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Bummed - starting to remember why I laid off playing...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by secretdonkey, Jan 16, 2003.


  1. secretdonkey

    secretdonkey

    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Aggh... just gotta vent a bit. I kinda got the idea about 8 months ago or so to really have a go at playing regularly with a band again. I was just playing the occasional pickup gig prior to that and lately not many of those, even. Part of the reason I had given up before was that there just wasn't anything at all that suited me, musically - and I don't consider myself to be hugely selective, either.

    After a false-start project or two, I landed in a classic rock cover band. Not the music I wanted to play, mind you, and I convinced myself it would be a temporary stepping stone, possibly splintering off with some of the members, possibly jumping ship entirely. Great players, mostly. My wife tries to be supportive but she hates the genre more than me. Now the band has decided to change directions - a Houston booking agent has told us that he'll work with us if we modernize our sound and/or play more danceable stuff. Part of me is jumping for joy, and the other is convinced that this is a hopeless project that will only cause the band to lose focus for awhile until it's decided that we'll just stick with what we (umm, they) know.

    Every single day for the past few months, I've checked three local 'musicians wanted' boards, with no luck. If I want another gig, my options seem to be this:

    1. Lots of hard rock/metal bands. Not my cup of tea.

    2. Overly simplistic blues band. Fast blues. Slow blues. The Dump-de-dump-de-dump shuffle. Repeat in another key with one slightly different break. Don't make the mistake of thinking they'd welcome a bass line that moves around a bit more, either.

    3. Country. Not cool country either, just the worst tripe Nashville knows how to make.

    4. Various original bands. Two that I turned down were really good. Both of those I knew were destined to stay in their rehearsal rooms and would fall apart before they ever made any headway (neither has played a show yet, at least six months later). Others tend to be overly amateur and/or mediocre - and at 35, I'm getting to where I can't really fit into just any hip young original band, anyway - even if I liked what I heard :(

    It's a blue collar southern town and unfortunately despite the 'swamp pop' and 'blue eyed soul' that came from this area back in the 50's & 60's, white musicians tend to want to play boring whitebread stuff (see above) and black musicians already seem to have enough great players for the tiny R&B scene that I can see. There are a few good cover bands, and I had to pass on joining one because they worked weeknights out of town - which didn't jibe well with my career. I regret not jumping on that opportunity and trying to make it work, though.

    Okay, I'll stop ranting now. I need to go to bed :( I'm reading this thing and I don't think I deserve a whole lot of sympathy - maybe I AM just too darn picky, after all. :oops:
     
  2. Stu L.

    Stu L. Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    It could be worse. At least Beaumont is a nice place. I was there right about a year ago for a friends wedding. I liked it alright. Got lost as hell on the highway exchanges though...On second thought, forget Beaumont!:D
     
  3. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    No offense, but after reading the rest of your post, it seems like you are hugely selective.

    After my last band broke up, I spent a couple of months looking for the right band. A guy called me about a country band (yes, "the worst tripe Nashville knows how to make"), and I thought he was nuts - I had been playing rock for more than 20 years. I let him talk me into going to a rehearsal to check them out, and they were really talented. Since I had nothing better to do, and I wanted a chance to play with musicians that good, I said ok. I expected to only be in the band until something I liked better came along. That was 6 years ago, and I'm still in the band, and having a great time. In fact, it has been the best, and most fun, band I've ever played in, and I've learned a lot. I'm a far better bass player today because I joined a band that I thought I wouldn't like.

    I've learned a lot about music from this band, but the main thing I've learned is to keep an open mind, and not be afraid to try something I don't think I'll like.

    I also learned that there are some very interesting bass lines in that "tripe".

    Just something to think about.
     
  4. secretdonkey

    secretdonkey

    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Heh. Yeah, I can't really argue with that. Needed a rant, though.

    Re: the country music thing, I guess that since country is such an ingrained and dominant genre here, and representative of nearly everything that bothers me about being stuck in a redneck backwater (it's my hometown - I can get away with calling it that), there's just too much baggage for me to lay down and play the stuff. If I lived in Hawaii, where I bet cowboy hats and Ropers are not de rigeur , then the music would lose it's symbolic power of representing a culture that doesn't know what de riguer means and furthermore is highly suspicious of you for using the word.

    Whoa, getting a bit deep there. Sorry ;)
     
  5. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Can't really argue with that. The only people here you see in cowboy hats are in the military - and not many of them. The thing I've discovered is, the majority of country fans don't dress like cowboys (not even the ones in the military that are from Texas, etc...), and don't act like rednecks. Sometimes I'm surprised to see guys that look like alternative fans singing along, and knowing all the words. And there was the night, after playing Faith Hill's "Breathe" in a bar frequented by bikers, that a huge biker with a ZZ Top beard stood up and screamed "I love that song!"....:eek:
     
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    When I lived in Hawaii (on O'ahu), I played in a country band that gigged 3-4 times a week, for good bread. The gigs are there.

    I'd give the blues thing a try. I subbed a blues band and expected it to be the most boring thing I'd ever done. I was sooo wrong. I had a blast - and they loved a more active bass player, said it made them feel as though there were another voice in the band.
     
  7. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999
    SecretDonk-
    I can relate(SOS here, too).
    I am gonna keep playing...for myself.
    What the Hell, it's frustrating but still fun.

    Didn't the Electomagnets came outta your neck of the woods?
     
  8. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I'm having trouble visualizing what kind of "danceable" music would be popular in a blue collar town. Honky-tonk? Line dancing? Typical bar band fare? Seventies disco? Swing? Polka? Does your area have a big Hispanic element? Are the groups mixed at dance band gigs...meaning would you have to play a variety of genres...everything from "Achey Breaky Heart" to "The Macarena" and Las Ketchup stylings to soft ballads for the "slow dancers" to some reggae and some sixties twist numbers?

    The transition for your band would require building a new repertory and having a clear idea as to the type of venue and audience so that the music will be the right kind of danceable.

    I know that is a challenge, but it might be refreshing and a way to make new contacts. If I were in your shoes, I'd give it a try...let's say for a year. In the meantime, I'd be on the look out for more interesting opportunities. No telling what might come your way. Someone at one of your gigs might come up and say they like your playing. Would you have the time and interest to play in x type of band and it might prove to be just what you are searching for.
     
  9. ...your advice above is stellar.

    :cool: :)

    b
     
  10. secretdonkey

    secretdonkey

    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Here in Texas, Stevie Ray Vaughan is God, and if you've ever heard any of that stuff, it's simple, repetitive basslines - and that's what the guitarist/bandleader wants - a simple, solid platform to build rythmic guitar licks over. Actually, there are occasional opportunities, especially in the 'slow blues' form, as it's called in those circles. Try to stray from the guitarist's line on a shuffle tune even a little, though, and the guitarist is apt to walk over and pointedly play single notes to show you the line as he wants it done.

    That said, I've got my eyes open for a blues gig as a side project (unless it exceeds the low expectations I've described). I still get occasional calls to sub but those have tapered off.

    To give you an idea of what a blues gig around here can be like, two anecdotes:

    1. Get a call to do a pickup gig at a bar in a nearby town. I'm hesitant because this town is Vidor, TX, a town infamous for its racial intolerance and KKK presence. Band leader tells me it's 'a nice little place.' I figure it's a quick gig - in, out, collect the money and get out of there. And it was. But this 'nice little place' was festooned with rebel flags and 'white pride' slogans and Tshirts of all sorts. I still regret not turning around and heading straight home right away. Not wanting to screw the other guys out of their gig money was my only motivation for staying. The hispanic guitarist sure looked nervous that night.

    2. Recent call for another pickup gig. 'Nice private party' (different bandleader this time, who has had some gigs at very nice private parties). This was a biker party. Mostly Banditos - which are, in my limited knowlege of biker culture, on a par with the Hell's Angels, I believe. They wore vests showing their affiliations, and with patches that said thing like "no mercy" - vague, but very ominous. Their wifes and girlfriends wore vests that said "property of Shorty" and the like. The women seemed happy to be property. Anyway, I played the gig with little incident (almost got my amp peed on, but the guy was apologetic when he realized what he was about to do). I don't want to play any more Bandito parties in the near future, however.

    Anyway, just a couple of stories for yucks. :)
     
  11. secretdonkey

    secretdonkey

    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Unfortunately, I'm very afraid that the band will implode and/or be unable to face some sticky personnel issues. This agent books for the Houston area (we're about an hour and a half east of Planet H), so it's a big enough market to save us from having to play the Macarena to get gigs. We decided to cut a new demo with these songs: "Smooth" by Santana/Rob Thomas (cool bass line!), "Brick House" / Commodores, probably a Matchbox 20 tune and a danceable 80's tune. Pretty standard cover band stuff for this neck of the woods.

    So far, so good. Problems looming below the surface, though. Realistically for this to work, we'll need to shake up the lineup a bit, and there's not enough collective will to make this happen - there's been some tentative efforts in this regard already that died in committee, so to speak. With the current lineup, the band is at serious risk of looking like a huge joke trying to cover the vocals in many of these songs.

    I'm a bassist who doesn't sing, so any transition is really pretty easy for me. It's really the members who sing who I fear will be unable to adapt.

    And yeah, I'm sticking it out regardless of what happens so that I can be playing and visible. Both guitarists are pretty well-known and well-connected with the local music community.

    We'll see what happens - thanks for your thoughts!

    :)
     
  12. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Actually, things have changed since you left, Pacman. Peco's closed 2 years ago, and they had live country bands 5 nights a week, so with only 4 or 5 country bands on the island (at the time), we were guaranteed at least 1 gig a week just from them. The only other 2 country bars, Nashville Waikiki and Paniolo Cafe at Pearl Harbor, don't have bands.The military clubs aren't hiring as many bands as they used to, either. We play once or twice a month at K-Bay, but that is the only military gig we get. Other bars only want a country band once or twice a month. Right now we are the only country band regularly playing bar gigs (that I know of), and we only play 2 or 3 gigs a month. Your old band, Full Circle, doesn't play much anymore (their singer, Cameron, sings with us on about half of our gigs). And the only other country performer around now, Dita Holifield, plays mostly conventions, and that sort of thing. She wants more money than clubs are willing to pay. The bars that do hire us don't pay as much as they used to, either. We mainly play at the Sugar Bar and K-Bay, with an occasional gig somewhere else.

    Things aren't much better for bands playing other styles of music, either. There are a lot of bands, and not so many gigs. If you look at the calendars at most bars, they often have a different band every night each month, with few bands playing more than one time a month. And the pay sucks, now. Usually between $200 and $400 is all you can get (usually closer to $200).
     
  13. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Wow... I'm sorry to hear that. One of the things I like about the island was the fairly vibrant and varied music scene. I played country and salsa at least twice a week each. There were tons of bands working, some of them to the degree where members didn't need day gigs. Wow.... that's a bummer.
     
  14. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999
    It was like that here in the '70s-'80s.
    Now? Nuthin'. DJs & Karoke rule...
     
  15. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    The karaoke thing was starting to happen when I was there in 87-88. I didn't get out much for the 6 months I was there, though.
     
  16. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    That's what has killed it here in Hawaii, too.