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Are you great, or just average? There's a fine line...

Want to be a successful musician or producer? Be warned - you might think you're great but in reality you're nothing more than average.

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Here's a real-life story that got me thinking...

I went to an open-air concert that featured a couple of tribute acts. I am personally very much in favor of tribute acts as they bring more of the music that people want, closer to the people who want to listen. Tribute acts done well, that is!

First on the bill was a tribute act to a performer who is sadly dead and missed, so there will never be another opportunity to hear the real thing. The lead performer looked quite like the guy he was tributing (yes, that is a word) and wore the distinctive 'costume'. (Not so much of a costume, more an aid to good vision.)

His voice was not unlike the original. He made a reasonable attempt at a similar delivery. He sang all the famous songs...

The backing band was perfectly professional. The keyboard player was a real live wire when he emerged with his saxophone and also sang a few numbers. Everything seemed fine. But...

It wasn't setting the audience alight. There was a dancing area in front of the stage, but only a couple of (possibly inebriated) revelers took to it. I started to wonder whether the original act had been all that good in the first place. So they performed, they went, we applauded limply because we didn't really want an encore.

Technically everything had been fine, but somehow things were not working, for the performers or the audience.

So we waited for the headlining act. I didn't say who the first bunch were, on the grounds of not wishing to spread ill-will around the Internet. I'm perfectly happy to identify the headliners though...

The Counterfeit Stones, featuring Nick Dagger, Keef Rickard, Ronnie B. Goode, Bill Hymen and Charlie Mott.

From the first note of music, all the mediocrity that had gone before was completely blown away. The audience ran to the front of the stage and enjoyed an hour-plus of amazing music. Not only that, the comedic interpretations of the characters significantly added to the entertainment value.

In contrast to the first band who were merely professional, the Counterfeit Stones put on a show that was hugely entertaining. There wasn't even the need to compare them with the real Rolling Stones because clearly they are an act in their own right, playing songs that the audience loves.

So, the question...

Have you reached a level of professionalism in your own work where you can turn out a perfect performance or recording?

That's great. But it's clear to me from what I heard the other night that mere professionalism simply isn't enough. You have to have the ability to amuse, arouse and amaze your audience.

The Counterfeit Stones can do that. Can you, yet?

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By David Mellor Wednesday January 12, 2011
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