Sunday, March 13, 2011

Byrd-Brained Advice

Whenever you’re starting a band — especially an electric rock band — at one time or other you'll wonder what would happen at a gig if you were either unplugged, your amps fail, or there’s a power outage in the building.

It can be an embarrassing situation — unless you take the advice of Jim (now Roger) McGuinn, leader of the legendary ’60s folk-rock act, The Byrds.

If you’ve heard them, you know they relied heavily on the twelve-string Rickenbacker and very tight harmonies during their early years.
But there was a reason, as McGuinn explained in 1966: Their music was such that, if there was a power outage, they could switch to acoustic and continue the show successfully.

Now, there’s some good advice that comes outta that:

If your band's looking for a solid, sellable sound, build strong harmonies. Include adaptable songs in your set — songs that could be played as well on acoustic as they could electric, without losing any of their “punch”. Always … ALWAYS … bring acoustic guitars to your gigs … even invest in an acoustic bass guitar.
In the event an outage does occur, for whatever the reason, switch to your “acoustic” set while the outage is active. That way, you can keep the music going (and probably calm an audience-full of frazzled nerves!) unless or until you’re told otherwise …

From Eagles to Beach Boys to Crosby, Stills and Nash, we’ve seen how bands can switch from electric to acoustic with no problem (the masters of it, of course, would be ).
But, if you want a perfect acoustic song or two, just take some lessons from the legendary folk duo, Chad and Jeremy. These harmonic wonders — still very active today supporting their album ARK-eology — have been popular for over forty years and show no signs of stopping!

That’s the beauty of being able to do harmonic double-duty (acoustic or electric): You’re always in-demand!

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