Know Yourself

Sometimes even though you can do something really well, maybe you shouldn’t do it.

Back in 2000 it was time to hang up the instrument for a while and stop performing. How could I do this? After 28 years as a professional musician I’d discovered a few important things:

Years and years of hard gigging takes it’s toll, even if it’s fun. It’s like an athletic event. Staying pumped up constantly can affect your health.

It was always more enjoyable to get ready for a gig than to actually go and do it.

Working in a band is a lot like running a moving company. You spend most of your time lugging equipment around and very little time actually performing.

The venues you play at have different agendas than you do (like making good music). So does the audience.

I didn’t really enjoy the traveling, rootless life. I’d rather stay home and putter (Also, it’s no way to raise a family).

The primary purpose of most bread-and-butter gigs is entertainment, not to express your “art”. Though it can be a great adventure, you eventually realize it’s all really just for them, not for you.

No one really cares about your spot-on killer re-creation of a cover song!  While you can learn a lot about how music is put together this way, in the end no matter how well you do that “magic trick” you’ll always be considered an imitator, not the real deal.

There’s no real connection between the endless gigging circuit and real musical success, where touring is only a by-product.

All those endless playing dates simply blow away in the wind. Who was that band? What was that thing they played? Nobody remembers! Live music only exists in the moment, then it’s gone and forgotten.


In years past when recording was in it’s infancy it used to be treated as just a sideline job between gigs. If not for a few quick-witted engineers and smart producers we wouldn’t be able to hear the genius of a lot of those those early players today. How many millennia of great musicians have come and gone, forgotten forever?

So I finally got off the stage and went into music production and recording.

This is the part of the business where music is ACTUALLY MADE (pretty much every other part is promotion and phone calls), and for me, one of the best places to be. You get to help create the stuff. I could use all the skills I’d picked up as a player and performer to help other musicians realize their visions, except this time the results stay permanent and fixed. Many thousands of projects later and it’s still a pretty good fit.

There’s nothing like a recording that says “I was here. I did that.”


Some people live only to perform, and that’s all right! This is not an anti-performing rant. You’re a living, breathing artist trying to give something back to the world that only you can give. Just don’t forget to leave a little evidence behind along the way.


That’s not the end of the story though. Recently, after years off the stage, I somehow got sucked back into live gigging again! It’s actually been great! Less pressure this time around, and the old muscles still work – It’s like riding a bike, you just don’t forget.

It’s all about knowing yourself and finding a balance – your particular balance.

© 2015 Leo Bidne


  1. Mike McClean

    If you haven’t already, check out the movie documentary Muscle Shoals, the story of the Alabama studio where many of the R&B greats did their best stuff.

    1. Leo Bidne (Post author)

      That was a great doc. Hard it believe it was those guys that did all that.

  2. Sherrie

    Great article Leo. Keep up the great work.


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