Tonight I definitely have what you would categorize as a “big gig”, as I’m playing at the Iridium in NYC (the famous “Les Paul” club) with my own band. I have normally played there with Lou Pallo and the Les Paul Trio, which has more of a vibe of “sitting in”, as opposed to this night, in which the whole show is mine. Sometimes one can get pretty uptight before a gig such as this, and I know that many folks are coming, some from very far distances, even Canada, to see me play! It’s very exciting to realize that certain members of some audiences can be such dedicated followers. The club itself will even be making cds of tonight’s show and selling them at the end of the night, so it is even considered a recording “event”!
One can definitely “over-prepare” for a show like this, but when you think about it, you just can’t be prepared enough. The only problem is obsessing so much over the details and worrying too much to the point of it over-stressing you, and making the performance become actually secondary to you! This is something you never want to happen…the music always comes first, and you’d much rather have THAT over-prepared than anything else. I only needed one “refresher” rehearsal with the band for this gig, but I still feel the need to discuss backstage some of the details of the music, and to “talk through” the songs so we at least know we’re “on the same page” once we hit the stage. Keep in mind of course, that I am working with a group of truly seasoned and experienced professional players who will always “be there” should there be a bit of a musical “train wreck” during one of the songs! Heck, my drummer, the great Shannon Ford, told me at the rehearsal that if I suddenly wanted to change my groove and tempo in the middle of one of my songs, that “he’d be right there for me” if I suddenly wanted to spontaneously make that kind of change! That is truly reassuring to me, as I want to feel total freedom, and have no worries while I’m up there performing!
You’ll see in your own career, that there is nothing quite like having the backup of, or band mates like this, where the combination of their professionalism and past experience blends with the mutual experiences you have enjoyed together. This “joint effort” of all the players really makes playing live, as well as recording, such a rewarding experience, and that’s also why I love to record with the same band I play live with, whenever possible.
So through all your experiences and all your development I hope you can eventually achieve this kind of wonderful communication and “balance” among yourself and your fellow players. It truly is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding parts of being a true musician!