One of our artists, a wonderful entertainer, called me a while back and proceeded to ask me: “Hey G, is it okay if I don’t do PR?” I almost said yes, but I said: “Hell no, why would you ask me that?” This got me...
One of our artists, a wonderful entertainer, called me a while back and proceeded to ask me: “Hey G, is it okay if I don’t do PR?” I almost said yes, but I said: “Hell no, why would you ask me that?” This got me to thinking why any musician would ask such a question. Well… because the term ‘PR’ sucks.
So what is “PR” anyway?
It sounds like such a chore. So mechanical. A “PR Manager”… what is that exactly? When we were performing in the Philippines there was a stunningly beautiful American Filipina girl doing PR with a nametag that said “PR Manager”.
As soon as she spoke to you, you felt that she was smiling with you and buying you a drink because, well, she was the PR Manager and that was what she was supposed to do in the first place. People felt she was being insincere because of the title, eventually the managers got it and removed the dumb nametag.
Meeting old friends and making some new ones at The Gig
What do people want from you?
The artist’s question kept on nagging me so I called a meeting with a bunch of our bands and asked: “Please tell me what happens when you approach customers to do PR? What do people want from you? What do they actually say?”.
One musician said: “Well, usually they say “Hey, you guys are great, I love your band”. A female singer said: “They tell me I’m beautiful and they love my voice”. Another said: “They ask me if I want a drink and some of them welcome us to their country and hope that we enjoy their culture”. Suddenly, everyone looked at each other and felt almost arrogant and realized how blessed we truly are as artists.
This music thing cannot happen without people!
The fact is that as musicians/artists we are blessed, but this music thing cannot happen without people. It is 100% a people business. The product (band) is people. The customers are people. You make music with people and you play for people. Without people, you have no job.
The next time you walk on stage, remember when you were in the audience watching your favorite band and how you looked at them in awe and with respect. We all have had this moment as musicians, as people… Don’t forget to look at your audience straight in the eyes and say: “Ladies and gentlemen, you could have been anywhere tonight but you chose to spend your precious time with us. Thank you for being here. We truly appreciate it and we’ll give you our best show and make your time worthwhile”. Say it with all your heart.
As soon as the show is done go into the audience even before you dry yourself off and give them the biggest smile. Meet them as human beings with lives and families. Don’t shake hands robotically. People know when someone is just going through the motions. We owe them that much because we are them. It’s not PR, it’s music and humanity at its best.
Thank you for reading. It’s good to be el-live.
Aja marked Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s startling arrival at the junction of jazz, rock and pop. The album was a seamless...
Aja – Steely Dan – 1977
Aja marked Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s startling arrival at the junction of jazz, rock and pop. The album was a seamless blend of all that was “cool” delivered with amazing ease, despite the complexity and sophistication of the arrangements. Steely Dan hadn’t really been a “band” since Pretzel Logic in 1974, and this record saw the duo launch fully into session mode, gathering a hand picked collection of world class musicians and singers.
The song “Aja”, stands as a hallmark of genius on several levels. The brilliant lyric and melody, beautifully textured harmonies, amazing arrangement…………Steve Gadd’s reported first take performance is breathtaking!!! Finally, Wayne Shorter’s solo propels the entire track skyward. This………….was 7 minutes and 57 seconds of perfection, and changed the way I listened to music.
A House Is Not A Home – Luther Vandross – 1981
“A House Is Not A Home” was the product of the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Written in 1964 and a modest hit for Dionne Warwick (also released by Brook Benton at that time), this song blossomed into a timeless masterpiece in the hands of Luther Ronzoni Vandross and Nat Adderly Jr. The arrangement by Adderly was brilliant, measured and restrained, leaving room for Luther’s magnificent delivery of possibly the best vocal performance of 1981. I spent many a night moving the needle back to the top of this cut repeatedly, always getting that little extra detail missing on previous listenings. A great song in the hands of a genius. We were blessed to have this.
Shock The Monkey – Peter Gabriel – 1982
Peter Gabriel was around for years, as the co-founder and front man of the group, Genesis, from 1967 to 1975. His flamboyant use of costumes and lighting, along with his storytelling during their shows, made Gabriel a standout performer of the period. His third solo album is credited as the first record to use the famous “gated drum” sound which was used extensively in the 1980’s. “Shock The Monkey”, the first single from his 4th album “Security”, was his first US Top 40 hit and was a radical departure sonically from everything else on the charts at the time. Stark and angular, featuring world beat percussion and unusual instrumentation, the song, and album, opened the door to a whole new world of creative sampling and sound-shaping. A breathtaking first listen, which quickly became an addiction.
Having been a professional musician for the last 27 years, I’ve been put in many different musical situations and asked to play many...
Having been a professional musician for the last 27 years, I’ve been put in many different musical situations and asked to play many different styles of music. Inevitably, the style of music always dictates what I end up playing. We’re talking about comping here, not soloing. On my gig that’s basically 80% of your night.
As a guitar player, most times I’ll take the path of least resistance; Blues I’ll shuffle, Reggae I’ll skank, rock I’ll power chord, ect… This is where chord voicings, double stops and knowing your intervals/harmony really influence how you sound and fit into the rhythm section.
It can be much more challenging playing today’s top 40 hits where many times there are no guitar parts at all on the track. When in this situation, I’ll draw from my little trick bag of licks that I’ve amassed over the years to come up with a guitar part or I’ll just lay out all together (not play at all).
Just laying out sometimes can be a very effective approach. I’ve seen many musicians struggle with this concept, feeling they always need to be playing, strumming, stepping on a pedal or noodling in one way or another. It’s like getting on an elevator these days. Two strangers on the same elevator often take out their phone and start noodling, trying to hide from that awkward silence.
So I might lay out in verse one. In verse two, maybe I’ll enter and play a muted funky lick to create some interest. In the pre chorus maybe I’ll add some double stops and then only open up in the chorus. Of course this depends on the song. Record the band and listen back. Are you playing a part? Does it bring interest to the listener? Does it clash with anyone else’s part? And lastly, does it feel good? Does your drummer ever look up and smile or your bass player giving you an approving nod when you’re comping?
Make them smile and next time on an elevator leave your phone in your pocket, unless of course it’s your drummer calling to say how good it felt onstage last night.