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Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig

Little Neophyte 11 Mar 01 - 06:58 AM
wysiwyg 11 Mar 01 - 07:31 AM
Eric the Viking 11 Mar 01 - 08:34 AM
Callie 11 Mar 01 - 08:41 AM
gnu 11 Mar 01 - 08:41 AM
Big Phil 11 Mar 01 - 08:47 AM
wysiwyg 11 Mar 01 - 09:17 AM
MARINER 11 Mar 01 - 09:26 AM
GUEST,Gern, who regrets loss of cookie 11 Mar 01 - 09:47 AM
bill\sables 11 Mar 01 - 10:04 AM
Willie-O 11 Mar 01 - 10:33 AM
Jon Freeman 11 Mar 01 - 10:36 AM
Jeri 11 Mar 01 - 11:25 AM
jofield 11 Mar 01 - 11:44 AM
Naemanson 11 Mar 01 - 11:56 AM
wysiwyg 11 Mar 01 - 12:53 PM
Roger in Baltimore 11 Mar 01 - 01:17 PM
Murray MacLeod 11 Mar 01 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,pmharty 11 Mar 01 - 01:48 PM
Sarah2 11 Mar 01 - 02:15 PM
Lonesome EJ 11 Mar 01 - 02:20 PM
Eric the Viking 11 Mar 01 - 03:53 PM
Rick Fielding 11 Mar 01 - 04:16 PM
Justa Picker 11 Mar 01 - 04:21 PM
wysiwyg 11 Mar 01 - 05:34 PM
Bill D 11 Mar 01 - 06:54 PM
Naemanson 11 Mar 01 - 07:29 PM
menzze 11 Mar 01 - 07:47 PM
Sarah2 12 Mar 01 - 12:42 AM
Kim C 12 Mar 01 - 01:17 PM
Wesley S 12 Mar 01 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,UB Dan 12 Mar 01 - 02:02 PM
John J 12 Mar 01 - 02:11 PM
Naemanson 12 Mar 01 - 02:17 PM
JedMarum 12 Mar 01 - 02:19 PM
JedMarum 12 Mar 01 - 02:26 PM
Jon Freeman 12 Mar 01 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,UB Dan 12 Mar 01 - 03:30 PM
Big Phil 12 Mar 01 - 03:55 PM
Little Neophyte 12 Mar 01 - 03:57 PM
Jeri 12 Mar 01 - 04:06 PM
Jon Freeman 12 Mar 01 - 04:18 PM
Little Neophyte 12 Mar 01 - 04:18 PM
Kim C 12 Mar 01 - 04:35 PM
Jeri 12 Mar 01 - 04:53 PM
Uncle_DaveO 12 Mar 01 - 05:03 PM
Jon Freeman 12 Mar 01 - 05:03 PM
wysiwyg 12 Mar 01 - 05:07 PM
GUEST,Roll&Go-C 12 Mar 01 - 05:13 PM
kimmers 12 Mar 01 - 05:28 PM
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Subject: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 06:58 AM

Recently I attended an evening of music where I watched the performers drink a bundle. You could see they had quite a 'buzz going'. It kind of bothered me to see them drink so much. I was adviced when performing best to keep the celebrating to after I was finished. Okay, maybe a glass of wine or a beer to take the edge off but I was told it is wise to stop after that.
Did the alcohol affect their performance? I'm not too sure. Yet I would have much preferred listening to these folks play with out so much booze involved. Seems there music was fine but I did not find them present with the audience.

Maybe it is just me. I'm not much of a drinker although I love a glass of wine (or two).

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: wysiwyg
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 07:31 AM

Bonnie, start trusting your gut more! YES it affected their music-- see what you wrote.

Unfortunately there is not much you can do about dysfunctional behavior, except remember not to go back to pay to hear people who are heading down that spiral.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 08:34 AM

Stick to orange juice and soda water!! That's all I do, Can't say it makes me sound any better, but it can't make me sound worse. There's nothing worse than some one with a skin full or high trying to believe they are The Superstar!

Soberly.

Eric


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Callie
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 08:41 AM

A musician to whom I am very close insists that when he gets drunk or stoned he makes much better music. Sounds better to him maybe, but not to the audience! I think he would also be a lot more popular with gig organisers if his musical talent was matched with a commitment to staying sober for the performance and the audience.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: gnu
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 08:41 AM

WYSIWYG is right on ! The equation is simple. You won't affend anyone by not boozing, but you almost certainly will offend some of the crowd if you do. If you get dry throat like I do ( even when it's just some new people in the kitchen ), water is best. AND, if I had actually paid to attend, I would have felt slighted by the arrogance and rudeness of the performers.

A trick - if you play a pub and you think the mood and the crowd and the client warrant a bit of "let's get things going", tell the bartend prior to the gig that you want ginger ale in the glass or water in the beer bottle and that it's "our little secret", even when someone in the crowd buys the band a round.

gnu


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Big Phil
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 08:47 AM

Every one to their own.a little of what you fancy will not harm you, too much probably will.... Pleasantly happy..... Phil


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: wysiwyg
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 09:17 AM

Lovely thing is, it's your choice in the audience. Someone may tell you they are perfectly fine-- how many times have you heard that? But you get to vote with your feet and your seat.

Reminds me of the time Hardi and I watched Emeril tank up during a cooking show. We loved that show, watched it every night, laughed our asses off. And we loved Emeril. Until the night he did a show on "cooking with spirits" and sampled quite a bit of each item as it went into the recipes. You could see it all go past the point of acceptable fun right before your eyes.

We don't like it anymore-- it wasn't that he got loaded, heck-- we have a time or two. But it's not OK with me that he had that show aired, after seeing it all edited, sober. It's not OK with me that the producers expected viewers and the children in the live audience to laugh along with the funny, funny man. It's not OK with me that a kind, funny, talented man was marketed and then a mean, stupid-sounding man was put up in his place as though nothing was different. It was the craziness factor, not that he was having a few.

It was that we were expected to endorse what should have been regretted. Because we had not signed up to get loaded together at a party. We had signed up to learn some recipes, and maybe let our mouths water a bit with anticipated good tastes.

Whatever someone tells you about the shape they are in-- it's your OWN gut you need to hear loudest, even if you or someone else thinks you are being completely silly.

Women in particular are conditioned by our society (by mom's and other women's expectations as much as dad's and other men's), to ignore that uh-oh feeling, to stay in a situation to figure it out, go along until you can HELP of FIX what seems off. Don't ignore it. It's what your body was designed to be guided by. It's what keeps you as safe as you can be in dark city streets, what keeps you from getting into a drunk-driven car, what keeps you from hooking up with the worst nightmare of your life.

It's what keeps you from letting someone enter your heart through the powerful force of music and then leave you with a bad taste all through your soul.

Do you want that bad taste associated in your mind with, of all things, music? I don't.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: MARINER
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 09:26 AM

Last year I saw a world famous folk singer in concert. He had tied a few on before the gig and downed a few quarter bottles of wine during it.It didn't effect his performance in the least.But he is the only exception to the rule I've ever seen in over thirty years of gig going.Anyone else I've ever seen in that condition make a mess of their performance.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: GUEST,Gern, who regrets loss of cookie
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 09:47 AM

I know I'm not the only one to be embarrassed by the drinking of fellow bandmembers. It's tough to be the only one sober, and to know that you too are assumed to be trashed. Some have told me they need a few to overcome stage fright, to "loosen up" and to help the crowd achieve that mood which heightens audience enthusiasm (lowering standards in the process.) I've wished I had a bag over my head when singers have slurred, staggered or worse. I don't intend any self-righteousness here -- I've done things I regretted too. But I've never seen a performance enhanced by alcohol, and have seen and shared plenty that were ruined by excess. This is how we musicians earned our tacky reputations.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: bill\sables
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 10:04 AM

I dont drink alcohol at all but I am unfortunatly classed as an alchoholic by motor insurance companies in the UK. When I was insured as a musician I was loaded up to four times on premiums because they said that as a musician I must be a drinker, or that I was in the habit of carrying "Superstars" around in my car.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Willie-O
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 10:33 AM

Wow--that's pretty bizarre bill/sables! (Sounds like legally challengeable discrimination by association, or something, depending what country you're in).

I think there are considerable parallels between drinking and driving, and drinking and performing. (I used to do both, now do neither.) Not meaning this as a judgmental thing, because I am not an absolutist on either issue. I think both drivers and professional or amateur performing musicians should act like mature adults not reckless teenagers on their first taste of pushing boundaries.

See if this sounds like something you've heard: "I can play (drive) better when I've had a few beers than most people can, I'm a professional."

That might even be true, but few would argue that you're at your best. I've come to believe that if you're serious about the music, or staying alive on the highway, you want to be at your best, not merely better than some other people of dubious talents. Largely because music, like driving, is NOT a competitive activity--it's a spiritual communication between you and your muse, and the audience if there is one.

I used to have strategies, back in the drinking days, to do the best I could under the circumstances. One was not to start on the booze till later in the evening, or alternate with near-beer or ginger ale. If I wanted to play the fiddle, or sing "Rocky Road to Dublin", I should do it early in the evening because later on as I got more of a buzz on, fiddle intonation would elude me more and more, as would the lyrics of the latter. After awhile, it occurred to me that if I couldn't play fiddle worth a shit when shit-faced, my other instruments were probably not getting what they deserved out of me either.

I've noticed that at a decent Celtic session, the real players generally drink just enough to wet their whistles, and not necessarily alcohol, despite the availability of sometimes-free Guinness. It's a demanding musical form and cultural myths to the contrary, great Celtic ensembles are close to or at classical level of technique, which does not come without sacrificing self-indulgence. You don't see a symphony orchestra drinking onstage.

Smoking pot, although fun, is a problem too. Singers who can't remember lyrics are not highly sought after.

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 10:36 AM

Bonnie I think what is more to the point is that it affected your enjoyment of the performace. Whether they were performing well is another matter, some can get away with it, others (most people) can't.

I tend to judge with my ears and am not really worried about how much drink or other drugs a band may have had - that is their life and as long as they entertain me, I'm happy.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Jeri
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 11:25 AM

This is my own opinion, perhaps most strongly influenced by my own generation and culture. I do drink, but not a lot. I was one of the lucky ones who boozed it up when I was younger, managed to escape addiction and just sort of grew out of wanting to be drunk.

Back to the 70's, when I got into folk music, drinking was part of the culture. We stayed up all night and consumed mass quantities of alcoholic beverages, got stupid-drunk and laughed a lot. There are stories of musicians passing out mid-tune and regaining conciousness to pick up where they left off. These are recounted with respect and a bit of awe.

Flash forward to now. We see how the drinking was fun right up to the point where we realized that we could "grow up" and stop and some of our friends couldn't. We see the people who maintained this lifestyle, the ones who haven't died of alcohol related problems, as physical and mental wrecks. We talk of them and say "It's a shame...had so much potential..." We hear stories on the news of kids dying from acute alcohol poisoning and think how similar their story is to the one about the guy who passed out in the middle of the tune, the only difference being he woke up and they didn't. We see the drunks on stage now as people to be pitied, because they don't have enough self control to make it through a gig - a job -without getting plastered.

Maybe it's the wisdom of age, or just hindsight. Maybe it's because when we're young, we're immortal. We don't worry about picking up habits that will one day make us miserable and perhaps kill us, because it will happen to someone else - not us. Or maybe it's because society really has changed, and getting loaded is no longer seen as acceptable fun. Whatever has happened to make our views change, we look at a drunk musician on a stage, and see all sorts of things besides a drunk musician on a stage. Sometimes we're just embarrassed for them. Sometimes we can see the ghosts of people we've known who were killed by drunk drivers or drinking. Sometimes we can see someone who's pretty far down the road to their own hell, if not already in it, and it's just hard to simply put that aside and just enjoy the music.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: jofield
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 11:44 AM

I agree with nearly every word here. But then we have certain wonderful exceptions. I am thinking if Lightnin' Hopkins, who ran on artistry and Fleischman's gin. He never, ever seemed drunk -- but trying to keep up with his nipping was not a good idea. And what a singer!...God, he was good.

A similar situation is that of Jimmie Reed, who was usually so pickled that his wife had to sit behind him at recording sessions to whisper the words in his ear. (You can hear her on some of his cuts.) But Mike Bloomfield had a theory that you could not get Reed's totally unique harmonica sound without being wa-aay under the influence.

But to get back to the original point -- with some very special exceptions, which I can safely guess nobody here is, it never helps. Even when I was drinking, I knew this and held off until the end of the evening. I'm sure our closing sets stunk as a consequence.

And the musical landscape is littered with very gifted musicians who lost the respect of their fellow professionals and finally their audience because it gets to the point where putting up with it just ain't worth it.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Naemanson
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 11:56 AM

Back in the '70's I saw a double bill at POGO (the Portland-Gorham Campus of the University Of Maine) consisting of Tom Waits and Maria Muldaur. Tom made a point of looking like he was half sloshed and, at that point in his career, may have been (but I doubt it). Maria kept nipping from a bottle of Southern Comfort. The crowd loved it.

But, as Jeri has pointed out, that was then and this is now. Our culture has changed and this is no longer considered appropriate behavior. And the myth that you can do anything better with a few belts is just that, a myth.

Stay sober, enjoy moderation, and enjoy a long life.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: wysiwyg
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 12:53 PM

There is also the fact that in the advanced stages of alcoholism, you can drink like a fish and seem nearly normal, because you are drinking now not to get high but just to fly straight and stave off the shakes. At that point one's main caloric source also is the alcohol-- food has ceased to be part of the daily routine. So yes, at that point, you might need to sip all evening to play at all, but that does not mean the drinking has anything to do with the playing. It has more to do with the person's ability to keep from crashing due to lack of food and their need to earn a buck for the next fix.

The mystique that gets attached to legendary drinkers usually is a smokescreen people agree to subscribe to during that short period in the drinker's life, just before they bottom out, when it seemed like they might actually be someone you could deal with in mutual responsibility. But it's just a smokescreen. It's just the behavior that the drinker and others surrounding them agree to pretend is OK, so that the status quo need not change and the drinking can continue.

By the time one needs to drink to do anything, one has passed the line of truth long since. It doesn't help them any to agree with the view that alcohol "helps" anything. Alcohol has one job-- to impair some part of us. Some people enjoy the result of that as a recreation, but that's all it really does. It's our agreement to let alcohol and its use stand for other things that make for the messes in dealing with it. That's what destroys the lives around the drinker-- the illusions passed off as truth.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 01:17 PM

Can't say I've ever enjoyed watching someone get drunk on stage.

For those who think they play better high, I offer a word of caution. Alcohol affects reaction time and motor skills. Alcohol also loosens inhibitions. That's how the concept of "liquid courage" came to be. If you had some stage fright, some alcohol could disinhibit you and allow you to go on stage.

The references to artists who perform well under the influence have perhaps moved into addiction and developed "tolerance" to alcohol as ~S~ mentions. My experience from watching others is that some people who do well despite their drinking do even better when they become alcohol free. They can move from good to great. It's just that no one had ever seen them sober before.

Rogerin Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 01:40 PM

That is probably a very valid point Roger. I don't want to name names here, but there is a world renowned Scottish/Irish band two of whose members used to perform regularly in a state of total intoxication, and you would never have known it. I have heard since that they have both gone dry, but my point is that they were still brilliant even when they were drunk. Maybe they are even better now, I don't know, haven't seen them in years.

Me, two beers and I start fouling up. Undoubtedly, for the vast majority, the rule is, stay sober.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: GUEST,pmharty
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 01:48 PM

I remember seeing Jack Elliot so drunk that he did the same set twice. I was annoyed that he did not have enough respect for his audience to exercise some self control. Another time Ian Tyson became belligerent to the audience for no reason that I could discern.

However, I also find that performing music at its best (to me, at least) is an "ecstatic" experience, not a "thinking" one, kind of "in the zone".

It seems that many performers drug and drink to get to that state. Unfortunately, drugging and drinking is an inexact science and "taking the edge off" may leave you unable to tune or to communicate with band members or the audience. And it is compounded when more than one indvidual is under the influence. If you are in doubt, tape your performance, tape recorders don't lie.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Sarah2
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 02:15 PM

The best musical partner I ever had, with whom I did a duet for over 10 years, was a lush. When we finally broke up, it was because of the booze, and I'll be the first to say that I let it go on way too long, trying to cope and trying to get him to stop drowning whatever it was he drowns. I should have quit playing with him the first time he got too drunk to keep up with the songs, help break down and load the equipment, or drive home. Or at least put my foot down about his ever drinking on the job again.

I myself am not married to strict sobriety at a gig, especially when playing for a room of drinking folks, but I have an hard and fast rule that I take no more than one drink an hour if I'm performing, and I'm going to nurse each one. I usually tell the bartender I want water or ginger ale and, if available, a slice of lemon to clear the throat. And if anyone wants to show they appreciate us, they can put money in the tip jar.

And I won't stay and be polite about performers who get soused or stoned and expect me to join in their "fun." I'm outta there, and asking for my money back on the way out the door. I don't think it's doing them any kind of favor to be polite about having spent my dollars to see a sloppy show.

Sarah


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 02:20 PM

I'm pretty careful at bar gigs to drink only pop or water until near the end. The last set I usually have a beer or two.

I remember a Warren Zevon concert I attended where he kept the audience waiting for over a hour, and when he showed up he was absolutely a babbling incoherent drunk. The music was fine, in part because he had a top-flight backup band. Warren's between-song blitherings had the crowd totally baffled, though.

In Tucumcari last summer, I went to a bar where a "One Man Band" was featured. The performer had a guitar, a fiddle and a drum machine, and he sang like Hank Williams. His wife worked as a waitress while he sang. They were a traveling all-purpose bar act I suppose. He drank double-rum and coke all night long, and as he came up to the bar right by me to get his drinks, we carried on a conversation through the night. He was an outwardly cheery fellow, but as the night wore on he told me "I learned fiddle from my brother. I'm nothing compared to what he was. He was murdered three years ago, but he's ok now. He's in a place where everything is so fine we can't imagine it. This world is a shit-hole." He continued the drinking until he was incomprehensible, while his wife helped him to his seat on breaks and sat holding his hand. His performance was flawless though. He played Orange Blossom Special like Bill Monroe, and sang I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry with tears in his eyes. The small crowd was focussed entirely on him, because he laid his soul bare, sad and twisted as it was.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 03:53 PM

Went to see John Martyn at York Uni once- I got sat in the front row in front of him, he was passing out real good joints, in the end-it didn't sound to us that much was wrong except that he kept mumbling and swaying. The rest of us in the front were as stoned as him, by the end so it was ok. I suppose if your going to get pissed or stoned on stage, get the audience that way aas well and then nobody'l notice or care!!


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 04:16 PM

At the end of your career (or life) do you want to be known for the music you made or for the number of shows you missed, and how much booze you could pour down your throat?

The thread on the late John Fahey is scary and not untypical. One Mudcatter gathered several articles and reviews about John and decided NOT to post them because the thread was already so sad.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Justa Picker
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 04:21 PM

I once quit a very well known blues band after auditioning for them, and doing a 2 month tour of bars and concerts. Their drug and booze intake was far more than I could handle or was accustomed to, and I sensed a sharp decrease in my life expectancy and musical abilities if I had decided to stay with them. Broke my heart. They made great music and had a great sound (when they were all reasonably sober.)


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: wysiwyg
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 05:34 PM

I keep thinking what a wake-up call this thread must be to some of the people reading it and not posting. I'm having trouble myself believing the articulate and thorough agreement most of us seem to be sharing. It was scary to post as strongly as I did.... and I'm so glad to see this issue discussed.

I don't think most communities are real solid until they confront issues of dysfunctionality-- tiptoeing around the elephants in the living room, and all that.

But I'd like people who are struggling wiht this to know I am thinking of you, too. I bet I am not the only one among those posting, or not posting, who has tried to help in the past. If not you, someone like you. There is help out there. You know where it is, too... I wish you the best life can offer, you know. You can count on me to be in your cheering section if you decide to change your life. I promise... it really can be better. There IS a part of you, however small and hurt, that knows that... and if you let that part of you be in charge, you can really DO IT. You will be surprised how much help there actually is, too, once you get honest with yourself.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 06:54 PM

the point is, some people can pace their drinking, and some can't..I've heard performers who were undoubtably 'enhanced' and more into it by having a drink, but if they start sounding stupid and babbling, then it does no good.

When I attend a sing, I usually have one beer..maybe two, in a 3-4 hour session, and it is just relaxing & convivial. Any more, and my memory, reflexes, and attention are affected too much.....yep, I know there are those (referred to above) who have a MUCH greater tolerance and capacity than I do, but they are also hurting themselves, even if they can 'perform' while legally drunk!

It ain't easy...I love my booze- beer, wine, whisky, rum in moderate amounts....and hate to tell anyone NOT to imbibe, but I am lucky in that I don't like to get drunk and can control it. I have a brother who can't.

Perhaps some of these people would drink even if they weren't singing, and we might as well hear them make such good music as they can, but boy, I wish there were a magic pill to ease the effects!


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Naemanson
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 07:29 PM

Actually, Susan, I don't think this thread will be a wake up call for anyone. People do not recognize what they are doing to themselves. My mother is a diabetic and an alcoholic. She is the only person who can not see that she is drinking too much. My father, who is usually pretty disengaged, even made a point of going in to talk to the doctor about her problem. It will kill her but there is nothing anyone can do about it.

I expect the band members mentioned above are doing the same thing.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: menzze
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 07:47 PM

As I told you on the Fantasy Wanted!!!Thread I had a band called Oaktree for 15 years. We used to drink a lot during the gigs and there are quite a bunch of moments I'm really not proud of.

I even had a couple of shows I can't recall the last hour of but the audience loved it and as I was told later I did it in a perfect way.But I can't remember a fucking thing which made me mad about myself.

It took us some years to overcome this behaviour(our average age was 23-26 at the time)and a remarkable thing for us was to experience the fact you can play more intensive and closer together when you're sober. A beer or two might be alright before and after the show but if you do it pissed I know by now you loose the ability to really get a connection or feeling to the guys you play with.

I'm not against alc, I love a good glass of Irish whisky or dry red wine and I confess there are a fistful of events per year I'm drunk too(coz it don't takes much to get me there)but I don't like it on stage no more.

A month ago I've seen the Oysterband in Stuttgart with the singer coming on stage like a zombie. You could clearly see that he was pretty pissed. He had another 3 or 4 beers during the show with one of the roadies taking care only for his supply. The music was fine, he sang without any mistakes but the picture he gave to the crowd destroyed at least half of the pleasure they brought to us with their music.

To my opinion too much of anything can be no good.

menzze


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Sarah2
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 12:42 AM

Too true, Naemanson. For those last few years of my duet partnership, I tried almost everything prescribed to bring home to my partner that he had a problem. Nobody was better at denying it, to himself and everyone else. He could handle it. He could quit any time. He just wanted to have a good time (this one usually turned into an attack of some kind on whoever was trying to get him to slow it down). It got so very wearing...

If I'd quit him long before, he might still be getting sloshed, but I wouldn't be carrying around the feeling that I was somehow an enabler. Hindsight, though, tells me that at least some alcoholics might just be better at facing it if more people would "give up on them" and tell them, "I really care about you, but I'm not trained to handle this. So call me again when you're ready to face life and get off the booze." There's a point when being nice is just feeding the disease.

Sarah


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Kim C
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 01:17 PM

If we're just hanging out in the backyard, well, that's one thing. I am my father's child and in spite of my littleness I can put away quite a bit. HOWEVER, if I have too much I fall asleep and that's hardly conducive to making music. I can drink and sing at the same time, but I simply cannot drink and play an instrument. My fingers get all wonky. And like I said, if it's just some pards getting together for a good time, no problem. But if we're talking about a real live performance where people expect something good, a little nip is all I'll have, if even that. We always have water handy, though.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Wesley S
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 01:53 PM

I would like to think that a musician would consider themselves "working" and "on the job" when they are performing in front of an audience and respect that audience { and themselves } enough to stay sober and give their best performance. Anyone who says they play better when blasted is fooling themselves. They need to sit down and listen to some tapes of performances both "off" and "on" in order to hear the difference. Booze does work for a while to loosen up a performer and to get them to relax but once the abuse starts it tends to have the exact opposite effect that the performer wanted in the first place. If you want to fit in you will eventually isolate yourself. If you want to be creative you will eventually find yourself in a rut, and so on. All of this is my own opinion but it comes from many years of experiece.

If any of you drink to excess { or think that you do } please feel free to PM me so we can talk about it. Thanks - Wesley S.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: GUEST,UB Dan
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 02:02 PM

Look, alcohol abuse is a serious problem whether or not you are playing music. I know it is sad to see someone you know ambrace a self destructive lifestyle.

That said, I think this thread is getting a little to strict. I play with a band, we play in a pub and we enjoy some stout and whiskey while we do so. Granted we are much more of a hobby band (we all have day jobs and do the music as a side). The pub is fun, the music is fun, and the Guiness is good. Granted I don't believe we will be remembered years from now for our music, but neither will we be known for our drinking...too many people have done both with greater intensity.

Music is a way of celebrating, it is a wonderful cathartic release. It's the fruit of the soul... I don't want to fall down drunk and miss the experience, but neither do I want the audience and the band to act like we are attending a funeral.

p.s. I saw Shane McGowan a couple of times...he was drunk...the show was brilliant


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: John J
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 02:11 PM

A few years ago while playing at a ceilidh (I'd had 2 - 3 pints of quaffing ale, ie. not strong) I turned to one of the band members ( a friend whose opinion I value)and commented how well we we playing that night. His reponse was that we (I) sounded bloody awfull. I was convinced I / we sounded brilliant. I haven't drunk beer at a ceilidh since. I now drink a rather nice Organic Lemon Cordial, and save the beer for playing / singing in sessions. A paying audience deserves the best you can give. Even a pint effects my playing. I always think the playing improves, true friends will tell you the truth. Don't get the idea I'm anti-drink, I enjoy a skinfull of decent beer as much, if not more, than anyone. I get my buzz out of playing well, then having a few pints later....provided I get a lift home! John


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Naemanson
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 02:17 PM

Sarah2 wrote: '...some alcoholics might just be better at facing it if more people would "give up on them" and tell them, "I really care about you, but I'm not trained to handle this. So call me again when you're ready to face life and get off the booze."'

I've tried that with my mother and it doesn't work. The withdrawal becomes another undeserved attack. Denial should be listed as one of the greatest powers on Earth.

UB Dan, you are doing nothing that this thread is pointing to. From your description you are not getting falling down drunk. You are having a few while in the pub. We do something similar at the Press Room in Portsmouth. But we aren't being paid to entertain. We are there for a beer "...and, oh by the way, here is a song..." If someone was paying me to entertain then I would have to agree with Wes who says the performer should look on it as his job and stay sober. There is little entertainment value in watching someone get drunk. You can do that in any bar, any night of the week.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: JedMarum
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 02:19 PM

This is an interesting topic. I don't drink at all anymore because of medical condition, but even when I did I learned early on that drinking was for after the performance. The simple truth is, excessive drinking stunts your growth. If you just wanna please the crowd in a rowdy bar or festival; then dinking may not hurt you. If you want to be the best you can be, as a performer, any amount of drink will diminish your abilty.

The truth is, at those shows where your music is all about party and fun, and the crowd is drinking heavily (eg. Saint Paddy's day), you can still have just as much fun performing without drinking. I ahev stayed up all night, jamming with musician freinds, many of whom are drinking to excess - and had every bit as much fun as anyone, and I was not hung over in the mornin'!

One more thing ... I am certain that every msucian friend that I've had who used that tired excuse, "I play best when I'm stoned or drunk " is a liar. That lame excuse is commonly used, but, I suspect, never true. I love the Bonny Rait quote - when she went to Stevie Ray Vauhn perform for the first time since he got sober, she said she wondered if he'd play with the same intensity, and she said she was floored ... because his show was so awesome, "he burned a hole in the sun." It inspired her to get sober as well. Great story, and to the point.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: JedMarum
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 02:26 PM

I left out one more point, in my post above. Performing on -stage is always a bit of a crap shoot. Things go wrong. Some gigs are pretty predicatable but most have some unknowns over which you have no control. Drinking anything reduces your ability to cope with those kind of problems. I have seen a lot of musicians bithc bitterly about these things, call the club owner or stage manager an idiot - and sometimes they have a beef, but a lot of times, it's just the nature of the perfomance world. Equipment breaks, acts ahead of you go long, or play material you had planned to play, strings breaks, batteries run out ... any of these little issues can really throw a curve ball to a performer who is already partying.

If you really wan to be a good performer, save the partying for those most appropriate moments - to me that means almost always off-stage.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 03:18 PM

Naemanson, UB Ed appears to me to be reffering back to the original post. I have read nothing in Bonnies post to suggest that indicates what sort of state the performers in question were in - all I know is that Bonnie sensed "a bit of a buzz" which could have been simply down to here seing them drinking and she doesn't seem to be sure whether it effected their performance - in fact, it appears that it didn't mucically to any discernable degree.

As for comments on nerves, it is a fact that some people suffer from them and they will play better using some drug when uner pressure. Although I am in trouble with alcohol, I would sooner a glass or two of beer than some of the alternatives such as beta blockers.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: GUEST,UB Dan
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 03:30 PM

As Jon Freeman points out...I was under the impression that the thread was referring to anyone drinking anything at any time...Which brings us to the question

Is 1 drink 2 many...is 2...or is it just anyone who drinks more than you...(like the saying that anyone who drives slower than you is an idiot and anyone who drives faster is insane) or are we talking about a certain amount of impairment or some generally lifestyle of abuse whether playing or not? I'm not being sarcastic, I'm interested in what you all think.

(Jon, I am UB Dan, though I know UB Ed...And I know he has a few drinks when he plays also...he tuned me into this whole mudcat thing but i'm still 'guesting')


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Big Phil
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 03:55 PM

b


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 03:57 PM

Jon is right about my initial posting. The musicians I was referring to had 'a buzz on' but they were not drunk. Someone menitoned above in an earlier posting about it being a concern for their health and wellbeing. This is true. It bothered me to see people drink so much while on the job. It wasn't just the buzz I noticed, it was the volume of beer they were drinking.
I felt badly for them and I felt that they were not engaged with the audience because of the alcohol. Maybe they are the type who never engaged with the audience even if they were not drinking in excess. I don't know. But I do know they were not drunk and from what I could see the booze did not affect their performance. But it bothered me.

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Jeri
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 04:06 PM

IMO, Bonnie said they were drunk: "Recently I attended an evening of music where I watched the performers drink a bundle. You could see they had quite a 'buzz going'." (The bolds are mine.)

In any case, what she was saying was that it interfered with her enjoyment. It's not about how much, if any, drinking is OK. It's about whether it bothers us to watch it.

Personally, I don't mind if someone is a little buzzed. Unfortunately, if someone's up on a stage and is drunk, my first reaction is embarrassment. I can't get that feeling of "oh shit - he's making a compete ass of himself" out of my head.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 04:18 PM

I can't stand whatching someone making a complete ass of themselves either Jeri, but as Bonnie has just clarified, it does appear that a number of people read more in to Bonnie's words than she had said and that UB Dan (got it right) was pulled up for responding correctly.

As for the welfare, sure drinking to excess does no-one any good and I know that as well as anyone. Having said that, as long as I feel I am entertained, they have done thier job and I do not feel a responsibility for the performer's welfare.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 04:18 PM

Jeri is correct, they drank a bundle, had quite a buzz but they were not drunk.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Kim C
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 04:35 PM

Oooh! What's an Organic Lemon Cordial? That sounds tasty.

For me, ONE DRINK pre-performance is enough. That's it. I may not even have that. Depends on where we are.

Afterward, well, that's another story.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Jeri
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 04:53 PM

I was only half right, Bonnie. ;-) You know what strikes me is the different definitions we all have. I would have said those folks were drunk, but Bonnie says they weren't. Same thing goes for ability to not be bothered by drinking. Me, I'm a lot less of a prude than I sound, but it does bother me if I can't ignore it. Other people probably can't stand it if they're aware of ANY drinking, and others would probably have a good time even if the folks on the stage couldn't find which end of their guitars had the strings on. Who knows what the average opinion is, or if there is one...


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 05:03 PM

On the subject of when is somebody drunk.

Little town in Texas. A local feller is settin' there, whittlin', and looks out, sees the sheriff come up to a man lying prostrate in the middle of the street and start to drag him away.

"Whatcha doin', shuruff?"

"I'm taking Ole Joe in for drunk!"

"Hell, shuruff, he ain't drunk! I jest seen his fingers move!"

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 05:03 PM

Jeri, this is how I work: the only paid performance I walked out of may or may not have involved drink (there was no drinking on stage). It was a Fureys concert and I believe the last venue before they returned to Ireland. Quite frankly, they were awful and to piss me of further, 1/2 the audicence seemed to be encouraging them to play even more quickly and wildly. When it reached the point that I realised that the reason I hadn't recognised the LARK IN THE MORNING was that they were playing badly, I went.

You tell me, was it drink or not? My guess is that it was.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: wysiwyg
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 05:07 PM

I don't see anyone here saying that the Booze Police ought to be called in to control performers... I see people saying the truth of what they know from their own experience with The Beast. The Beast is the dysfunctionality and pseudo-reality that goes with abused substances.

Bonnie's opening post was general enough to have allowed people to say what they thought needed to be said on this subject. I don't see that anyone's post has been inappropriate to her opening thoughts. In fact this has had, I think, ZERO thread creep. It's been a fine discussion with good attention to the topic itself.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: GUEST,Roll&Go-C
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 05:13 PM

Then there's all our lovely enabling and outrageous drinking songs, which most of my group sings cold sober. I'm not sure what to do with these songs. I love to sing them and will continue to do so but the usual message is terrible, and yet I'm not sure what kind of disclaimer would be effective even if desirable. A case in point (no pun intended) is how many temperance songs became robust drinking songs.

I certainly agree that most performers do not enhance their performance or their personalities by drinking. But then there are people such as Stan Hugill who I cannot conceive of singing without his rum bottle (was it filled with tea?). How Stan managed to survive as long as he did was a major miracle. But many other musicians, and aspiring musicians, have ruined themselves and put their close friends through hell in the process.


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Subject: RE: Performers Excess Drinking at Their Gig
From: kimmers
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 05:28 PM

In college, I used to get together and play a bit of music with friends, quite informally. I was briefly member of a group that got a couple of paying gigs. I also used to play at various stuffy University receptions with a friend who played the flute. We did an eclectic mixture of classical, modern folk, and a few odd bits.

At one of these receptions I decided to help myself to a small glass of wine (maybe all of four ounces) during a break. We weren't doing vocals, just the instruments, so there were no voice effects to think about. We had been told by the prof who was hosting the reception to help ourselves, and I was of legal drinking age. I intended to sip that one small glass and make it last.

My flute player was furious at me for doing this, and made no secret of the fact that she thought it was totally inappropriate. Looking back, I think she just saw it as the first step on a slippery slope; maybe she had been publicly embarrassed by someone who drank excessively. To me, that small amount wasn't an issue.

I got even with her by launching into "Mexican Hat Dance" and making her play along... which made her even madder.


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