Lately I’ve been thinking back on my life as a guitar player/singer, and ruminating on what it means to be creative. It’s a big subject and I’d like to hear what others are thinking about it all. I’ve learned just about everything I know about performing while playing in cover bands. Cover bands are where you learn all aspects of stage craft: learning to play songs from recordings, memorizing lyrics, chasing tone, how to use your gear, functional association with others, professional behavior, performing for an audience, negotiating engagements, getting paid. Delivering a song with conviction. All our skills are forged and sharpened here. I’ve played in cover bands since junior high school which was 50 years ago(yikes). I’ve experienced all the thrills, excitement, travel, romance, misery, and rock n roll glory one guy can have. Dances, bars, taverns, clubs, moose lodges, army bases, county fairs, backyard parties, concerts, every kind of situation one can imagine. I’ve met many a sunrise with a song in my heart and a beautiful girl beside me. There’s a creative glass ceiling playing, or emulating, other artists’ music, but one can learn so much there. A good song is a good song no matter who wrote it! On the other hand, playing original music live is ART. It is unique, one of a kind performance art. There are no limits or rules. Songwriting is at the heart of this endeavor, and it helps if your songs are good and you can perform them in an interesting and professional manner. The original bands I’ve played in went places cover bands can’t go. There is a different level of respect if not much money. You are treated like an artist. Folks are open minded and receptive to hearing something new and seek it out. The downside is you can’t easily get the paying gigs a cover band can get, because the general public wants to hear and dance to songs they know, and rightly so. You have to find the venues that showcase original bands. When you DO find an audience that likes your original music, they will give you their rapt attention and respect. Way short of becoming a RnR star, I’ve found creative bliss in playing original music. NO judgement here, just personal observations. What say you? What’s your experience? And thanks for reading.