As guitarists, we all know that one of the most amazing things about our instrument of choice is how much can be accomplished with it in the hands of just one person. Yes, it’s always wonderful to play with a band, and to be an “ensemble” player, and yes it’s great to be able to take the occasional “leads, solos and fills” in those situations, but there’s nothing like being able to make complete music by yourself!
Tonight I have such a gig myself, where I am going to be counted on to be the entire entertainment with just me and my guitar to do the work. There is a certain kind of relaxed feeling I get when I think of doing a gig like this, because the variables are so much less than when you involve an entire band, and the things that can go wrong are also much fewer. Not only this, but also when it comes to “mistakes” and things of that nature, the only one you can blame is you, and playing alone enables you so much more freedom when it comes to working your way out of situations that may be musically hazardous!
The “space” one can work with when playing solo guitar is also an amazing revelation, because there are times you can literally stop in the middle of playing, or you can just play lead and not worry about rhythm or bass parts, and the audience will essentially “fill in the blanks” in terms of acting like they are accompanying you. This has happened to me many times, and it’s so exciting when you can get this kind of interactive reaction and participation from an audience. It’s like the old expression where they’re “eating right out of your hands,” because it’s so good when you know they are literally hanging on every note! Now I certainly “hope” this happens for me tonight, but I think it’s going to be more of a semi “background music” kind of thing, in a loud bar, where folks may be more interested in talking to each other than hearing who’s playing, but you never know………..
Usually in situations like this where you feel as if you are really just another form of “background” music, there can be at least one song or one moment at least in your show where you can really catch people’s attention, and make them quiet down and really listen! I have used many techniques to make this kind of thing happen, even in big arenas, as it can be terribly frustrating for the artist to not be paid attention to, regardless of the size of the gig or venue.
So wish me luck tonight, and hope that folks will actually listen to the music I’ll be playing, and I’ll be pulling for you, whenever you have to deal with the kinds of gigs where you must “do it all” on the guitar! Happy gigging!