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Author Topic:  Is Joe Wright Really Quitting Steel Shows
Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 19 Mar 2015 4:31 pm    
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DG Whitley wrote:
I have a question if I may, why are steel guitar licks getting any older than guitar licks? Guitars were around for decades earlier that PSG, sure seems their licks should be getting a little old and stale too. Haven't guitar players played everything there is to play yet too?



That's a valid question, DG, and all I can do is offer my own perception. For one thing, there are a lot more guitar players out there, and probably as a result, guitar is a lot more universal and featured in far more styles of music. Both have grown a lot from their earlier times over the past 75 years. However, a guitar is pretty much the same as it was decades ago...same 6 strings, and same tuning. Pedal steel guitar, however, has increased vastly in complexity over the same period, so the very thing that gives the instrument more capability actually makes it harder to play, and lessens the chances that someone will take up the instrument.

In short, I feel guitarists have mostly reinvented their techniques, and how they play. Pedal steelers, on the other hand, have concentrated far more on trying to change and reinvent the instrument itself.
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Walter Bowden


From:
Wilmington, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 19 Mar 2015 6:16 pm    
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Getting back to Joe, I saw him twice when he played at "The Ice House" in Selma, NC a few years ago. He was backed up by Clyde Mattock's band and a lot of steelers from NC would be there. Billy Knowles introduced me to Joe and although I use a palm block, I bought Joe's DVD to learn about pick blocking. Joe even took time to position my right hand to demonstrate the different way of using the pick block method.

Of course I was blown away by his playing and range of material and he did it on a uni steel which I don't think anybody has mentioned yet in this thread for those who play a uni. Yes, he did do his Theafulist part at the start but still sounded good doing that.

One one of the shows he and Clyde got silly and improvised musician jokes and banter between songs that was unrehearsed and funny as all get out. Joe is just a great entertainer as well as a great player. BTW, a fellow steeler and SGF member in my hometown has been learning from Joe's online courses so I hope he continues those.

He made me laugh and hear some great steel guitar at the same time so I wish him all the best and hope he comes back to Eastern NC someday. These days we could all use a laugh with some great steel guitar at the same time IMHO.
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Russ Tkac


Post  Posted 20 Mar 2015 8:22 am    
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Things do change. 30 years ago we carried piano rolls in the piano store I managed. Needless to say there are no more rolls in stock.

The internet has given us all availability to so much great steel information where the shows were the only place to get real help back in the 70's. I for one think the forum has filled a big void. Thanks b0b. Smile
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Jamie Mitchell


From:
Nashville, TN
Post  Posted 20 Mar 2015 9:48 am    
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Donny Hinson wrote:
However, a guitar is pretty much the same as it was decades ago...same 6 strings, and same tuning...

In short, I feel guitarists have mostly reinvented their techniques, and how they play. Pedal steelers, on the other hand, have concentrated far more on trying to change and reinvent the instrument itself.


i guess that depends on your definitions, but in any case, there's been lots alternate tuning guitar styles that have changed the guitar landscape.

re: steel licks getting older than guitar, there are certainly lots of guitar licks that sound old. there have also been lots of people pioneering whole new worlds of sound with the guitar, too.

hell, it's 20 years old now, but Sonic Youth did that.

it's not like guitar has just stood still and is just aging better.

ya know?

j
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 20 Mar 2015 10:12 am    
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Aside from working as a sideman, if you are a steel player whose target audience is other steel players, you are bound to hit a wall. It is already a fickle community to begin with.
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post  Posted 20 Mar 2015 10:17 am    
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Mike Neer wrote:
Aside from working as a sideman, if you are a steel player whose target audience is other steel players, you are bound to hit a wall.

That might explain the constant bruises on my nose... Whoa!
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 20 Mar 2015 10:30 am    
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Jim Cohen wrote:
Mike Neer wrote:
Aside from working as a sideman, if you are a steel player whose target audience is other steel players, you are bound to hit a wall.

That might explain the constant bruises on my nose... Whoa!


Jim, one of the strangest things is that it seems like we are always seeking approval from other steel players. To heck with that.
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Jim Cohen


From:
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Post  Posted 20 Mar 2015 10:43 am    
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Mike Neer wrote:
Jim, one of the strangest things is that it seems like we are always seeking approval from other steel players. To heck with that.

Yeah, but they're the only ones who care what I do (and even most of them don't...) Rolling Eyes
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 20 Mar 2015 10:52 am    
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Jim Cohen wrote:
Mike Neer wrote:
Jim, one of the strangest things is that it seems like we are always seeking approval from other steel players. To heck with that.

Yeah, but they're the only ones who care what I do (and even most of them don't...) Rolling Eyes


You said a mouthful, Jim, but it is the truth and it's something that everyone who is serious about playing music should think about.
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Danny Letz


From:
Old Glory,Texas, USA 79540
Post  Posted 20 Mar 2015 5:16 pm    
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Lots of good points made here. Still my worry was that the crowd didn't take him seriously and we may not have given him the sendoff he deserved. I just wanted him to know how respected he was and how he'll be missed. Hopefully he'll see these posts. Thanks everyone.
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Niels Andrews


From:
Salinas, California, USA
Post  Posted 20 Mar 2015 5:42 pm     ? Look
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Just go to any Steel Show and look around at the age of the attendees. Look on stage probably less than 5% don't already have an AARP card. These are not demographics for a growth industry? Mr. Wright probably made the best decision for his well being. Sidemen never made a lot and in today's World are making less due to changes in Society such as drunk driving and smoking laws. It is a different time and not coming back.
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2015 5:23 am    
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Mike Neer wrote:
Jim, one of the strangest things is that it seems like we are always seeking approval from other steel players.

Who else is there? Smile
Yes, it is something anyone playing music should think about.

"Aside from working as a sideman..." Mike says--and who would want to be anything but a sideman?
Buddy Emmons was a sideman. Much attention from producers, performers, and other steel players brought him fame.
He may have attained enlightenment (such as it is) without the producers and other musicians.
He also may have gotten nerves at steel shows, it's reported.

A fobro posted elsewhere about nerves when other steel players would come to the bar to listen.
Musicians need a break too, to be regarded as audience rather than critics. I don't need to add that our self-importance
is over-stated, and that individuals need a break from their self-generated critics too, the ones we project onto others.

Mr. Wright doesn't strike me as a sideman. The nature of his act would make him a soloist, a performer,
subject to additional criticism from a wider audience. I can have great empathy with his situation.
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Jerry Hayes


From:
Virginia Beach, Va.
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2015 9:37 am    
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I love Joe's playing, singing and comedy but he'll never be a "Star" because he's too good!

Back years ago in SoCal I was working with fellow Forumite (Jim Bob Sedgwick) who told me these words of wisdom".. "A Star is just somebody who's not good enough to be a sideman"... Thank about it, how many times have you seen this proven true.......JH in Va.
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2015 10:48 am    
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Jerry Hayes wrote:
...Back years ago in SoCal I was working with fellow Forumite (Jim Bob Sedgwick) who told me these words of wisdom".. "A Star is just somebody who's not good enough to be a sideman"... Thank about it, how many times have you seen this proven true

Sure, we've seen folks like that, but there are also lots of examples of stars who were absolutely good enough to be sidemen, and many who were. For example, just off the top of my head:

Chet Atkins
Glen Campbell
Jerry Reed
Barbara Mandrell
Ricky Skaggs
Marty Stuart
Junior Brown
Brad Paisley
Albert Lee
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chris ivey


From:
california - r.i.p.
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2015 11:07 am    
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vince gill

but i like the saying, which seems quite on the mark overall.
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Jeff Spencer


From:
Queensland, Australia
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2015 1:31 pm    
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Saw him in Brisbane. Brilliant stuff. Bought a heap of CDs from him too. He's down for the Irish steel guitar show later this year. Hope he does not pull the plug as I am planning on being there for that one!! If I get the chance I want chat again
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Mike Fereday


From:
Newbury, Berkshire, England
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2015 12:47 am    
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No worries Jeff, the Irish Steel Guitar Festival will be Joe's last planned show.

Mike
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T. C. Furlong


From:
Lake County, Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2015 9:23 am    
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I was in Dallas to see what Joe announced was his last show in Texas. He half-jokingly said he was getting a job in computers (with fingers making typing motions) Some may not care for Joe's brand of comedy but you have to give the guy credit. He fills the room. I've always noted that when Joe's on stage, the room is full of steel players and their spouses. I thought he was very funny in Dallas and I've seen him many times. "The Awefulest" is classic country comedy from days gone by. I think we should congratulate Joe Wright on being tough enough to stay in the music business. As a friend once told me "it's easy to get into the music business. It's hard to stay in the music business" TC
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Craig A Davidson


From:
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin USA
Post  Posted 23 Mar 2015 10:13 am    
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[quote="Jim Cohen"][quote="Jerry Hayes"]...Back years ago in SoCal I was working with fellow Forumite (Jim Bob Sedgwick) who told me these words of wisdom".. "A Star is just somebody who's not good enough to be a sideman"... Thank about it, how many times have you seen this proven true[/quote]
Sure, we've seen folks like that, but there are also lots of examples of stars who were absolutely good enough to be sidemen, and many who were. For example, just off the top of my head:

Chet Atkins
Glen Campbell
Jerry Reed
Barbara Mandrell
Ricky Skaggs
Marty Stuart
Junior Brown
Brad Paisley
Albert Lee[/quote]

Let's not forget Vince Gill, Steve Wariner,Jack Green, or Merle Haggard.
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David Mason


From:
Cambridge, MD, USA
Post  Posted 23 Mar 2015 12:06 pm    
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There may be many reasons we don't know and needn't know so we can't figure them in, (guess) among them is just the enthusiasm that comes so easy at age 20, and 30, and... 40, and... it has a complex cubed-root logarithmic interaction with the weight of one's equipment. Very Happy And regarding the shows - I'll go out on a limb here and say that besides assorted sacred steel players and who's sessioning in Nashville, these are among the most-LISTENED-to steel guitarists in contemporary times (no particular order):

brandin
Ben Harper
Greg Leisz
Junior Brown
Daniel Lanois
Chris Combs (JFJO)
Greg Burns (Red Sparowes)

Hint? Laughing

With the exception of Mr. Leisz, they are ALL integral in the process of writing the music they play (I could argue that he's integral to Bill Frisell's interpretations...) Are you disallowed from the shows because you compose your music, you're not a sideman and you're actually successful? Rolling Eyes

When Madonna first gurgitated onto radio, she sang exactly like a 10-year-old girl, no vibrato, no power, no inflections... and thirty years later, she still sings like a 10-year-old girl, but all those 10-year-olds grew up, got married, got money and they still buy Madonna crap! It's called the "happy-meal" strategy and if you could leverage the brandin/Spongebob thing to lock up the six-year-old demographic, it'd be like printing money! Mr. Green
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James Jacoby


From:
Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 23 Mar 2015 9:32 pm    
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I can't believe, most of you folks have the steel guitar dead, and buried, already! Sure it's kind of at a low ebb, right now, but an instrument this established, so versatile, and capable of doing ANY KIND of music, could not just die out! I watched a new "country" band on TV, today,(no steel of course), and the lead guitar, and bass player were stomping and stalking around the stage, and posing like metal shredders. The music was country enough, but the antics of the musicians, and the lack of a steel guitar, ruined the show! Mad How long can it last? I'll bet at some point, they will "discover" the steel guitar, and we'll be back in business! The steel guitar is just too good to just fade out!IMHO -Jake-
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DG Whitley


Post  Posted 24 Mar 2015 5:14 am    
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James, I don't think any of us really believe the PSG is dead by any means, but I do think most lament the seeming demise of the PSG shows. I think for the most part its due to the aging of it's earliest supporters, and probably the rise of the internet and the current economy. I also think maybe we put ourselves a little behind the eight ball by not expanding the instruments horizons at an earlier point in its history. We were way too content to keep it in its comfort zone of country music.

Today, players are beginning to push that envelope and I'm hoping it puts us in the foreground once again. I mention Mike Perlowin as I'm most familiar with his body of work, but there are others who are using the instrument for a lot more than its country roots have allowed in its past.

I'm not trying to digress from the OPs intent, just trying to give some reason for why I think Joe and others are beginning to pull out. I don't think it's because they don't enjoy the people or playing, just an economic reality that the internet is most likely supplanting the shows as the chief money maker. Joe has to put food on the table for his family just like the rest of us, and he has a bottom line figure he has to meet. I have no doubt he loves the instrument as much as or more than most of us, but sometimes the economic reality just smacks you in the face. You have to do the best thing for your family. I'll miss Joe, but you have to do what you have to do.

My 2 cents, YMMV.
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Steve Spitz


From:
New Orleans, LA, USA
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2015 5:30 am     Simple economics
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Just like the money we make hasn't really improved since the 80s, I'm guessing the money paid to performers at steel shows likely hasn't risen dramatically. With a weak economy, aging crowd with less disposable income, and all the free music and teaching material on the net, booth sales are stagnant.

All the expenses have continued to rise, I think Joe said he drove 950 miles to play the Dallas show . I saw him at a very small show about a year ago . He didn't say it, but I sensed he was not thrilled with being there. A really small VFW with a very small crowd. The other acts were not very good . He was professional, did a great show, minus the comedy. I tried to engage him in a conversation, but he was a bit uninterested . He seemed unhappy, I'm guessing he was questioning his decision to be there, and the economics.. He couldn't have been clearing much from this .

It's hard to question his decision . He said he was going broke .
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Tom Gorr


From:
Three Hills, Alberta
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2015 5:49 am    
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David Mason wrote:
lock up the six-year-old demographic, it'd be like printing money



It has been done. Check out The Wiggles on Wiki. Make more cash a year than ACDC.... and not by a small difference.

Go figure... they have a regular rotation on kids TV.... they tour to sold out arenas . DVDs with videos for every song. I am sure our family as a low interest customer has sent a couple of hundred their way. They are global scale.

If a person plays music for a living, there is a business side to it. I would not want to play music for a living....because then I wouldnt know what to do for fun....
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Dennis Saydak


From:
Manitoba, Canada
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2015 9:31 am    
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I started playing steel later in life and I missed seeing many of the notable steel players live because of this. I saw Joe twice at the Wisconsin Dairy Steel Show and I consider myself privileged to have witnessed his awesome talents. Hopefully Joe will come out to play at least occasionally in the future.
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