V0010849 A gouty man drinking wine and playing the cello; the pain is
Etching, 1785, after H.W. Bunbury. 1785 By: Henry William BunburyPublished: 20 April 1785 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Since getting back into the fray, I’ve noticed an emerging trend among the musicians I know. Compared to my younger days, quite a few have quit drinking completely.

At issue here is not whether playing sober is better than playing drunk (or stoned). Few would argue convincingly to the latter. Even if we accept (despite studies to the contrary) that being “loose” helps a musician be more creative, there is still plenty of parts of a song where being focused is just as important, and focus is easier when our brains are at full capacity. I recall one gig in Québec City a long time ago where a bandmate was particularly drunk, to the point where the club owner noticed a fixed a complaint with the agent. We all literally paid a price for that by having our fee trimmed.

I wonder whether the bar scene specifically is the concern: the constant exposure to alcohol, and the social acceptance in that context of being a few over the line. Perhaps for some musicians, the temptation is too great, and it’s better to entirely swear off?

I have yet to make that commitment, but I have been thinking about it.

What do you think? Does abstinence make the band play better? Please feel free to respond to this blog.




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