Player, performer or entertainer?

Old Verle Miller

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We have a wide variety of posters here with serious in-depth knowledge and significant experience so I thought I'd run this by the group to see if it still applies.

I suspect most here are at least guitar players and there are some who are real-live performers, either in solo gigs or in a band and some of them may even make a decent living doing it.

But I also think there's a leap from being a performer and being an entertainer.

Example - I see Vince Gill as an entertainer - if you've ever seen him live with the Time Jumpers and he starts telling stories you'll see why. Although over-the-top in terms of arena productions, Garth is a real entertainer. Raul Malo of The Mavericks falls into that category as do Tommy Emanuel, Brad Paisley and Joe Bonamassa. Dick Clark once said Paul Revere and The Raiders were the last of the "show bands." For me way back when, Tina Turner was electrifying.

More than just applause, you see smiles on the faces in the audience. When you go home after one of their shows you feel like the trouble and expense was worth it.

What examples, alive or dead, fit your definition of an entertainer?
 

JL_LI

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Brad Paisley
Kenny Chesney
Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES. She carries the whole show in front of one of the most dead pan bands there is.
Carrie Underwood
Mick Jagger
 

loopfinding

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What about “artist” though? Plenty of those who are not just “players,” “performers,” nor really “entertainers.” There is a lot of amazing music where it’s about the compositional ideas and not the act or the skill, the performance is just a realization of the concept.

Don’t get me wrong, entertainers are just as valuable as artists too. I don’t think it’s right to turn your nose up at that. But the thread topic is funny, because people in on the art side will use "entertainer" as a derogatory term. People more on the entertainment side will dismiss art without technique as wankery.
 
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ndcaster

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Tom Waits
David Lee Roth
Tab Benoit
Paul Thorn
Les Claypool, Buckethead, et al
Scott H. Biram
 

Edgar Allan Presley

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I'm an entertainer, which is kind of embarrassing. When I perform, my whole focus is bringing something out of the audience, pleasing and delighting, trying to get them to sing, dance, tap their feet, clap their hands. It's much cooler to be a player, like Miles Davis, locked in with the band and oblivious to the audience, even hostile, his back to the crowd, spinning miracles out of time and air. I aspire to be a player instead of a street monkey with a little hat and cymbals.
 

thesamhill

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Interesting thread!

Back in the day I saw Arlo Guthrie play a few times at a local college and he cracked everyone up. I still am in awe of his ability to just keep playing Alice's Restaurant while chatting, asking questions, etc.

Live was INTENSE - around the release of Mental Jewelry and playing their home turf Chameleon in York. I don't even think they interacted much, it was just like they were exploding with intensity and the whole place got swept into it. Indigo Girls and Disappear Fear were really great acoustic shows and they told great stories in between some amazing live performances.

Then came the kids and I didn't get to shows as much. Though credit where credit is due.... the Wiggles have a pretty fun live show :)

We just saw Blue Man Group. It was pretty entertaining when they were being silly. I liked but didn't really love the music- need vocals, need swing, need something other than 4/4 time on computers- and that kind of put a damper on things. But they were absolutely "entertainers."
 

wulfenganck

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Most of the gigs I remember the best, i.e. that I have fond memories of, were done by people who are all three or - to quote @loopfinding - four: player, performer, entertainer, artist.
U2 '87 in Cologne; yes, it was back in the days when U2 gigs were a bit of religious recruiting shows....but Bono has an undeniable stage presence and it was before they went berserk with all the lightshow and multimedia-nonsense. Just a great gig with terrific songs.
David Bowie '97 in Offenbach; it was his Drum&Bass phase with a flamboyant Reeves Gabriel on guitar and - luckily - already with the fantastic Gail Anne Dorsey on bass. Bowie was brilliant, I still mourn his death.
Rammstein '97 in Kassel in a venue with about 2000 people before they got famous. They already did the crazy fireworks and stage antics. My then girlfriend had won the tickets and we didn't expect much, but we were left speechless.
Garbage '98 Loreley/Rhine; I have always been a huge fan and it was great. The event location on top of the river Rhine is an incredible location and Shirley Manson is simply a beast on stage. She was quite angry, because they had some technical issues with the mike and the monitors, but she effortlessly carried on and transformed her visible anger into the performance of the songs.
Imelda May '14 Frankfurt; with her then husband Darrel Higham, one of the best Rockabilly guitarplayers I have heard. She changed her style since then, but that gig was pure energy.

I try to be entertaining on stage, i.e. people should see that I enjoy what I'm doing. Therefore I move around on stage. It's far from dancing routines, but I happen to recall more than once having people from the audience talking to us about how nice it was to see that we enjoy what we're playing
I find musicians standing or sitting around and not communicating in any way rather boring. I don't see the value in a live performance that's no different from listening to a recording.
I want to do music I love - we're doing mainly covers and some originals here and there, but they are all songs we like. I can't "fake" playing a song I dislike. BUt then, it's a hobby, I don't have to play Achy Breaky Heart because I need to pay my bills...
 

telel6s

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I don't think you have to tell stories or jokes between songs to be entertaining. I get entertained by musicians who just look like they are having fun and trying to connect with the audience or even just their bandmates or the particular song they are playing. They may be dancing around, swinging to the beat, singing lines directly towards someone in the crowd, show the emotion in your face that lets me know you actually are paying attention to the song you are singing. Lots of ways to "have fun".

I agree with the Miles Davis example above. Not every performance has to be entertaining to be amazing. But there are so very few musicians who can pull that off.

This is one of the things I hate about people who read their whole set off of an iPad without even looking up between lines or during the chorus. Just last weekend friend #1 posted a picture of friend #2 playing at a brewery on a sunny afternoon. Friend #2 thought it was a great picture and shared it to their FB music page. I saw a picture of somebody's nose stuck in an iPad. That's not entertaining at a venue that begs for an entertainer (to sell more beer 🍻).
 

brookdalebill

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James Taylor!
He’s a great writer, singer, player and entertainer.
He’s wickedly funny, light, and utterly charming.
Sir Paul McCartney is a treasure, too.
Tommy Emmanuel.
Redd Volkaert.
Marty Stuart.
Todd Snider.
Kacey Musgraves.
Willie Nelson.
 

fcmusician

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Hmmm good question. Played in bands for years along with my duo. I make it a habit to smile and get eye contact and move around as much as possible. Have to remind myself to do that though while playing. I see other bands where the musicians are just standing and not really showing much enthusiasm so to speak.
 

Maguchi

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We have a wide variety of posters here with serious in-depth knowledge and significant experience so I thought I'd run this by the group to see if it still applies.

I suspect most here are at least guitar players and there are some who are real-live performers, either in solo gigs or in a band and some of them may even make a decent living doing it.

But I also think there's a leap from being a performer and being an entertainer.

Example - I see Vince Gill as an entertainer - if you've ever seen him live with the Time Jumpers and he starts telling stories you'll see why. Although over-the-top in terms of arena productions, Garth is a real entertainer. Raul Malo of The Mavericks falls into that category as do Tommy Emanuel, Brad Paisley and Joe Bonamassa. Dick Clark once said Paul Revere and The Raiders were the last of the "show bands." For me way back when, Tina Turner was electrifying.

More than just applause, you see smiles on the faces in the audience. When you go home after one of their shows you feel like the trouble and expense was worth it.

What examples, alive or dead, fit your definition of an entertainer?
Good topic. Honestly when I read the title, I thought it was going to be about which Fender we preferred, the Player or the Performer model, the entertainer part didn't really register. Anyway carry on, should be some interesting comments.
 

Nogoodnamesleft

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I’m about as entertaining as a train wreck.

Player at best. Performer would lead to said train wreck.

Iggy Pop, now that would be awesome.
 
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