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Arlen Roth on Dealing with a Tough Gig

08.24.2012
Arlen Roth

I know I often write about the “positive” gigs, and the wonderful experiences I love to share with you about them, but there sure can be a lot of negative aspects to gigs that many of you should always be on the lookout for.

A recent show was a perfect example, and I feel that perhaps part of the problem was my fatigue factor, which was definitely kicking in after doing 4 straight nights of gigs during a normally slow time. I was gigging again with my daughter Lexie, and we had several very talented people sitting in. The main problem with this show is that we are playing outside in a Hotel that has very strict sound limitations placed upon it by the neighbors and the town in general. It seems that no “amplified” music can be played at all, but if we wanted a full brass band to be blaring away, that would not be a problem. But if I had my acoustic guitar go through a small acoustic amp, that would get us busted! So, over the din of way too many people talking in the background, I once again had to bang away on my guitar, which totally negated any subtleties I could possibly muster out of my instrumentals.

What happens when you are faced with a problem like this, or any sound issue of this nature is that you become immediately restricted in your playing, which in turn makes you depressed and makes you feel like you’re creatively boxed in. This is the worst thing for a player, and it can happen really quite often; more often than we’d care to even think of!

There are also some of the stranger, little things that can spoil, or at least partially spoil a nice night such as, free food or not? The place we played at last night is renowned for their food, and as part of the pay for the show, we are also given free meals on the house….on any level we choose. That means we can have the best they have to offer, and it also really makes the gig that much more appealing to us! Well, we had a ton of musician friends there last night, and I suppose they must’ve also thought meals and drinks were free for them, so some went ahead and ordered, expecting it to be free…..of course, this just had to happen!! In any event, it all got straightened out, but it nearly cost the job of the poor girl who has been so sweet to extend this courtesy to us, and who booked us there in the first place!

So beware of hidden little dangers such as these that can sometime wreck a gig of yours. You basically never really know where these things can come from, and the egos involved can make it all that much worse. Here’s to carefully planned out gigs that go well!

Gibson.com’s Arlen Roth, affectionately known The King of All Guitar Teachers, is music lesson pioneer and the quintessential guitarist. An accomplished and brilliant musician — and one of the very few who can honestly say he’s done it all — Roth has, over the course of his celebrated 35-year career, played on the world’s grandest stages, accompanied many of the greatest figures in modern music and revolutionized the concept of teaching guitar.

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