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A Day in the Life of a Band Leader

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by PauFerro, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I thought I would share a rather improvisational, stressful, but overall satisfying experience.

    I was booked a month ago for a Jazz and Wine event. Standard pay, - it was described as being in a corner of a 1/4 acre lot with food and business vendors, with tables and a wine area. Sounds great I thought -- show up, do standards, use backline only -- piece of cake. Bit of a problem that NONE of my drummers were available, so I called a guy that lives an hour a way (former drummer ina guitar trio that imploded after I had to release the guitarist from the trio for bad behavior) and begged for the drummer to join us -- no rehearsal though, it wasn't worth it for one gig. I said fine, and sent him video and fortunately, he reads charts (hits, structure, style) and does a great job of it. I have faith it'll all work out as a result. I send the band the whole song list and all the details.

    Two days before, I learn the non-profit has rented a massive stage (music festival quality) and I am running sound for a guitar and vocal duo who will perform in between our now reduced 40 minute sets. Fine I said -- I knew the event organizer, and it was non-profit, and I didn't want to make waves. We had partnered on events with my own non-profit, so I didn't want to make waves. No pay adjustment required. I also learn the keyboard player thinks there was no communication on songs two days before -- he looks and finds it went to SPAM. We work it out and he asks for two charts.

    I arrive at 3 pm for a 6 pm down-note so I have lots of time to do the sound. Stage was supposed to be in place by 2 pm so I thought 3 pm would be a good time to start. Well, the stage isn't there. Realizing it was going to be a stressful setup because the stage was late, so I started doing everything I could without the stage. I plugged power cables into my four powered speakers, mixer, and bass amp. I set up my EUB on its stand and tuned it, and got the power cord, and speaker cable for my amp and cab out of my tub of cords. Set up my music stand and light, carted everything as close to where the stage would be without hopefully interfering with the truck. Plugged the setlist into Colornote (a cool phone app) and send it to the band. They had the SONG list three weeks before the gig, but needed the order. I write all the checks for the band. Still no stage at 4:15 and the event planner can't reach the stage guys, so I start thinking about a backup plan. I find an extra generator provided by the lot lighting company, and realize we can put the drummer on a big concrete riser that has some kind of utility under it. No problem. We would have power and be on the grass. Event planner says he heard from the stage company and they are 3 minutes away. No problem.

    Stage arrives at 4:30 pm, and I get set up in lightening speed since down note is 6 pm. Band was supposed to arrive early so we could rehearse a few tougher songs (Metheny -- River Quay, Bright Size life with the substitute drummer, and some original compositions tunes, and Today's Jazz Book songs). (Keyboard player is top of scene and doesn't like to rehearse, so I get him there early and we run through new repertoire after setup at gigs). Keyboard player is nowhere to be found, but arrives 45 minutes before the down note. Duo shows up 1/2 hour before the down note. No time to rehearse anything.

    I also find the guitarist in the duo is a guy I had to release from his guitar role in the band about 3 years ago due to blowing up at me routinely and trying to oust me from the trio we formed. The only guy I've ever removed from a band. He also threatened legal action over pictures and mP3 we had on our site with him in it, which we never took down, after he was released. This was while he promoted his new band, with the best musician in my band at the time, using video of myself in it (it was in an email chain for a festival I was booked for after we split).

    So, I found I was running sound for him. Awkward when I first saw him. Life has a way of packaging up surprises for all. No problem, though, we were both professional and accommodating, and it actually felt good to interact in a very professional and collaborative way. I was surprised though to see them there. I considered offering to have him join us for a few tunes like old times but decided not to take the risk, even though he was civil and seemed to want to just get along for the night.

    One minute before the down note, everyone on the left side of the stage tells me they have no power, even though we were set up and ready to go, with all power working a 1/2 hour before the down note. I reroute all power cords to the other side of the stage and everything works, we start about 2 minutes past the down note due to no fault of our own.

    On our first set, I realize the keyboard player, who had emailed me songs for which he needed charts, had missed a bunch of them, so I had to skip songs and make adjustments on stage. No problem, we were fast so no one knew. On the first break, I give him the charts and he remembers them and says no problem. I had brought extras.

    Halfway through the gig, the power goes out on stage. The generator may or may not be working -- what matters is that for some reason, the power won't get through the stage electrical system. The event planner and helper try to figure it out, but there was no one there from the stage company to help us. They are clearly not getting it to work. I point them to the generator I had found previously, and say we plug directly into it -- fooey on connecting the stage electrical system to it. They do it, and everything works. Back on with about a 15 minute delay.

    On a break I get two leads for gigs from restaurant owners who liked the band.

    We knock a bunch of songs out of the park, crowd loves D Natural Blues, Mr. Magic, and the originals and a couple Today's Jazz Book tunes get more applause than the standards. Tension and release, sounds GREAT. The duo's singer asks if they can have some of our time due to the loss of power and other losses of time (announcements) and I say no problem, and let them finish out the night with two songs after our final set.

    At the end, we get kudos from the organizer, the local commissioner, and it sounds like we're on for the next one they do. I trust the organizer since we have partnered and we know each other well, so I hand out the checks to the band.

    I mention the check to the client at the end. At this p[oint we are the only ones left on the grounds after tear down, and whoops, the client had forgotten to bring payment. He'll drive it over to my house tomorrow. I can trust them as I said, I was once a member of their organization and there is a high level of trust. They are a repeat client.

    Just thought I'd share. It was stressful, but at the end I don't think I ever felt so alive.

    (Next day Update: The client just brought me the check and all is well)
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Smoothe moves!

    BL? Damn straight.
    kesslari, JRA and PauFerro like this.
  3. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Sometimes it just doesn't matter how prepared you are or how solid your plan is... good job reacting to the uncontrollable nonsense.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  4. Oddly

    Oddly Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    There's often a lot of whining about BLs here, but reading the sort of day you had, and how well you dealt with it all, sure gives a good perspective on what it takes to keep the show running. Bravo!
    JRA, EdO., Mr_Moo and 4 others like this.
  5. I read your post & whew!.. I need a nap, exhausted!!
    I'm a BL as well, "Arriving at 3PM for a 6PM down note" is likely what saved your bacon, Planning for contingencies both natural & manmade is job #1.. Nicely played!
    JRA, Mr_Moo, Stumbo and 2 others like this.
  6. You need to petition for a new TB handle. MrUnflappable.
    JRA, PauFerro and Stumbo like this.
  7. The only thing missing was rain!!

    Great job man! :thumbsup:
    JRA, Stumbo and PauFerro like this.
  8. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    The stage was covered, so unless it was full on frontal rain, I think we'd have been OK to get paid. But yeah, I was afraid of that too as these guys don't do deposits.
    Stumbo likes this.
  9. 74hc


    Nov 19, 2015
    Sunny California
    Most important thing right there.

    Who knows, maybe that guitarist will return the favor down the road by passing a gig over that he cannot do.
  10. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    good job! glad things worked out! :thumbsup:


    why do adrenaline junkies like to go camping? because it's in tents.
    PauFerro likes this.

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