Had the pleasure of doing a wonderful solo concert in upstate NY two nights ago, and it was a really rewarding and incredible experience. There were so many fans there, and many who wanted to stay after and talk and get autographs. A good number of folks there tune in to my Gibson lessons online, and of course, many knew of me through my albums and other exploits!
The show was unusual in the sense that I started it up with an all-acoustic solo set, took a break and then had an all-electric set with my friend John Previti joining me on bass. John is an incredible musician who I first met when he played with Danny Gatton, and when he then played on the cut “Tequila” that Danny and I did on my Toolin’Around cd. We also then played on Conan O’Brien together in 1994 when we played that same song….the clip of that is on YouTube, if you’d like to check it out!
I was afraid that the first set, the all-acoustic one went so well, that the second all-electric set would be a letdown. Well, this time, I was certainly proven wrong, as the electric set was incredibly successful. This was mainly due to the addition of John on bass, and the fact that the audience loved the interaction we had. The best part of that was that the interaction was so spontaneous we even surprised ourselves! I gave John lots of solos, and he did a great job with all of them, and of course, it sure challenged my sense of time, as I had to keep some really good time, occasionally throwing in a “jab” or two here and there, as he was taking his wonderful solos.
I guess what I took away most from this experience is just how important for me and the audience it is to have a good variety to the show. After all, we’d all like to show our best sides when we play, and sometimes we just happen to be multi-faceted, as I am. Even given all that, I still wasn’t able to show my true lead guitar side, as I didn’t have a full-band setup to work over. I sure missed my drummer and second guitarist, but what I learned by playing solo and with my bass player alone was something I’d never want to replace for anything!
So, I certainly would recommend for you to try this approach to live playing as much as possible in a solo or smaller group context. It’s so great to not have to rely on other players all the time, and it gives you an amazing new-found freedom when it comes to the sheer “space” you have to work with, both rhythmically and sonically. It’s also so wonderful to interact with another excellent musician such as I had the opportunity to do, and that’s a great way to rely on the compatibility of another great musician!