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Dutchman

Getting Called on Stage

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I went to see a local band that I knew the Bass player. Got spotted and was called up to do a song. I was handed the “rhythm” players Mexican Strat and I knew I was in trouble! The action was so high I really had to squeeze down and the strings where so dirty they felt like barbed wire. We did one song and an easy one “Take it Easy” then I quickly took of the guitar. I watched another set and I could clearly see the rhythm guy was struggling with that guitar!!

I’d like to hear others stories about being called up to play! Good or Bad!!

I gave the guy my number and told him to come over and jam. My thought being I’d change his strings and set up his guitar to play easier. 

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Folks know better than to call me up on stage- 🤣

Actually, have one... sort of: was in VA on a dinner date and we were at this Italian joint in a strip mall w/ outdoor seating. This duo was playing acoustics and running through the usual shit you might expect to hear. I had gotten a drink or two in me and was watching them semi-intently. My date suggested I ask to sit in so when they took their break, I moseyed up and asked. The one guitarist had had a few and was trying to mess with my head when he determined that I was suggesting I use his guitar. I didn't fall for it. He finally conceded, saying he needed to hit the head (and the bar apparently- came back even more inebriated...) and in his absence, me and the other guy ran through a version of Hey Joe. It was more than a little awkward playing it on an acoustic. To add to the fun, the other guy didn't know all the verses so I had to "sing" the song essentially by myself.  Did I mention I sing worse than I play? I guess I did okay based on the date's response. And when the other guy returned, he tried to convince me to take his place for the next set. The booze he'd been pouring back must've taken hold and he knew it. I had to politely but insistently decline. I know my limitations and I don't know many schlocky, acoustic classic rock tunes.

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I have had numerous experiences like Dutchman's. Usually, the song is one I have heard a million times, but have never played. Luckily, I nearly always figure out the progression on the fly durung the firsr verse. Never a boring moment, you know.

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I like to hang out and see my friend's cover bands, especially if they're playing near by to me. I throw my guitar into a gig bag in my vehicle without the expectation of sitting in, go meet some friends at the club, socialize, have a few drinks, and cheer everybody on. If I get too buzzed, I usually decline as I don't want to make a trainwreck on someone else's gig. If I'm feeling brave & adventurous and am invited to join the band, I'll ask the guitarist if I can use his/her amp and bring my own guitar with me onstage. Most guitar players don't like other guitarists playing their guitars and I have issues playing guitars with high action/heavy strings due to my De Quervain's tenosynovitis (tendonitis of the thumb). I think it's a sign of mutual respect & a privilege to be asked to share the stage with  a cover band if we know the musicians and they judge me to be worthy to join them for a few songs or a set. I wouldn't impose or feel entitled to impose myself on someone's cover band gig since I play out quite a bit myself. I know guys who are not all that good try to impose themselves on a Friday or Saturday night gig that you have to politely decline their request to sit in whether it's another instrumentalist or the harmonica player (Yikes!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Guitar George

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I have a buddy who's a local legend and knows every guitar player in a four state area. If he spots you in the crowd he'll run out and shove the guitar into your hands and yell whatever key it's in and from there you're on your own. One night I knew it was coming and headed out the door and down the block. The goofy bastard gave chase (best wireless ever, apparently) and caught me about a block away - still playing - handed me the guitar and dragged me back in. My wife says mouths dropped when we came through the door with me playing and him pushing me onto the stage. That one still makes me laugh.

He also caught me at Summerfest in Milwaukee when they opened for Frampton. I'm halfway back in a crowd of maybe 4000 people and still don't know how he saw me. "It's in 'A' " he says as he's dropping the guitar in my lap. I got a pretty good cheer and a few slaps on the back, but my hands were shaking so bad when I was done I couldn't even hold my beer. Dammit.

Edited by hamerhead
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1 hour ago, Biz Prof said:

I have had numerous experiences like Dutchman's. Usually, the song is one I have heard a million times, but have never played. Luckily, I nearly always figure out the progression on the fly durung the firsr verse. Never a boring moment, you know.

Ditto. 

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Quite a number of times over the years.  The times I've been suckered in, I can typically acquit myself reasonably well and get the hell offa there.  Lately, though, there's a young phenom friend of mine who will occasionally invite me up.  The guy is a terrifying player, no matter the genre and he has the musical equivalent of a photographic memory.  The first time he did that was about 10 years ago when he was on a bluegrass kick.  He hands me this log of a Martin and I spend the first two verses and choruses figuring out howinthehell to get my hand around the neck.  Then he gives me "the nod".  Fortunately I was waaaay down in the mix.  I know a fair number of bluegrass tunes but never was the Mark O'Connor type be even the most remote stretch.  Chord banger at the most.  As the years have gone on he's gotten less terrifying (to me, anyway) and it's a lot of fun hanging it out on the edge.  But it always seems like he's throwing me one kind of curve or another.

The most recent was when I was taking delivery of an oddball cigar box guitar.  Most of these are a three-string proposition and I'd ordered this one as a four-string, not having the first clue as to how to tune it, much less play it.  I figured I'd take it home and woodshed with it. Helluvit was, my friend didn't have a clue either, when it came to 4-strings.

Forward to about 8:30

 

https://www.facebook.com/hardwickaw/videos/412676912657333/

 

Edited by tomteriffic

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Yes I done this few times on bass, been asked to play few songs but like others have said the action is so high (doesn’t anyone no how to set a guitar/bass up properly???) and the strap so low that when the bass is on it is almost on the floor. I don’t want to change anything since it’s not my gig. So it ends up being an exercise in battling the elements sort of speak. So I tend to decline politely these days. 

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If I get called up I go and make whatever song it is my own. They have to make me leave. This ensures they don’t do it again! ;)
Only thing worse is a fing harp player.

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2 hours ago, Jakeboy said:

If I get called up I go and make whatever song it is my own. They have to make me leave. This ensures they don’t do it again! ;)
Only thing worse is a fing harp player.

This happened once in my last cover band. The band leader brought dude up to play a couple and he wouldn’t leave.

If you’ve never heard anyone blues solo 100% of the way though the B52’s Private Idaho, then you’re a luckier person than I. 

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I got called up a few weeks ago.  To play drums!

As a kid, I took drum lessons for about two years after I stopped playing piano.  I can acquit myself quite nicely on drums and most of my friends don't even know.  I only owned a set for a little over a year.  

A kid I took lessons with when I was twelve has a local cover band.  I prepare his taxes these days.  I went out to see them at a local venue for his fortieth high school reunion.  He asked me if I'd get up and play.  I played a I IV V blues jam for about ten minutes and threw in some real bullshit rolls and cymbal crashes.  It went over pretty well.  I have good meter, so I didn't get off.  He has a really cool set of vintage Camco drums.  I had blisters...

 

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23 hours ago, Jakeboy said:

If I get called up I go and make whatever song it is my own. They have to make me leave. This ensures they don’t do it again! ;)
Only thing worse is a fing harp player.

Harp players... There's only one I'll let up with me because I've known him since he was a little kid, overblowing on everything.  His old man is quite the jazz/blues guy and knocked him down a peg or three.  Now he's a pleasure to jam with.

 

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                                                Had a "Jazzy" gig here just after the first of the the year,I didn't want to do it even though I knew I could play all of those compositions Autumn Leaves,,Stella by Starlight, I Hear a Rhapsody,and others................all jazz standards.The other members playing upright Bass ,Drums,and Keyboards had it all down pat.Easy gig,the other guitar player had a car accident [Got hit by someone who ran a red] and was in no shape to do any playing.They begged I said YES! and it turned out to be fun evening.

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For those who want to discourage future invitations, can't you just play the Stairway to Heaven solo in whatever song they're playing?  Wouldn't work for drummers, though.

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I've had the same thing happen.  I got called up at a large bar here to play,  and I almost never go up unless I know the gear and the player for the reason you stated.  This guy was playing a 335 through a Pink Taco, so I thought, "What the hell.  How bad can it be?"

First sign things were off was that I was wearing a Morbid Angel shirt, and the drummer gives me the proverbial metalhead quiz.   I'm at least 15 years older than this guy, but he does the whole, "Do you like that band or just have the shirt?" with a smirk on his face. 

"Yeah man, I wrote a good bit of my dissertation listening to Altars of Madness.  For some reason, death metal helps me think when I write.  I really liked Covenant,  but I think that Domination is pretty underrated.  I actually thought some of Steve Tucker's stuff was cool too.  "Nothing is Not" is a killer tune.  Are you a big Pete Sandoval fan?"

"Yeah man, I don't really know anyone in the band, I just see people in those shirts that don't listen to metal.  I mostly listen to Five Finger Death Punch and Asking Alexandria."

I managed to choke down my laughter over that, but we were off to a great start. 

So the 335 has action that you could drive a car under and strings so rusty that you could probably use them to saw through small tree branches.  Plus, it's slung to hang at about knee height and can't be adjusted.  Additionally, the Pink Taco is really just a platform for a bunch of digital what not.  

Great.  

So I butcher the Chris Stapleton version of "Tennessee Whiskey"  (at least I was playing country music in a Morbid Angel shirt at this point) with a guy who, thankfully, I've sat in with before who was also up there for just a song.  I told him after the song that I was sorry about playing so badly, and he laughed and said now I know why he only sings with these guys but never takes one of their guitars.  We do one more song, and I slink off stage. 

On top of everything, I had been dumped earlier that week by a chick I've mentioned before here.  While I was onstage that night and everything was going wrong was the first inkling that I go that I was also pretty damned devastated about her leaving me.   The whole reason I was there was that the place is always packed with hot 20-somethings, and I thought jumping up and paying some tune might take my mind off things and lead to some company afterward to maybe distract me from the heartbreak that was now palpably brewing in my chest.  Instead I just walked out pissed at myself, pissed at that guitar, pissed over my girl, and pissed at that metalcore loving poser ass drummer. 

That was a rough one for sure. 

My favorite one was I randomly ended up on stage in Nashville about two years ago with Kid Rock's former guitarist, Kenny Olson,  pretty damned ripped and having been up to some additional things as well, for some AC/DC and Stones tunes.  That time was actually a helluvalot of fun and sounded great. Everyone was super nice and just amazing players. Come to think of it, I was wearing that same shirt that night.  Must be something about that Morbid Angel shirt I guess. 

Another time I sat in with a band in Florence, Italy,  and we ended up playing "Sweet Home Alabama" completely spontaneously when they realized they had an American up there from the South who knew it pretty well.  I generally hate playing that song, but that was one time that it was really special.  Having around 100 Italians and another 30 or 40 of my students all singing along at the outdoor venue on a beautiful Tuscan night is a great memory.  That was my first trip outside of the US too. 

Funny thing is that I've been the guy that came on stage out of nowhere and just blew everyone away more times than I've gotten onstage and just cratered for all to see, but I remember every damn time it went badly way better than when it went right.

Edited by LucSulla
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8 hours ago, LucSulla said:

Funny thing is that I've been the guy that came on stage out of nowhere and just blew everyone away more times than I've gotten onstage and just cratered for all to see, but I remember every damn time it went badly way better than when it went right.

Yep. Pretty much a summary of my experiences.

Somewhere in the laws of physics, there must be an explanation to the phenomenon of nearly always being asked to guest-play a guitar that is permanently slung down to one's shins and strung with baling wire. 

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