I wasn't thrilled about this. Not because he is a bad player - he is actually pretty decent - but because I know the way he operates in terms of taking over any musical situation he is in. Also, I never hear from this guy unless he wants something so I certainly wouldn't put him in the "friend" category. What to do?
I was hoping he would forget about it but sure enough he showed up. As it happened, I was out of town at the time and he asked the owner if it would be OK if he played. She somewhat reluctantly said it would be fine. Long story short, it was pretty much a disaster, with him forcing himself upon customers, musically speaking. This was what I was afraid would happen. He called me later that week to complain about how rude everyone was to him. I tried to explain what the gig was all about but I don't think he understood. In any case, I count not being there as a stroke of luck because if I had been the same thing would have happened but his antics would surely have reflected on me, and I may have lost the gig.
Fortunately, the owner understood the situation and was totally empathetic to my dilemma so nothing much came of it, except for the certainty that he would not be back.
This kind of thing is just one example of the dangers of letting someone "sit in" - or trying to do it yourself. Professional musicians who have been around for a while understand the etiquette of sitting in. First and foremost, you should never, ever suggest to the person whose gig it is that you sit in. If the performer asks you, that is another thing altogether. And even that can be somewhat problematic. Many years ago I was in San Antonio when their annual fiesta was going on and I struck up a conversation with a player in a bluegrass band when they were on break. I was touring with fiddler Marie Rhines at the time, playing quite a bit of bluegrass and I told this guy about that. He asked me to sit in during the next set and I agreed. Well, his guitar was set up with heavy gauge strings with the action set so high that for me, the guitar was almost impossible to play. I couldn't very well beg off after I realized this and needless to say my performance was pretty lame. Lesson learned!
So, bottom line: in the incredibly unlikely event that Eric Clapton happens to show up at the Daily Brew I will most certainly ask him to sit in. Likewise, any of a few players I've played with or know to be on the same page as me, musically speaking. Otherwise - no way!!! And this rule goes for me too, even when I happen to hear a band that I know I could play with. It seems like it would be fun and maybe it can be, but I've seen too many times when the situation does nothing to add to the performance, except to perhaps inflate the ego of a player who secretly thinks he's way better than the players who are up there. And I call this bad karma, in the extreme.
Peace & good music,