A while back I was playing guitar in a dance band. Steady work, though it got old after a few years. I was just about to quit and find something else when my former long-time band mate Dean joined on bass. Shortly after that, the drummer quit due to health problems and a young redheaded girl named Shawna joined full time on drums.
The three of us clicked and the gigs were fun again. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the singers and horn players would leave the stage in the middle of the wedding reception and tell us to “play something” (just one of the reasons I was quitting before) and the three of us would have a blast, pulling up old repertoire Dean and I knew and that Shawna could easily follow. It worked so well that we decided to form our own band.
Shawna insisted, correctly, that we needed a fourth member to add another voice and expand our range. We tried a few without success, then her husband, Solon, who was a Nashville session player expressed an interest. We jumped on it, tracked him into the demo, and passed it around. And so, Hard To Handle was born. But, the timing never worked. Every time I got us a gig, one or the other band member couldn’t make it. Eventually, Shawna and Solon moved about 5 hours south where Solon is now attending medical school.
I told you that so I could tell you this.
Halloween we made it work. A customer at the shop where I teach asked “do any of you know a variety band who would play a Halloween party?”
“Heck yeah,” I answered, “I front for the best variety band in town, Don’t Pass Go” (my wife’s name for any four piece pickup band I put together).
We haggled a little about price, shook hands and he said he’d send me the contract when his board had approved it. I hit the phone and started calling the usual suspects. Dean was available for bass and he said Shawna might be in town around the date. I texted and she responded that she’d love to. Out of flagrant optimism, I asked if her husband was available. She said she’d check. To shorten an already lengthy story, he was.
We all showed up at the Renaissance Festival Barn in Eminence, KY, in time to run over a few intros, set sound levels and catch up. Then we rocked the place until they closed it. The cleverly costumed crowd partied right along with us.
I’m not sure I can describe the feeling except to say that we have chemistry. I’ve played these same cover songs in other bands but rarely has it felt so right as this gig. I felt like I had a firm foundation from which to jump in any direction I chose. I got to try little twists on the tunes that I’d always wanted to. I also go to try some songs I don’t get to do in other bands, with only a minimal rehearsal before the gig.
All I can tell you for sure is that you should keep on trying to find that chemistry, that right combination of musicians and when it does happen, when the magic hits, push it and ride it for all you’re worth whether to a crowd of 10 or 10,000.