I play music alone these days.
I don’t think I’ve played in an actual group since around 2013. The last group I was with was a standard bar band. The lead vocalist / guitarist was that stereotypical mentality we all hear about, but at least he was smart enough to hire a vocalist, however, she didn’t last long. Practices were terrible and just focused on him.
Everything was his way, and let’s just say my talents were pushed down to just making sure I play three chords. None us were allowed to outshine him. The breaking point was playing a paid gig in front of a supermarket for a couple of hours (I honestly don’t recall how we got that). We get through half the set, and then he decides to change up the set list to all songs I’ve never practiced with the band. At that point, I just grabbed my gear during a break and left, and never went back. Didn’t even bother going back for the money.
Previous to that, the group I was with, while a great bunch of guys and I had fun, practice was just more of a party. Play a song or two, then have drinks for 20 minutes, rinse and repeat. While not a great way to practice, the gigs I did with these guys were definitely the most fun, and I was able to do more with the piano.
So why don’t I get my own group together? Work ethic.
It’s hard to find a group of people (pandemic notwithstanding) who want to practice together for 50 minutes straight, take a 10 minute break, and then do another 50 minutes straight and then call it a night and just hang out. Work particular measures, shape the sound, get tight. The satisfaction of accomplishing that is like no other. That feel you get as a group when you find that groove and all bandmates feel that…. that is a rush. That makes you want to experience it over and over again. Even if there was never a public performance, and it’s just a jam session or recording session, there’s still that feeling of accomplishment, unity, as well as pride in bringing out the best in each other. I’ve not had that feeling in decades. Perhaps I just expect too much.
I’ll just keep comfortable in my tiny apartment, playing the same 4 measures for 15 minutes until I get it right, and keep that work ethic strong to ensure I can produce results that I’m proud of, yet still have fun while doing it.