It’s always a dilemma when you are faced with a musical situation that emotionally affects you, and you need to speak out about it. There have been many instances for me where I simply HAD to say something, even if it meant possibly losing the gig. One thing is for sure, you never lose any respect for speaking out, in fact, you will most likely gain respect from your peers for being so up front and outspoken!
I can remember times, even with major acts, where I had simply “had it” with the pressure and the “abuse” that was being doled out that I sometimes went to extreme measures. I have certainly spoken out in situations like that, but also done things I wouldn’t advise, such as slamming guitars down, and one time, even throwing my guitar! (Not advised!) One thing that cannot really be tolerated at all is the situation that can exist when a band seems to be all against you. These inter-personal relationships are critical to making good music happily, and to your overall well-being. It can really be rough when it seems like everyone is against you, and you have to be able to find some kind of advocate to stand up for and with you, or you’ll have to do it on your own! No matter how it happens, you’ll feel much better once it’s over, and as I said, you’ll gain respect as the result of it.
There was one time on the road with John Prine’s band that the entire group decided to gang up on me and tell me they wanted to get rid of me, because I wasn’t “one of them!” So, they decided to do this in the middle of the Idaho desert, a million miles from home, and with me being only 22 years old, and quite new to touring, it had a very devastating effect on me. I was in shock, crying, etc., and it wasn’t until John’s manager, Al Bunetta, who remains a great friend to this day, stood up for me. He made it very clear to the band that the reasons they were against me was because they were jealous of me, and all that I was accomplishing, even outside of the realm of playing on the road with them! I was at that time, spending a lot of my extra time on the bus writing my new book, which I was very proud of. I had a three-book deal with Music Sales at the time, for Slide, Blues and Nashville guitar, and I was rightfully proud to be doing such a cool thing at such a young age. These guys, a lousy band at that, were real losers, in my opinion, and they just couldn’t handle the fact that I rather be working and doing something positive. Instead, they wanted me to be in their world, which consisted mostly of goofing off, getting high, chasing girls and generally not caring too much about the music they were playing.
In the end it all worked out, and it seemed as if that incident was what broke up the band for good, and in fact, Prine has never had another band since! Maybe he learned from that experience too! In any event, stay on top of these situations for yourself, and always be on the watch for adverse situations such as what I went through. You just never know when you’ll simply have to be heard, or when you’ll have to defend yourself to the max! Stay tuned for more ...