Many of us, myself included, have had to deal with certain musical situations we have found ourselves in that are, shall we say, less that interesting. This occurred for many years, and many times in my life, especially in my formative years, when I really had to often take whatever gig came around! Being from New York, which was never a great guitar town, and having grown up listening to a lot of music that was created in other places than New York, I was often an isolated Country and Blues guitarist who was busy forging my own way, and developing my own sound, regardless of the kind of music that was around me. Don’t get me wrong…I mean, I “heard” everything, and it all came together to make me who I am as a guitarist, but the music I was often forced to play for a living was not exactly what I had in mind! Still, it was my personal approach to this music that helped me become even more of an individual, since I had to make it interesting to ME, first and foremost, basically just to stay sane!
Sometimes it’s just the situation, and the musical personalities that play into the equation, too. I can recall a concert I did as lead guitarist with John Prine at Lincoln Center, normally a very “big deal” gig, where the reviewer from the NY Times said “Roth looked bored” up onstage, and he was right! I was, at that point of the tour, overdosed on the music, but especially sick and tired of playing with the awful band that had been assembled by Prine’s people for this tour, where nobody in the group really wanted to play his kind of Folk/Country except ME! So that was an example of me hating the music I was playing, even though it was SUPPOSED to be the kind of gig I should have really embraced! By that time, nearly the end of the long, arduous tour, I had really “had it” with the mishandling of Prine’s music, and also with the awful players involved.
There was this one very dark period in between my early Woodstock days and my hardcore touring/recording days, in the early ‘70s, where I ironically learned an awful lot from playing mediocre music with mediocre musicians. This is not what we should all be looking for, but let’s just say it’s the ultimate “making lemonade out of lemons” scenario. In the end, this is what we all must do, and we must be sure to take away some good, some growth, some new ideas from all these different situations, because after all, that’s really all that music is; a journey from one new artistic situation to the next, in a forward flow. It all adds up in the end to making you just who you are, which should also be a constant evolving musical entity!