There was a time in my high school and college days when I was scared of my shadow and doubted my abilities as a musician. After 20 years running a small business the shadow is no longer an issue although I think self doubt is just part of being a musician for many of us. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over that part of my personality but I am so grateful to be able to do what I do on a regular basis. There really is nothing quite like a live performance.
So how did I get here? I can go back to the time that I decided to go to Humber College. My parents suggested that I take some business courses so that I’d have something to fall back on if music didn’t work out. I’m not sure that running a successful franchise was quite what they had in mind but it was essential to send my shadow packing. You quickly get over your fears when you are swimming in the deep end with a massive amount of debt hanging on your back. I’ve learned so many skills that I can apply to my second life as a musician. Public speaking or speaking on television and radio? No problem. Marketing a brand? I’m the brand now. Customer service? My customers are the artists I work for and the students I teach.
The most important skill I’ve learned is the title of this blog entry. If you look at the list of people I have played with more than a few are people that I approached about playing bass. It’s a bit like asking someone out on a date, which I was hopeless at in high school. If you don’t ask the answer is still no! The earliest example of my newly acquired skill of shameless self promotion was when I went to listen to Mark Henning, one of the musicians I met on my return to playing. The bass player didn’t show up! I went home to get my gear and played the show. I met a drummer that night who I chased by email and eventually I got together with Brian McHugh and that led to a lot of work. Would it have happened if I had not followed up with Brian? We’ll never know.
Some other examples would include Marty Kolls. I ended up on her mailing list and when she sent out details about a show I asked if she needed some bass. Her new record that I played on should be released this Fall. I met Emm Gryner at a benefit for Haiti and followed up with a message and eventually we did bunch of shows together. Those were some of the best experiences to date. Rant Maggie Rant is an Irish/Celtic band I work for. I’d always joked with the drummer Rob Larose that they needed a bass player. RMR sent out details of a fundraiser and I asked Rob about playing bass that night and now I’m playing with them regularly. I met the vibes player Mike Wood on a plane to Calgary and exchanged contact information and not long after that he sent details about a show. I went to listen. He told me later that one of the reasons he considered me for future gigs is that I actually showed up to listen to him play.
So there you have it. If you don’t ask the answer is still no. Also remember that playing music is just part of the gig. It also helps to be a nice person that people like to hang with and share a hotel room. Have fun!