Hello all. See what you think of this situation I found a week ago. I was at an open mike, the kind where you give your name in advance to the MC if you want to play and he calls you up when he sees fit. I was called up second, so I hadn't seen enough to know what would happen.
When I started my first song, I was surprised that two guitar players who were in the first set stayed on stage to play with me, but I didn't say anything. I was just playing a picking pattern with basic chords so it was actually quite nice to have the better players there to make the music interesting while I concentrated on singing.
After the first song, I turned to the gentlemen with me on stage, smiled, and said, "Thank you for playing with me. The other song I'm going to do is a cappella." I proceeded to do the song (Johnny Be Fair) a cappella and the audience seemed pleased.
This was all very well, but as the evening went on I discovered that one of those two players played along with about 50% of the acts, and the other played along with 100% of them - mostly guitar, sometimes fiddle or mandolin. With one group there wasn't enough chairs on stage so he sat in the front row and played along. Also, he was playing (with the volume lowered) as people were arriving, and he kept playing through the intermission as people were milling about.
He was great. While I'm no great judge of guitar skills his work sure looked fancy to me, and I was impressed by his ability to do all that spontaneous improvising, not to mention his stamina. I was chatting with the MC during the intermission and the MC said this guy was the best guitar player in Cape Breton.
But it seemed weird to me to have one guy playing nonstop and for him to be accompanying everybody by default. That is weird, isn't it?
Also, as the night went on I was getting more and more embarassed that I, and only I, had asked him to stop playing when it seems to be an institution here that he always plays. But if it was an open mike I guess I was in my rights saying that a song would be a cappella, wasn't I?
But I think in the future I'll steer clear of a cappella songs or songs where I like to play the solo at this venue.