“Dude, you play Wagon Wheel?”

Of course I do. I’m the one that WILL play it, and Stairway, and Free Bird, and Shake It Off.

What can I say, I play music for a living and truth be told I am very lucky to be able to do so. A lot of the guys (and a few gals) that started along with me waaaaaay back in ’92 and ’93, don’t play at all anymore, never did have the drive. I for some reason did. I play at least 4-5 nights a week and sometimes 7 nights a week. And, every once in a while, there are time when there are 2-3 gigs a day and you’re running all over the city trying to fit ’em all in and not start late.
Because this IS how I pay the bills, a lot of the time I must play other peoples songs. The Hits, the ones everybody knows, the ones that will instantly fill a dance floor and inevitably… keep people drinking. They’re called “cover songs” in most circles. Musicians can take a lot of flack from other musicians and you’ll hear things like, “Oh you’re in a cover band” and “well do you just play covers?” and my ultimate favorite was “I’ll come and see you when you play all origional material.”
I was talking with Fee and she said, “hey do you do wagon wheel?” Of course I do Fee. She couldn’t believe I would.  It got me thinking about “covers”. In some circles covers are like taboo.  Some are repulsed by the fact that they would ever do them, and some who do them, wouldnt even think about doing certain ones i.e. Wagon Wheel. 

Why not?!  Is it selling out or cashing in?  I had a musician friend of mine (and I think he meant it as a compliment, even though it was a backhanded compliment) say, “hey you still playing at Cowboy Jacks? After I replied “man you should really got out of there.” Why? To play my touchy feely shit at coffe houses for $20 and tips? Or work at SA? I’m good at this, I really do enjoy it, and if I must sing Brown Eyed Girl again…. I’m singing it to you, and for only you. 

Covers are everywhere, and why for instance in Jazz is it called a “standard” and in bluegrass or gospel music it’s called a “traditional.” I mean, when people say that they are going to the symphony to hear Mozart who wrote music over 200 years ago aren’t they going to see just a really really big band playing a 200 hundred year old cover tune?!

“They sit at the bar and put bread in my jar and say…. Man what are you doing here.” (See… Backhanded compliment)

I’m here for you. And I am humbled and honored to be able to entertain you. 

I mean, was Sinatra just a cover artist? I think not. 

2 thoughts on ““Dude, you play Wagon Wheel?”

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