For those of you not in the know, in addition to being a solo musician and having a solo band, I'm also in an alt-rock/alt-country band called Midwest Tourist. My job is to be the resident banjo player. This suits me just fine...less gear to haul, and the banjo is, after all, the heaviest of the acoustic instruments.
We got asked to play a fellow musician's birthday concert. Shortly after asking my band mates if we could do it and after telling the bar we were a go, we realized our guitar player couldn't do it. Then it was decided that I would move over to guitar for this show. No problem for an experienced musician such as I, right?
As it turns out, this really threw me for a loop. I know the songs on banjo, and although I play a 6 string banjo (tuned like a guitar), it's a completely different animal. First, banjos have absolutely no sustain. None. You hit it, and the note completely dies. This, for me, leads me to treat the instrument as much like percussion than anything else. So it translates much less than one would expect.
Add this to the fact that I figured out my parts specifically to fit into a band's complete soundscape--and now I have to not only learn new parts, but I have to take a much more widespread sonic approach. This means the first two practices with me on guitar did not go well. I was messing up constantly and felt like an a amateur. This actually triggered a small depression fit last week: the fear that I would bring shame to my clan.
I've been practicing like mad, though, and I have the parts nailed. The band will not sound the same, because I can't figure out how our regular guitar player does what he does. But with me, while I am somewhat adaptable, I have a pretty definite style...I can only really sound like me.
We play this Friday at Iggy's in Toledo. If you're in the area, you should really come (and contact me for tickets). We're going to sound pretty good in this configuration...and who knows if we're ever going to play in this configuration again?
Make plans, y'all,