Kenny Lee Lewis on Playing the Big Rock Show

October 27, 2009
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For all of you who'd like to win the big "lotto gig in the sky," as I have playing with the Steve Miller Band for over 28 years, here are some words of advice as you embark on your fantasy performance quest. Keep it simple. Keep it clean. Get rid of the effects. Play longer more meaningful solos with as few notes as possible. If you need more sustain, walk over in front of your amp. Now I know all of you shred-meisters who have graduated from Berklee and GIT are all wondering why you (or your parents!) paid all that dough learning speed and the Lydian scale just to hear me tell you to dumb it up? Here's the deal: The P.A. is loud. The front-of-house mixer is already putting effects on your sound out there. Your guitar is bouncing off the deck, ceiling and retaining walls, and concrete steps, creating magnificent and complex harmonics and overtone series. You are already rocking like a god before you start adding all that gaak to your system. What will happen is that your guitar tone will now rise above the mix and reach the ears of your loyal fans as they savor each note or chord. What will also happen is that now they can actually hear what you are doing so you better do it real good. That's why I suggest playing more melodic, sustaining solos and use some restraint. If you play a bunch of fast gibberish on stage, out front it just becomes moosh! If you can climb down off your ego and listen to this advice, not only will you get more rave reviews, but your paycheck just might get a little bigger in the process. Peace.

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