The Joe's of the World

I'm pretty clueless when it comes to the flavor of the month but I have heard of this "Joe B" a few times and ran into this YouTube video which made me realize that most "guitarists" are actually "guitarists" in the same way I am a "drummer."

I would guess somewhere around 90% players are pretty terrible as players and musicians -- not actual players but "owners" of guitars, pretty clueless, easily impressed, and with an eye toward the past, recreating the past in the present, and with no concern for pushing the envelope.

I've owned a drum set for about 8 years, I chimp around on it, sometimes I can lay down some beats that are good enough to use in recordings, but I'm not even sure about what I'm doing when "tuning" the drums....that is a surprisingly esoteric operation as drums are not actually "tuned" to anything in particular which makes a "dead" kit preferable to one that resonates or breathes. As far as drum equipment goes I stick with what the herd uses and recommends.

I use Remo heads and ProMark sticks. Why? I have no idea, really. It just happened that way. Lots of people use them. I watched some famous dude, I cannot remember who he was, describe how awesome ProMark sticks were on YouTube, I guess.

Now, I do recognize amazing drumming when I hear it (and I can form an independent judgement between two cymbals based on sound and empirical observation) but since I'm not committed to being a drummer, it's like a side hobby to the guitar thing, I don't even bother trying to figure out what some of these monster players are doing. Why bother? I'm not going to practice drums for hours on end, day after day, year after year, so I just worry about playing simple things and try to play them more or less in time and with some degree of swing. And I tend to just go the lazy route and if I stumble into something I just go with that.

Those are pretty modest goals and, consequently, I'm easily impressed with really average skills and insights. I put "tone" and "feel" ahead of "chops" and complexity. And since amazing skill is so difficult to achieve (and really impossible given my lack of dedication to drums) I can focus on those things that are relatively easy to grasp: rudiments and gear and talking the simple lingo of the common lot.

I'm a peasant on the drums, not a prince.

Joe B is, like a lot of players, a guy known for being known. He's another guy who is good because he has some degree of fame, rather than being famous for being good. Joe B is like Average White Man elevated one or two rungs over the empirically existing average white man. He's not the Jesus of Guitardom, he's like the Arch Bishop of Guitardom.

Am I saying Bonamassa is not a good guitar player? Of course not, but "good" is in the eye of the beholder and if you're "not good" then mediocre can look pretty good and reconstructed to mean "tasteful" and "restrained" etc.

When SRV died the world was hungry for a clone to keep the flame alive, to have anything in the world of the living to keep them in touch with what was gone, even if it was just a heap of burning yard waste, and they momentarily worshiped some kid named Kenny and pushed him out on the stage of ACL and surrounded him with people already famous so that their fame would transfer to him in some degree. I recall his debut on ACL, it was so pathetic. Some kid who was so desperate to be taken seriously he took a sander to the face of his Strat to emulate the look of a guitar worn out by decades of playing.

The Joe's, Kenny's, and the Derek's of the world, etc., they're just a notch or two above what the average slob can imagine themselves doing so they are promoted by the music industry and gear manufacturers love to use them as tools to sell more stuff to people who will remain perpetually below average players, rocking out in their basements, and watching YouTube videos on "pro tips" on how to get the most use out of their volume and tone knobs.

I went to see Scofield play one time in Lawrence, KS where he opened for Derek Trucks. Man, that was a sight to behold. DT just stood in a corner of the stage in his drab, frumpy outfit playing his drab SG, with his head down the entire time, playing uninspired, cliche slide licks. Sco came out and ripped his head off -- at one point he "got all up in his grill" and nearly pushed him off the stage, trying to coax anything inspiring out of this kid. When we left, some guy walking next to me on the sidewalk got his phone out and excitedly informed the person on the other end that he discovered this great new guitarist named Derek Trucks who was just amazing: "He just stood there with his head down playing slide."

The gist of his message was: I could see myself doing that. Yeah, he could, with just a little more practice and some better gear he could go on stage and get his head ripped off by Sco. How awesome would that be?