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Playing when sick

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Eric Moesle, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    In over 17 years of gigging, I've never missed a gig due to illness. Last week, I got the Flu on Wednesday, and told the band NOT to cancel the weekend - I'd still play Friday, most likely would be done with at least the worst of the flu by then.

    So, I call off work for the week, sleep the entire time, and don't get better. Friday rolls around, I'm no better, and since I've never called off a gig due to illness, Im the trouper, I show up, miserable, weak, but get the job done. Same thing for Saturday's gig. Probably the hardest thing I've ever done.

    Turns out Monday the doctor tells me it wasn't the flu: I have both pneumonia and shingles (what chickenpox comes back as if you've had it earlier). Not clear whether I had the pneumonia before the gigging or not - it could have started off as just the shingles and pushing myself caused the pneumonia.

    But if I had to do it over again, I'd still do it. I've got several other guys in the band not to let down, as well as two clubs that we value greatly. Though being out and about hurt my body, playing helped soothe my soul. I'm off work again all this week, on tons of meds, and fully intend on playing both gigs again this weekend. Even my wife understands. Do I think I'm an idiot? You betcha. But a musician is what I am, I incurred THAT disease years ago, and it'll be in my blood forever.
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    ... or at least until you drop dead ;)

    These are the situations where having a few contacts with other local bass players of a comparable standard can be a real bonus (especially if you keep enough notes on the songs to make it relatively easy for someone else to pick up).

    That's not to say it's not a good idea to be the kind of person who makes a real effort to honour their commitments but sometimes the last thing a crowded club needs is a musician suffering from infectious diseases. I may be wrong about the epidemiology of those diseases but you certainly don't want to land the rest of your band a gig playing at your funeral in the near future!

  3. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I played a gig once in Watertown, SD (don't ask) and I had a really bad case of the flu.

    Keep in mind we played all over the country and we lived on our bus. We played a gig in Minnesota and then had a three day gig in Watertown.

    I was puking sick all week. I played all three nights, barely able to stand or concentrate, and I was puking in between sets. But I finished the gig anyway.

    We were all packed up the next morning and heading home, when we couldn't find our guitar player who had shacked up with some bimbo from the night before. I told them, either you start driving now, or I'll drive it myself (I was still sick). Well, we just started driving off (we are about 400 miles from home) when this car comes screachin up to the bus and the guitar player jumped out and was running after us.

    Funnier than hell. Would I do it again? Hmm, I'm much older now and not likely to do that stuff anymore, but just the look on our guitar player's face as he was running after us almost made the trip worth it.
  4. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    yeah , i've done the gigs where i was sick with the flu .
    once i got my drummer sick as a result ... he wasn't very happy with me .

    i've done many gigs where i wished the sick guy had just called and at least asked if we could find a replacement for the night .
    not a full time replacement , just a pick-up job for someone else ...

    all that said , i think it's comendable to try to play the gig ,
    especially if your'e not contagious .
    it depends on just how sick you really are ... jmo .
  5. I've *never* missed a gig for any reason, to me it's just not an option. If me or my band is booked for a show, I want to be there no matter what - it's part of professionalism IMO. The only exception I'll make is when the singer is too sick to talk and obviously can't sing.
  6. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    That's what you get for making out with your drummer, always a bad policy!

    In all seriousness, if the band is of the type that could call another person to sit-in, then the band should by all means be given that option. Unfortunately for my scenario, a person can't just come in and sit in on the show since it has so many unique arrangements. Its either the original guys, or a total cancellation.
  7. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Played with the flu once or twice myself- 103 fever, puking in a 5-gallon pail behind my amp while playing, having to have a barstool to sit/lean on while playing, not knowing what set we were in, or even sometimes, what part of the song (did we already do the second bridge?) Worst part was, one of my bosses showed up at one of the gigs, and read me the riot act when I finally got back to work-
    "So, you call in sick on Friday, but you are well enough to go play in the bars, huh? What do you have to say about THAT?"

    "Um, I didn't come in to work because I care enough about my coworkers to not infect them, thus reducing the overall performance of the company and the value to the shareholders..."

    "Did you just MAKE THAT UP? Cuz it was BRILLIANT!"

    He liked it, even though I was just spouting BS...