For me, whether or not I use a chart depends on the context of the performance. Is it a GIG or a SHOW? A show implies Hey you, LOOK AT ME!!! So if people are looking intently at me, I shouldn’t be looking at a chart. A gig implies Ok audience, LOOK AT EACH OTHER and talk to each other and socialize and enjoy the music as a backdrop to your own show. In which case, no one will be too concerned one way or another if anyone on stage has a chart.

Frederick, you’re probably asking, from a philosophical standpoint, if using charts makes you look unprofessional. I think it’s probably more unprofessional to get up on stage and mess up all the songs. So if you’re doing fill-in work or playing a 4 hour gig worth of cover tunes and you need a chart, use a chart. But if it’s your own band and you’re really trying to cultivate a religious experience for yourselves and for the audience, then learn the music to the point where you could play it even if you couldn’t hear the notes you’re playing or singing. Sugarland’s musical director Scott Patton gave me that advice a long time ago and it really resonated with me. Also, one day your monitor WILL blow up and you won’t have a choice anyway. 🙂

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