Cover Band Soap Opera: Four Things I've Learned as a Cover Band Guitarist

1. Letting that one drunk guy onstage to sing “Mr. Jones” is a recipe for disaster. 
        You all know the guy I’m talking about.  He’s the one who keeps blurting out requests for 90s rock hits that will remind him of simpler times.
        Early on, we’d invite this guy onstage because he bought us shots, or because he was an acquaintance of so-and-so, or just because we were truly afraid of him smashing our equipment when we said no. Guys like this usually sing the first verse fine – but about 60 seconds in, the guy blanks on recalling lyrics and laughs awkwardly into the microphone, sometimes reverting some free-flow scatting just to say something out loud (“SKEE-BOP-DIDDLEY-DEE!”).

2. Inviting those drunk girls onstage to dance is recipe for disaster. 
        Onstage is a jungle of cords, plugs, pedals, monitors and amps.  Concerning the girls: They come onstage – usually in clusters, usually pretty tipsy. And as they’re walking up, that’s right about the time the band notices they’re all wearing 14-inch heels, and they’re drunk and stumbling, and they’re all holding mixed drinks just begging to be spilled on a large surge protector.  Even if we do get the girls to put their drinks down, that just makes them want to play our instruments and grab the mics. 

3. No matter how many times somebody requests it – and no matter how much money someone offers to give us – we still cannot play a song we don’t know.
        “Hey, can you play Sweet Caroline?”
        “Sorry, man – we don’t know it”
        “Aw, but my girl really wants to hear that song! You sure you can’t play it?”
        “Pretty sure.”
        “What if I, like, bought you guys all shots?”
        “We just don’t know the song. I’m sorry.”

4. Whatever happens musically, if we act like it was all part of the plan, everything turns out fine. 
        We can start into a song by The Killers and miss half the notes, while the drummer comes in late cause he’s swigging some beer – but as long as our lead singer points at the crowd, makes a Billy Idol lip sneer and screams “Oh yeah!”, then no one is the wiser. 

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