative person, be constantly creative. Let your freak flag shine and jam nonstop. You've got to get this music out. Playing impromptu jams will just better prepare you to feel comfortable performing in front of an audience. Move the crowd. You may not be getting paid for these jams but make no mistake, you are gigging.
Always take the gig. In 1991 it was July 4th weekend and I had plans with a bunch of peeps from school to go to the River Blues Fest in Philly. We were all excited to see the greats like James Cotton and Junior Wells perform. At the last moment a small cafe in Delaware, The Crossroads Cafe, called me. They had had a cancellation and there was an opening for me to play. I think the gig paid 25 bucks but at that time I only had about a gig or two a month. I remember talking to my friend Johnny V and deliberating on whether or not to go watch the Blues Fest in Philly or take this cafe gig in Delaware. After much prolonged thought and consideration, Johnny V said famously, "Gar, always take the gig."
Well, I took that gig and I've lived by that mantra ever since. For better or for worse, always taking the gig has kept me on the road and pretty much attached to my guitar for the past 20 years. Much to the bereavement of my manager I tend to always take the gig even when I'm supposed to be taking a vacation. Yeah, I do some secret shows here and there when I'm off because I love playing, I love the crowd and it's my life. Being onstage with my guitar is my life. That's what I'm good at.
As you get your career together, remember that the people that make it big in the music business are often the people with the most drive. You have to constantly be spreading the word and sound of your music. You have to gig nonstop everywhere you can. In this way you can continue to spark real grassroots interest that will sustain your career. I always hear stories about Bruce Springsteen showing up at little venues and street corners, borrowing someone's guitar and jamming tunes. Bruce is always taking the gig. Always bringing his music to the peoples. I like those stories because it makes me see him as a musician who, despite massive success and millions and millions of dollars, stays connected to his music. He's a musician that's all. He's a musician that's taking the gig.
So don't get lazy, don't make excuses, put your music first every time. After all, one gig leads to the next and you never know who may be watching or what kind of oppurtunities will present themselves when you always take the gig.
Keep jamming and stay down and dirty.
Thanks, your friend,
G. Love, aka Garrett Dutton, has been the front man and founder of the alternative hip-hop blues group G. Love & Special Sauce since their inception in 1993. Widely known for his upbeat hits "Cold Beverage," "Baby's Got Sauce" and "Hot Cookin'," G. Love returned to his blues and country roots on his latest release, Fixin' To Die (Amazon, iTunes), produced by Scott and Seth Avett. A road dog if one ever existed, G. Love performs roughly 125 shows a year all over the world including Australia, Japan, Brazil, UK, Canada and the U.S. G. Love teamed up with Gretsch to create his own signature model, the Gretsch G. Love Signature Electromatic Corvette, which features a pair of TV Jones® Power'Tron™ pickups, deluxe mini-precision tuners and a cool Phili-green color scheme with competition stripe that would make ANYONE from Philadelphia proud! Check it out here.