Gig. I’ve used that word for as long as I’ve been a musician, and it’s never sounded as odd as when I just went to type it here. Originating in the late 18th century to describe both a carriage and a boat, our usage here dates from the 1920s…but we don’t know much else about how it became part of our vocabulary. Enough fun with words, we’re here today to talk about what we pack when we’re headed to a gig, which we’re defining here as a playing engagement for a musician.

Put any group of musicians together and they’ll be able to fill hours with stories about their gigs over the years. Being late because of traffic, wearing the wrong outfit, missing an important piece of music, etc. The mantra of any professional musician headed to a gig is “be prepared”! While there are circumstances totally out of our control, the goal is to have everything you need to deal with any REASONABLE problem. In that spirit, here is my personal list as a cellist:

  • Sturdy music stand, folding or fixed
  • PLENTY of clothes pins and music clips to secure music to stand, if playing outdoors
  • Chair strap (Xeros brand preferred)
  • Rock stop (Dycem Black Hole preferred)
  • Comfortable, correct height chair. This is particularly important for me because I’m a big guy. Those plastic folding wedding chairs do NOT cut it!
  • Instrument (preferably proven reliable in varying environments)
  • Bow and backup bow (backup bow carbon fiber stick in case of extreme conditions)
  • Rosin
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Backup strings (two back up A strings)
  • LED stand light (battery powered)
  • Pencil and pen
  • Tuner (if not on phone)
  • Bottle of water
  • All music for particular gig, along with backup sheet music in case I need to fill more time
  • Glasses and sunglasses
  • Tide pen for unexpected spills on clothes

What did I miss? Let me know what you routinely take to a gig that wasn’t on my list.