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disco/funk cover band questions

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by chunkylover73, Dec 14, 2013.


  1. chunkylover73

    chunkylover73

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2009
    Location:
    Canada
    I'm playing in a rock/top 40 cover band right now. We're good friends, and we rehearse weekly and gig monthly. We got a pretty good thing going, but it's starting to get stale. I'm thinking about starting up a disco/funk cover band as a side project, just to get reinvigorated about playing again, and hopefully land some decent gigs. Wouldn't mind hearing from other bassists here who are playing in a dedicated disco/funk band, how often you're gigging, the makeup of the band, etc. As well, are there any special considerations before tackling such a project? Thanks for your input.
     
  2. portpc

    portpc

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Disco/Funk can be a profitable genre for a cover band.

    It's in high demand in many places for Corporate/Wedding entertainment, That said...

    The band members need to be semi-pro or able to play at a high level consistently.. with decent money comes high expectations that the band knows what they are doing.

    You'll need to spend time on harmony vocals & the Bass/drums need to be on the same page 100% of the time.

    The ability to play long segues is also a goal to shoot for.
    You compete with DJ's who keep the music going.

    As a bassist though not a Disco fan I enjoy the genre,
    It's great for a bassist & will only make you a better player in other styles as well. Good luck!
     
  3. two fingers

    two fingers You tahkin 'uh me? Yeah, you. You tahkin 'uh me? Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern NC USA
    All of this.

    Plus, understand that if you get into the private/corporate party market, you are in CUSTOMER SERVICE. You gotta be slick and easy to get along with.
     
  4. electracoyote

    electracoyote

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Location:
    Purple Mountain Majesties
    In my neck of the woods, the good disco/funk/R&B cover bands write their own tickets. They stick to the well-known crowd favorite party starting rump shakers, EWF, Rick James, Commodores, Bar-Kays, Zapp & Roger, Kool & the Gang, Parliament Funkadelic et.al, etc. The best of the bunch feature at least one live horn (usually more), and great harmonies, often courtesy of a couple of dedicated backup singers (who double on leads). Obviously, a great rhythm section, including talented guitar and keys players, is required. The best play extremely faithful versions, use spot-on horn charts, and nail the vocals. These bands are on the rotation at the best paying A-rooms and have more upscale private gigs than they can handle.

    It's a great angle, but a ton of work, and you will need a couple of smart arranger-type musicians to help you out. Logistically, very challenging with all those people to keep track of and get them on the same page.
     
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  6. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    I play in a corporate/wedding band that covers all kinds of styles. We play some disco but, honestly, there are few bands around that could get by doing only that (Boogie Wonder Band is the only one I can think of - and I don't even know if they stick to disco 100%). Some things you need to consider: first, you are based in Canada and that will determine to a large degree what repertoire you can get away with (this means you basically have to stick to only the most obvious disco and funk hits) and second, what is your market going to be? Targetting the top tier corporate events and weddings will require a significant investment both money and time-wise. Competition is stiff and the best bands have really got their acts together. So unless you're prepared to spend thousands of dollars to set up a solid working band and promotional materials you're better off looking at a less lucrative but less demanding segment of the market. Regardless, I would question the viability of having a successful corporate band on any level without it being more than just a "thing on the side".
     
  7. portpc

    portpc

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Exactly right!.. as your competition + the time needed to pull together a great product isn't to be taken lightly if you wish to have success..

    I had a very busy Corporate/Wedding act for several years in NY, We worked throughout the East Coast, used tracks for the horns & the keys, "Sacrilege" for some I guess but the people loved it + we could compete directly with DJ's as we had less members ..It was NEVER a "thing on the side!!"
     
  8. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    I think sequences are a necessary part of the equation if you're playing any kind of dance or top forty music in a corporate/high end wedding environment. It's not just a matter of parts, it's a matter of texture. People are used to DJs playing club music through big systems and that's what the band is inevitably competing with.
     
  9. electracoyote

    electracoyote

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Location:
    Purple Mountain Majesties
    +1

    A couple of the more popular dance bands in the Denver Metro area are using sequences/samplers. Audiences couldn't care less.

    I actually did pretty well with a funk/R&B pop/rock hybrid. It was about 50/50, but all Billboard Top 40 dance party music. So, for every "Ladies Night" we'd do a "You Shook Me All Night Long." Kind of the same as many DJ's do.

    If they can sing along, if it's got a great dance floor beat, you're in with this clientele.
     
  10. Winfred

    Winfred

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2011
    Nailed it.

    Do everything Portpc lists above.

    If you can pull this off, and there's a market for it in your area, you'll make darn good money playing funk/disco. Women love it. They'll stay all night, dance and drink, and they'll spread the word to their friends.
     
  11. chunkylover73

    chunkylover73

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2009
    Location:
    Canada
    Thanks for the advice. Excuse my ignorance, but I've never played in a band that used sequences or samplers for horns or keys. What hardware/software would be needed, and more importantly, how difficult is it to use? I have a keyboard player, but no horn section.
     
  12. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Location:
    santa maria,california
    our drummer triggers the sequences. its added a pretty big part for things like the multiple layered keyboard parts in some of the production. especially the current stuff we play like bruno mars and katy perry.
     
  13. chunkylover73

    chunkylover73

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2009
    Location:
    Canada
  14. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Think of it more like you are playing along to an enhanced click track. You have your laptop with the backing track on it, hit "play" and play along.
     
  15. chunkylover73

    chunkylover73

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2009
    Location:
    Canada
    Got it.
     
  16. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    I should have mentioned that you need it set up so that the actual click part of the sequence is sent only to the monitors (your in-ears) and not to the FOH. Well, strictly speaking, you could just play along to a track (with no separate click) but to me this doesn't work as well as having a separate click that only the band can hear.
     

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