Sometimes, in this difficult economic environment, we see that even major “established” performers who were normally parts of, or who carried bands, have to go it solo! There’s certainly nothing wrong or especially new about this concept; there have been great solo performers forever. Many of these performers went the other route, such as Bob Dylan, who was greatly criticized by some for leaving his solo Folk-style performing for his electric band-oriented performances!
But these days, many folks, even myself included, have enjoyed “branching out” and doing some truly focused and intense solo guitar performances. I know that I love it, and that the thrill of having that pure “control” of oneself as well as the audience, is truly one of the real payoffs of doing a solo show. I find that the audience gets even more into it, as they are forced to really “listen” and pay even closer attention to each and every subtle nuance of what you are delivering. You can suddenly stop, for example, yet the audience will still keep the beat for you, while you can even play some lead guitar over their handclaps! There is just a much better sense of “space” and the art of controlling it with one guitar. This is a very powerful feeling, and it’s important to not feel as if you must fill everything up with notes! Yes, they will be impressed with technical prowess, fast playing and the like, but it’s also the subtle and quiet things they will enjoy too, such as a solo bent note, a harmonic, or even tapping rhythms on the guitar. Take a look at what a guy like Tommy Emmanuel can accomplish in front of a live audience with just one acoustic guitar….he gets the house rockin’, and at the same time can make you cry. This is what I love doing with one guitar in front of a crowd, and there’s nothing like that feeling of “winning” a big crowd over, or having an intimate musical “conversation” with a small crowd in a bar.
I’ve also had the pleasure of literally “stealing” the show as an opening act for a band. The crowd comes in, they don’t know what to expect, and before you know it, they’re enraptured by the fact that just one solitary person is up there, giving it his all, and making a heck of a lot of music come out of one box!
So, even though we love the friendly confines of having a band, and other musicians to “fall back on” in live situations, there can be no feeling like going it alone, and standing up there onstage, and proudly delivering it all in one concise, small package! I hope you give it a try one day; it’s one of the most musically rewarding things anyone can ever do!