For many years, I always was and still am used to the concept of playing with a band. It is a freeing feeling, and of course, when it comes to having a certain kind of “space” for lead playing, you can’t beat it! I have though, many times lately, been doing many more solo acoustic performances, and it’s amazing how easily I adapted to it, and how easy it is to get an audience to really “tune in” to what you’re doing.
One thing I was able to right away determine was that I needn’t always have to keep the bass or rhythm part going, to still keep the “sense” of rhythm going! This was a great and freeing revelation, because I realized that during certain passages, I could even leave the rhythm completely behind, while literally playing lead over the audience clapping in time. This all takes me back, almost in a primeval way, to my origins as a guitar player. This is because when I was developing player, there were many times when it was very hard to find other musicians to play with, so I had to create that “band” complete with all the chord changes in my head! Well, once I was finally put in front of hundreds of people, and had to “speak” with the one instrument, sure, I missed the band I was used to, but the “new” band that was inside my head and in the ears and heads of the audience members, took over! Before I knew it, it was total audience participation, and it only drove me onward to create and use creatively, that new “space” that had been created.
I can’t recommend this enough in terms of also what it can do for your confidence as a player, because in the end, we really are playing alone, and the experience is so connected to our actual solo ways of learning.
There are many performers out there today who are used to band-oriented playing who are phenomenal as solo artists, and must bee seen to be believed. Be sure to check out some of these artists who have had this same band vs. solo revelation, such as Tommy Emmanuel, Phil Keagey, Scotty Anderson and many others, all of whom have made that step, and all who can totally captivate any number of people with their guitar magic! Hope you can do the same someday!