Today I want to talk about a major milestone in any musician’s life, the first gig. You remember it. That nerve-racking performance that you worked so hard for, learning all of those songs while trying so hard to perfect your set-list. Selecting each song carefully while crafting the show. Practicing over and over until you honed each song into a seamless copy of the original. Remember the nervousness you felt before going on stage? Sweaty hands. Butterflies in your stomach. Maybe even shaking a little. And then it starts and you lock into that first song. Looking out at the crowd knowing that they are entertained by your efforts. And then you realize why you’re there. And why all of that work pays off. And what makes you want to play an instrument in the first place. The music surrounds you. The lights envelop you. The adrenaline pumps through your veins and for a couple hours you share all of your hard work with an audience that came to see you perform.
There’s no other feeling like it. There will be only one “first gig” and you’ll never forget it. My first gig came when I was 14. It was a party at a friend’s house and I remember banging out a set-list that had a lot of Van Halen in it. I also remember doing one of the two drum solos I ever did. The other came a few months later at our second gig at the bass player’s house. I haven’t solo’d since then. That’s probably why I’m not a fan of them. We set up in the dining room on hard wood floors and the drums were l-o-u-d. The other guys had to turn up their amps to compensate. I also remember doing a rap we used to goof on in between sets. We liked rock and rap. It was also around this time that I started dating my wife. That’s right. I’m 46 and still married to the same girl. She still puts up with drums in the house. I also remember my hands cramping up after the show. Damn that hurt, but I learned a valuable lesson to drink water while I played. I’ll never forget that night.
That first gig will be a memory you will cherish forever. It’s where you started on your journey as a musician that brought you here today. If you have yet to play your first gig, get ready and savor every moment. You’ll only have one “first.”