“Sitting in”, or doing a spontaneous kind of “jam” with someone else is a true art form, ad can really be used as a great learning tool. It can also make a real difference in terms of you being heard at “the right time and the right place” as far as getting more work is concerned, and as far as helping to spread your (hopefully good!) reputation! I know that for many, many years I used this kind of situation to my great advantage, especially when I was young and so needed to be heard, and so needed to spread the word about my playing abilities.
When I first started becoming a part of the Woodstock “scene” there was so much live music going on, with so many famous players. It seemed that on almost any given night, I could find myself sitting in with greats such as Paul Butterfield, Rick Danko, Happy and Artie Traum, Levon Helm and so many more. It simply behooved me to be there and make myself be seen and heard as much as possible! It always seemed to pay off, as there were many phone calls I got for live gigs, tours and of course, recording sessions all as a direct result of these appearances.
I have also found that now that I am a respected performer, and someone who a lot of people know, it has also become a wonderful time to “sit in” and help some of my friends, whether they be well-known or not with their shows, too! Also, thanks to social media such as YouTube and other entities these days, you can make one gig turn into thousands, as people get to watch it, and even comment on it. It’s a great new way to essentially “have a hit”, and it enables you to reach countless people. Let’s face it, there have been thousands of relative “unknowns” who have “made it” on YouTube, right from their living rooms!
This week, I’ll be doing two “sit in” kinds of gigs; one with my dear friend and fellow slide player Sonny Landreth, and another with a great bunch of old Woodstock cronies for a tribute to the late great Levon Helm and Rick Danko. The latter will be a slightly more rehearsed and polished situation, since an entire huge band will be involved, but both will be of equal importance and weight, to say the least! The bottom line is what a joy it is to be asked to play at these kinds of events, especially when I can think back to the times when I used to stand there, at the side of the stage, just wishing I’d be asked to join in!
So as far as you are concerned, please be sure to “sit in” wherever and whenever you can. It’ll teach you so much, and as long as you use restraint and don’t try to overpower the situation, you’ll find that it’ll always turn into something better for you later on in your career!!! Break a leg!