How i learned to control my nerves
I think it's perfectly natural that all performers have some sort of nerves or pre-gig jitters, but it's really important that once you take that stage, nobody can ever tell. I've had a couple of gigs, one early in my career and the other a few years later, that has made me pretty fearless. Both of these stories involve Bill Holland & Rent's Due, a predominantly original band, and I'm going to talk about the first one today.
In '76 or'77 we played in Woodstock, NY at a club called the Joyous Lake for a weekend. The band had an apartment above the club, which was pretty cool! We were mainly an original band and the covers we did were stuff like Charlie Parker, Bobby Hutcherson, Ray Charles, Van Morrison and the like, so imagine our surprise/shock when we saw Charles Mingus sitting at a table. To say we were a bit intimidated would be an understatement, but we were pretty cocky for a bunch of guys in their mid 20's, and we understood what a great honor it was to play in front of him. He stayed all night, never said a word, but shook our hands at the end, which we were thrilled by! The biggest thing I took away from that other than, damn I just played in front of Mingus!, was that if I could play jazz in front of someone of his caliber, there will never be a musical situation that intimidates me, and through the years, that has remained true.
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I'm a 40+ years veteran of the music biz and these days I work exclusively as an online session drummer.