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My ilk

Being a musician is currently a hobby of mine. For close to 20 years I've been playing both synth and guitar (synth being first.) However given the choice I prefer to play guitar with a band, because the instrument is more physical and moreover more convenient, because I hate taking my synths anywhere. They are by nature fragile things and cost a lot of money.

Recently I posted an ad on craigslist because heck, I wanted to at least try to swing back into the music scene. This time around I posted an ad (PDF) that I had no idea would work or not. Why? Because it was very specific. See the ad for yourself to see what I mean.

Quick question answered: The entire reason I don't have an amp is because when I used to own one, all it did was sit and collect dust. Screw that. I got rid of it. However if it should come to be that I need one, it would only be if I got some actual use out of it. After all, amps aren't cheap. Good ones, that is. You can easily blow thru $800 on a proper setup.

Before I get into what happened, here's the deal with me and other musicians:

It is rare, and I mean rare, when I come across anybody that can actually jam. I've met lots of soloists, prodigies, etc. - but very few that can belt out a jam. A jam works when you get a bunch of guys together, one of them says, "Blues refrain A, go!", the count-off happens and then you just go. Play. No fear involved. No jittery b.s.

I cannot tell you the amount of times the people I've met who said they could do that but cower in absolute fear when it comes to something as simple as a jam. Jamming is the foundation of seeing if a group of musicians works or not. If you can't jam, you can't play, period. I don't care how technically inclined you are musically. The inability to jam means you can't write a song with other people.

Jamming is not mashing power chords either. Those who can do it right know how to phrase and groove as well. This would take me a while to explain, so either you know what it is or you don't.

Yesterday I had a phone conversation with a guy who responded to my ad that, just maybe, has a group of people that know how to jam (himself included). Songwriting and anything after that for me I consider a bonus.

I haven't played with truly good jammers since.. geez.. gotta be 10 years now.

While speaking on the phone with this guy I sounded like a giddy schoolgirl because the dude actually knew what I was talking about in pro-music circles. That basically happens.. never. 🙂 So it was cool to at least talk to a guy that fully understands the difference between players and true musicians. I blabbed away, got excited, and I'm pretty sure he thought I was some loudmouth weirdo but like I said, it's rare when I can speak with anybody on that level.

Assuming the guy didn't think I was a total basket case, hopefully I'll get a callback later in the week to schedule a meet.

A few other general notes:

I've been asked more than a few times why I'm not out performing now. People see my videos, tell me outright I should be out there doing my thing, and wonder why I'm not doing it.

The answer to that question, it's really difficult for me to find anybody I click with musically. This is reflected in the ad I have linked above, but I'll list off what I usually experience.

1. Shock/Intimidation

I sit down, start strumming a few riffs and say, "Okay, let's go." The reaction I get, sometimes spoken to me literally, is "Dude you are way above my level."

I get irritated at this response because in all honesty there are plenty of guitar players out there who can destroy me musically. All I want to do is get a riff going, groove it out and play it. This is basic 101 stuff here. You know, tick-tock-tock-tock (4/4 time) count-off and go?

The truly awkward moment happens when I get stared at like I'm some sort of musical genius or something. No, no, no.. don't do that. I am no better than anybody. Pick up what I'm doing and add to it. Play along. Jam. When the stare happens I know I'm in trouble..

2. Pitching

I wrote about this a long time ago. Those who can't play pitch. To pitch means to b.s. for lack of any real playing ability. I can spot a pitch a mile away. Fortunately the guy I spoke with on the phone did not pitch. So kudos to him for that.

3. Barking

I have - and I kid you not - have had people (mostly lead singers) stop the song, point their finger at me and say, "DUDE. YOU SOUND LIKE CRAP. WHY AREN'T YOU [insert inane loud crapola here]" Bark bark bark bark bark. I hear nothing but Dino from the Flintstones when this happens.

I don't bark at other musicians because I know how crappy it is to do. But if you ever wanted a surefire way of getting me to leave and never coming back, that's how to do it.

4. Ditching

This usually comes right after pitching. A bunch of empty promises are made, then the whoever-it-is drops off the face of the planet. He will cease contact with you immediately, duck your calls, never answer your emails or texts and avoid you completely. And you will never know why he did it.

The last time I was ditched, a guy said he wanted to work on some tracks with me with the intention of meeting in person. So I did two songs. That was my mistake. As soon as he got his material he vanished because he just got some sucker (me) to do his work for him, for free. Lesson learned.

So.. assuming none of the above will happen, maybe something good will come of the contact I had recently. Or not. I have no idea. I've been burned so many times that it's difficult to get excited about the prospect of meeting quality musicians anymore.

At present I'm keeping the faith, as they say. 🙂


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