The recent death of Jeff Beck, legendary guitarist, got us thinking about the best session musicians, and how they became known as “the best?” It’s an interesting question, one which deserves some sort of answer, for there are tens-of-thousands of aspiring musicians hoping to be discovered, hoping to just make a living doing what they love the most, so maybe his article can shed a light on this topic.
The road taken by the best session musicians
It begins with a love of music. For many, that love translates and leads to taking instrument lessons and training.
The road to recognition for session musicians then leads to countless hours practicing your instrument, oftentimes solitary hours, in a garage, in your bedroom, anywhere where you can be alone and feed your musical soul.
At some point in the process, confidence is gained, enough confidence to move out of the garage, out of the bedroom, and actually play at gigs, more often than not open-mike nights at local taverns, or playing in a public park for tips, or sitting in on a session when a local group suddenly needs a keyboardists or guitarist or session drummer.
The hunger is growing by that point, as is the confidence, so you take your instrument, pack it in the car, and hit the road, visiting cities, asking club owners if you can play at their establishment, gaining a reputation along the way.
And then, if the stars have aligned properly, and if the gods are smiling down upon you, after years have passed, you will reach a point where you can actually pay the bills and support yourself by playing your instrument.
Very few “best session musicians” reached instant stardom
And now for a dose of reality: finding stardom rarely happens in the music industry. For every Jeff Beck, or Eric Clapton, there are literally thousands of session musicians who will never be known outside of their city. And there are literally tens-of-thousands of session musicians who will never make a living playing the instrument that they love.
The road taken by Kip Allen
But we posed a question in the title of this article, and it’s time we answered that question. How did the best become the best? Hard work, determination, by all means talent, and a kiss from the music gods.
There’s your answer. Karma must embrace you, and at times you need to make karma happen if it isn’t happening on your own. Kip Allen arrived in Nashville, the music capital of the world, in 2008. Today he is known as one of the best session drummers in the country, but it has taken fifteen years of hustling for gigs and working other jobs for that to happen.
Roll up your sleeves, get busy with that instrument of yours, and best wishes.
A final word about Kip Allen
The name Kip Allen is recognized in Nashville as one of the best session drummers. That sentence alone tells you all you need to know about Kip Allen. Call Kip the next time you need a session musician who is at the top of his game and is renowned as one of the best in the industry.