Getting a good gig is largely dependent on having the right connections. While talent and skill are certainly important attributes, knowing somebody on the inside track can be an extremely important factor when it comes to finding work.
Since my arrival to Nashville, one of the more memorable and interesting tours I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of was the Toby Keith ‘Shock’ N’ Y’All’ tour of 2003. I had been in Nashville for about a year with no steady income to speak of, when I received a tip from friend and Toby Keith drummer, Dave MacAfee, that Toby was in need of a new guitar tech. I had previously met Dave at some of the Tuesday night hangs at the Fiddle and Steel, where I had sat in with the band he was playing with on a few occasions. Although I had moved to Nashville to pursue a career as a player, I decided to check out this opportunity, as I was badly in need of some steady income by this point.
Dave gave my number to Toby’s tour manager who hired me after a brief phone interview. I had no previous experience as a guitar tech, but I was hungry for work, and eager to learn. Ultimately, it was Dave’s recommendation that got me hired. If I didn’t know Dave, it is unlikely that I would have even heard of this opportunity. But even more importantly it was Dave’s recommendation to Toby’s tour manager that gave me instant validation. Dave had been already working for Toby for several years by this point in time, and his backing was all I needed to get my foot in the door. Once I was “in”, all I had to do was make good on my commitment, which I did.
If I hadn’t already established a reputation of being a competent, trustworthy, easy to work with player, Dave never would have recommended me for this position. In reality, if I didn’t have my act together, I probably would have never even met Dave, as he is a standup guy and a consummate professional who associates with others who are like-minded. While the old cliché “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is essentially true, having your act together doesn’t hurt either.
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