memphismike bw

I've been sitting here trying to think of some words of wisdom to
impart to the younger musicians. The ones that would pay attention,
already are. There ain't many of them...but they are there. AND
they're paying attention to what us old farts do and say.

So I'll try to not come across like a cranky uncle, but I can't make
any promises.

To my fellow aging rockers, punks, funkateers, blues belters, etc.,
you ain't done yet. Sure, there are points when you look in the mirror
and wonder why they hell we're still doing this...but then you hit a
certain riff and you're 15 again.

A band I was in 25 years ago had some tremendous regional popularity.
It was like a drug. We're actually doing a reunion show this weekend
(as a tribute to the late, great Deaf Geoff, soundman at Graffiti,
Laga, etc.). We were the young bucks who paid attention and still
managed to go nuts and screw it all up. I lucked out and started
another band that is still going (in one form or another) 20 years on.
I've played all over the world. I've played to larger crowds than most
people will ever stand in, let alone play to. And then it fades to
black. Back in the bars, playing to the less-than-interested patrons,
and of course hearing the refrains of "Turn it down!" and of course,
"Play Freebird!"

Sure, there are times when ya gotta wonder why the hell we still do it.

I'll tell ya this: At 50, my playing might not be as dexterous as it
was at 25, but I'll still play like a madman. I've learned that I
don't need to do every show possible. I've learned to do shows that
matter. I work with a half dozen acts at any given time. When I
release something new, I often hear from some of my heroes and they
tell me they dig what I'm doing!

I make a conscious effort to keep pushing the envelope. I refuse to
try to sound relevant to kids half my age. I'd rather impress an
older, wiser crowd. A crowd less likely to listen to or tolerate
listening to crap. If the kids dig it, swell! If not, I can't say I'm

I do work with some younger musicians. I get a kick out of it. Some of
them have some good ideas. Some will ask me to show them something,
and then they put their own spin on it. I dig that too. As an older
guy, I realize the importance of trying to mentor these kids. When I
was their age, I was lucky enough to have folks that mentored me. I
consciously try to remember every lesson I was taught...and I ain't
talking about playing scales.

I was taught the do's and don'ts of the industry. I was taught how to
look for the right musicians for a project. I was taught that no
project lasts forever. I was taught to pay attention. I was taught
what being a working musician was all about...and it wasn't all sex,
drugs, and rock &roll. A lot of it was learning the business.

The business has changed...and not necessarily for the better. There
are more bands than ever and more means of getting music out to the
masses. That has lead to music losing value to most. When I play bar
gigs, I still get paid (and for most, that's a rarity...but I insist
on it). Sadly, the money ain't much different than it was 20-30 years
ago. The brief period of the big paydays came and went...and like my
grandmother always told me, "Fast money goes fast." Ain't it the

But here we are. We're older. Grayer. Wider. And still making noise.
And we're still damned good at it. We have decades of experience. We
need to use that experience. If I'm going to have to play a cover
song, I'll be damned if I'm going to cop someone else's licks! (unless
it's a Don Leady lick...ya just can't do his songs without them) I'll
use my nearly 40 years of experience to come up with my own damned
lick. (OK, I've always done that...but I do it more consciously now)
I'll gladly share the stage with someone half my age...and often blow
them off of it. That's not ego. That's experience.

If you're an old fart musician like me, get out there and make some
noise. You don't have anything to prove to anyone. We're old enough to
just go out there and get it done! And when that young buck comes up
to you and asks about your gear, or that riff you played, take the
time to mentor that kid. Show them how much this music thing can mean
to a person. The young kids aren't getting it...and why would they?
They're growing up without it. Show them how good it can be. Maybe,
just maybe, we can put the value back in music.


"Memphis" Mike Metzger is currently gigging with Memphis Mike & The
Legendary Tremblers; Bobby Hawkins, The Bessemers, Devilz In The
Detailz, and will be performing this Saturday, Sept 10, at Cattivo in
Lawrenceville with Pittsburgh rockabilly legends The Rowdy Bovines. He
also has a new full length album coming out soon with the studio
project Losers After Midnight. Not too shabby for an old guy.

Category: Main Stage