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--- Mar 24 1999 Go to category
Subject: Sick on the road
Category: General Questions
From: Abu  Bwa (Phila Pa)

Hi..Ive loved your music for a million years..I even saw you in Boston in 1975 with Gary Burton...Anyway the question is :With all your traveling to so many places,both domestic and exotic,have you or any of the band members gotten sick?Did it keep you from performing?How does your health effect your playing?We all get sick once and a while.What do you do?

Pat’s Answer:

interesting question. the getting sick thing is in fact the only real downside to touring for me. and you're right - it happens to everyone - it basically WILL happen that for some period of time during the tour you will get something that will make you feel less than your best. to me, how a player deals with this situation is somewhat of a test of his/her commitment to music - it seems like there are guys who will play through anything (lyle, steve and paul are all GREAT examples of this) and no matter how they are feeling, when the music starts, it takes over. other people, even with just a headache or something, just shut down, or worse.

part of the thing for me when looking for people to travel and play with is in fact the kind of character they have to deal with the inevitable discomforts that come with being on the road. in my case, i have only missed two gigs in the 25 years i have been doing this because of sickness - one in milan, italy (food poisoning) in 1992 (i think) and one in 1977 in birmingham, alabama (food poisoning). other than that, i have played with colds, fever, heartburn, sprained ankles, blisters, nausea, earaches, etc - pretty much like every other professional musician in the world - it is really not that unusual to find guys who have that "play through anything" thing, even at most local levels.

when i am sick, i almost look forward to playing as a kind of release from it - it is kind of like an analgesic or something - i just don't feel it (usually) once the music starts happening. physical things, like blisters, etc, are the worst - i did have a real problem a few years ago while playing in a quartet with roy haynes at the village vanguard where, for reasons i still have not totally figured out, by the third night my index finger on my left hand was a bloody pulp - i had to wrap in gauze and still try to play through it. that was probably the hardest playing thing i have ever had to do - mainly because it was roy who was absolutely KILLING and that it was just a quartet so i was functioning more like a piano player and HAD play a lot of chords. then there was the time in buenos aires where i almost, well, never mind.... i got through the gig somehow!