I think we’ve all seen the bumper sticker that says “I’d Rather Be Skiing” or “I’d Rather Be Sailing” or something to that effect. I understand where they’re coming from, but am puzzled when I hear musicians say things like that about the music they play.
First of all, we are so far ahead of the game by doing something that means so much to us – playing music. Sure, the grass is greener on the other side, and it is easy for me to talk. What I’m saying is whatever and wherever you play, make it count, play for the moment, play your heart out.
The reason I say this is because not very long ago I was talking to some young and very talented musicians who really loved Tower Of Power. When I explained that before Tower I played with a big pop artist, they kind of laughed and couldn’t believe it. There was another time when I worked with Bob James and Kenny Loggins, doing two separate tours at the same time, literally catching red-eye flights to make the gigs. I remember that one artist would sort of criticize the music of the other. (They did work together in the past and I’m sure they had some issues).
Music is music, whether you’re playing with Wynton, Sting, The Chili Peppers, Fishbone, Garth, Wynona, Hanson, The Spice Girls or Kenny G. I know, I know, God will strike me dead for naming all of them in one breath, but remember, it all will help you in one way or another. The positive attitude is to love what you do, and do what you love. That way you’re covered.
If you’re asked to play disco, play the best “pea soup, pea soup” you can. Or if you’re asked to play a polka, play “um pa um pa” like you’ve never played it before. Because when you’re finally asked to play with an act on the big stage, you’ll be ready and able to handle it. Then you’ll have other things to deal with, like trying to figure out what day it is, or what city you’re in, or if that’s the same deli tray you had the day before.
In the meantime, here are some funk grooves to work on that I find interesting and fun. Try them with the left hand on the hi-hat, and if you really want to get stupid, change your kit around to play left-handed (if you’re a right-handed player. Vice-versa for lefties).