Tag Archives: musicians

Sometimes I struggle

Its time for #fridayintroductions brought weekly by @thetinytwig & @jessaconnolly … A chance to reintroduce yourself to your followers and maybe make some new friends! I’m Denise… I live just outside of Nashville, TN with my musician husband and our two cats. I am born and raised Texan, and am a proud member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie c/o 2003.

Being married to a touring musician is never boring, and getting through the crazy life we live requires a sense of humor and a LOT of Faith. And lately, my faith is being tested. Give it to God and let go is hard sometimes, but its always rewarding and comforting, too.

Today’s question is what is my favorite flower… I am a serious sucker for a dark red rose, but in the spring its easily the beautiful Texas Bluebonnet!

A photo posted by Denise (@niseag03) on

I don’t write often anymore in this blog about the “musician’s life,” saving it instead for posts to Road Widows. But since I’ve actually, for the first time in YEARS, gone well over a week without posting, I thought perhaps now would be a good time to delve into a post about the “musician’s life.”

I’ve been missing mostly because my heart hasn’t been in blogging lately. (Though my photography is doing pretty well, and I’ll have some photo posts coming up soon.)  Primarily because I’ve had a really hard time being my positive self. I’ve found myself, at heart, feeling very negative.

And I am very embarrassed to say its had to do a LOT with money.  The past year was a very fruitful one for us, but I knew the whole time we’d reach a wall and be back into the paycheck-to-paycheck life. Its actually a very blunt and harsh reality of the “musician life.” Its feast or famine. Last year the famine time was short, and as an added bonus I was bartending regularly. This year? That slack is gone, and the famine time is extra scary.

God somehow always provides. And I’m usually very good about the whole, “Everything happens for a reason and it all works out in the end.” way of life. “Give it to God,” its a great mantra for the “musician life.”

But as I said in my #FridayIntroductions this week, I’ve struggled with that lately. And with that struggle, I find myself just shutting down. I find myself without motivation to work and correct where we are right now.

Friday night, my husband played a gig on Broadway in downtown Nashville. He hasn’t played Broadway in, literally, years.  Perhaps I should have looked at the gig as one of God’s little whispers of, “I got this…” but at the time it just felt so strange.  (It didn’t help that I had to deal with a negative an hateful Longhorn fan on the street that just left me even MORE out of sorts for a long time. Sigh.)

Then after my husband’s gig, we went out to see friends play. And it was then and there that I got the attitude adjustment I needed. We were surrounded by so many friends who embraced us and unknowingly gave me the lift I needed. All these people face the same frustrations and same struggles that we do. The exact same ones. All these friends live this “musician life” with optimism and positivity that I needed an injection of in that moment.

We WILL land on our feet. I am thankful to all who support us in numerous and priceless ways. We all lean on each other, and we all get through it together. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?


So you got a gig in Nashville…

Last night, I worked in a bar downtown. Our entertainment for the night brought a lot of promise, and we were anticipating a good night. What we got, however, was someone who really didn’t seem to know how gigs in bars in Nashville work. This artist was green. And I venture a guess that they got the gig through a friend of a friend.

Still today, I am stewing over how the night went, and its in hindsight that I wish I could have pulled the person aside to give them a little advice for future gigs in Nashville. I speak from the perspective of a musician’s wife as well as a bar employee.

My advice would have been:

First and foremost, the bar relies on you just as much as you rely on the bar. It is a symbiotic relationship. Realize this fact alone, and you’ll already be on your way.

— Even when the bar is empty, play like its full. This is HARD to do, I know. My utmost respect especially goes to those musicians who do an acoustic set — just them and their guitar — to an empty bar… and they sing every song like its to a crowd of 1,000. Why do you do that? Because when customers come in the door, they are going to size you up in about 15 seconds right along with the vibe of the bar. “Do I want to listen to this? Am I interested?” If you are just goofing off or treating it like a glorified rehearsal, your potential crowd will never happen. You’ll run them off before they come in the door.

— Remind the crowd to take care of their bartenders. If the bar serves food, mention that as well. A lot of times, a person is new and might not know what all is offered at the bar. As for “take care of your bartenders” — well, take care of them, and they take care of you. You’ll get your beer a little faster, etc. Again, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

— Come prepared to do a four hour set, but also know how to fly by the seat of your pants.

— Encourage people to buy a drink. Even if its just one. The register ringing means the bar stays open and you keep a place to play. Ignore that fact, and you’ll find yourself scrambling to find a bar willing to bring you on to play. If you aren’t an asset to them, they won’t want you.

The other symbiotic relationship is that of the lead singer and the band. You rely on them just as much as they rely on you.

— Introduce them. Acknowledge them. Let them stand out on their own… they are trying to make it in this business, too. Give them a chance.

— Tips are split among everyone on stage. Do NOT pocket all the tips yourself. They worked just as hard (if not harder in some cases) than you did for those tips.

— Treat them with respect in general. Word gets around who the “problem artists” are, and you may find yourself hard pressed to find really good musicians willing to work with you.

Come hang out and watch other acts prior to your show. You can learn a lot by just watching and keeping your eyes and ears open. Also, go visit The Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide. He can tell you even more tips that are far more technical that what I can share. I’m simply sharing what I’ve witnessed and experienced. When I go to work downtown, I look forward to hearing good music as I work. When the music is sub-par, the night is long and I get cranky. I’m STILL cranky from last night, in fact. Truly, that is because what went wrong last should not have happened. It’s fundamentals of Nashville musicianship. If you don’t have those… you don’t have a chance.