sitting in was: 'drunk-o-meter'

Walter Potter
Fri Nov 19 02:31:29 EST 2004

I was at a show by James Cotton tonight and it was perfect example of
this quandary. The first set no one sat in. In the second set James
called up an old friend, Roosevelt Dean, to sing with the band. It was
great. I'd never heard of Dean before but it was a good "extra".

Next James called up a young guitar player to sit in. By young I mean
12-14 years old. He's a great kid and has sat in with a lot of the acts
that pass through but he is still learning. We in the audience lost some
of James' show so that the kid could sit in. I should mention that many
in the audience love it when he plays with the "old pros" but his chops
are still being honed. I'm torn between wanting to the kid gain
experience and progress and wanting to see the show without distractions.

Next Slam Allen who lead vocals and guitar in James' band called up
Johnnie Marshall to sit in in mid-song. Slam played on Johnnie's last CD
but they had never met. Johnnie got up, played a lead, handed the guitar
back and sat back down. I think he was enjoying being in the audience
for a change.

I should mention that Blues-L's own Tom Holland was on second guitar.
Talk about a great tone! Tom sure can play. It was nice to meet him in

P.W. Fenton wrote:
> At 05:58 AM 11/18/2004 -0500, Walter Potter wrote...
>> So what to ya'll think about people asking to sit in? As an audience
>> member I have some mixed feelings about it myself.
>  From experience, it can range from wonderful to disastrous.  So if I am
> playing a gig, I will not allow an unknown entity to sit in, no matter what
> my best friend in the world says about them.  If I know and respect them,
> that is another story.  I know some people who would never allow a person
> to sit in, for fear that they would impress the management and steal future
> gigs.  But I'm not about that.  I think we are all in it together, and your
> success is my success.  The way I started was by "sitting in" with some
> generous and supportive heroes.  I can't ever forget that.
> But I really must know what the player can do before I decide to let them
> sit in.  If my decision produces a lame performance, that only hurts me in
> the eyes of the management.  The guy sitting in doesn't lose anything....
> but I can lose a future gig.
> When I was playing regularly, we built up a little cadre of folks that
> frequently "sat in".  I believe that every time I have played Skipper's
> Smokehouse in Tampa, Jimmy Thackery has shown up and sat in with us (I
> believe it was his wife who was a fan of my band).  My only regret is that
> I usually handed him my guitar and then "sat out" while he did a few tunes.
>  From the other end of this discussion, I sort of hate having bands ask me
> to sit in.  Not because I don't love any chance I get to perform, but
> because I feel like I'm intruding on their gig, and that they are asking me
> up because they feel like they should.  If I'm in the audience, it's
> because I want to see THEIR show, not because I want a chance to sing to
> their audience.
> That reminds me... the only thing wrong with gigging... is not being able
> to see the other people playing that night.
> P.W. Fenton
> New Port Richey, FL
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