Lessons about performing, lesson six: Watch your shit.

Yesterday, more than 100 of you crazy bastards read a bunch of pages. I haven’t checked the page view count, but y’all read a bunch. That’s awesome! Don’t tell your friends to visit. I don’t like your friends. Fuck ’em.

No, seriously… Don’t tell ’em. They can fuck right off.

Why? Because of this next damned rule!

Alright, you know what I’m doing. I’m telling you all the stuff nobody tells you. You’ve learned to play guitar faster than Malmsteen, you’ve got the style of Les Paul, and you’ve got a sound like Van Halen. Now, all you need is money for cocaine so that you can be as awesome as Glen Campbell.

Putting two and two together, possibly using all your fingers and toes, you do the unthinkable. You decide to start a band. Trust me, it’s a horrible idea. But, it’s a great time. You probably won’t make any serious money, but don’t let that stop you. Get out there and make the people wiggle.

So, about that money thing I just mentioned… Let me introduce you to our next rule for performing musicians.

Rule #6: Watch your shit!

I have a pretty unusual bit of my history that not many other guitarists share. I have never sold a guitar. Ever, I haven’t ever sold one single guitar. I never even put one in a pawn shop. (That’s not easy to accomplish. It’s harder than getting perfect attendance at school for your entire scholastic career.)

Oh, I’ve given some away. I’ve never traded any. I will buy your used guitar. I’m horrible like that. No, I won’t trade for it.

So, what the hell am I on about now?

Watch your shit.

Why? Because someone’s walking off with it.

I’m not kidding. I’ve tried labels, obnoxious paint, and booby-traps. So far, the biggest thing that was stolen was two sets of stacks and a monitor – in one haul.

I was actually kind of impressed.

The equipment trailer has been broken into. Guitars have been stolen. I’ve bought my own guitar back from a friend who actually didn’t steal it. It was another one of his junkie friends and he wouldn’t meet me. So, I gave my friend what he paid for it and got my guitar back. Strangely, I got that one back with an amp that belonged to a guy in an entirely different band. I know it did, because it had his fucking name and their band logo sticker was on it.

I had a drummer who kept getting his cymbals stolen. Not the stands, just the cymbals. Not once – multiple times.

Venue owners? Oh, them bastards will try to claim your kit belongs to them. I’m not even kidding. I’ve watched a quiet, skinny, lanky bassist beat up a bar owner because he tried to say that the amp belonged to the bar. He did, too. He went straight ballistic. The rest of us watched and kept drinking. We cheered him on and helped in spirit.

Fans? Oh, so now you’re in a band that’s got a little bit of fame. Yeah, remember how I sometimes talk about how venue owners should provide security? That’s not just to stop ’em from climbing up on the stage, that’s also to keep them from stealing our shit.

Note to fans: We get that you are sure we’re going to be famous someday and that a guitar stand is a worthy piece of memorabilia. In fact, we love you – we really do. However, we actually need that stuff. Shit, we’re probably wasted – just ask us and maybe we’ll give you something.

I toss out dozens, sometimes more, picks. The drummer throws sticks to the crowd. I’ve taken my shirt off and traded it for a bottle of water. I’ve given my hat to the audience. I’ll give you all sorts of things – including the shirt off my back.

Y’all don’t really need to steal a guitar stand. They make ’em by the thousand. You can go down to your local music shop and buy one. I know, because that’s probably how I got mine! Besides, you probably don’t even need one! You probably don’t even play!

I play cover tunes. That’s what I do. I’m good at it, true. But I’m never going to be famous. Whoever it was at Zoots, I want my pedal station back. Your joyous theft probably cost me over $1500. You better fucking still be using them and getting better at playing. I was really, really poor back then. That was like a month’s worth of work, assuming I didn’t want to eat.

Then… Remember those friends I mentioned? Yeah…

Most of the time, your friends will be pretty cool. Keep in mind the types of friends you keep. So, I do say ‘most of the time.’ No, it’s worse…

The friends I’m talking about are the friends of your friends. You don’t know ’em but your buddy trusts him, so why not let ’em join the party? Why not? Because the fucker waited until you passed out and stole two amps that were almost irreplaceable.

They stole not one, but two. One was a 1966 JTM50 and the other was the same model from exactly a year later. Estimated value for the pair? $17,000 to $20,000.

I hope you enjoyed your time in jail, Brian – and you never finished paying the restitution.

What can you do? Watch your shit.

You can also try making sure it’s identifiable. If you do this in a permanent way, you’re going to lower the resale value – if that interests you. You can try a label making machine and putting labels inside hidden nooks and crannies. You can get an etcher and put your name on it. You can paint it. You can put stickers on it. You can lock it up. You can do all sorts of things – but someone’s still going to try to steal it.

I had a bassist who got everything he could find in pink. His thinking was, “Ain’t nobody stealing my shit.” He was wrong, by the way. This led him to have extra confidence and he’d leave his shit all over the place. Sure enough, it’d go missing. We’d play the rounds where he accused everyone and made us open our gig bags. Fortunately, this was a quick affair because we didn’t have any bright pink items in there. So, it worked out after all!

Strangely, I now have more shit than I’ve ever had – and nobody has tried to steal any. Granted, I’ve been retired(ish) and am just now hitting the stage again, but it’s been nice. But, I have a lot of shit now and it’s sometimes expensive and rare shit. Please, don’t steal it. I like my shit. That’s why I bought it!

Once again, I’m happy you read these. I enjoy smashing the keyboard until gibberish comes out. It gives me great big smiles to see people reading these. Remember, I like you just fine – it’s your friends I don’t trust. Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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3 thoughts on “Lessons about performing, lesson six: Watch your shit.”

  1. I have had a drumset stolen, I wen’t to a co-workers house to jam with it one night, and we got all fucked up and it got late, and it was set up in his basement, and he says just leave it here, you can come get it after work tomorrow, hell we can jam again before you take it back home. Well the dude didn’t show up for work the next day, and so I go directly to his house when I am done with work and his house is completely empty. The loser skipped town. Never seen him again, and I loved that drumset, it was beauitful and it sounded so freaking huge. Never to be seen again. I will never leave any of my equipment behind unless I don’t mind donating it to where it is again.

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