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Badly disorganized event -- do I bow out?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BertBert, Mar 31, 2004.

  1. BertBert


    Nov 9, 2002
    I have a gig coming up on April 7 that I am seriously thinking of pulling out of. Read on if you're interested and let me know your thoughts.

    I'm the primary bass player in my church's worship team, and a couple months ago I was approached by a guy in the church who attends a local university and was putting together an all-campus Christian worship event and wanted me to play at it. My role was going to be playing in a band with a local female singer/songwriter who I'd played with before and really enjoyed it, so it sounded like fun. I said sure.

    From there it's been all downhill. First the event was postponed a month, which isn't bad in itself. But as the date approached I had no rehearsal info -- no info of any kind -- from the organizer. A couple of weeks ago I saw the aforementioned singer/songwriter at my church and we cornered the organizer and buttonholed him for information. It turns out that I was NOT backing the singer/songwriter after all, but rather some other male artist who I'd never heard of, along with the univerisity's gospel choir. So I was disappointed but said, well, alright, it's a chance to hone my session chops, and I stuck with it. I asked him what the rehearsal schedule was going to be and he said there would be one rehearsal (??!) on Thursday at 6:00 at the university.

    So I got off work early to get to the place and get my gear set up. 6:00 rolls around... and nobody is there. 6:30 rolls around, nobody there. I ran into somebody I knew and they gave me the guy's phone number; called him up and he said he had changed the time to 7:00. He had made no attempt to call me and let me know.

    At that point I was tired, hungry, and mad -- so I told him I wasn't going to play at all and he could find another bass player. But he basically begged me to stay on, and the male singer dude would be showing up at any moment and so forth. So I said I'd stick with it.

    The male singer dude shows up and we play through a few of his songs and things are looking up. I ask him what he has in mind to play, and he says he wanted to play some songs off his latest CD. I asked if that was in line with the event -- which was described to me as a worship service, not a concert -- and he said he was told it was a concert, not a worship service. So we found the organizer and asked him which one it was, and he said "Well, it's a concert and a worship service" but then said "It's a worship service." The male singer was pretty mad because he had planned out his playlist, and now he had to completely change it.

    On top of that, he asked who the drummer and keyboard player were going to be, since we were told there would be a full band of which we'd be a part. The organizer said there was no keyboard player (which I don't mind) but he said he didn't know the name of the drummer. "You don't know the NAME of the DRUMMER?" said the singer. I then asked the organizer if we, in fact, actually had a drummer lined up at all. He hemmed and hawed a bit and finally admitted that no, there was no drummer lined up to play.

    At that point, the singer dude just about walked out. But he said he knew a guy he'd played in a band with before who was a drummer and would try to get him to come. Before we left, I gave the singer dude my phone number and email and told him to call me to set up a time we coudl practice once we had the drummer.

    It's been a week, and we're a week away from the gig, and I've had no call from the guy. Further, I've gotten no information about playing with the choir -- no music, no nothing. And nobody else showed up for practice that night.

    So....... did I make a mistake in staying with this event as long as I have? Am I setting myself up for disaster next Wednesday? Is it too late to pull out of the event? Should I soldier on and make the best of it, or get out while I still can? Any thoughts?
  2. I'd bail. There's something to be said for taking the high road, but there's no reason to martyr yourself on behalf of someone who has not displayed the slightest respect for your time or talent. I've suffered through enough similarly "organized" events that I know I can, but the "payoff" for soldiering on through is really not worth it, IMHO.

    It's about respect. If the "organizer" was really trying his best I'd feel differently, but from what you've written it doesn't sound like the guy is really making the effort. You don't have to help people who don't respect you. It'll just reinforce that he can exploit the work ethic of others without having to have one of his own.

    Do enough of these and you'll start to hate yourself.

  3. Yes... They've got six days to replace you. More than enough time based on how this whole thing has been handled so far.

    I don't think you didn't mentioned if there was actual pay involved. This might be a mitigating factor (very small factor).
    If not, this is a total time waster which no pro would tolerate.

    I ramble. Been there, done that.
  4. Geez! (please ignore the "didn't" in :eek: my previous post)
  5. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I would call the "organizer :rolleyes: " and pull out. tell him why, and don't give in. My .02$
  6. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    well,at some time in our musical lives,we make a choice:
    pro or no. if you let people treat you unprofessionally, they always will. your reputation is based upon not only how you treat others,but
    how you allow yourself to be treated. if you want to be pro, contact
    the parties involved immediately, and address your professional needs in a professional manner. if they cannot be met, thank everyone involved and cancel politely. if nothing else, these people will respect you.
    if it's all for fun, take it all in stride and enjoy whatever happens...
    random unrehearsed gigs can actually be a blast if your attitude is light.
    good luck
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Blow 'em off.
  8. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Do you think "organiser" is a bit of a grand title for the guy? If you've got nothing doing next Wednesday and have the time to spare for what will probably mainly be standing around in an almost empty room and not playing very much, you could consider sticking with it. Otherwise, I'd bail - and maybe call the singer as well, since he probably won't be informed by the guy in the middle.

    At least you might get some opportunities from treating the singer with respect. The other guy doesn't inspire confidence - it sounds like he's bitten off way more than he can chew and, the worst thing is, if you work hard to produce some modicum of success, he'll probably think he's done really well and subject you or others to the same problems in future.

    IMHO, of course.

  9. BertBert


    Nov 9, 2002
    Thanks for the thoughts. Some additional info relating to your posts:

    - There is no pay involved with this, as far as I know. (Why are paying Christian gigs so hard to find?)

    - This won't be an empty room. The event has been advertised on the university campus and on the radio, and they're expecting well over 100 people to show for this. It's being held in the main open area in the student center, so people don't necessarily need to make plans to come -- a lot of students will just be right there, eating dinner or playing ping-pong or whatever. And it's on a Wednesday which means that most of the students will still be on campus.

    This last thing is the most worrisome thing for me. If this were just a small gig I'd probably say "What the heck" and continue on. In a small setting I'm no so concerned with doing an unrehearsed stand-in gig. Like DARK said those can be a lot of fun with the right personnel. But in a semi-large setting that is high profile, like this, I kind of feel like I am setting myself up for a major embarassment. Plus, from a Christian standpoint, there could be a lot of non-Christians there and I'm not going to be part of an event that basically communicates to these people that Christians don't know what they're doing, and their music sucks too.

    However this turns out, I am making a mental list of conditions that have to be met if I am to do a gig like this again, paid or unpaid:
    • Need to have a firm schedule of rehearsal times and dates that are not changed without prior notice.
    • Need to have a clear idea of my role in the gig and who I am playing with.
    • Need to have a clear idea of the music I'll be playing so I can practice ahead of time, or at least know the STYLE of music ahead of time.

    I'll keep everyone posted.
  10. BertBert


    Nov 9, 2002
    I bailed. I just got off the phone with the organizer and said that I would rather not play at the event, outlined what I need to be able to play effectively and explained that those things had not been met. He was surprisingly accomodating -- my guess is I am not the first person to express such things to him about this event.

    I feel bad in a way, because the guy is just a 20-year old student trying to put on an event. And I love to play, and it seemed like a good venue. But at the same time I think he needs to understand how to handle musicians and how to plan such things, and this event just got scarier as time passed. And I feel like a weight is off my shoulders. So I think I made the right choice.
  11. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Look at this way - if he can learn a few good lessons now, then it's going to make a lot of people's lives better in years to come.

  12. Humblerumble


    Feb 22, 2004
    I don't blame you for bailing. I am a christian and I play bass in a church orchestra, as well as a band or two. I am not the most talented player in the world, but I can hold my own and play most anything short of Victor Wooten or the like PROVIDED I have enough time to prepare. I get stressed at christian musicians who throw things together, which I would never do in a secular environment, and expect a polished product. I try to be careful about accepting things without enough information, because it seems to lead to the kind of mess that you were in. I am lucky enough to play with some superb musicians most of the time and knowing their abilities helps me relax if we're doing something improv, but I would have been a nervous wreck in your situation!
  13. Smart move getting out of the way of that train wreck. If you owed those guys it might be your personal ethical decision to stay with it, but you were getting jerked around.

    I've been a part of my share of fiascos over the years, now if I see one coming I run.
  14. RevGroove

    RevGroove Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2002
    Burlington ON Canada
    Manager, Account Services: Long & McQuade Ltd. (Burlington); MTD Kingston Basses International Emerging Artist; Bartolini Electronics Emerging Artist
    I think you did the right thing. As stated before, you should contact the singer, let him know you resigned and offer your services for future gigs.
  15. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Bah, you were right to leave. You were probably a lot more patient and understanding than most of us would be. ;) You dedicated yourself to the best extent you could and kept being let down. You can always forgive and forget, but there's no reason to keep putting yourself in a compromising position.
  16. funny... I've played under worse conditions for beer or the chance of meeting that chick in the hotpants. :bag:

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