by Riley Wilson


One of my guitar students and I were discussing exercise this afternoon and prompted this column. The only thing worse than having a gig is being sick and having to perform anyway. I have suffered through this type of misery on more that one occasion and would like to offer some suggestions that may help you, too.


First, if you’re a solo or duo performer, you can no longer take your health for granted. This means being smart and educating yourself about diet, exercise, stress and sleep. This doesn’t have to cost lots of money, but it can help pay you big money by helping avoid canceling gigs due to sickness. A couple easy steps include upping your daily water intake to at least a half gallon of water, more if you weigh over 170 lbs and/or sing. Water fountains are everywhere and you can get an inexpensive water filter for your home and a travel bottle as well which will help your body operate optimally. Consuming three to five pieces of live food like uncooked fruit and/or vegetables, backing off on salt and white sugar and flour will make a big difference in your level of energy, on and off the gig.


Vitamins, minerals and supplements are not just a good idea any more. Without getting off on a political rant, the quality of food purchased world wide continues to decline. Take the time to learn what your body needs and do your best to provide it on a daily basis. If you’re past 21 years old, there are some vital nutrients your body has begun manufacturing less of, now that you can vote. Aging really is for everyone.


Exercise can take many forms and idea is simple- Get your body moving and breathing for at least 30 minutes three to five times a week. Swimming, biking, walking, weight lifting,competitive sports, yoga, tai chi, pilates- I think this list expands every decade! Try several different activities and find out which one(s) you and your body respond to the best. Our physical bodies thrive on motion, movement and breathing. The more, the better- up to a point. I don’t recommend running a marathon the same day you do a five hour gig.


Yeah, but now I’m sick? Now what? It depends on the illness. If you have a cold, you might be able to make the gig without the audience noticing. The Beatles cut their marathon first album in one day, all nursing colds, so the story goes. Be sure you get to bed early enough to get at least eight hours of sleep- more if you can sleep longer and are ill. If you’re actually throwing up or have diarrhea, it makes the onstage part much more grueling. I did a gig within the last year dealing with this “challenge” between breaks. Not fun. One thing many doctors and holistic gurus will agree upon- eating large, heavy meals are a bad idea when ill. Animals simply drink water and rest while recuperating from illness and that’s a really good idea for humans, too. If the flu cold cocks you, resume eating what my Mom used to call the B.R.A.T. diet- bananas, rice, applesauce or toast should probably be the least stressful once you resume eating solid food. 


If you have one of these lingering illnesses that cause you to remain less than 100% for more than a few days, a distilled water fast for 24 hours can bring significant relief in- yes, 24 hours or less. I heartily recommend reading and using the ideas contained in “The Miracle of Fasting” by Paul C Bragg and so do the Beach Boys and Clint Eastwood. Another recent discovery is echinacea as well as zinc lozenges/supplements. Combined with high doses of Vitamin D 3, this combination can help strengthen the immune system and fortify you against communicable diseases and people. 


If all this fails, you might wind up in a hospital or Urgent Care facility somewhere on the road at 3 am. If you have an important show, aren’t demonstrating signs of real improvement and are simply tired of being sick and tired, pay the medical professional and load up on pharmaceuticals. It isn’t cheap, but neither is canceling an important show. If you go to the trouble and expense of seeing a doctor, make the commitment to actually do what they ask. Otherwise, you may as well send the money to me, care of the wonderful staff here at L2P


I’m not a fan of the flu shot, but if it makes you feel more protected, get them annually. I am not a doctor and while I played one in an industrial film, I haven’t played one on TV- yet. My suggestions are simply that- suggestions that have worked for others. On the other hand, don’t blindly accept everything a doctor tells you, either. Take responsibility for your health and you can have many less missed shows due to illness. Time to go- I need to do my yoga practice now.


Thanks to Malease and Angelica Wilson for their care, feeding and advice for this month’s blog. 


Riley Wilson has been a working professional musician since 1972 and has lived (so far) to write about it. and detail what he’s up to between blogs. Let him know what you’d like covered through the Guitar Made Simpler web page.

Also check out the homeopathic health column by homeopath Sue Anello on our sister site SPLNetwork