Mar 052014

stageWhen it comes to gigging, the one thing all musicians can count on is that things can and will go wrong. Cables die, tubes fail, strings break, drum heads tear, and singers bleed. Most musicians are prepared for the common problems like a broken guitar string or drum stick, but being ready for crazy and unexpected mishaps is what separates the pros from the wannabes. So, when heading out to a gig it’s always good to bring everything, and prepare for anything.

Trying to predict potential glitches isn’t always easy, but it’s the goal when packing gear for the gig. I’m not saying you need to be a modern-day Nostradamus, but a little forethought goes a long way. For example, if there’s even a remote possibility you might need a tool or a piece of gear –just bring it. You’ll be glad you did when you actually need to use it. In addition, history is a great teacher so it’s good to prepare for everything that has gone awry at past gigs. I bring everything I need to perform, plus back-ups for all of my gear, and the tools needed to repair anything that fails. I’m also a big fan of having non-gear necessities for the whole band such as: Pliers, screwdrivers, duct tape, vocal-care items, and a simple first-aid kit. On the occasions when it’s not possible to bring all of your extra gear, it’s good to plan for the potential troubles usually solved by having back-ups. For example, I can’t always bring a spare guitar to gig, so a broken string would need to be handled right when it happens. In these instances, I’ll have my extra strings, peg wider, and wire cutters unpacked and in a handy spot so I’m not wasting valuable stage time digging for my tools. It also helps to have a good working knowledge of your instrument so small problems like a broken string are an easy fix. Being able to change a string in about a minute allows me to handle that particular issue with minimal delay to the performance.

Of course, being handy with quick-fixes and having backup gear is a great way to be ready for trouble, but the ultimate preparation lies in maintaining gear between gigs. Keeping equipment in top playing condition is essential to avoiding on-stage malfunctions, and it’s easy to do. Strings don’t break as often when they’re installed/stretched properly and resting on a bridge that does not have burrs in the saddles. Drum heads are less likely to break if they are new, and cables will last a lifetime if they are handled correctly (especially when wrapping them up at the end of the night). If you’re unsure of how to properly maintain your gear, consult with a good tech or teacher to learn the fundamentals. As with personal health, preventative care is the best way to avoid future problems. Take the time to maintain your equipment properly and it will return the favor by not breaking down on stage.

I realize that anyone interested enough to read this article probably believes this is all common sense. And I agree, but it certainly is not common practice. I have played too many gigs where fellow musicians abuse the band gear, don’t have backup gear when it’s needed or the right tools to fix their gear, and obviously disregard instrument upkeep between performances. Don’t get me wrong, I have had my share of knuckle-headed moments, but I also learn from my mistakes and embarrassments. To me, there’s nothing more horrifying and stressful than disappointing your band and insulting the audience by holding up the show -especially if it was avoidable. So, when packing and preparing for a gig it’s best to bring everything you could possibly need, maintain your gear like a champ, and be thoughtful enough to anticipate the unexpected. It’s amazing how a little foresight can help us all manage anything a troublesome gig can throw our way.

Jeff Nagel is a guitarist, instructor, songwriter, session musician, and writer located in Seattle, WA

Jan 122012

Ray and I have been fortunate enough to work with a lot of national acts over the last couple of years, and I always try and take a lot of photographs backstage (mainly because I’m old and don’t want to forget all the cool stuff we did!). Some shows I’m more successful than others, but we have met some really interesting and helpful band members and techs and been given access to all kinds of cool things. I thought I would start a new TGM series called “CrossWire Backstage With:” and post backstage pictures from some of these shows for you to enjoy.

I thought I’d start with our most recent shows as we did the Northwest leg of the Colt Ford tour. If you’re not familiar with Colt Ford, he wrote Jason Aldean’s #1 hit, Dirt Road Anthem, and is known for creating “Hick Hop,” a blend of hard rockin’ country and hip hop. They were great to hang out with, and his band were really great guys as well.

Hope you enjoy the pics!

Nov 222011

In Premier Guitar’s followup article on guitar techs, the focus turns to gear and some of the tricks and tips that these seasoned professionals use to keep their employers (and their gear) happy and functional. All of the guitar techs I’ve met over the last couple of years have been total gear nerds and have been more than happy to talk with us about how they do their job and some of the crazy things they experience on a daily basis. These guys have seen it all, so have a look and see if there isn’t a new trick here that you might find helpful. Enjoy!

10 Tech Tips from Touring Pros

Nov 052011

To round out the week of Jeff Beck adoration (by me), I thought I’d share this interview with his longtime guitar tech Steve Prior. As is usually the case, the best gear info always seems to come from the tech! One of the interesting tidbits here is the huge neck profile on the first run of Jeff Beck signature Strats. It turns out that Beck didn’t like that large neck profile either and had Fender make him a bunch of necks from which he picked his favorite.

And if anyone was able to get a better shot of Beck’s pedalboard than I did last week, I’d love if you could share it with all of us here. I took a bunch of pics from the front of the stage, but even from there it was impossible to tell what all was on there.

Nov 022011

Blake Shelton Tech Area

From the big boys who couldn’t live without them, to the rest of us who can only imagine how cool it would be to have one, I doubt if there’s a guitar player alive who at some point hasn’t thought about either having or being a guitar tech. And now Premier Guitar is giving us a glimpse of life behind the scenes with Gear Nannies: The Life of a Guitar Tech.

Dierks Bentley Tech Area

Ray and I have been fortunate enough to do a lot of opening gigs over the past couple of years, and the first guy I look for when I get to a show is the guitar tech for the headliner. As a group, these guys have proven to be the nicest, most helpful people you could ever have the good fortune to meet. From Jon who techs for Eddie Perez in Dwight Yoakam’s band, to Frank who techs for all the guitarist in Kenny Rogers band, to Rob from Gloriana, to the guys with Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley and Lynyrd Skynyrd, they have all gone out of their way to make us feel comfortable working with their acts, and have shared some great insights into how they do their job on a daily basis.

Kenny Rogers' Guitars

I’ve been loaned those silver, reflective blankets to cover my guitars on a roasting hot stage (a must-have if you’re doing outdoor shows I quickly learned!), sat at the side of the stage with the tech for some truly awesome performances, built up quite a guitar pick collection, and even gotten to play some beautiful guitars. As a guitar player, don’t ever pass up the opportunity to talk with these guys. They are total gear nerds like the rest of us, and love to talk about their craft. A special thanks to Premier Guitar for this article, enjoy!

Oct 032011

One of the great things about my current band is that we get to experience both the headliner and the opening act side of putting on a show. So we definitely know what it’s like to be an opening act and we also know what we like to have bands open for us.

I’ve compiled some of the lessons learned from our experiences and put them into this nifty Top 10 list for your consideration. Of course, there are many other things to consider when you’re the opening act as well. If you have some other suggestions or ideas please post them in the comments below for the benefit of all our readers.
1 . Be on time
Timing is everything as an opening act. Make sure your entire band is at the venue and ready to load in at the specified time. Most major shows run under a tight schedule, so if your band is not ready at the required time, then the production staff will likely not be happy with you. Also, as an opening act it can be challenging (if not impossible) to get a proper sound check. So, make sure that you don’t waste your precious sound check time because you’re waiting on one band member to show up. Try to make sure the entire band gets to the venue at about the same time if possible.
2. Dress to impress
If your playing a show as an opening act, then that probably means that you’re opening for a major act. Unless your type of musical genre dictates that you wear crappy clothes you should make sure that everyone in your band understands the need to dress appropriately for stage and I would also suggest they dress reasonably well for pre & post performance as well. This is your chance to impress. No one is going to find your “I’m with stupid” t-shirt all that funny (I’m looking at you Paul). Wear something nice…, no…not that Hawaiian print shirt…something else that’s nice.
3. Don’t overstay your welcome
Most often the set for the opening band will be somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes. We’ve typically been given around 45 minutes for most of our opening engagements. However, that assumes you start exactly on time. There are many times when a talkative Radio Personality or Emcee can cut into your time while introducing the band. You still need to be off stage at your designated time.
Also, watch for the stage manager or the headlining act’s tour manager, as they will sometimes cut your set short if they decide they need a little more time between acts (for any number of reasons). If they give you that “1 more song” sign, go strait to your last song, say thank you and good night and get off the stage as quickly as possible. Also, never expect an encore as an opening band….even if the crowd is calling for it. It is quite rare for an opener to ever return for an encore.
4. Be quick to get on and off stage
When you arrive for to the venue do not move any of your equipment out of your vehicle(s) until directed to do so by the Production Manager. Never place any of your gear on stage until you have been given the go ahead by the Production or Stage Manager. Once on stage, do not move any equipment that is not yours without getting permission from the Stage Manager. Be very careful of the other acts equipment. Set up your gear as quickly as you can. Do not waste time when you have the stage as any extra time you take setting up will generally come out of your allotted time for sound check. We’ve had times when the headliner was running late and we had to set up all of our gear on the side wing of the stage so we could get line level checks and make sure our in ear monitor system was working.
Once your performance is finished, get you and your gear off the stage as quick as you possibly can. This goes a long way with Production crews, Promoters and Headliners. So, getting a reputation for getting off stage quick can help you get future opening gigs. Our record for getting our band and all our equipment off is 4 minutes.
5. Stay out of the way & be accommodating
Once you’re off stage, be sure to get your band, your guests and all your equipment out of the way of the headliner and the production crew. If you think everything is out of the way and they ask you to move it somewhere else, just do it. This is not the time to argue. We’ve seen this happen with Green Rooms as well. As an opening act, you usually have very little clout or leverage compared to the headliner. So if they need your Green Room (assuming you even got one) after your performance is done, then you will be asked to vacate.
Whatever the promoter or the headliner needs from you try your best to accommodate them. Sometimes they may ask you to play a little longer….sometimes a little shorter….start earlier, start later….move your sound check earlier…move your sound check later….sound check after the doors open… no sound check at all. Whatever it is, this is the nature of being an opening band, so just roll with it and enjoy the experience.
6. Keep the show upbeat & energetic and play appropriate songs.
As an opening band, your entire job is to get the audience warmed up for the main act. This is not the time to be showing off your vocal chops by singing every ballad in your repertoire (unless that’s the type of genre for this gig). In general, you want to play more upbeat, energetic music that will wake the audience up and get them primed for the headlining act. It’s usually ok to play a few cover songs as well. So pick a couple that you know will go over well with your intended audience.
7. Be prepared
Take the Boy Scout’s motto to heart. Bring backups of any important cables or equipment. We have a special cable for our laptop that is critical to our performance. We always have at least 2 of these cables…sometimes 3 of them just in case. We also use an In Ear Monitor system that we bring with us and lives by our drummer. This setup requires a splitter snake with a run long enough to reach the stage box. So, we always bring a long enough snake with fan tail since we can’t be assured that the sound company will have this item for us.
Being prepared also relates to basic needs such as food, water, bathrooms. Eat before you get to the venue, since the timeline of the production can change on a moments notice. If you have time before your portion of the show, eat a little something again, but don’t wander off too far from the stage. Stay hydrated and drink often (but it’s a good idea to refrain from alcohol before your set). Make sure you find a restroom before you go on stage. It really sucks to be half way through your set and realize you may not make it to the end of your set.
8. Be friendly and say thank you to everyone
Remember to be friendly….even if it’s not your nature. If you want to continue being invited back to open for other big name acts, you need people to like you…not just the fans of your music, but all the production staff, sound crew, light crew, headlining support staff, promoter (especially the promoter). Talk to people and say thank you and how much you appreciate the opportunity. Thank them for whatever they are doing to make the show possible. If you want better sound, go out front and talk to the sound guy before your show. Thank them for working with you. If you want any lights, talk to the light guys and be appreciative of what they do….otherwise you may get no lights at all. If you are able to interact with the headliner, thank them for allowing you to share their stage. Thank the promoter for booking you on the event.
You’d be surprised how rarely any of these people here the words “Thank You” or any appreciation from the opening acts. I recently heard a story from a Promoter who had booked a young singer to open for a national act. He said that the singer was friendly and nice to him, but the singer’s band didn’t know who he was and spent the whole time bitching and moaning and basically being self indulgent jerks. So, unless you know exactly who that person is standing next to you, assume that they’re someone you don’t want to piss off.
9. Don’t be an annoying fan to the headliner
Do not assume that just because you’re sharing the same stage as the headliner that they’re actually going to invite you back to hang out in their Green room or bus and that you’re going to party all night with them and then they’ll ask you to join their tour. This rarely happens….which is not to say it never happens, just rarely. The truth is that it’s far more likely that you’ll never even meet the headliner. You may be able to watch their show from backstage….you may be within close proximity to them…if you’re lucky you may get a photo op…if you’re really lucky you might get to hang with them for a short period of time. Don’t pressure the promoter or anyone else to introduce you to the headliner. Don’t pitch them your demo tape. Don’t act like a rabid fan. Be cool and act like a professional musician. Be appreciative and don’t forget to thank them if you do meet them.
We were recently told a story by a headliner’s tour manager about how their previous opening band had been pissed off that they didn’t get a proper sound check and had tweeted about it the next day. This really upset the headliner and he had decided to just get rid of all future opening bands (which would have included us for the following day). Luckily the promoter had intervened and convinced him that we were not like that. We were only told this story because we first had told the tour manager that we knew we probably wouldn’t have a chance to meet Mr. Headliner, but would he please make sure to tell him how appreciative we were that he was allowing us to open the show for him. After we finished our set, the tour manager made sure that we were able to get a photo op with Mr. Headliner, who in turned thanked us for putting on a great show and being so professional. That would not have happened if we had not been so nice to the tour manager.
10. Make yourself available to fans after the show
One of the big reasons you want to be an opening band is to get in front of people who are not yet fans of your music. This is a great opportunity for you to get your music out to a large audience. Be sure to bring merchandise with you (if you don’t have any, get some before you play the gig). Make sure you have CD’s, t-shirts, bandanas, whatever merch you think your audience might like.
Ask the promoter if you can sign your merch after your set, while the headliner is preparing to take the stage. If not, go out after the show and meet fans at your merch booth. If possible do it both at intermission and after the show. We’ve made a lot of new fans/friends this way. It’s not unusual for the headliner to not come out to sign autographs at all. More often than not we’re the only band out signing autographs after the show and the line has been huge. Most people are thrilled that you would take the time to stay after and meet them. We make it a policy to not leave until everyone who wants one has gotten an autograph, picture or whatever.
Well, there you have it. This is “Opening Band: 101″. Many of you probably have experience as an opening act as well. Do you have something else to add or maybe you disagree on a point I’ve made? Well, feel free to add to the conversation in the comments below. I look forward to hearing other stories from those of you who have lived through being an opening band.
Sep 292011

Passes & Picks

So I think it’s fair that if there’s one thing Ray and I have learned since starting this blog, is that it can be a lot of work for just two guys to keep up with while we’re on the road playing! We initially thought this was the perfect thing as we could post updates between shows, from the bus, on our iPhones or iPads, from anywhere really. Yeah, not so much! It’s been a crazy, great summer, but when I just looked at when I last posted a story I was completely embarrassed! Four months, ouch!

So much has happened over the last few months, for us and in the industry, that there is no way we’re ever going to be able to catch up! So we’ve decided to pick up right where we left off and try to once again bring you the most interesting and relevant stories we can find for all you gigging musicians out there who have been so supportive of the site. We were gigging during Summer NAMM so missed that, but are planning to go to Anaheim again this year, so start thinking now about anything particular you want us to check out for you. We may even have a few gems from the last winter NAMM we can share here sometime soon!

Kenny & the boys

As for Ray and I, we spent most of the summer gigging and we plan to bring you a few stories stories and more importantly, some great backstage pictures from many of those shows. I have collected picks for many years and picked up some great ones over the summer I’ll share here too. May even give a few away at some point! We were very fortunate this year to do a lot of headlining shows as well as open for some of our favorite artists including Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, Gloriana, Phil Vassar, Dwight Yoakam, Sunny Sweeney, David Nail, Steve Azar, and my personal favorite, Kenny Rogers. That’s right, Kenny Rogers! I had several people (including Phil Vassar) tell me that Kenny is the greatest guy in our business, and they were absolutely right. He gave us his motorhome to use as our dressing room, moved his Meet & Greet so it wouldn’t conflict with our time on stage, and made sure there was time to meet the band and take a few pictures. An amazing experience and one we won’t soon forget!

'57 Les Paul Custom

On a personal level, this summer was a great one for me. One of the highlights of my career was being signed to an endorsement deal with Gibson Guitars! Now it’s obvious that they’ve lowered their standards to an unprecedented level for me to be included, but a very special Thank You to Jenny, Danny and everyone there for this opportunity. They even loaned me a beautiful ’57 Reissue Black Beauty to play for the summer! Sadly is has gone back to Gibson, but that may end up being the next guitar in the collection! It really was a beauty!

And I got home late one night from being on the road, and there in the garage was a big box from Mesa Boogie with their new Royal Atlantic amp inside! What a treat. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and will be writing a review and updates here for you to check out. So far I love it, different from my Lone Star Special, but very cool tones. Thanks to Tim, Mike and everyone there for their continued support.

I was also fortunate enough to meet some great guitar players and make some new friends, guys like Jeff “J-Dawg” Smith (Phil Vassar), Brian Layson (Dierks Bentley), Eddie Perez (Dwight Yoakam) and Delaney Jackson (Mark Chesnutt). Not only great players, but really nice guys as well. Look forward to keeping in touch and meeting up with all of them again sometime soon.

So we’re back! Thanks for sticking with us during the summer and we look forward to bringing you all kinds of interesting things moving forward. As always, let us know if you have any questions or there’s anything you’d like us to address.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Paul & Ray

May 312011

One of the best articles I’ve ever read on this subject, Peter Thorn helps explain why some people get tons of gigs, and others don’t.

Psychology of a Working Guitarist

I won’t get into all the do’s and don’ts as Peter does a great job of covering those, but I’ve been talking about this for years and it always amazes how some people just never seem to get it. At the end of the day, there are always several players who are good enough for whatever level a particular gig is at (and let’s face it, Peter is at a different level than I am, and I’m at a different level than someone just starting out). So if there are always more good players than there are great gigs, what are you doing to be the one who gets the gig?

For a touring band like ours, I’ve always felt that there are lots of guys good enough to play the parts, so I’m always looking for someone that I respect and want to hang with. I genuinely like the guys in my current band and I am really looking forward to an incredibly busy summer of planes, buses, vans, and bad hotels with those guys. Do we have our issues? Of course we do, who doesn’t? But at the end of the day, you are on stage for a couple of hours a night (if you’re lucky) and the rest of the time is spent just hanging out with your bandmates.

And I don’t think this just goes for band situations. I used to be a CEO in a previous life and have hired literally hundreds of people over the years. I’ve found the exact same thing there, where the quality of your work-life goes up exponentially if you are working with people whom you respect and enjoy being around. And with the high levels of unemployment out there today, you can just multiply the number of good people out there competing with you for that gig!

So have a look at the article to see how you stack up and ask yourself:  Are you getting the gigs you want?

May 212011

Back when we started this blog late last year, one of the first questions we received was how to deal with stage fright. Ray and I both took a stab at what we thought might be helpful, but since it’s not something either one of us has had to deal with, I don’t know that we were of much help. I’ve been performing onstage since I was in grade school and then spent many years as a corporate executive, so being in front of groups of people is pretty much second nature at this point. And let’s face it, Ray’s middle name is “Ham!”

So when I came across this article in Gig Magazine, I thought I would share it here as I know this can be a real issue for a lot of people.

Overcoming Stage Fright

My favorite line is near the end where the author says, “Ultimately, overcoming stage fright is accomplished by doing the one thing you fear the most: performing…if you are not willing to “face the fear of failure,” stage fright will continue to haunt your performance attempts.” You can ask Ray, I have fallen on my face (both literally AND figuratively) many times over the years and yet I’m still here performing, and have a pretty good gig at that! At the end of the day it’s important to remember that the only person that cares whether you were “perfect” or not, is you! Everyone else is simply there to have a good time and be entertained. If you can find a way to keep that in mind, it will make it a lot easier to go out there and take some chances and have fun!

May 172011

John Bohlinger

For those of you not familiar with John Bohlinger, it’s a safe bet to say you’re probably familiar with his playing. A noted Nashville guitarist, he has recorded and toured with over 30 major-label artists, and currently spends most of his time doing TV and film work. John is a close friend of our good friend Forrest Lee Jr., and when it comes to travel tips on the road, John really knows is stuff. As summer is upon us again, it’s the time where many of us gigging musicians spend a substantial amount of time on the road, and these tips can be lifesavers. You can have a look at his article in Premier Guitar here:

Road-Dog Travel Tips

And I have another tip to add as well. While you’re removing that disgusting comforter from the bed, take an extra minute and douse the TV remote with Purell. One of the most germ-ridden items in the whole room, I don’t touch that thing until it’s had a sanitizing bath!

But other than that, have a great time on the road this summer!

Mar 092011

Peter Thorn

If you follow The Gigging Musician you’ve seen articles by one of my favorite guitarists, Peter Thorn, here before. In his latest Working Guitarist article on Premiere, Peter talks about how he learns all those tunes once he gets that coveted gig with Chris Cornell, Don Henley, Leann Rimes, Jewel, or currently Melissa Etheridge. This is an eye-opening article and I sure wish I had seen it a lot sooner! I’ve played with five different bands in the last three years and have learned a ton of songs, sometimes in a very short amount of time. 50-70 tunes for each band and it gets hard to keep them all separate. I sure wish I had known about software like Transcribe back then as it makes the learning process so much easier. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to learn a lot of tunes in a short amount of time, do yourself a favor and steal some of the tips in this article!

Feb 282011

This past weekend we had two shows in Ogden Utah at the Outlaw. Great room, holds about 700 people, rodeo was in town, and the place was packed to the gills both nights with some of the wildest crowds we’ve played for in a long time! The perfect scenario, right? Unless of course you’re dealing with a bout of food poisoning! My new motto? “No seafood if you’re not ON the coast!” You know it’s bad enough being sick, and being away from home just makes it that much worse. But then having to drag yourself on stage to perform is really the icing on the cake. I’ll spare you the gory details, and there definitely won’t be any pictures in this post, but I haven’t been so happy to get back home after a gig in a long, long time!

Fortunately it didn’t come on until late the first night, and my bandmates and the crew at the Outlaw were fantastic in taking care of things so I could stay in bed until showtime the second night, but still it was touch and go for awhile there. I’ve never missed a gig for any reason, but this was probably as close as I’ve ever come. Thanks to Pepto Bismal, Gatorade, and Tylenol I made it through the second night and am starting to feel human again today after a good night’s sleep in my own bed.

Getting sick on the road is just one of the hazards that’s an inevitable part of what we do, but I sure hope it’s a long time before I feel like that again. At home or on the road!

Feb 172011

Quick Looks – Keyboard Rigs at the Grammys

Here’s a look at some of the keyboard rigs at the recent Grammy awards show from Cool backstage video of several different keyboard setups. Sorry we were not able to embed the video in this post, but just hit the link at the bottom to take you directly to the proper page.

By Robbie Gennet of

“More peeks backstage at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards! As we were being given the tech tour backstage, there were some places where it was okay to shoot video and some where it was not. We were allowed to grab this brief snippets of the keyboard rigs of some of the night’s major performers: Eminem, Mick Jagger, Bruno Mars, and the Arcade Fire–who won Album of the Year for The Suburbs. Longer descriptions of the rigs follow in the text that accompanies each video.”

Videos Here: Quick Looks – Keyboard Rigs at the Grammys, Robbie Gennet.

Jan 312011

John Rich, Sebastian Bach and band at soundcheck

We had the pleasure of opening for John Rich (Lonestar, Big & Rich) this last weekend, and it was definitely a wild one! John invited his good friend Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) to join him onstage for the show and it was a real treat for the audience. I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of soundchecks over the years, first running the merchandise concession for the Seattle Center Coliseum, and then as an opening act, and I’d have to say that John Rich’s soundcheck was easily one of the best I’ve ever witnessed. When he came out, he wasn’t just going through the motions and making sure everything worked, he came out and performed!

People have asked us to talk more about performance, stage presence, and the like, and John was a great example of how to really get ready to perform at a show. There were probably fewer than 20 people in the room, from stage hands to security to vending, and still he included his stage patter, lots of energy, and he took charge of the room. Not something you see at most soundchecks.

One of the big takeaways I got from seeing this is that just before they were done with soundcheck he said “Okay, let’s run the top of the show.” They proceeded to run the first song-and-a-half of their set, just like the show had actually started. When they walked off stage, they knew they were ready for the evening’s performance. I used to play a lot of golf, and this is a trick a lot of good golfers use to get ready for their round. Right as they’re finishing hitting balls and warming up on the range, they actually hit all the shots they’re expecting to play on the first hole. I always found that this calmed the inevitable nerves and helped you come out ready to play. Frankly I’m surprised I didn’t catch on to doing this in the band setting sooner myself, and I can guarantee that this is something we will be doing from now on at every show. Thanks John!

And as a special treat, If you’d like one of the John Rich guitar picks pictured below, be one of the first three people to post a comment here on the site (not on Facebook, sorry), and I’ll drop one of these in the mail for you. Let the comments begin!!!

Jan 212011

Randy Nichols - Force Media Management

Our friends at Ultimate Ears recently asked that question of RANDY NICHOLS of FORCE MEDIA MANAGEMENT. Randy represents music clients UNDEROATH, THE STARTING LINE, THE ALMOST, AARON GILLESPIE and PERSON L as well as producer AARON SPRINKLE. In addition, Randy co-manages FAKE PROBLEMS and HIT THE LIGHTS with Matt Watts.

Have a look at what Randy has to say and see if it’s time for you to consider adding a manager to your team.

Jan 082011

Editors Note: Today we have a guest post from Portland guitarist Billy Lindsay for the Mono M80 Gig Bag. I also use this case for carrying on guitars when I fly (Southwest only!), and would have to say it’s was one of my best purchases of the last year. Thanks to Billy for offering up this review.


Mono M80 Dual

I play out a lot, at least twice a week and frequently more than that, and then there’s rehearsal. I end up carrying guitars around a lot. For gigs I carry a minimum of two 2 guitars, and getting them in and out of my truck has been very hard on the gigbag I have been using, so much so that it started falling apart. I started researching a replacement and found Mono Cases via my friend Paul. He travels a lot and uses their double case for carrying on his guitars when flying. On a side note, it’s a good idea to check with your airline to see if you can carry on your guitars. These Mono cases are good for carry on but not for stowing in the hold, you need a flight case for that.

I ordered the Mono M80 Dual Electric Case from Guitar Center and it arrived last week. No one really likes spending money on gigbags/cases as it’s not as cool as a new pedal or amp or guitar. We all want the cool stuff, and the cost of these cases is higher than your usual store gigbags, BUT it is worth it to protect your guitars. They are a sizable investment. No pay if no play, and you cannot play without your guitars. I used the new gigbag to transport my guitars to the New Year show this weekend and it is very well made and will last a long time. There are pockets for strings, cables and pedals, and there is a neck support for each guitar with thick padding all round. I would feel comfortable carrying a Les Paul in this case thanks to that neck support, something I would never have done with my previous gigbag.

Jan 082011

Peter Thorn

One of my favorite guitars players Peter Thorn, and my favorite guitar magazine Premier Guitar, have joined forces to bring you a new column each month called The Working Guitarist (Hmmm, sounds vaguely familiar. Glad we got ours out here first!). Peter has played guitar for Chris Cornell and Don Henley among others, and is currently touring with Melissa Etheridge. I met him last year at NAMM and he is a really nice guy. His YouTube demos for the Komet Concorde and Suhr Badger amplifiers are excellent, you should definitely check them out.

His first column is called “Your B-Rig – Getting Great Tones With Minimal Gear.” It’s a great article with very useful information for flying to shows, and fits  right in with what we’re doing here at The Gigging Musician. Seeing as how we started flying to more gigs last year, I went with his first option which is a smaller pedalboard running through rented backline. As it looks like we’re in for even more fly dates this year, I going to explore his second option which would utilize the Fractal Audio Systems Axe-Fx or Digidesign Eleven Rack units running straight into the board. Since we use in-ears anyway, this could be a great option. I know this post has a lot of links in it, but these are all really great links to check out. Have a look and let me know how you do it when you have to fly to gigs.


Jan 052011

Headlining in SLC

So we’ve been getting a few questions about the band that Ray and I are in so thought we’d tell you a little bit about it. We’re called Chance McKinney n’ CrossWire and we tend to refer to our music as “Industrialized Country.” So what exactly is Industrialized Country you might ask? I guess it’s even a bit hard for us to explain (guess you just need to hear it!), but it’s basically a melding of modern country, a bit of good ol’ rock and roll, and a great groove. A very common comment we get is “I really don’t like country music, but I love you guys!”

We started the band in late 2009, and shortly thereafter, our singer Chance entered and won CMT’s Music City Madness competition to find the best unsigned country artist in the country! The grand prize for winning the competition was a trip to Nashville to film our own CMT Studio 330 Session for TV which was an amazing experience. The fact that we were there the week of the storms and flooding only added to the stories we took away from Nashville.

Paul & Ray in action!

So from all that we ended up working with the William Morris Agency and spent last summer headlining lots of fairs and festivals, and also doing our fair share of opening slots. We were fortunate enough to tour with and open for artists like Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Dwight Yoakam, Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, CCR, Jamie O’Neal, Grand Funk and others. The schedule was at times hectic but no complaints from any of us, we know how lucky we are to be able to do this for a living!

After taking the last couple months off to write and rehearse a new show, we start things back up at the end of this month when we play with John Rich from Big and Rich at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton, WA. This is a fantastic room and should be a lot of fun. If you’re anywhere near us up here in the Northwest come on out to the show and say hello. This show will also give me the chance to talk with John’s guitar player Paul Allen. Paul is a noted Nashville sideman and session guy, and I’ll be sure to get pictures of his rig and pedalboard and will get them posted here shortly after the show.

So be sure to check out our site and even pop over to Facebook and hit “Like” so you’ll always know what’s going on with both the band and The Gigging Musicians!

Dec 312010

So before I got back into this band/gear/travel/blog/you-name-it business, I used to play golf. A lot of golf! How much golf you might ask? Like 100+ rounds a year of golf. Ahhh, the good old days….. So as I reflect back with only one day left in good ol’ 2010, how many rounds have I played this past year? Less than 10! Ouch! But there is one benefit I’ve found, and that is finding uses for that no longer needed golf gear laying around your garage pissing off your spouse.

That old golf travel case I used to take on trips before I had to lug all those guitars around on planes makes an excellent microphone and guitar stand case! Like most bands, we would just throw all those stands in the back of our trailer (along with all that drum hardware – a story for another day!), and we’d always say we were going to have to find a case for those someday. Well, that day has arrived! My large-sized SKB hard-sided golf travel case fit the bill perfectly and we’ve been using it since early summer with great results. I figure if it can stand up to the airlines tossing it around the baggage terminal it can certainly hold a few stands. These are easy to find on eBay or Craigslist, come in various sizes, and are extremely affordable used.

And hey, for those of you counting, that’s two posts in a row with no mention of a pedalboard. Maybe the therapy’s working!