Guitar Techniques - - Talkback -

When­ever I’m asked to per­form at an ‘open mic’ night for free, I ask the ques­tion, “Are the bar staff get­ting paid?” Of course they are – they are not stupid; only mu­si­cians ar­rive at their lo­cal pub with £1000s of gear and then per­form for free.

If you are any good then you should be paid – if you are not then you shouldn’t be per­form­ing in pub­lic. Sim­ples! Will Hal­li­gan, South­port

Oh Will, that’s a very loaded ar­gu­ment. Hav­ing done 1000s of paid gigs my­self, and quite a few free ones - “There’s no money I’m afraid, but the pub­lic­ity will be good for you and you might get other work from it” is the usual old chest­nut – I know where I SHOULD sit. The thing is there’s a fence prop­ping me up and I can see over both sides! The other one is where the band says (and who hasn’t done this?), “Oh well, think of it as a dress re­hearsal in front of an au­di­ence – it can only help.”

Also, hav­ing wit­nessed many dire open mic per­for­mances (and con­trib­uted a few my­self, most no­tably one many years ago where I was so ner­vous that I got par­a­lytic and couldn’t speak, let alone play or sing!), I feel that par­tic­u­lar pain too.

Now, I know this will sound like a cop-out, but I think it’s down to the in­di­vid­ual to de­cide. Af­ter all, one thing people of­ten fail to con­sider is the sheer en­joy­ment and ex­hil­a­ra­tion in play­ing in front of people. Why shouldn’t good mu­si­cians (many of whom have no other ve­hi­cle with which to do so) have a bit of that? And, think­ing about it, should we deny those less mu­si­cally able the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the roar of the grease­paint and the smell of the crowd? Those bar staff are prob­a­bly on the min­i­mum wage, are has­sled, abused and in­sulted, while the per­form­ers get their egos mas­saged and taste a lit­tle mo­ment of star­dom. Of course there’s the is­sue of venues ex­ploit­ing mu­si­cians, but, again, the mu­si­cian can al­ways say no.


The Ul­ti­mate Rock Work­out you did re­cently was re­ally en­joy­able. The thing is, I’m a more bluesy­jazzy kind of a player (not heavy jazz, but blues with a bit of jazzy colour added to it), and I’d love to see an­other work­out but with this kind of player in mind. Rock tends to be a bit repet­i­tive and se­quen­tial, and a bit ‘square wave’ by com­par­i­son. If I were pre­par­ing for a big blues gig, or even fan­cied beef­ing up my blues chops, it would be great to have some well set-out ‘cir­cuit train­ing’, as I think you re­ferred to it, for my par­tic­u­lar tastes. Is there any chance of such a thing any time soon? I’m sure many read­ers would love it. Dan, Wor­thing

You’re in luck, Dan. From the out­set we en­vis­aged one or two more of these. People might imag­ine that a work­out is a work­out, but you’ve hit the nail on the head when you de­scribe the dif­fer­ences be­tween gen­res. And prac­tis­ing a load of se­quen­tial ma­jor scale tap­ping arpeg­gios is hardly go­ing to set you up for that moody slow blues in G, is it? So watch the next cou­ple of is­sues, as it will be ap­pear­ing as our cover fea­ture in GT233 – your bluesy six-pack awaits you!

The un­paid open mic per­former: ex­ploited or not?

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