We may all be good guitar players, but sitting at home playing in our bedrooms forever just isn’t going to “cut it.” If you have real talent, you really deserve to be heard, and shouldn’t let anything really stand in your way! In my early days, I luckily had the courage and fortitude to match my talent, and was able to really get out and be heard wherever and whenever I could. This is not so easy for some people, and in fact, is never really easy at all! You should always keep in mind that it must first and foremost, be fun, and allow yourself to have this kind of fun, regardless of how scared you may be “inside.”
I can tell you that it’s very important to learn to “channel” whatever nerves you may have in regards to performing and jamming with others into a positive kind of energy that you can put back into your playing. We all need to be on that “higher level” when performing, and sometimes channeling that nervous energy, and tapping into it, is just what the doctor ordered.
Situations where there are endless amounts of loud guitar players can present a real problem for those who want to be heard, and just like in a conversation with many participants, you must find the right time and “voice” within the crowd to be properly set apart and heard! I can recall one amazing time, when we were wrapping up a two-day tribute to Danny Gatton at the Birchmere, a club in Alexandria, Virginia. Onstage was no less than at least a dozen guitarists, including myself, Brent Mason, Vince Gill, John Jorgensen, Ray Flacke, Joe Dalton, Rodney Crowell, Jerry Douglas and Steve Earle! Well, when we were setting up backstage and talking through what we were going to play, I said to Rodney Crowell, “why don’t we have a moment when we bring it down, and make t real quiet, instead of everyone being so loud?” Well, with that, Rodney points to me and says, “I’ll signal that, and it’ll be for you!” So, sure enough, when it came my time to solo during this wild, blasting jam, the entire stage came down to a hush, and every note I played was as if it were 100 times more focused and important that all the other players combined! Rodney had remembered, and it turned out to be a highlight, and a pivotal moment in the entire evening. Eventually, Brent Mason joined in on harmony with me, and we reached a crescendo that drove the whole place nuts!
Well, this is what I mean when I talk about “getting heard.” It was a situation where I didn’t even realize I was going to make that much of a difference, but thanks to Rodney Crowell’s professional focus and understanding it turned into something that got me heard more than I ever expected! Stay on your toes, be professional, and most of all, get out there and make a difference! Being “noticed” will only lead to better and better things!