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Stay Thirsty My Friends

Sometimes I’m asked if artists I work with end up not doing what I ask them to do. The answer is yes, unfortunately.

Or, the artist might work it in rehearsal, but when I later go see them live, it’s as if we’d never even met! And I walk out dejected and sad, feeling let down.

It’s not so much that I’m sad for me. It’s that I know they’re missing the kind of response to their show they could be getting!

In a recent rehearsal day, I worked with 2 artists. The first was an older, somewhat more established singer, whose manager brought me in. The artist didn’t think he needed any help… but in reality, he needs lots of it to undo some bad habits.

Since I’d worked with him before and knew what a battle it was, I’d previously told management not to call me until he’s open to listening to what I ask him to do. But Manager X called me at the Atlanta airport in desperation. PLEEEEEASE, come help! I caved and took pity since he’s a nice guy and there were other artists involved in the song they wanted me to work on. I said I’d be there.

It was a situation where I couldn’t change the arrangement of the song, so I just focused on stage set-up, blocking, and some dynamics. Predictably, I ran into the same resistance from the artist, and the rehearsal ended early.

A few hours later I was with a young band over dinner. They were open to getting some feedback on a recent performance in town. I approached the critique rather casually, since they were friends, and since it was one of their parents telling them they needed to listen to what I had to say. 😉

We watched a live video and I gave them some ideas and things to try. I let them know they are a good band, but they could be really great. After dinner we were sitting around and one of the guys started coaxing me, saying, okay, ‘now tell me the HARD stuff!’ He really wanted me to be brutally honest, press in, and let them know what they could do to improve.

Quite the contrast between the 2 artists. I can get so much more out of an artist who’s willing… who’s not afraid to ask for help, and who can admit they don’t have it all figured out.

Stay thirsty my friends.


Amy Wolter

As a trained Live Music Producer for Tom Jackson Productions, Amy Wolter brings her years onstage as a lead singer & keyboardist - along with her experience as a producer, arranger, and songwriter - to singers and bands who won’t settle for ‘good enough’. She’s worked with artists at all levels, and genres ranging from Rock to Celtic, empowering them to have confidence and authority onstage, and put on memorable live shows, a few of whom have been on two of the largest US tours in recent history. Some of her clients include Grammy award winners The Band Perry & Lacrae, CMA and ACM –winning country acts, Gloriana & Thompson Square, 2016 The Voice contestant Mary Sarah, CCMA (Canada) winners High Valley, Jess Moskaluke & Chad Brownlee, and Winter Jam Tour veterans Sidewalk Prophets & Love and The Outcome.

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Greenroom Comments

  1. Great post Amy! Thanks for sharing, it’s very helpful. Mike

  2. Great article Amy, and great point! I’m a huge advocate for staying a student and to always, no matter where you are in your career or even which career… you should always have a coach. Knowing it all is a dead in street, and perspective from the outside is a strength, even if the coach is wrong 10% of the time it’s the process that counts, trying new things, dialing in your strengths, and keeping an open mind that keeps you fresh and relevant to your audience. The greatest in the world receive tons of coaching, learning the art of receiving critique is how you get to mastery. Again, thanks for sharing!

    Bret Welty
    Boise ID based blues/rock artist

  3. Welcome to the human condition. People who can’t accept constructive criticism like that have the most failing marriages, job loss due to critical devaluation and loss of respect from their children. If you don’t have the natural charisma of Bruce Springsteen, and most of us don’t, being ‘hard stuff’ guy is essential.

    As a singer who does take your advice like a man dying of thirst takes water, your ‘Stay Thirsty’ statement really throws me off. Are you saying I shouldn’t stay hydrated before going on stage? 😉

  4. As a professional trainer in a wide range of subjects, I agree, that there’s a world of difference between people who know they need what you have to offer and those who just come with a “just TRY to change my mind” attitude.

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