I'm out of freakin' shape

On the weekend I went up to Moncton to hang out and do some recording with fellow maritime musician Layne Greene. It was all gravy, we did some takes of some songs I'm working on and had a good time chatting together with his partner Hayley and having a few cold ones.  

 

IMG_2798.PNG

The next day Layne asked me to sit in on his set for the relay for life a few towns over and I said sure! I was very excited to get to play guitar for somebody and lay back and accompany for once in many many moons. In fact I think the last time I did that was with Brianna Gosse when I lived on that big ol' island.  I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to try some of the stuff I've been working on for the past few years and open up a little. I'm a pretty basic guitar player and I spend my days working on fundamentals, especially playing 2 or more notes-per string arpps with a metronome or working on my picking. Nothing fancy, just trying my best. 

I got my Butt hawhoooped....... 

There is a thing I'm starting to understand: being in gig shape.

I can practice all freakin' day for months on end but if I don't play a gig in six months and I try to throw down with no rehearsal, oh boy it's gonna hurt. I attribute this to gigging shape.  

See, when I practice, I do crap over and over and over again. Sometimes I give myself creative improvisation time (outside of writing music) but even then I seem to find my brain being lazy when confronted with the possibility of infinite choruses of rhythm changes and blues. If a chorus is bunk, I'll get the next one. It's like reaching for a ring on a carousel that never stops (I'm gonna start forcing myself to play concise improvs.....).

The way I've taught myself to practice does not lend itself to jumping into gig environments because it functions nothing like the music I end up playing does. With a short amount of time to make a solid statement on a harmonically simple song, I need to play phrases that count and serve the tone of the music. When I am not in gig shape, I find myself with a large supply of patterns with tentative connecting tissue or phrases that leave me blanking on what to play next. I also find my practicing brain wanting to intrude on solos and reach for things it knows are out of my technical grasp because that's how I've learned to practice. 

Remedy: play gigs! Fer gawd sakes. Go to jam sessions ya jerk.  

I have gone through swathes (swatches, if you speak presidential)   of my life where I haven't been practicing where I have been able to survive solely on gig shape. Where even though I may not have been expanding my skill set, the command of the one I had was so refined that I could always find something to play in my bag that sounded at least good. 

Anyway, new goals... I'm in Halifax, hanging out and checking out the Standfields recording session and working with some old friends.... details to come!  

 

Alex