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Going through gig withdrawal

Ugh. I just checked out my gig calendar and realized I haven’t played a gig since June 12 and won’t play another until August 14. That’s more than two months without playing.  This ‘Gigging Bass Player’ is NOT gigging right now. Not cool.

Lucky for me, I don’t depend on gigs to make a living. The extra cash is nice, but isn’t enough to make a huge impact on my lifestyle.

Having said that, not gigging for this long certainly has other impacts. My callouses go soft. My chops get a little dull. And I start to lose my mind . . . just a little bit.

Playing live is such a release. It does wonders for my mental health. For bass players like me, who live an otherwise normal lifestyle (e.g. day job, family, etc.), performing is like therapy. No matter what life throws at you, you can forget about everything at the gig and just lose yourself in musical and bass nirvana.

So what is a bass-playin’ dude to do when going through this kind of dry spell? How do I keep my hands loose, chops sharp and sanity intact?

I’ve been giving this some thought over the last day or so and come up with the following list of things to do while waiting for the next gig to roll around.

How NOT to Lose Your Mind Because You Haven’t Played a Gig in Two Months:

Noodle: Yes, noodle, in verb form. Or doodle if you prefer. Noodling refers to what you do when you casually pick up your bass and mess around while doing something else, like watching TV or surfing the web. When I’m gigging regularly, I get my fill of playing and don’t really have any desire to noodle around just for the hell of it. My bass tends to spend most of its time inside the case, only seeing the light of day at gig time. But noodling, while not a very rigorous form of practice, is still helpful in keeping your chops up.

Study: Sometimes I forget how much my playing style was developed based on what I picked up by studying my favourite bass players back in my wood-shed days. It never hurts to go back to the well of inspiration and have a listen to some of the material that provided me with my earliest bass influences. My recent playlist includes old masterpieces such as: Appetite for Destruction (Guns ‘n Roses), Moving Pictures (Rush), Master of Puppets (Metallica) and Operation: Mindcrime (Queensryche).

Practice: Yes, sometimes an intentional practice session is just what the doctor ordered in terms of keeping those four-string skills polished and honed to a fine point. While I’ve never been very disciplined when it comes to structured practice (I’m more of a noodler — see above), I do find there is some advantage to sitting down and working through some area of my playing that’s not entirely up-to-snuff. For example, I alternate between playing with a pick and playing with my fingers. While fairly proficient with both, my finger-playing stamina is not quite what it should be, especially when speed is involved. So my structured practice sessions will focus on various exercises to improve that aspect of my playing.

Forget: Forget what? How about forgetting that you’re a bass player, that you’re in a band and that you’re a performing musician. Sound ridiculous? Maybe. But sometimes just forgetting about it for awhile is what you need to feel fresh and committed once you’re back into a regular playing schedule. As much as I love playing, sometimes it becomes a bit of a grind. When gigs become a little tedious, it’s easy to forget how important music and the bass is to you. A little break can do wonders. And sometimes it doesn’t hurt to remember that there are other things in your life worth spending time on . . .

Family

3 thoughts on “Going through gig withdrawal

  1. ahhhhh … the ol coulda done 7 gigs itch … been there many times … noodling !!!!! my most prefered discovery tool … but hardly scratches the itch … brings a lot of new direction but not confined enough … if ya know what i mean …. a long way out of the pocket … but a very valuable thing .. for me this is a regular thing … gigging or not … the study part usually comes when the noodle hits the plate … the inertia is gone and needs manipulation from exterior forces to move any farther … and of course leads to more noodling!!!… time off is an opportunity for me and the boys …. new tunes … maybe a few in a lil different genre … maybe a few that we always wanted to do …. anything to put a lil more zest and challenge back into the band … its pretty easy to get complacent with whats going on ect but time off also gives ya time to think … not always easy to manage a band, work full time to feed the family, and having said that … there is the family of course … doesnt leave a lot of time to think .. think bout new venues and maybe research a few online … or think about a new idea for the band … or think bout how u are gonna afford a new boat or buddies selling a hot rod that u always wanted … or whatever … but the fix …. we cant forget that … how do u get the fix … well? ahhh …. hmmmm … .. … (long pause) …. what has been working for me lately is a video by joe cocker i came across on u tube…. from mad dogs and englishmen tour i think … with a little help from my friends … the man is seriously into his music … i feel the vibe from this video … there is a spot when they are showing a few people who appear to be really into it … mesmerised by the experience … (or maybe the acid? … lol) the dynamics , the whole presentation of the performance … the honesty of the captured moment… the fact that so many people can fit in one pocket and create an experience in front of so many fans!!!! … not as good as the real thing but still a pretty good escape….as a matter of fact … i think im gonna watch it right now

  2. I here ‘ya, James. I love watching concert DVD’s as well. But they don’t usually help relieve the itch . . . just makes me itchier!

  3. ya i hear ya … kinda like sniffin the neighbors dinner …. hmmm … wait a minute here …. watching a video wont get ya a black eye … lmao

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