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Band in a Huge Rut...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by thebates, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. thebates


    Jan 2, 2011
    I joined a country rock (with some classic thrown in) band in the spring of this year. I worked my ass off to learn the tunes with about 90% of them requiring my harmony voicing. A lot of work. I was welcomed to the band as a fully participating member. I have put in several suggestions for songs and a re-evaluation of their set list.
    I am realizing now I am nothing but a sideman.
    On Sept. 21 we played an outdoor event on the Philadelphia waterfront called "sippin on the river". An upscale cosmopolitan crowd. We were requested several times to do Brown Eyed Girl and Margaritaville. These are standards in my book.....They really didn't want to hear Helpless or Born on the Bayou or Down by the River or Simple Man etc. which I can't seem to get purged from the songlist. Well we didn't do the requests and to be honest I was pretty ****ing embarrassed. Not only that but I was given a pretty condescending lecture on the intricacies of setlist construction by the singer. What horsepoopie...I have been around and played all over the world. I'll tell you, I was hot, and the more I thought about it the worse it got. I called the former bass man and he told me get used to it. They haven't changed or evolved in the last 6 years. What the hell have I gotten myself into?
    Anyone relate????
  2. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Just be a pro. Give notice and move on. Sounds awful
  3. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    A country rock band that accepted a gig on the Philadelphia waterfront produced by a promoter that did very limited promotion...

    (I didn't hear anything about this event. But if it was promoted on Philadelphia country radio, that would explain it...)

    Sounds like what you're into is a steady (i.e. unchanging) group that has out-stayed the Urban Cowboy welcome. Born on the Bayou I know. The other two titles - nope.

    There's plenty of southern rock on local classic rock radio so the genre is not unknown...

    What's your typical venue? Was Philadelphia a rare foray into major metro areas?

    I think the difference between a rut and a groove is perception. You've got your wakeup call that this is not going to be your big opportunity for creative expression.

    If you like the experience otherwise (money OK, guys not jerks) maybe a side project will give you the creative outlet you need. Or maybe you're just the next bassist in line through the revolving door. You put in the work and should have a sense of accomplishment about that - you've proven you can do it. So OK - it's not appreciated - but probably from the band's perspective, it was expected. You're not going to get a big attaboy from the guys in the band for doing what the job required. This doesn't take anything away from your achievement, of course...

    So - what is your expectation? What's the chance that's going to materialize?

    In so much of life, it's a tradeoff between "Work for more" or "want less."
  4. WalWarrior

    WalWarrior Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2006
    MD suburbs
    I feel your pain. I worked my ass off for over 3 years in an act that bringing about change was like pulling teeth. The huge shame of it was the players were great. Huge talent, no vision to grow. I pushed and pushed and pushed create a demo in a pro studio, get decent management, change set lists up to create a professional show, and I got resistance the whole way from 2 guys in the band. ( at the time it was a four piece act, keyboard player agreed with me, drummer and guitarist mostly at odds.) The last straw was taking a crappy little gig where the guitarist played so loud I lost my voice trying to sing ( couldn't hear out of the wedge monitors, guitarist and drummer to cheap to want to purchase IEMs ) and the Front of house engineer had his faders at 0 after the first song. Ears rang for three days after that show. I realized then that I wasted a lot of time nothing was ever going to change, and bailed. At least I have a decent CD to remember all the hard work. If it's no fun anymore, time to move on.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Well, I don't think one show is enough of the story. So, you don't do Brown Eyed Girl. OK, fine. (I agree that you should at least have it at the ready, but whatever.)

    Here's what we need to know before we offer too much advice from an uninformed crowd.

    How do you go over on a REGULAR basis? One shoe doesn't mean squat. So, at your regular bar gigs, does the crowd love your song selection? So they constantly chant for songs you don't pay and/or run to their seats when you play songs that don't go over well? If so, you have some good points and it may be time to try to negotiate, NOT AT A SHOW, but at a burger joint with no instruments ..... just having a talk.

    However, if the band had a good following, and the crowd usually likes 95%+ of what you are playing, then give it a rest and keep playing. Sure, a few things could be "better". But what band ISN'T that way????? (Answer: none)

    So give us more than just a story about your getting ripped a new butt by your jerk lead singer. How does the band do REGULARLY?

    Answer that and then we can talk.
  6. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    We play Margaritaville about twice a year (under duress). I'd be really disappointed if the BL called "Brown Eyed Girl"! We're a classic country band, damn it!

    I play in a band that's much as you describe. Old, old set lists, little changes from year to year. But ... the guys are all great musicians with decades of experience. Good singers. Guitarists that aren't asshats. A competent drummer with no super-ego. We enjoy each others company at gigs and have fun most nights. And we get paid 4-6 times every month. It's not the most musically rewarding project for any of us, but it's regular, our audiences love us, and it's nothing like work. I have other projects that satisfy my creativity, as do the other members.
  7. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I can never figure out why, in all my years of playing out, not only have I never played "Brown Eyed Girl," it has never been requested, either.

    I don't see anything wrong with being a Country/Classic Rock band that does Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd songs.

    Of course, I don't see anything wrong with playing "Brown Eyed Girl," or "Margarativille" either.

    These are all good songs.
  8. lfmn16

    lfmn16 SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    These are the type of issues that should be discussed before you join a band. I have no problem with being a side man, but I want to know up front what my position in the band is.
  9. +1. ^^^ This.
  10. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
  11. yeah, I've been in bands like that.
    If the shows go over really well, and the BL knows what he/she is doing, and we are all getting paid, well then I just stand back and play my bass.

    If not, well then yes, I speak up for change, and if things go from just OK, to "well, that kinda sucked," then yep, I'd give notice and move on. Everyone needs a good bassist, not hard to find work.
  12. pipFunk


    Feb 1, 2005
    You had a chance to introduce yourselves to an "upscale and cosmopolitan crowd" and you didn't give them what they asked for? You owe that bandleader a condescending lecture of your own, about the wisdom of looking a gift horse in the mouth... unless your calendar is fully booked for the next year and you don't want high paying gigs?
  13. Play for the people man or just stay home and jam!
  14. I'm in kinda the same boat. I replaced a bass player in a working band that was leaving due to health problems. The band is pretty well known in the area and has a decent following.The money is good , the crowds are great (even though we do the same songs most of the time) and we all have a good time on stage , so whats not to like? The rest is all politics and politicians are all idiots so if I can stay out of that stuff , that's fine with me.If the money was bad and we were playing to crickets every time , I would look for something else. We do go out of our way to honor requests , even worked one up on a break between sets a couple weeks ago but even if we hadn't , the night would have still gone fine.
  15. In this day & age of smartphones, if a random audience member shouts out "Brown eyed girl" and the band do not know it, somebody can get online and learn the chords, and at least do a simple, simple "strummer version", with the drums doing the most basic beat and the bass doing the root notes. Any band worth their ass can pull this off. Even if it doesn't sound polished, the crowd will most likely be impressed that the effort was even made.

    I remember once playing at a festival at a campground, and some guy said "PLAY A CREED SONG!!" Mind you, this was about 12 years ago. I knew the guitar chords to "What's this life for", so I wrote down the root notes for my brother to play on the bass, and between myself and our singer, we knew all the words. The 3 playing members just kept eye contact and communicated when the changes were, and it actually sounded alright. But everybody enjoyed it, especially the group of people that requested it.
  16. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    It's a band....... it ain't prison.
  17. Being on the other side of that situation (being in a band and bringing a new guy in), I can tell you that I'm sure they didn't appreciate the new guy coming in and trying to change the band's set.

    I'm not saying they are right for thinking that, but you attract more ants with honey (or however that goes). If they don't have the same vision as yours as to what a band should play in situations like this, then start a new band. I doubt they are that good anyways, and if they were, you'd probably be OK with putting up with it
  18. thebates


    Jan 2, 2011
  19. thebates


    Jan 2, 2011
    Good feedback from all you guys..really. I appreciate it! Yeah it's a funny (and not so funny) situation you can find yourself in. We have a pedal steel guy who I thought was permanent but he only makes certain shows as the summer season revealed. He has another band that takes precedence obviously. I'm an R&B & funk guy but between the pedal steel sound and a couple pretty tasty country tunes I was sold on the band. But as always a look behind the scenes can be an awakening.
    Now back in the day....I would get the Trading Times and look in Musicians Grapevine.
    On a regular basis I would be hooked up with a decent band within two weeks..no B.S.
    Try doing that now...on Craigslist...fat chance. It's all scams, posers, tribute bands and god knows what. Not much different success wise than on line dating....am I right?
  20. Session1969


    Dec 2, 2010
    It's always a bummer for me when bands/band members trip out or quickly disregard suggestions. Especially, the ones that make sense like playing requests to make people in the audience happy. What a concept, huh ? Lol !

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