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Booked my first sub gig!

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by mrcbass, Jan 13, 2020.

  1. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Not really a gig story yet, but I booked my first sub gig this weekend.

    I saw a "bass player needed for paying gig (Classic Rock/Country/Blues)" post on Facebook on Friday afternoon. Figured out how to get in touch with the poster (I am a very illiterate Facebook user), and sent him a note with a request for setlist.

    I found it kind of odd, that it was like pulling teeth to get a setlist for a gig that was about a week away (I started figuring they found another guy and were just ghosting me), but finally got an old setlist at about 9:00 am on Saturday morning after I sent him a follow up ("don't mean to be pushy, but clock is ticking") with the setlist for the gig in question Saturday night. I looked over the old list and it was 95% blues with a sprinkling of bluesy rock and bluesy country. Only a few songs I've never heard of and yes, they were old school blues. I like blues OK - for a while - but it can get old pretty fast. I've passed on a couple of opportunities that were too blues heavy for my taste.

    Luckily, there is a decent representation of the "power" blues that I actively like (SRV, Clapton, Hendrix), and there are enough variations of styles that I won't be playing the same old blues walk for every song (I do try to change it up with in a song where it is appropriate), although there are a lot of songs that rely on the boogie walk to the vi.

    Despite not being a huge fan of all night blues, I'm trying to get myself out there and I was comfortable that I could pull it off, so I coerced the contact into calling me to lock things down. I got the actual set list after requesting it on Sunday morning and it was even fewer songs than the "old" list - with one song repeated. I don't get why it is so hard for people to provide some sort of playlist to prospective subs - I can't even tell you IF I can pull it off without seeing your song choices.

    Gig is a very informal private party, 6-9, decent pay with the contact rhythm guitar/vocals, a "very talented" (but kind of flaky) lead guitar, me and... a smattering of guest drummers who will be at the party! Yikes. I guess the two guitar players play pick up gigs like this frequently even though they are not currently in a band together.

    I found it quite interesting that the guys just put me in with no conversation and no request for samples or any proof that I even own a bass. I guess they figure that anyone willing to answer a "sub" ad can pull of basic blues without too much drama. I suppose he could have sifted through my Facebook page and found some videos of my previous bands, but it just struck me as odd to be hired without even an interview.

    I spent Saturday getting my notes together on the old list and started dialing the nuances between the songs. No crazy breaks or anything like that - my biggest concern is remembering which groove goes with which song. I did my best to notate the groove on my charts. If nothing else, I can just come in after a pass or two. BY last night, I was pretty comfortable with the set list and should even be able to pull of any of the other 15 or so songs from the "old" list should they get called out. I'll be running everything all week just to get a little tighter in my walks.

    The contact mentioned that he's in the process of putting his own band together, so this could work out to be an audition for another band. We'll cross that bridge after the gig.

    I guess FB is actually becoming a useful tool - I booked a fill-in gig for band from a FB post las month and now a sub gig. I'll follow up with a gig report next week - should be very *cough* interesting dealing with who knows how many drummers with who knows skill levels.....
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Congrats! Looking forward to hearing the followup.
  3. btmpancake

    btmpancake Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2015
    Apollo beach, Florida
    It's great to see your desire still burns, BTW what rig will you be bringing?
  4. Ekajimmy


    Nov 2, 2019
    mrcbass likes this.
  5. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    My normal rig: 5 string P with flats, pedalboard "preamp", GK MB500 head and Markbass 400w 210 cab. It'll be way more than enough for what I suspect is going to be a living room "stage". It's plenty for a small to medium club.
  6. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Gig report! and pictures if at all possible. You will learn something from this experience. Be a good guy and share.
  7. SacRush

    SacRush Supporting Member

    Can't wait for the gig report. Plus, it might lead to more pick-up jobs like that. Keep Sacramento Blues-y!
    Sore Thumb, LBS-bass and mrcbass like this.
  8. This is great news! I'm sure it will be wonderful.

    As for blues gigs; I have found that some blues players really want improvisational energy on stage and are reluctant to put a song list out there because they don't want it to seem over rehearsed. Others are the opposite. The ones that are doing improv on the fly SHOULD be calling keys and changes to you.

    I used to play with a sort of well known blues guitarist in the area who was like that; he did give me some videos to check out but mainly when we played he'd just say something like 1-4-5 in C and we'd be off. Guys like that will often play a lick with a rhythmic twist in the beginning of the song, and then you can pick that lick up on the bass and make it the foundation. I loved playing with that guy; he moved to Santa Rosa but now backs another local artist so he comes into town now and then for shows with her.

    I'm sure this will be awesome, at least I sure hope it will. Will check back for your report!
    JRA likes this.
  9. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I'm fine with improv blues grooving - if that's what they want. I guess I'm a little gun shy, because I jammed with an young, old-school blues guy a couple times and he was super picky about me covering the old-school groove and got annoyed whenever I got off script and moved the line around. It was very boring and I was not at all bothered that he didn't set up a third jam with me.

    The fact that these guys were very nonchalant about the set list probably means that they don't much care, but my strength is in being prepared, so I always try to do so. And they are not all the standard 1-4-5 patterns - there's a few with slight variations, so I'm happy I've had the chance to make my notes/charts. Yes quite a few of them simply have "8 (or 12) bar blues in X", but others required a more detailed map.
    ak56, design, Oddly and 1 other person like this.
  10. That’s awesome, congrats!

    Enjoy the coming week; I just love getting a whole night’s worth of new music up to speed, it’s exhilarating!
    mrcbass likes this.
  11. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Yeah, I've come to find that short of gigging, locking down new tunes is my favorite part of playing.
    alanloomis1980 and LBS-bass like this.
  12. getrhythm


    Nov 2, 2015
    New Jersey
    Sorry to be a Debbie Downer but their nonchalance would be a red flag for me. Spotty communication, not asking for examples of your playing (which I would insist on, but that's just me)...I hope it comes off successfully for you.
    lowphatbass and mrcbass like this.
  13. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I was close to just going on about my Saturday and blowing this off before I finally got the first list, so yeah the flags are flying. But it's a one off thing, so I'm being a little lenient. The lead guitar is the guy driving the lists; my contact was apologetic for his flakiness. I have to believe the contact saw a few of my band vids on Facebook - he was brushing off other offers for connections before we even locked it down.
    BassCliff and getrhythm like this.
  14. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    Booked my first sub gig!
    DrMole, RyanOh, Mike N and 1 other person like this.
  15. You'll never go wrong by being prepared, in my book. I'm really excited for you!
  16. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    My first sub gig was in 2001 with a band playing a county fairgrounds gig. Modern rock and I already knew 99% of their setlist...... Or so I thought.

    Well, I get to the gig and the setlist went in the trash. The apparent BL called off random songs as he saw fit..... luckily I had heard most of them before and I was able to dumb my lines down to fit in without looking like a complete jack***.

    I've done one other sub gig since then......
    DrMole, mmon77, JRA and 1 other person like this.
  17. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    :D they can definitely go that way! ;)

    when i was playing full-time i was regularly stumped/stunned in the same way you describe --- now that i'm retired (on 'my time') i can be picky about it...but these days: i can get confused by the "randomness" of my own band...playing my tunes! :laugh:
    DrMole and Mike N like this.
  18. RyanOh

    RyanOh Gold Supporting Member

    "guest drummers" could be very entertaining:thumbsup:

    I played with one such drummer last week that went up and down over 20bpm in a single song and insisted on weird triplet fills in the middle of choruses.

    He will not be asked to "guest drum" ever again.
    Rabidhamster likes this.
  19. jdh3000


    May 16, 2016
    Congratulations on the gig!

    You'll find in subbing it is most difficult to get a set list because many bands either just wing it and never really write one down... or they have something handwritten on paper but can't seem to get it in a format to send it to you.... Take a picture of it if nothing else.

    I always asked for one with keys but rarely got it. No big deal but it does help if they are just flying off into songs and aren't playing factory keys(usually the case)

    I've been hired sight unseen before and I'm thinking "How do you even know I can play?"... oh well... Understandable if I was recommended but some are desperate and take a chance.
    It's not a bad idea to keep some footage of your playing on fb/YouTube, somewhere for demo purposes, as that seems to be a trend.

    If you live in a musically active are you can stay quite busy subbing, you'll get your name and reputation out there. It can actually be more fun than being tied down to one band and keeps you on your toes. Plus you don't have to put up with a lot of the band drama, and most of them seem to appreciate you while you are there.

    Good luck!
    mrcbass likes this.
  20. skygzr


    Feb 23, 2015
    Southeast US
    I used to love doing sub gigs. It'll keep you on your toes and you'll have a blast.
    getrhythm and mrcbass like this.

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