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As today is my Burthday. I’ve decided to give myself the best gift of all. My musical freedom. I’m officially firing myself once again as a bandleader. I did this once before & returned to mostly playing drums in bands & doing some fill-in gigs & doing more Solo work. I find a massive need to detach from being a band leader. It’s been brewing for sometime now & these last several years of trying to keep musicians (namely bass players & drummers) busy has been a major pain in my ass.
Due to my regular day job loss of hours forcing me to earn more as a Musician than as a Landscaper, it only makes sense to do more Solo shows. Plus since my old band went to compete in the IBC’s years ago I’ve seen the dichotomy of what I want to achieve in terms of musical SUCK-CESS. What support musicians want is something very different.
Ergo & thus we’re not on the same page.
What I wish to do is to take at least a year off as a bandleader & let some other bandleaders have a chance at “FIRING” me. Either as a drummer or a Guit-boy in a band situation. I intend to still do “features” which are great fun; walkin’ in plugging in & letting it all out & then getting some tips for a job well done. It’s far less stressful than trying to keep a band happy. Also right now as my musical buddy Brian Warren has had a stroke, myself & several other musicians are tryin’ to cover his booked gigs & keep the chair warm for him to return.
The last couple of years I’ve mostly done band gigs by request from various rooms & bookers. I’ve told many of them in advance that I will be taking time away from Band gigs. I hope all my musicians find work in other bands as they (you) are all musically capable of being in a band. I will not give someone a bad report to screw up his or her chances of work. However as this is my FESTIVUS; below is my list of things that have sucked the FUN out of being a bandleader. Consider it my “airing of grievances”. It’s yet another reason why I carry that damn Rubber Chicken everywhere – To remind myself to keep a sense of humor.
1. Being late
2. Dressed inappropriately ( a local sports team hat & different sports team tee-shirt, ripped jeans & sneakers shows you aren’t serious to me & clubs, festivals etc)
3. Not knowing the starts stops & endings of songs - I do send song list templates & MP3s
4. Bogging down the start of a song to show how superior a musician you are by arguing about how my starts & endings are described so both bass & drum understand – ie. Kick - snare; means just start the damn song Mr. Or Missus drummer by going kick snare, don’t count it in or click your damn sticks. I know how the song goes you & bass player should too.
5. Not getting back to me when a gig is offered
6. Last minute notice that you are backing out of a gig due to a snafu
7. Not tipping or not tipping enough at a gig – this reflects poorly on ….yeah……..ME!
8. Getting too drunk or stoned before or during gig – super unprofessional.
9. Constantly asking me what key the song is – after a few gigs you should have most keys memorized.
10. Knowing the idiom – nothing worse than going hey we’re gonna do that Howlin' Wolf song with the tricky ending & you stare at me blankly & go who’s Howlin’ Wolf. I only do several Wolf tunes a night it should narrow it down. If I say Albert King ending you are expected to know & understand & remember that Albert’s’ trademark down from the 2 is the stock ending anytime someone calls for Albert King ending (this might help you at a jam sometime too folks).
11. Complaining about how long the gig is – just because I may have been able to get us out early once or twice if the gig is 9-1 then expect to stay awake until at least 1, sorry if playing music keeps you awake!
12. Refusing to drive because it’s too far – people if ya want to stay busy in the music world expect to travel. If you just want to play to the same 10 town drunks at your local bar 10 minutes from your house then go do that with someone else.
13. Considering my band your retirement fund or your medical/dental plan – That's a Nay -nay. I offer work in a top notch Blues Band. I can teach you & make you a better player & put some good money in your pocket. That’s all I can promise you – I am not a retirement fund!!!!
14. Not helping load equipment. – Simple acts of kindness go a long way. Anyone who’s played with me last couple of years knows how much I’ve been suffering with tendon issues in left hand. You can make excuses about whatever pain you may be in yourself. But the fact is if you can somehow magically schlep your own stuff in, you should be able to at least grab some part of the PA which makes us all money by the way & help get it close to my car or to the stage from my car.
15. Complaining about being paid by a check or the possibility of getting a tax form from me. I’ve had people be militant about both. Ridiculous; if in this day & age you can’t take responsibility for being a “professional”.
16. Having to baby-sit you in anyway, such as picking you up & driving you to a gig myself. Having to only e-mail you on Facespace because you don’t wanna use regular e-mail. Making sure you tip proper. Making sure your volume is fine, you’re not blocking a service area, your cases are stored neatly, your drink is not on stage or is hidden. Lot’s of minutiae that I shouldn’t have to be bothered with…….
There’s probably more but you get the gist. Support players Believe it or not I love each & every one of you. Thank you for the music part of the equation. Everyone was hired because they said they wanted to play. They wanted to play BLUES with Me. Hired! Not always FIRED as legend would have it. That was 3 different people. Fired because of some of the above grievances not for their playing ability.
I personally look forward to being fired by some Blues acts out there. Hire away if ya need a fill-in. I’m not & I can’t stress this enough; looking for a full time band playing for 1979 wages splitting that between 6 or seven musicians. I NEED to make money. But I am willing to help anyone in a pinch if I’m open, I’m there & will do my best to make you sound great! I will not be guilty of above infractions.
Support players if you made it all the way thru this I offer you this bit of advice. You as Bass players or Drummers are support musicians. Your jobs & livelihoods depend on you being able to make singers & band leaders sound good, hence getting more gigs, hence making more money all around. If you find you were guilty of any or maybe even several of the above infractions learn from your mistakes & better yourself in your musical endeavors with bands. You may just thank me. I mean you probably won’t but that’s fine too. It’s not necessary, it does make me happy when I see past musicians go on to some degree of SUCK-CESS with other Musicians.
I wish for you all what I wish for myself – SUCK-CESS whatever it means for you & you & maybe you….not you, but yeah probably you over there with the squinty eyes & sneakers……..
The Angry Garden Gnome
New video on video page courtesy of Gerryjdvideo
IBC - 2017 Music On The Couch Interview w/Vinny Marini
If you'd like to donate to the Arthur James Wafflehouse Fund It'll save me time doing kickstarter & go fund me thangs. Monies collected will be used for Recording a new album & also for touring expenses. Thank-you to all for your support thru the years!
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Review from A.J. Wachtel from the Noise
Me, Myself & I
It’s taken this great New Hampshire guitarist 25 years to do a solo acoustic release without his band, and it’s well worth the wait. Arthur wrote all the songs except for one and his m.o. is to play a ripping guitar intro to set the mood and the groove of the song and it really works well. Check out “Long Black Road” the traditional blues ballad, “Drownin’ On Dryland,” “Forgotten Youth,” the killer slide guitar, “Waiter There’s A Fly In My Soup,” and the closer “Life.” A great guitar riff sets the groove and then James’ incredible guitar playing takes over. I really dig the rock ’n’ roll chug chug feel of “Blues, Blues, Blues” and “Things Ain’t No Better.” Both are powerful. Arthur’s good voice is best heard on “Got Me A Woman,” a traditional blues ballad. His acoustic country guitar finger picking is really cool on the opener “292 Nashua Street,” an uptempo instrumental where James has a lot of fun showing off. An interesting cover of the ’60s public domain folk song “Kumbaya” is present where he changes it from a folk ballad to a country blues gem. You can hear the older influences of Son House, Robert Johnson and John Lee Hooker along with modern influences of Keb Mo and Eric Bibb. Aurthur James music has been called “Nouveau Retro” and I can’t argue with that. Give it a listen. (A.J. Wachtel)