It’s always good to get inspired by recordings and what you may hear on the radio, but nothing can compare to the “live” music experience! This applies to your own performing, as well as going to see other folks playing live. Over the years, I always liked to see live performances, but I find that as time goes by, I only really want to go if I am seeing someone whose work I deeply appreciate, or if it’s a friend/performer who may want to call me up onstage to join them.
As an aid to your development as a player, and to broaden your horizons, I certainly do recommend your going out as often as possible to see other performers and particularly guitarists. The experience simply can’t help but be a good thing, and you’ll always be inspired in one way or another by what you’ll see/hear.
I know that when I was younger and just getting started, I always seemed to absorb what I saw other performers do like a “sponge.” I loved to go and see folks like Chuck Berry, The Who, Procol Harum, The Band, Johnny Winter and many others whom I respected, and was doing this while I was developing my own performing skills. It was always truly inspiring, and I can never forget the deeply imbedded impressions these performers left me with.
One sticky aspect of this kind of situation is when and if you are seeing a performer who may be a “competitor” of yours. This usually tends to happen in rural areas, where there is a chance that there are only a couple of you vying for the work or bragging rights in your town, but as many of us discover, even in big towns, and in such a big business, it can still be a small world when it comes to your competition! I can remember a time in the ‘70s when it always seemed that no matter what gig I was going for, me and this other guitarist were always passing each other through the door that led to the audition or recording session! And that was in New York City, and things were still largely boiled down to almost exclusively he and I when it came to the kinds of music we were wanted for! It’s funny, because it was only once we actually ended up touring together, and had to stand side by side night after night onstage that we really felt the “competition” between us. Funny, because back in the days before that, we were friendly, and always had a laugh about how we always seemed to be running into each other at those auditions!
But regardless of any discomfort that some of these situations can cause you, the benefits still far outweigh the detriments when it comes to seeing live performers and other guitarists. So go out and see and hear as much as you possibly can, and you’ll be further honing your skills without even playing a note of your own. Hope it all inspires and encourages you!