Writing and working on content for Live Musician Central has been an invaluable resource for me when it comes to connecting with other live musicians. I have had many e-mails and comments from readers regarding my posts as well as inquiries about my Fender Cyber-Twin SE sound patches. I’m fairly well known in Utah but I have been able to connect with musicians outside of Utah because of Live Musician Central. Today I would like to introduce our latest contributing author, Mr. Douglas White from Brick, New Jersey. I met Doug because of his interest in the Fender Cyber-Twin SE sound patches that I posted on Live Musician Central. I’m looking forward to having Doug contribute to Live Musician Central. For his first authored post Doug will tell you a little bit about himself and his career as a live performing musician. -Matt-
Brick, New Jersey
How long have you been playing?
I originally started playing when I was around 14 years old. I was young with a passion for music in the 70’s and I knew that the girls just loved a guy who played music. These were the two biggest drivers for me. My best friend, who lived three doors down from me, was a guitar player and was very good. He suggested that I take up playing and learning bass guitar so that we could get something going. We searched the music stores looking for a good deal and then trying to find a way to pay for it. From the time I was 12, I had a paper route. This is probably a foreign concept to many young people today, but back in the day, we would have the local newspaper to deliver to peoples’ homes to try and earn money. It wasn’t much by today’s standards, but back then it seemed like a lot.
I began playing bass, but quickly got bored, so I made the switch to playing guitar. My first guitar was an Alvarez acoustic that my mom bought for me. Eventually, I traded it for a Gibson electric. I don’t remember which model (I think it was an SG). I didn’t have an amp, so I devised a cable with adapters bought from Radio Shack to play it through my auxiliary input of my stereo. That was my first amp.
Sometime around the age of 18 or 19, my attention was drawn elsewhere with other interests and having to work long hours doing construction, so the guitar slowly became a passing memory. Let’s fast forward to the age of 36. I still had an acoustic that was given to me by a friend for helping him complete some work on his house. I had only occasionally picked it up to mess around, but that was few and far between. At 36, I had just been recently married with a baby on the way. Something struck me inside that I wanted to give my child everything that I could. Knowledge, love, passions for life etc… My passion for music and the want to play it returned. I took the acoustic to a local luthier and had a complete set up done. New strings, bridge pins, neck adjustment…the works! I started with getting back to the basics of chords and scales. This time, I wanted to do more than just play Rock & Roll. I wanted to know music inside and out. I didn’t want to just copy Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Who, and so many others. I wanted to know why it all worked the way that it did. Why do these chords work together? How do you choose what to play over that? Being an avid Blues fan, I began with my heroes’ heroes. Muddy Waters, The Three Kings (Albert, Freddie and B.B.), Howlin’ Wolf and many others.
I have now been back playing seriously for the last 11 years. (the original question finally answered, but I just had to tell that story)
Why did you start playing music?
I have always had a passion for music. I grew up in a magical time for Rock and Roll. I was born in the early 60’s with five older brothers. Some of my earliest memories are of listening to Motown in my house. My brothers were buying the old 45’s and playing them constantly. My mother was a big Country & Western fan. She would constantly play Eddie Arnold, Lynne Anderson, Roy Clark and so many others. My family was not musical in the sense of playing instruments, but little did they know how what they were doing, influenced me so greatly.
What instruments do you play?
My primary interest and playing time is devoted to the guitar, both electric and acoustic. I also play bass guitar and piano. The piano is an instrument that I plan to spend a lot more time with in the near future. I just love that instrument. The piano makes some of the most beautiful sounds to my ears. I have also played saxophone for a period of time. I love the sax, but I struggled with the effort. I may return again for round two. I don’t like to give up.
How many bands have you played in?
Not counting my early days (we mostly jammed in a friends garage with some neighborhood kids), I have been in five bands over the last 11 years. Each one was either a little different from the other or vastly different. A few of those bands focused a lot on Classic Rock while two of them were much more modern in song selection. I have loved all of them. I do have to say that I do favor the Classic Rock more, probably because it is embedded in my mind, soul and blood since that is what I grew up with all of my life. The newer music such as Jet, Train, Alien Ant Farm and many others are very good and fun to play, but there is something about playing a Rolling Stones song in Open G, a Zep tune, a Beatles tune etc… that is just filled with magic for me.
Are you currently gigging?
I left my last band in September 2011. I do plan to return to a band and play out again, but I wanted to take some time away to learn more theory and other styles of music. Time to play is precious when you are older and work in a field that is completely outside of music, so you have to navigate your time carefully and follow your heart. Sometimes, that means taking a break from gigging and focusing on learning some new material, ideas, techniques etc… The cool thing about that is that when you do get back into a band, you are more polished, refined and skilled.
What was your biggest gig?
Most of the gigs that I have played have either been local pubs/bars, private parties and charity events. I was in a band that played for a great cause for children which drew a few thousand people. I am not sure that all of them were listening to us while we were playing, but it was nice to know that they were there. We received many praises when we were done. There were several bands on the schedule for that day.
What was your lamest gig?
This is the hardest thing to admit too, but we all have them where nothing goes right at a gig. The front of the house sound being poorly mixed, the drummer is drunk, the monitors are not working right and brain cramps (forgetting song changes). Aside from the drummer being drunk (although he could have been), all of these happened in one night with a band I was playing with at an outdoor private party. It wasn’t the entire gig since we fortunately got our act together for the all-important third set, but the first two were disastrous. The mix was the worst part of it all. I couldn’t hear the singer or the other guitar player at all. I only saw her lips moving (singer) and the other guitar player’s hand going up and down. The bass player was too low and the drummer was beating the drums like Hannibal Letcher. Dynamics were right out of the window. When this began at the onset of the first song, my nerves went straight to hell and my mind was too focused on what was wrong instead of just playing what is right. We always recorded every gig as well as rehearsals. I personally believe that there is no better tool in a musician’s arsenal then a recorder. It will never lie to you and you will always know exactly how you sound. Well needless to say, I would have given anything to destroy those recordings of that day, except for the third set. At least we left on a high note. Bud ump bum! 🙂
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