I can recall from my early days as a player developing a balance of sorts, between getting any gig I could, and making sure I got the gigs I wanted! This is a fine line, and certainly when you are first starting out, you must be sure to not come off as someone who is necessarily “playing hard to get!” Of course, a healthy amount of seeming “special” and a bit hard to get is okay, because after all, we always want what’s a little harder to attain, but still we must be careful. That “balance” between the need we feel to get those gigs and the need to seem a bit “hard to get” is hard to achieve, but it’s a well-honed skill.
I know that when I started out, I certainly wanted any chance I could to play, to be heard, to record or whatever it took, but very soon I developed a way of looking at the whole landscape with a finer eye and ear, and became a bit more selective about which gigs I did and did not say “yes” to! I’d say that in the current economic conditions, you must be sure to do as many gigs as possible, almost regardless of their quality, or lack thereof. The reason for this is the one I used way back when I began; no matter how bad the gig may be, you’ll never know who may be listening. Not only that, the lack of quality of the other players may even make you “shine” more, especially if you make the most of the music, as distasteful though you may find it!
I remember one very dark musical period for me, soon after I had first moved to Woodstock in 1971. The band I moved there to help form, quickly disbanded, and after less than a year, I had to join an average “cover” band that was doing gigs in bungalow colonies, next to swimming pools, and on handball courts, for something like $10 per day for me, 6 days a week! I hated playing a lot of the music they did, but I still was so far beyond that music that I truly shined and made a reputation for myself as a great player even with a lousy band lie that. Not only that, and even more importantly, this enabled me to play 2 or 3 of my original tunes each show with this band. This helped even spread my reputation farther, and of course, it built up a lot of respect from the listening audience. It made them see me also as a creator of my own original music. It sort of made me a “hometown favorite” with these people. Therefore, even though I had tasted the “real thing” while living in Woodstock when I was only 18, these gigs helped win me new fans, and most of all, helped me hone my performing and playing skills!
So be selective, but be sure to choose the right gigs for yourself, and sometimes take whatever gig you can…you just never know where it may lead you!