Concert Endings… Really?

I have mentioned in previous articles about time between songs, dead air, and onstage banter. One thing I have left out is concert endings to your songs. Bad idea.

If you don’t know what a concert ending is, it is where at the end of your song you all bang a note or every lick you know while the drummer crashes cymbals and does drum rolls to end your songs.

There are certain times during the show where this is acceptable. It can be done when switching from fast songs to a slow number. Anytime the show has to stop, such as changing instruments, an introduction to the next song, or at the end of the set.

All a concert ending does is give your audience the signal the song is over and time to walk off the dance floor and sit back down and wait till the next number start to decide if they want to stay and keep on boogie’n.

Work those songs to where you have an actual ending. A dead stop isn’t necessary, you can hold the chord as the drummer clicks off the next tune. Watch that set list before you reach the end of the song. I hate it when there is a set list right there for everyone to look at and someone (especially the drummer) can’t find the time to look at it during the song. It’s a bad habit that should be broken as soon as possible. Concert endings are unimaginative, lazy, and just plain silly after every song. You want those people to stay on the floor all night, then bust out tunes one after the other.

An easy way to do this is to group your songs together. For example; I used to play “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “I Love Rock n Roll” in an old cover band. We’d play “Hit Me, holding out the last chord without noodling, just holding the last chord. The drummer would then roll the intro to “I Love Rock n Roll”. There was a momentary pause for some crowd screaming but not long enough to let them off the floor.

We always played those two songs back to back. We did this with three songs in a row that fit well together. We made our sets using these blocks of songs. We could still switch out the tunes but the blocks of songs were always the same.

When you pick new songs to learn as a band, think about where they could fit with other songs already in the set. Is there room for crowd participation? A theme? No reason at all? Any way you do it just work it to where it goes from one to another. It’ll tighten the show, you won’t have time for someone in the crowd to come up and request something off the radar.

Funny story. The Matt Poss Band consisted of a singer/rhythm guitarist, guitar, bass and drums. Someone came to the stage and asked for a request when we were being lazy and not running songs back to back. She asked if we would play “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” I said, “ You mean the song about the fiddle contest?” Laughing so not to make her feel like an ass I replied “Babe, do you see a fiddle player anywhere on this stage?” A song request out of left field. If I had been playing I wouldn’t have had to answer any questions. It’s your show, play it. Money talks though, if someone comes up with a few bucks we’ll play it if we know it but usually this is taken care of on breaks.

Another story about not being a jukebox. Dr Wu was a nine-piece classic R&B band. Someone came up to the sax player with a dollar and asked for a song. Pat told them this dollar split up will be eleven cents per musician. Not worth stopping your show. Someone came up with a hundred and asked for some Bad Company and we snatched up the hundred and scrambled to see who knew any Bad Company. In a few moments of talking about the chords and the key and about ½ the lyrics we managed to make it through “Movin’ On.”

We didn’t have too many of these moments because our show was tight, no time for the musicians to talk to people requesting songs. The best way for a person to request a song is to write it down and pass it to the stage. Throwing a few bucks per musician never hurts either.

Tighten up that show and dump the concert endings till it’s time to end the concert! Now for the king of all concert endings….

 

You have downloaded my CD right? I need the money.

 

–Sammy

Getting Your Crowd Off Their Ass

Today my article was inspired by a question from a friend on Facebook. Chris E. wrote me this “Can you write something about how a band should interact with the crowd. We are a good band but I feel like the crowd doesn’t warm up to us like they should. You know how it goes, you play your heart out for hours and nobody cares until they are drunk. Ha ha!”

Chris if I knew that I’d be playing stadiums. I have put a lot of thought into the question though. It happens to us all at some point. But it’s a rare night anymore for me. I hadn’t actually sat and considered the reasons why it’s a rare occasion.

I think there are a few factors to consider. The most important one is, IT’S NOT YOUR CROWD’S FAULT!!! No one comes home and says, “Ya know Hon, I think I’ll pick a place with a cover charge to drink. Plus I’m not in the mood to have a good time, so I think I’ll go out and make sure I won’t have a blast.” Saying you had a bad crowd is the cowards way out. Don’t abuse them either. Saying “what’s the matter with you people?” or “You guys suck!” doesn’t help your cause much. They will turn on you. Someone paid you for coming in and telling them they suck.

Now the fault lies on the band’s shoulders. So what can you do? The answer is what ever you have to. I’m going to quote the late great Bon Scott of AC/DC (rip) We got what you want, and you got the lust. If you want blood, you got it.”

I think it boils down to these ideas. It’s called show business for a reason. Put together a show. Focus on your strong points. For example, my old R&B band Dr Wu’s Rock N Soul Revue, had a front man who really wasn’t the best at connecting with the crowd during onstage banter. He sang with his eyes closed and didn’t move much. Amazing singer though. So we worked around it by not having any time between songs. The only time we’d stop is if we needed to. The singer also played guitar sometimes and we’d have to stop. Our sharp witted sax player would grab the mic and talk. No dead air. Good music and a lot going on visually on stage.

With Poprocks we had just the opposite. Becca the singer was a dynamic front woman and great singer. She’d go out and grab someone to dance with and force people off their butts physically. I was talking to the guitarist of Vince Vance and the Valliants years ago and he told me “If you can find someone who has the balls to get out their and do their thing, you’ve got it made.” Vince couldn’t sing for shit, but he could put a crowd in a party mode with a snap of his fingers. Becca could do that. On a side note, Becca is my ex-wife so don’t tell her I said anything nice about her. I’d never live it down.

If the band is good and your music is good, then sit and work on putting songs back to back, working them into medleys of whole songs. Thinking of ways to involve your audience. Can we stop here and let them sing the “Talk Dirty to Me” part? Practice going from song to song. Who ever starts that song should have looked at the set list and be ready to go. Time between songs is just a bad habit. I told Chris the drummer for Wu to start the next song no matter what. I didn’t care if the bass player wanted to drink a bit of his beer or stand around and talk about the days events…This is an exaggeration, Doug Evans the bass player kicked ass and was great onstage and off. It only took two gigs before everyone knew to be ready for the next tune. People will tell you how tight of a band you have, and after seeing regular bar bands play 10 songs in a set, we had to play 15 because we didn’t stop. This is an easy way to have a pro band.

This leads me to the next part of the equation. Being the pro’s we are, we now have a show and not just a band with 40 or 50 songs they know. When people come and see a band that looks like and plays like pros, you are giving them what they expected and came for. In turn they will do what’s expected of them which is to scream, yell and dance. It’s subliminal but it works.

Confidence onstage plays a major part. You walk on knowing you’re good and will be even better if the crowd is. You don’t have to pretend to be a rockstar, unless of course that is your persona. That works a lot. I’ve never been pretty enough to be that skinny rockstar so I do what I’ve always done. I make myself look like I’m jamming my ass off, pounding my foot on the stage, letting out a scream now and then, moving as much as I can, looking people in the eye, trolling the edge of the stage fist pounding guys and winking at girls.

Turn your focus musically and physically to your audience. Too many bands focus inward. They are turned toward each other or constantly watching what’s happening stage. Try never to turn your back on your audience. You look at them, grin but let ‘em know at the same time you are doing your job, which is entertaining them. You are the lead guitarist? When you solo take a step forward and let people know you are kicking ass. Lay people don’t always know who is doing what, so smack em in the face with it. Hold that guitar and make your guitar faces and let them think that the notes are just flowing through your body and out your fingers. Some night’s that really happens but some times you have to fake it. The crowd will want to get closer to see how amazing you are. They will want to be part of what you are throwing out there. They will feed off the energy being pounded at them.

This is a must when playing original music. You better be kicking ass live or no one will stay past the third song.

Crowd participation. What concert have you ever been to where they didn’t involve you at some point, actually many points. Dr. Wu was 75% crowd partcipation. Sing alongs, making them join in on the fun we were having onstage or some nights faking. Either way at the end of the night people were sweaty and tore up if they kept up with our show which was nothing but Memphis 60’s R&B tunes. Poprocks would pull people up onstage throughout the night to sing a line or two, dance, while their friends came out and cheered them on, and go wild at the end of the night with a planned dance off with the wildest women we could find. This also was the reason we were forced to go to court over a flashing incident from an audience member. We knew they were gonna flash the audience, the audience knew it was gonna happen and the girls up there knew they were going to. That piece of shtick loaded our pockets for a long time. Matt Poss threw sing alongs and other shtick into his show. But in each of these bands we all had the same objective. Involve the crowd to feed off that energy. It’s a mob action when you yell “SOMEBODY SCREAM!” and the entire place roars.

Another great way is to just ask them.

Jon Clarkson of X-Krush brought up a point at a show that we were playing together. He brought up the theory of the invisible barrier. You know the spot. A trash can in a beer tent no one wants to cross, the dance floor edge, a chair even. For some reason people will line up behind these invisible barriers. In the middle of a song or in between tell them to move forward, you want to see their pretty faces. If they are dancing at the back of the stage tell them to come closer. They will. Tell them to get on up a few times after loosing them up with a few screams, and other rockstar clichés. The reason they have been done so often is because they work.

My last major point is to sacrifice a few sure fire songs to open with. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” was the opening song for Poprocks for a long time. It would have been huge later in the night, but you know what? It got people off their butts the first few songs. They better dance to it now because it’s not going to be played again. And if we’ll throw that into the first set then the rest of the night has to be better. Right? Soon people will come to catch the beginning of your show and know they need to get up early. It didn’t always work but we worked harder if it didn’t.

Part of your show is to make the stage look like it’s a pro band. We placed amps on chairs sometimes, or on cable boxes but we also covered the boxes and chairs with a black drape. Go to Wal-Mart look on the dollar fabric table and buy a few yards of black cloth. If you have cooling fans paint them flat black. Anything that can be hidden should be. No cases behind the drummer.

You are a kick ass band. Make your audience know it. It boils down to confidence. Confidence in your self, your band, and in your audience. Once everyone knows their part, dead crowds will become further and farther between. You want your audience to leave feeling they are better for the experience.

The other option is play really, really popular songs. That’s a guess, I never went that route full force. Poprocks was close. You have to weigh musical creativity with paying the rent sometimes. Find that middle ground to stay inspired. As for song selection refer to an earlier blog about not being married to your song list. Some songs just aren’t live. Matt Poss has four albums out but he doesn’t play every song off them, he plays the ones that go over live. That in no way means the other songs aren’t great he’s recorded.

 Chris, that’s my theory. Put on a good show, give the audience what they want, which is entertainment. Guide them along with subtle ways and sometimes obvious ways. Look like you are always having fun and the crowd will pick up on it. Focus on them and not on each other. Look and act the part and the crowd will usually follow. Plus you’ll make more money with a show. Focus your music. Don’t play “everything” you won’t play enough of any one style to satisfy anyone. Most of all Chris have the fun. You are playing with a great band, your part is as important as everyone else’s. Now let your audience know it. If you implement these ideas and use them for the next six months and people still aren’t getting off their ass, write and we’ll come up with some other ideas.

I’ll embed Van Halen live. Only Dave for me so don’t argue. I know I’m right on this. Watch the fun, the swagger, the crowd participation. You don’t have to like the band or the show but learn from one of the greatest live bands of all time. Watch their focus. It’s not on each other it’s on the audience, and Jesus it’s Eddie Van Halen, I’d be focused totally on him. Watch and learn and you’ll see each one of the points I mentioned.

 

Special note to Chris. Thanks for reading and the question. This doesn’t only help you but it brings these points to the front of my mind and how I will apply it to my new project.

Now as a side note, I’ll be putting together a band from scratch, so I’ll be putting my money where my mouth is. I’m no longer a member of the Matt Poss Band but that being said they are the same friends I knew before, during, and after playing with them. It’s a very amicable split, no bad blood. No hurt feelings. I wouldn’t have it any other way. So I’ll have plenty to write about while implementing my own words.

Buy my freakin’ CD!  Thanks for reading. Keep those ideas coming in.

–Sammy

 

The Opening Band

The Matt Poss Band just got back from Chicago after opening the show for the Turnpike Troubadours at, according to the Country Music Awards, the number one club for country music in all of America, Joe’s On Weed Street. I thought I’d go through the steps to a successful gig opening for a national act.

 The MPB headlines shows about 75% of the time. The other 25% we are the support act. MPB has supported everyone from Kid Rock to David Allen Coe. Small gigs of a hundred or so people in a small venue, to major concert stages playing for thousands. We’ve been asked for personally by many of the venues and artists we work with.

 This is how MPB handled the show with the Turnpike Troubadours. It started months ago.

 Matt has been working on the getting any booking at Joe’s On Weed St. in Chicago for years. He sent a promo pack or and Electronic Press Kit or EPK to the venue. He called Joe’s before sending it and got a hold of the person (Kelsy) who books the venue, and addressed it to her personally. Weeks later he followed up. Now let’s not forget the venue receives dozens of promo packs daily. How did we get the job? Networking and keeping ourselves on the mind of the person who handles booking. Poss would call the venue now and then to see about working WITH  them. Not too often. We didn’t want her to roll her eyes when we contacted them, but just enough to create a relationship with a venue we had never played. It took awhile but we were offered to open for David Alan Coe. The show went fine. The venue was happy. We were invited back this past week to open for the Troubadours.

 Preparation: A week or two before the date of the show, we made an ad for ourselves and posted it on our Facebook band page plus shared it on our personal pages. We let our friends and fans know that this was a special night for us and would love to see them there to support us. We didn’t over post but we did post about three to four times over a two week period. We sent our EPK to music periodicals in the area and found as many radio stations as we could to play our music and plug our show. This was the preparation part of our job.

 Matt forwarded the gig to find out load in times, sound check times, and the time and length of our set.

 The night before the show Matt sent us the times we played 8pm to 9pm. He also sent the set list he had chosen. Matt is definitely the boss but is always open to suggestions. With the exception of a few last minute changes we knew exactly how our set would flow. The time to meet was decided, 12:30 at the rehearsal studio.

 Chicago is three and a half hours from where the band is based out of. Load in and sound check was at five o’clock. We gave ourselves an extra hour to get there, taking into consideration, stopping for bathroom breaks, traffic conditions and becoming lost looking for the venue and the load in area. We made it at 4:45. Fifteen minutes early. We were in no rush. We found the load in doors easily and before unloading one bit of gear we entered the venue and met the stage manager/soundman. We introduced ourselves with a smile and a handshake; his name was James by the way. We called him James from that point on. Not sound guy, buddy, or dude. He had received our stage plot before hand and was ready for us.

 We came prepared with drums and amps and our own mics. You never know when you may need something. The Troubadours were gracious hosts and had mentioned to the soundman that we could use their drum set. The band unloaded four pieces of gear. Bass amp, and two guitar amps. Rob, our drummer, brought in his foot pedal, snare, and high hat stand and his cymbals. If you are a drummer and playing on someone else’s set, always bring those items. A drummer with a lighter touch isn’t going to want to watch you beat the shit out his snare and try cracking cymbals. On the other hand Rob wants to feel as close to home as he can on a strange set so he brought in the pieces he is used to since everyone sets up a little differently. This also helped the soundman because he didn’t have to mic up two sets. DON’T BE OFFENDED IF THE OTHER BAND DOESN’T WANT YOU TO USE YOUR THEIR GEAR! Some bands don’t mind and some bands do. If they offer, count your self lucky. We loaded in and set up, making sure we stayed out of the way of the soundman, and his crew member Kyle. See I remembered his name.

 Sound check: There is an easy way and a bad way to handle a sound check. Make it as easy as possible for the band and the soundman. The bad way is for the band to be beating on their instruments and all yelling what they want and need in their monitor. The easy and most professional way is to do it like this:

  • Make sure your amps are set how you like them and drums set up. This is all done in the pre-sound check/load in. Also don’t crank your amp up and play all your licks while the crew is setting up in front of you. It’s just plain rude.
  • Don’t stack your cases anywhere there are cables or snakes running. The tech may not be done yet and once again this is a courtesy shown to them. This is their house after all.
  • Check your gear. Is it like you want it? If it is QUIT PLAYING! No one needs to know how hot of a musician you are. Your band knows and the crew doesn’t care. This is hours before the show so warming up is pointless and you can warm up with your volume completely down.
  • The soundman probably has a way they like to do things and will lead you through the sound check. Don’t play. But be onstage and ready for your part. Usually drums, bass, guitars, keys… vocals last.
  • Check at the volume you plan to play at. If you’re too loud the soundman will let you know.
  • Take your turn. Don’t start yelling you want two vocals in your wedge a little bass, a kick drum etc. while he’s dialing in a good sound.
  • When the soundman asks for a vocal check, they will usually ask for them one at a time. This is the time to ask for things in your monitor. Such as in my case, as the bass player I like all vocals in my monitor, kick and snare, and depending on the venue I may want some of my own bass in the monitor. Usually I can hear everything else. When my vocal is checked I kindly ask for these things. When I’m satisfied or close, I tell him that it sounds fine and that it should work and thank you. “Thank you James” is what I said. Take into consideration your other band mates. If you have them crank your guitar in the monitor along with your stage sound, you’ll throw off the mix on stage. Mix yourselves while you are up there.
  • They will have us run through a song. Don’t pick out something you don’t play often or are just learning. Pick out a song that highlights what you do. We usually play a song that shows the harmonies and solos, plus the rhythm instruments. This gives them the chance to dial in those pieces into the mix.
  • Now is when you make final adjustments. Maybe I can’t hear the acoustic guitar and lead vocals. Mac, our guitarist can’t hear all the vocals. One at a time tell them what you need. Mac tells him he can’t hear the vocals and asks for them to be turned up in his monitor. They are turned up, Mac says thank you, then it’s my turn. We don’t noodle, (play your instrument with the volume up) and we fine tune the stage sound to as close as we can get. Work with the soundman then be happy with what you get. Some sound companies may only have one monitor mix and you might not be able to get it perfect. This is when you compromise and the band works around it. DON’T BITCH!
  • With that said, you might do another song or if it was just minor adjustments finish your last minute details and get off the stage so the sound crew can make their adjustments or the next band can get up there. Yes we’ve headlined shows where the opening band took the entire sound check time to them selves, leaving us without one. Inconsiderate and unprofessional. A band vs. band scenario. Always a bad situation. I remember this and won’t willingly have them on the same bill as us. They have a bad reputation in my mind. Good band though.
  • If you have no dressing room, do what you have to, If you are sharing a dressing room, be considerate. If the venue is feeding you and offering the band free drinks, don’t order the lobster and steak with a triple shot of the best tequila they have. Pretend your friend is buying your dinner and drinks. Don’t take advantage or give the bartender or staff hell when they say only beer is free. Be happy you got anything at all. Once again free dinner, free drinks = big tip.

 Showtime: Know exactly when you are expected to be on stage and when you are expected to be off. This is incredibly important. Things may be running behind but if it says you go on at 8pm be prepared to be on at 8pm. Wait patiently and don’t say a word about the show running behind.

  • This is the most important part of opening. Don’t play over your set. If you are on for 30 minutes play 30 minutes or less. One hour, play one hour or less. If your time is cut down to put the show back on schedule then agree, change your set a little if you need to and play. The majority of the crowd is there to see the headliner. Never and I mean never play over your time. Quit a little early if you have to. This past week the MPB were to play from 8-9, one hour. We played, saw we were running about a song short of an hour, added the song on the fly and kept rolling. Giving it our best to rev up that crowd, make new fans, satisfy regular fans, and just put on the best show we can. With an hour we can really cut the set down to our best numbers. We played till 8: 55. Did we have time for one more? Maybe. Better safe than sorry. We stopped playing thanked the crowd and walked off.
  • Before we went on Matt wrote down the name of the venue’s talent buyer, the name of the acoustic act that started the show, and the name of the soundman and his tech. All he had to do to thank them during the show was to look down and read it.
  • Mention from the stage that you have merchandise. “This is from our new album”, “We have t-shirts for sale” etc. If you have a table of merch, point it out from the stage and tell them you will be there and to come over and say hello if nothing else. Hello is a great conversation starter that may be the difference between selling a $20 shirt and not.
  • When you are done with your set, immediately strike your gear from the stage. This includes helping the others. Don’t tear down the drums, pick them up and move them off the stage and tear them down there. Get off the stage as soon as possible and use the interim to meet new fans, sell merch, or just bask in the praises that you are the greatest band in the world.
  • We usually meet the other bands, network, and exchange contacts if we can. You never know. Blackberry Smoke asked for us by name to support them on a tour through the south. Blackberry Smoke just hit the true big time. Number 1 on ITunes, and I saw the singer Charlie on my Yahoo front page this morning. My friends have now become major rock stars and hopefully they won’t forget us, our talent, and our professionalism.
  • The job is done. Matt gets paid, gear is loaded, and now we are available to meet people, hand out cards, and usually get to hear the headliners for a while and catch a great show that we were a part of. Very satisfying.

 To sum up this whole article; don’t be a pain in the ass at any point during the night. The ego is left on the stage. Don’t be stand offish or run to the dressing room to feel like a rockstar for awhile. Thank everyone, even if they don’t do anything but show up. I meet interesting people, contacts for other venues and festivals, and being the only single guy in the band, I meet the ladies and get phone numbers… none of which ever text me back. Damn women!

 A pro keeps all this in mind. Sooner or later it’ll become a habit. In a profession where bad habits are expected, these tips will show the world that we aren’t all drug addicted, groupie lovin’, flakes. We are pros and will be treated like pros if we treat our hosts as pros.

I want to thank Sound Source Music in Mattoon, IL for adding my blog to their website. Support them because they are supporting you. Thank you Mikey.

 Don’t forget to download the “Unwanted, Unasked for, Unbelievable” solo album “The Monkey Speaks His Mind” from yours truly.

 –Sammy

 

The Magic Words That Make Every Show Great!

If you want to know the secret of getting ahead in your musical career, I can sum it up in two words. Thank You.

 It’s common courtesy to say it when someone holds the door, lets you in front of them in traffic, or simply paying for a pack of gum. Why do these rules go away when you put in instrument in your hand or when you show up at the gig?

 Thank you can be the difference between getting a gig and keeping a gig. It will gain you fans that probably spread the word about you. It’ll keep drinks flowing and makes staff feel appreciated. It makes your soundman and his crew work harder than they already do for you.

 Let’s look at the first point. Who hasn’t met the musician who thinks they are God’s gift to music. Yeah he’d sound great in your band but do you really want to put up with a guy with a chip on his shoulder for that many hours? Would you want to have a beer with him? His attitude may have lost him a slot in the next band to take over the world. There is nothing wrong with thanking your hosts if you are auditioning, or thanking the club owner for having you. Say it and mean it. After all what makes you money is having a place to play. Yeah you can fill it and yeah the bar makes a mint but it is their house you are playing in. Say thank you and mean it. Leave the ego for cock thrusting your guitar on stage.

 Who hasn’t played for a few people on a night or two? Who hasn’t played to a crowd you just can’t seem to pay attention to the show? Those people came and paid the same as everyone else to hear you. Why should they receive half a show because 200 other people didn’t come that night? This is the sign of a pro. Anyone can have a good gig playing to thousands. A pro can have a great gig playing for five. Suck it up and rock. This thanking them for coming. When you go on break or after a show meet these people. If nothing else you have personally thanked them for the money that they will put in your pocket that night. Now they also know someone in a band. Both plusses for you.

 Years ago I started the habit of standing next to the exit at the end of the night and thanking the people leaving after the show. It has never hurt and now they know they are also appreciated. Plus I can sell merch, network with people who may want to book us or know of a place where they hang out that you should play. Having someone tell a bar owner about a great band will beat the hell out of any promo pack you’ll ever put together.

 Saying thank you to the bar staff, or any staff involved means to TIP them and TIP THEM WELL! Especially if the drinks are free! You get in good with the staff by mentioning over the microphone that it’s “Hip to tip” or “Tip the staff they are working hard for you.” This means you also. I rarely carry much cash on me so I have to do my tipping at the end of the night but I do make sure of it. They will have a lot of say whether you return or not. “That band is a pain in the ass.” I’ve heard it said before and some common courtesy would have changed the staff’s mind.

 The most important people you need to thank for the rest of your musical career is the soundman and his crew.

 I work for the Matt Poss Band and we have a regular soundman and crew. Their job is to set up and help the soundman do his job. We love them as people and friends and an extension of our musical family. Because they are excellent at what they do and they know we appreciate them by thanking them before, during and after the show. Dustin is a guitarist himself, so when a string breaks he becomes a guitar tech. Changing strings and getting it back on the rack as quickly as possible. If a drunk chick hops onstage and dances on all the foot pedals, knocking over mics and about to give someone singing a fat lip by bumping the mic into their face, Robert is right there to kindly yet firmly remove them from the stage. Bad cables are switched out, mic stands falling over are quickly put into place. This is not in their job description yet they do it and I can’t express how much we appreciate what they do for us. They make our job easy. When we are thanking people at the door or on the floor and they are drowning you in praise, these cats are wrapping cables, and lumping gear. On a side note, Super Bowl 2011, Madonna’s stage? Robert helped build that. He can surely handle our country asses.

 The soundman is the guy you always want on your side. When you arrive at the venue, meet the soundman (unless he’s working for another band, a festival situation for example.) Shake his hand and introduce yourself. Remember his name. Write it on your hand if you have to but make sure this guy is happy. Thank him during the show, and afterward. Thank him even if he’s not the best, Thank him for his work NO MATTER WHAT! Sound guys network too and they will spread the word about you. Good or bad. In 20+ years of playing I’ve only told one soundman to kiss my ass. That is a story for another article about gigs from hell, so I won’t get into it here.

 Just say it and mean it. It’ll more than pay off in gigs, opportunities, and most of all more money in your pocket.

 Speaking of soundmen. One of my favorite people (don’t tell him I said it) Tim “the Worst Soundman EVER!” Alverson, of Alverson Sound, Will be doing a column with me all about the do’s and don’ts of working with your soundman. Tim has ran for everyone under the sun, can drive long distances at a time, and snores like a maniac on the road. And those are his good points. All kidding aside Tim is the best. A total pro. I’ve been working with him for over two years now and have never gone on late because of a sound problem. I always have a monitor that sounds great, and someone to give hell when we’re not playing. Don’t worry he gives it back and most of the time starts it.

 One last one. If you are opening, thank the venue and the headliner even if they had nothing to do with you getting on the bill. If you are the headliner, thank the opening band for revving up the crowd for you. Band vs. band is for amateurs. Pros network, exchange contact info, give each other leads on good places to play, and may be your foot into the door of a great club. That’s worth a thank you.

 I just released my first solo album entitled Sammy and the Snake Charmer’s Union – The Monkey Speaks His Mind. Take a listen and pick up a copy. I gathered some of the best musicians in the world to play my songs with me. That and my sick sense of musical humor made for a nice effort. THANK YOU FOR PLAYING ON MY ALBUM!

–Sammy