Practical Elements of Giggery

The Qualities Required by Musicians in a Group

(in order of importance)

  • Not a bollix

A chap I know who used to direct a 14-piece showband in the 60's is now working as a one-man act with backing tracks. I asked him how felt about the change in personnel. He said it was nice to rely solely on himself, to be able to make decisions instantly about songs and such. But then he leaned close and said: 'You're grand on your own. With two, you're still probably OK. Three is really pushing it. With four, you are guaranteed one bollix who will ruin it for the rest of ye.' This is the crucial element when deciding to hire anyone, no matter how good they are.

  • Ability on phone

Can you get us a gig? If so, then you'll have a band in ten minutes. 'Oh, I know that so-and-so is a brutal musician, but he's out five nights a week–for proper money'. You can't beat that calculus.

  • Repertoire

Crucial. Would I hire Jimi Hendrix or Pavarotti for a wedding? If you can't confidently strike up a riff when we call Lovely Leitrim or Country Roads, don't bother waiting by the phone.

  • Stage performance

All right, so you don't know the songs and you can't get gigs, but you love acting the goat on stage. You are an asset to any band, you are the guy who prances about like Mick Jagger even though he can barely carry a tune. People love that nonsense. Really.

  • Equipment and transport

God, if I have to lend someone another kettle lead/plectrum/mic stand/B-string, I'll scream. At least have a guitar that works when it's plugged in. You would not believe how common this is. And if you take a gig in Carlow, be able to get there without cadging a lift at the last minute.

  • Talent

Doesn't really belong on this list at all. You rarely come across it and you don't even need it. I regularly play with people who vehemently proclaim they are 'not musicians.' I even play with people who 'don't really like music.' How's that for faking it?

  • Other

I haven't included looks, because this doesn't count if you trash away at a distorted guitar (have you seen Motley Crue?). And I especially haven't included women's looks because the old prohibitions regarding women in bands are still practised, i.e. Women + Band = Trouble.

I should also mention the three qualities we look for in a gig. Good People, Good Music, Good Money. For a musician to consider a gig, it must offer at least two of those three essentials, and if any two are there, we'll take it! We're easy, but you know that already.