Outdoor Gig Experiences & Workarounds

Problem #1
Many of my recent gigs are outside (thanks to Covid). Last week, I played an outside gig after a day of storms. The humidity was ridiculous, but we forged on. No matter how much I washed my hands, my fingers would not glide over the keys and stick on grace notes. The same happened when playing guitar. This has been a recurring issue at outdoor gigs for all my 55 years of performing.
I was thinking, what if I used a light layer of cornstarch, or baby powder on my hands? My first thought was, would it fall between the keys and cause some damage to the controller? My guitar and bass players use WD-40 or “finger ease”, but I do not want that on my keys or strings.

Problem #2
Last nights gig gave me another recurring experience. The temperature plummeted to 49 degrees F. Apparently, the dew point was also the same temperature. My keys were covered in a layer of moisture. No matter how many towel wipings I made, the water would not go away. My fingers were sliding into unintended notes. I covered everything during break. At the end of the night, I DID NOT pack my controllers or laptop into their bags. Today, they are in front of a fan today, hopefully drying out.

If anyone has some ideas on this, or other outdoor experiences, I would appreciate some possible “fixes”



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I know the problem very well. I have tried many things, mainly for glide:

  • hair dryers mounted on mic stands (not kidding).
  • the sleeve of the sweater.
  • thin gloves.

I would stay away from baby powder.
My two (€) cents.

I’ve decided to use disposable gloves on keys. Guitar is quite a different animal.


30+ years ago, I used a fantastic product from SC Johnson called “Klean & Shine”. It was a furniture care product, but it worked wonders on plastic keys! It has been pulled from the market (probably caused hives in wombats or something). :wink:



I certainly remember the product! :smile:

I found it on eBay - only $24.95 + $13.95 shipping!

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Not bad for a discontinued product with hive possibilities… :rofl:

To be brutally honest: these are the kinds of gigs I’d rather NOT play at all - not really worth ruining thousands of bucks worth of equipment for getting paid a couple of hundreds for the evening.

We have a clause in our standard terms & conditions that if the weather conditions (or other environmental impact) are dangerous to our equipment, we won’t be held accountable if we don’t play the gig.

Humidity is just hell on electrical equipment, but heat can also ruin your afternoon - I’ve had the glue holding the display cover of my Kurzweil melt in the sun… Not mentioning the mixing iPads that had long given up, so we played to a static mix… That’s when that clause came into our Ts&Cs.



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We actually played one set on that 2nd gig, and they cut it off, paid us in full, and there was a $100 bill in the tip bucket. I was glad because my keys were wet from dew. Thankfully, everything is working. My “cheap” controllers came thru it ok, (that’s why I use them)
I refuse to work under the sun unless it is a cool fall, or spring day. Normally, I play very few outdoor gigs, but Covid has forced entertainment to be outside of most venues here. Hopefully, things will change soon as cases keep going down.

Most venues here(even the larger ones) will not sign a written contract anymore. It’s been that way since the late eighties. That was about the time the musicians union went belly up. I didn’t have to show my union card anymore before I played. The only contracts I’ve seen in the past decade was at arena type shows as a warm up act. For the most part, the venues are still responsible, and take good care of us with only an agreement over the phone. Quite a big change from the “rider” clauses of the past. No more cases of beer backstage for musicians. :weary:

We don’t have contracts here when we play either. Oh, wait …… we don’t get paid … and we haven’t played in almost 22 months either. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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To be fair, we haven’t had a written contract for more than a handful of gigs in the past years (mostly corporate stuff). But I regularly send out a “note for event organizers” to the venues we play at that contains a summary of “what we bring” and “what we expect”. That makes a number of things explicit and helps manage expectations somewhat. Also, some of the discussions you’d have on arriving on-site can be had in advance - fewer surprises…

Stuff like: “we expect the stage to be empty, clean and well-lit when we set up”, or “it would be nice to have a local tech on-site who is awake, sober and somewhat motivated” :wink:


That would be a first… :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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