A Dinner Party Host Often Needs A Great Side Man


What’s The Definition Of A Sideman?

     Often called a “hired gun” by other musicians, a sideman is a musician invited to play a gig. It’s usually on a temporary basis where he or she provides a special or unique talent that’s needed. 

A Sideman Versus A Side Man

     While I’m not a hired gun, I’ve found myself serving as a sideman on many occasions. Perhaps “side man” instead of sideman is the more appropriate title. Every Thanksgiving I get to perform as a side man.

My Famous Sides

     When my family gathers, I’m always asked to bring candied sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. These are my contributions.

     The sweet potatoes and I are a good match. I’m very passionate about them – almost any dish can be left off the menu, but not the sweet potatoes.  I use an Emeril recipe (he knows how to put the sweet in sweet potatoes along with a bit of a New Orleans twist). Marshmallows are optional, but I often bring two sides: one with those gooey globs and one without. 


     I am perhaps the proudest of my cranberry sauce. When the meal is over and the table is cleared, I personally check each plate to see how much was actually eaten. As far as comments, at least I’m getting some. Some have even raved about my cranberry sauce.

     It’s a special coup when someone compliments one of my sides and says, “Hey, this is REALLY good!” And then I can go home a happy side man.

Note: The photo is of Roy Hargrove and friends. He has served as sideman for Oscar Peterson, Sonny Rollins, Christian McBride, Jimmy Smith, and many others. As a leader and solo artist his discography is extensive. He is definitely worth checking out.

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