Steve Cook's soul, song, and sweat.

Shinybass journal entry 10-24-11

Few things are as dynamic and unnerving as the music industry.  One day you are being wined and dined by the famous and the people who can make you famous, the next you are trying to figure out how you are going to make rent money.  The roller coaster is ridiculous.  It really is.  If there were a hardened job description written out for us, I wonder a) how many musicians would actually read it, and b) how many of us would go through with the application process.   Maybe that’s where the stigma of being a musician comes into play.  Anyone can do it, it seems, and there is no formal application – just the gumption to set out and try and take on the world.  Not that there is any office to check in with on that one…

If there is one saving grace, it is being a ‘sideman’.  There is a LOT less pressure on us – if we show up on time, play most of the right notes, and can handle the road, then we are OK.  If you are an artist, the rules are generally the same, except there are a lot more things you have to do to keep moving forward.  It’s very similar to being in the NFL – if you get picked up by a team (signed to a label), and they give you a shot, then you may have a life span of about 3 years.  If you blow out a knee (beat your spouse), lose the big game (curse on the red carpet), or miss the bus (miss the bus), then this window of opportunity goes down considerably.  I haven’t played for a ton of Nashville artists, but I know a lot of them, and trying to maintain a career is a tough road that takes work and discipline.  That separates the men from the boys.

The downside to not being an artist is that we generally don’t get the perks of being famous, which means that I can actually eat my dinner in peace, which I am OK with.  But there are those few people that really appreciate what we do, and for that I am grateful.  Plus, we DO get to ride the bus, and we can get in the VIP with our artist.  That doesn’t suck.  But again, being a sideman doesn’t mean that we can slack off, either.  It means that we should be working just as hard (if not harder) than our artist, because well, the money is a lot less.  And if you want to complain about it, then get your own band.

In being out here so long, you meet a lot of people who sometimes follow the artist, and sometimes like to see you play as well.  This past week, I saw a couple of diehard Bucky Covington fans in Kansas City.  I know how much they like Bucky, and I am happy that he has started to get busy again.  Change is always a hard pill to swallow from the outside looking in, and I am grateful that some of his faithful made the show this week.  I hope that it was enough to get them out to another one.  Phil really is a wonderful human and a great performer, and I am glad they came to see the show, and hopefully see why I made the switch.

The show in Kansas City was a bit of all right as they say in London.  The whole day was good – I had a solid workout in the early afternoon at the 100-year old President Hotel, and a fine show at the Power and Light District.  A few drinks to celebrate our greatness, and then I was in bed.  Again, a great day, and an easy ride to Chicago for a sold-out show at Joe’s on Weed St.

When I get my touring schedule and I see we are heading to Chicago, I get excited.  Since my first visit to the Cubby Bear a dozen years ago, the town has always beamed like a bright, shining star.  It is one of the few towns I have revisited several times for personal vacations (yes, I take those occasionally), and a town that I could call home.  After a nice lunch and a couple of Pumpkin lattes, Jeff and I wandered all over the area, realizing that when on tour, we certainly don’t dress up, as it seemed that everyone on Chicago gets awfully dressy to go shopping, guys with their North Face jackets, women with their black stretchy pants and all with white iPhone ear buds in.  I don’t mind if I’m dressed down.  I live on a bus.  Sometimes down by the river.

But the Hard Rock hotel doesn’t care.  You can wear whatever you want, and they let you check out Fender guitars for free.  And it is only a few blocks from the river, so with a little time in the early afternoon, then you can get out and see a couple of things, even if you aren’t dressed like a native. Here are some of the views from my window, and from the streets below.

I seem to have found my razor since the last time I was in Chicago….

Hmmm – I guess I DO look like a vagabond when I am in town.  At least I got a new coat.  Anyways, with a sold-out show at Joe’s, it means that we are partying with about a thousand of our closest friends, and they came out in full force.  Special thanks to everyone who made it out – the night was really special.  I should have video from the night up soon.  Once again, Chicago, you did not disappoint.  And thank you to the friends who provided the Garrett Popcorn.  Goodness gracious!

This week is a slow one, touring wise, with only one show in Raleigh – which means I get to catch up on life.  I get to paint the bathroom, get the fire pit going, and finally get back in the kitchen and cook for my family.  And I may have to get up and clean the gutters.  When does that bus leave again?  Oh, and Diesel is getting ‘tutored’ (and Gary Larson fans out there?) as well…


See you on the road!



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