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What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 8:00 pm
by oleman
I'm sure this has been discussed here at length, but please indulge me. What are your favorite duds to gig in? I guess what I'm asking is there a certain look that "bluesmen" strive for. Personally I favor snakeskin boots, dockers,blue work shirts, bolo tie, Fender logo baseball hat and sometimes Rayban Wayfarers. I want to look cool but not corny. This is pretty much what I wear all the time anyway. Comments: I can take it!!

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 1:52 am
by bluejay
You might check the Bonfire Nite Gig pics thread for some discussion of this subject.

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 3:08 am
by lightninboy
I always wear my snakeskin boots.
Pair of levi's and a nice shirt.
Nothing fancy.
I've got a great strat belt buckle, but it scratches my guitars so I never wear it.
Sometimes I wear a cap, and if its an outdoor gig, I might wear shades.
Always wanted a cool hat, but I don't feel comfortable with them on.
I have to feel comfortable.

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 3:39 am
by watertore
[updated:LAST EDITED ON Nov-13-05 AT 10:49 PM (EST)]I was taught by the old bluesmen, that you have to stand out, and be the star, so to speak, just standing around. It makes people feel good to see you dressed out. Guys like Lightning Hopkins told me this. Here is my bbq partner, and bodyguard, Michael Francis. He too, belives in dressing. This is his sunday suit, he wears to the local baptist church. He loves the gospel and blues, and often will sing a song when I play. He is from Louisiana, and played pro football. He stands 6'6 and 380 pounds. He cooks the beans, greens and potato salad, and I do the meats and sauces.


Here I am with a seattle legend, Cathy McDonald, taken this summer at a festival we played at gas works park. IT was the hottest day of the year, and hit the high 90's. People were freaked out that I was dressed in a full tux. I stole the day just walking around :)


Here is doug on bass with me at the gasworks park - washington state blues society festival. Notice dougs duds? What can I say....

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 7:11 am
by grady
Sometimes I dress up,,,sometimes I don't.
Depends on the gig and how I feel that day.

I love playing Sports Bars.
I can wear my favorite Team's Jersey and/or Cap,,Sneakers,,Jeans.

I've played quite a few gigs wearing one of my many Steelers Jerseys.

For really BIG gigs like Blues Festivals,,,I break out the Black.
Black Dress pants,,Shirt,,Shoes,,and a black Fedora.

I like to wear Brown too.

I've always thought that for most gigs,,,a nice dress shirt,,jeans and shoes will do.

More than Clothes,,,I feel that personal hygiene is an absolute must.
I played a huge Festival this year with some big name Musicians and some of them flat-out stank.
I mean,,,,"Stank" !!!

Hence,,,my friend Jim Calvin saying the following at this Festival,,,

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 12:42 pm
by bosco
I'm with Walter, in honoring the tradition of dressing up that represents more of a total image than just the music alone does. You can feel people watching you when you are decked out, even off of the stage. I wear mostly black shoes, pleated black slacks, black vest, dress shirt, tie and dress hat. I put color into the outfit with the shirt...having looked at hundreds of pictures, royal blue and burgundy make great stage colors. Note-I buy all of my stage clothes at second hand stores so cost is not a big factor.

I really press the members of my band to dress up as well. No blue jeans, period. We have one guy who likes baseball hats and it pisses the rest of us off. He went out and got a fancy black one with embroidered flames on the front...and it's still just a baseball hat. Don't get me wrong, I love ball caps, and I own a ton of 'em, I just don't think they are appropriate on stage.

There is a long history of classy entertainment in my area, located exactly half way between Detroit and Chicago. Del Shannon, Junior Walker(& the Allstars) and Wade Flemons (founding member of Earth, Wind and Fire) are all from the Battle Creek area. Fort Custer was a major military induction center in WWII and the Korean war and millions of GIs passed through the area that needed to be entertained.

When the legendary bluesmen left the plantations of the Delta and headed north, the way they dressed was a symbol of THEIR success in society, not just the popularity of their music. I would imagine there are a lot of regional exceptions, and snakeskin boots would certainly be more at home in Texas than around here. The main thing is still that people are into promoting the blues...but skipping the baseball hats and blue jeans can go along way towards accomplishing this!


RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 2:05 pm
by stumblin
Once again Bosco and myself are kind of at odds over the question of dressing for presentation. I don't think any kind of uniform should be compulsory, maybe this is another example of the differences between UK and US cultures?
Anyhoo, here's Robert Petway, originator of Catfish Blues, in dungarees:
It is entirely possible that Mr. Petway knew in advance that he would be photographed that day and wore those clothes on purpose. Perhaps the photo session was a surprise, who knows? (Maybe BW knows?)

David Honeyboy Edwards in a baseball cap:
I wouldn't be seen dead in a baseball cap personally, but I've no objection to anyone wearing one whenever they choose, if that's what floats their boat.

Guy Davis in jeans:
I think, now that we've entered the 21st century, that jeans are just another type of trouser, there are good ones and bad ones. I can't see anything wrong with a clean and presentable pair of jeans myself.

Neither, apparently, can Willie King:
He likes baseball caps too, and I don't think any of us here will question the "blues credentials" of the people pictured above.
Maybe someone can (and doubtless will) point out why I'm wrong.

On a personal note, my dear old Grandpa never wore jeans in his life, and told me that his contemporaries always made sure that nobody saw them in their working clothes.
Here he is in his:

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 2:44 pm
by bluesmouse
I always make sure I never leave the house without my razor and my gun...

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 4:39 pm
by bluesmcgoo
I've got to agree with Stumblin. It seems to me that people have different tastes in music, art, wine, women...and personal dress. I personally am comfortable in jeans.

I've seen hundreds of shows of various types of music, and can honestly say that the performer's clothes have almost no bearing on the enjoyment I have in seeing their show. I've seen blues shows where the performers were dressed as Bosco and Walter describe, and I've seen shows where they were dressed in hawaiian shirts and tennis shoes. So what? I've seen GREAT shows by people in ALL kinds of dress.

I've got a problem with authority, so I have a hard time with someone that tells me how I "have" to dress, or what's "appropriate" attire. That's a little MORE than a little presumptuous. I understand if the people that start and run a band decide what will be appropriate dress for their shows, that's fine with me, but when they take the attitude that someone else dresses INappropriately, that's crossing the line. Boorish behavior at best.

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 5:16 pm
by nizer
Oleman, your outfit sounds pretty cool and does what I think it should - stand out. This is obviously a very subjective topic and I don't think there is a "right" answer.

I think it's called "show business" for a reason - people want a total experience, IMO. I side with Bosco and prefer a real outfit - no jeans. I was always impressed with the Blues giants I saw and their cool threads. But that's just me.

That said, I have a good friend who has been playing Delta Blues for decades, touring across North America and the UK every year. He also has an authority issue and for 35 years he has worn jeans, sneakers, a work shirt and his hair in a ponytail (I wonder if there is a market for clip-on phonytails?), and yes, sometimes a ball cap. Anyway, he is a wicked player and people love his music. To me, he looks like he just crawled out from under a rock. He thinks I'm superficial. Whatever floats yer boat.

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 5:27 pm
by ricochet
>(I wonder if there is a market for clip-on

Oh, yeah. There are ball caps with the ponytail built into the back, too.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 6:23 pm
by snakehips
Hi there !!

Well, I was gigging on piano, on and off for a blues band, a few years back. The lead guitarist/singer was a bit full of himself at times (don't get me wrong, I can easily slip into that mode, but once, when he was drunk he slagged off every member of his band to me, one by one).

We played the annual International Blues Festival (support slot). The guys had hawaiian shirts on (not seen often in Scotland !!). The singer had black leather trousers and a silk shirt. I had a sky-blue suit on, with my hair as high as it could go !!!
Whoops, I thought, when I accidently mentioned over my microphone that the singer had mentioned to me the leather trousers actually belonged to his wife !!!!! Ha ha !!!

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 7:31 pm
by bluesmcgoo
>Whoops, I thought, when I accidently mentioned over my
>microphone that the singer had mentioned to me the leather
>trousers actually belonged to his wife !!!!! Ha ha !!!'re saying he got in her pants, right? :)

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 12:17 am
by oleman
Thanks all!!
The ball cap nix sort of makes sense, but I will miss the Fender logo cap that was part of my look. I just went and bought a very nice "Dobbs" and plan on useing that HAT as a replacement. My GF told me it looks contrived and a little cliche. Too bad,I'm going to wear it in tribute to the great musicians that developed the music I love so much. She also said I might as well trade in my snakeskin boots for some black and white wingtips. No wonder we sing the BLUES with such sarcastic wimmin as inspiration.

RE: What do you wear at gigs?

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 12:58 am
by jeffl
[updated:LAST EDITED ON Nov-14-05 AT 08:02 PM (EST)]Since I have a little bit of a haybelly,my wife has coached me to not wear a shirt that tucks in; apparently my overhang casts a shadow. So,I try to leave shirts hanging out,and I make sure that I have interesting and nice shirts. No hats for me-my beautiful hair (ho-ho) is part of my look (I worked hard to get this wavy grey look goin'). I used to wear my hair so short,you couldn't pinch a fingerful,but my wife said I looked like a con from Devil's Island. I think that there is a difference in cultures,and venues. Not many acts around here dress up,but in general,there's somethin' about a sharp-dressed man,if ya' can pull it off without lookin' outa place. I agree that it's really about the music,though.