A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working my first theatrical production for the Renaissance Theatre in Lynchburg, Virginia. The gig was: Always, Patsy Cline.
Now before you think that playing this music was a learning experience let me tell you that I have been listening to all sorts of ‘Country’ music since I was a child. I really felt at home playing the music and the folks on the stand with me played so well that I was really comfortable.
No, these were not professional musicians with years of performance experience. Frankly, these guys probably had the least experience either with this music or performing in general compared to other player with whom I have worked.
The drummer had not played in years and acquired a set of drums just for this gig. The bassist was just getting back into playing after quite a number of years off. The ‘Rhythm’ guitarist was a student and had probably just played a couple of times in church.
These guys were preparing for what ended up being a six week, three nights per week engagement. This was after a number of weeks of rehearsal. We were not playing in between scenes; we were in the scenes and sometimes the focus of the program. I even had a line myself: ‘How ‘bout a Texas song?’
Wow! I pulled it off beautifully every night.
Sometimes my timing wasn’t so great though. I probably had a case of the nerves.
Anyway, these guys did such a wonderful job and with such little experience up to that point that I wanted to mention that one never knows who will do the best work. It is important no matter how far along you are in your career as a musician, to take the time to find out if someone can do the job. A dedicated, moderately talented person will usually outshine the ‘I am so good I do not need to practice’ type. Just like the hare in the ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ story.
Remember to include yourself when you are considering who is capable of doing a gig. I have given away gigs before that I did not think I was ready to do and I really kicked myself about it later.