while I was browsing the Shubb site I found this.
So dudes, where do you stand?
This is an interesting topic. For me it depends how comfortable I am with the style of music. When I was playing jazz standards, I always took requests. If it is bluegrass and I have the words, I will take requests. I even have a “classical fake book” for when customers want to hear a specific “classical” tune played on the guitar. When it come to rock and rock and roll, it depends who I am playing with. If the guys are good, then we will play anything you want and generally get the harmonies dead on. If it is a group of marginal players, I prefer to just tell the customer that we will play it next time they come in… and then we learn it immediately and the next practice.
If you are good at taking requests, it can pay off. One time a gentleman came up to me and asked if we could play (a 4 piece jazz combo) a few different standards. The running joke was “write it on a twenty…”. I said sure and when we were done he gave us $200.
Another time I was contracted to take a jazz trio to play quiet background music for a wedding dinner. The group included a vibrophone, guitar and upright bass. As the party filed in, we noticed that they were already drunk. They started to call out for polka tunes. As you can imagine a vibe, guitar upright does not make a good polka band. SO we kept playing nice background jazz. Then a fella that was 6 feet 7 inches, 290 pounds walked up to me put his face an inch from mine and gruffly said, “Play a G…D… polka!” I turned to the other guys and said, “Hey, were playing polkas!”. So we then played every tune out of the REAL BOOK that night with a polka feel. Imagine “Scotch and Soda” as a polka… yikes… what a memory. What was even funnier was that they all got up and danced to jazz polkas all night long…