Can this Band be Saved / Changed?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by 51PRI, Dec 4, 2021.

  1. 51PRI


    Aug 7, 2014
    First off, I’ve been in this band for 17 years, so these issues aren't new. It's just that at one time I was up as many as five bands, so what any one band was doing didn't really bother me that much, since I had other outlets. That has changed now.

    Anyway...we’re a blues based band. We play a lot of fun and cool gigs, like festivals and private events, but we also play bars and clubs. When we play festivals we mostly play the BL’s original songs. When we play bars we play mostly covers. My issue, really, is about what we do on those gigs where we play mostly covers, because we are not being as successful at those gigs (1) as other bands are, and (2) as we could, in my opinion, be.

    Problem One: Many of our covers songs, while not “blues” per se, are treated like blues songs. Many are of the I-IV-V format and feature lots of guitar solos. There are two guitarists in the band and both of them love to play solos. And that works when you only do it occasionally. With us, though, songs like “Pink Cadillac” and “Keep your Hands to Yourself” become blues rave ups. I have tried to suggest newer songs that are not I-IV-V and feature actual parts rather than solos and jamming but the BL says that they don’t fit into our format.

    Problem Two: The music that our LG plays through the PA when we take a break is always some kind of blues. Now, I like blues, but I get tired of anything after a while. So, between the actual blues that we play, and the cover songs that we play that sound like blues, and the blues that’s played on our breaks, that’s a LOT of blues. Too much blues for a general non-blues bar going crowd, in my opinion.

    Problem Three: The LG will not play signature parts on songs. I don’t know if its laziness or not caring or thinking it doesn’t matter. Example, the signature intro lick to “Tennessee Whiskey “ by Chris Stapleton. To me it isn’t a difficult part but should be there and he doesn’t play it. On other songs like “La Grange” he just jams on the solos. No signature licks. Okay, I guess, but getting the feel of the original would be better.

    Problem Four: Dress on stage. Last week we played at a private club. The BL was wearing jeans, T-shirt and a camo cap. Drummer wearing jeans, t-shirt, and cap. LG wearing some kind of stretchy loose pants that looked like sweat pants but not exactly. I was slightly more dressy in jeans, nice Henley with undershirt and pork pie hat. I think they all looked like they just showed up to play wearing what they happened to be wearing when they got off the tractor. Now they all dress up more for SOME gigs, although the BL has really gotten slack about dress compared to how he used to dress. I see videos of bands that are playing the same venues that we play who have obviously dressed up for playing. We don’t. Does a band’s look matter?

    If it was MY band and it was my decision on how to proceed this is what I would propose:

    1. Learn newer and non-blues like songs, including some modern country.

    2. Don’t play blues on breaks. Either let the venue play the music they like or play a mixture of classic rock and country, or a mixture of songs that everyone knows.

    3. Take the time to learn and play the signature licks of songs. They are just as important as singing the right words, in my opinion.

    4. Dress for the gig. A.K.A. dress for success. Most folks who go out to a bar for an evening of drinking, dancing, and listening to music dress up. Why shouldn’t the band?

    So, my question is, what should I do. Here are the choices”

    1. Take the issues to the band and hope that they will embrace my ideas and be willing to chance a few things to improve the band.

    2. Keep my trap shut and learn to accept things the way they are, while gently pushing on the issues in a more subtle way, i.e. keep suggesting new songs of a non blues genre without explaining why.

    3. Look for another band that is already doing the things I think should be done.

    Thanks for listening and for your thoughts!
    trseal, Fuzzbass, design and 8 others like this.
  2. MynameisMe

    MynameisMe What will you be remembered for? Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2018
    J'ville Florida
    Good luck changing that group.
    Sounds like they're pretty set in their ways.
    How many times have you suggested any of these things to them that you are airing here? That will help you with your decision.

    AQUANOVA Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Santa Monica
    Two guitarists that love to play solos.

    This right here has been a deal breaker for me in the past.
    I found that it’s almost impossible to reign in guitar players that want to solo endlessly.

    It also sounds like the band has gotten lazy and is just going through the motions.
    Unless you have some other members of the band that agree with you, I think you’re done

    I actually hate playing in blues bands because it’s a thankless boring job for a bass player. I hate vamping on an E for 2 hours.
  4. joelns


    Mar 10, 2014
    Sounds like they've gotten complacent. They aren't likely to change unless someone slaps them upside the head (so to speak).

    I'd bring it up for sure. Make sure you stress that this a real problem that needs to be addressed. Take your cue's from their reaction.
  5. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    If you've let these issues slide for 17 years it's gonna be tough to raise them now.
    All your points are very valid, and if presented to the rest of the band in a reasonable fashion, their reaction should show you your path forward.
    Hope it works out for you.
  6. 60bass

    60bass Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    "There are two guitarists in the band and both of them love to play solos"

    That say's it all right there. You will never change that aspect nor will you ever get the band out of their *blues vibe*. It ain't gonna happen period. I feel that after 17 years it's you who needs a change. You've obviously moved on as far as that band goes. Once a band has been playing for that long doing the same old, same old, they are in cruise control inside their comfort zone and won't or can't break out of it.

    As I see it you have choices. Most of which you mentioned.

    1. To stay with that band and be a *cruise control* paid sideman. Go in do your tunes, get paid, go home.

    2. Break loose from this group and then form your own band or play in another band and expand. You don't say if you also do vocals. If you're a competent bassist and can also sing lead or harmony, YOU can pick and choose who you play with. A good bass player especially one who sings will ALWAYS find steady work. Are you in a position to book gigs at the venues you play at with the current band? Could you get booked in there with another group? If so, there's another feather in your cap.

    3. Do a band sit-down and try one last time to get them to break out of their rut. If you're leaning towards moving on like I mentioned in #2. Then lay it out like that. Not as a threat but more like, I really like playing with you guys and don't want to leave but... I feel like we need to change some things for me to continue to be a member of the group. I know you said you have already talked about to them about it, but this time make it serious and final. Tell them flat out you'll be looking elsewhere if things don't change. If they REALLY value you as a member of the group, they'll say OK what do you think we need to do? If not, move on. If they KNOW you're serious about leaving they might just say OK. IME based on over 50 years of playing, a *cruise control* group will usually always take the easy way that involves the lessor amount of effort. Which in this case is changing a few things versus have to replace a long standing member of the group. Especially one from the rhythm section who already knows their tunes.

    FWIW I've never played most stuff like the recorded version either. Unless it's a pattern riff that has to be there to make the song move along, I'll just get in there and play. That said, most of my experience is with 3 piece bands where as a bassist you have more freedom to cut loose.

    Good luck
  7. Twobass


    Aug 12, 2009
    Make your suggestions and see if the band will try and meet you at least halfway, if not start looking for another band.

    I've noticed that a lot of good guitar players don't bother learning the signature links probably because it requires some work to do.
    Bruno1950, leftybass54, DRBP and 2 others like this.
  8. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Wow! 17 years of that?!?!
  9. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Option 3, fin a band that is already doing this.

    The Band Leader is responsible for all shortcomings, and it sounds like they are not interested in changing
    P. Aaron, Hummergeist, 51PRI and 2 others like this.
  10. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Man. Sounds rough if your goals are for a certain kind of band experience.

    So the solution is to either find a new band or adjust your goals.

    You won’t make any positive changes if you’re at a negative conflict place at the outset. If you want to be in the band and grow and change, you have to first validate and love what’s happening right now. Blues is great. It’s universal and accessible and I love playing it. Yes, over and over.

    But I wouldn’t commit to a band that just does that.

    But here you are. What I’m saying is that if you can create some positive energy now, you can gain some traction in building positive things for the future.

    Listen to some more artists. Learn some more complex blues turnarounds. Get tight. Joke around on stage. Pick a gig to highlight one guitar player. The next one highlight the other.

    Make a game of it. Lol wouldn’t it be fun for the rhythm guitarist for the night to call the tunes or write the setlist. Shared responsibility and leadership.

    I dunno. just some ideas. Being in a band isn’t easy. But it can be so rewarding. It’s worth the effort to try to find creative fixes. And if they don’t work, it’s fine to move on.

    Come from a place of positivity and growth.
  11. 3 years of repackaged 50’s rock and roll cured me of 1-4-5s for life…
    Berniez40, J33, LBS-bass and 4 others like this.
  12. EddiePlaysBass


    Feb 26, 2009
    They won't change. Best of luck, but you know I'm right.

    Best band I ever played in had two great soloists. We played blues, but rarely a standard 12-bar. Clever arrangements, quotes of other songs etc. God I miss that band. Never played on that level. Not before, not since. I'd be depressed, if I wasn't so thankful that I at least got to be part of it.

    Sorry, had to get that off my chest
  13. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I take it you haven’t fired the drummer yet?
  14. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Seventeen years, and you expect them to change?
  15. CaptainLeisure

    CaptainLeisure Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2020
    If you're regularly working at "festivals, private events, bars, and clubs", it sounds like your band has successfully identified their market. Changing the band's music would be more likely to lose existing gigs than to add new ones. If everyone but you is on the same page, it's either do it their way or hook up with people more in line with your tastes and standards. I know what you mean (and agree) about signature riffs. I was in a cover band where I tried over and over to teach the lead guitarist the transition riff in "LaGrange" from the Cm solo section back to the Am verse. He never learned it, and it always sounded ridiculous to me, but it never seemed to affect the audience. Robert A. Heinlein wrote an appropriate adage in one of his books: "Never try to teach a cow to sing. You won't succeed, and it annoys the cow".
  16. TNCreature

    TNCreature Jinkies! Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2010
    Philadelphia Burbs
    17 years is a long time.
    I can't endure playing a I IV V chord progression for one song.
    (I do love listening to blues)
    Maybe start your own band with your standards?
    Your points all sound very sound to me.
    I guess all that I have to add is: God Bless.
  17. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    If - once you have aired your opinions - the other members show no interest in changing, you must accept that you have grown while they have not ... and you will know what to do.
  18. jeffb28451


    Aug 6, 2006
    Leland NC
    I feel you. Just left a “nice guy/good hang” group after several months bc of their insistence on endless, lazy Grateful Dead, Rolling Stone, 80% I, IV, V junk covers. Of course this was including drum solos(!) by a drummer with 3 years “experience “ ( and I use the term loosely) and, of course, loud, unfocused, insipid leads by one guitarist. Then the drummer bought in another guitarist w even less talent who paid like ZERO attention to what anyone else was playing.

    I had “the talk”, since I’m the guy with way more experience but was told they were very happy with aimless rehearsals, crappy sound, sloppy work, etc.

    God knows, I tried…but that’s what happens when people want to SAY that they are in a band and are too lazy to have any pride in their product. I’m done with them. Your guys seem to have found a comfortable rut and don’t care for your input. I did what I could to change my situation. I left.

    Do it for the hang, the music or the money, but If you ain’t happy…change what you can. I did.
    leftybass54, BeauZooka, 51PRI and 4 others like this.
  19. johnnynitro


    Jan 14, 2012
    #3 ! Been Their. I would Leave.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2021
    51PRI and Socobass like this.
  20. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    Posts like this remind me of how lucky I am to be in a situation where none of these are issues. My suggestion: You cannot put the sins of your band on your own back. If you have someplace else to go, go there. If you don't...there isn't anything you can do that's going to change the culture unless you have some miracle in your pocket that's going to provide you with lots of well-paying gigs. And even that is no guarantee.
    51PRI, Standalone and Socobass like this.
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