Finally playing in a cover band

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by totallybacan, Jul 29, 2009.

  1. totallybacan


    Mar 30, 2009
    So if any of you remember, I was looking on starting a cover band to play in Baltimore and Ocean City as a change from the "scene" band I'm in (check sig)

    Just last week, I was got a call from a nice fellow who is starting a new project, and luckily still has all his contacts form the area. We talk about what our styles are, equipment, me possibly singing, and what not. At this point I'm really excited!

    Here's the catch: Just tonight, he called me and said that there are two places that would like to book us for this weekend. Well, let's review shall we? talked to him on the phone and we seemed to get along well? He said he did the same with a drummer? We are going to jam/practice tomorrow for the first time? Those gigs are looking fairly distant at this point.

    We are covering 32 songs, from Hendrix to the Stones, Tom Petty, Elvis, Clapton, etc. Overall, the songs seem to be a great fit for the bars we will be playing at. But again, let's review.

    No jamming yet. And just received the setlist. I'm not saying it is his fault, but how does the rest of the TB community feel about learning a full night's set in a matter less than 48 hours?

    What should I do for the jam tomorrow? I'm hoping we will be able to play along to the music so I can learn the songs and practice them at the same time.

    So there's my rant for the day, based purely off of anxiousness and a sense of overwhelming... well... overwhelming-ness
  2. Jimmy Bones

    Jimmy Bones

    Feb 24, 2009
    Baxley, GA
    I'd politely tell him that you need at least a week to be completely comfortable with all the songs, as you have other life commitments to attend to throughout the day on top of practicing.
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    If the guitar player knows all the songs, make up simple charts (chords/breaks/etc). Possible use a music stand if you need it.

    If you've heard the songs before, shouldn't be too hard. If you haven't, maybe the gp has the CD or mp3s to help you out.

    Keep the bass lines simple and learn the main lines if the song is based on them.

    If you don't feel you can do it, just pass on it. I've done it and it's turned out fine.

    If you haven't sung much before, let the guy know. He may be expecting some backup harmonies.

    See how it goes. No downside to trying.

    Go luck.
  4. What Stumbo says.

    They don't expect you to learn 48 songs by heart note for note. Often, you play more or less what you hear. Some bands insist on you playing the recording, that takes more time to work. But the idea is that, if someone misses something or two argue, you can play the recording. Also sometimes you can play in front of a discerning audience who may not like you making a mess out of standards.

    So a cheat sheet can help a lot, like those chord sheets from, until you find the right sheet or tab (or learned by ear, whatever it is you do).

    Most of the time, popular songs don't have a very complicated bass line. It can be a bit complex at times but it is usually repetitive. You can also improvise by listening to the song and picking up right away. I completely improvised over Shook Me All Night Long and it was dead on except a few notes, same with Ain't Talking 'Bout Love.

    You can ask for the chords, tag along, try to do something that sounds ok, if you are in doubt look at the guitarist's hands (if possible the rhythm guy) for clue and you can be fine this way.

    Also rotating these songs endlessly on your mp3 player is very important, you need to get them in your head.

    Now, to piss me off, the guitarist insisted on learning Hey Hey What Can I Do by Led Zeppelin, and so far out of 30+ songs in our set (we formed from scratch 6 weeks ago), this is the hardest of all, but most songs are much much easier.
  5. totallybacan


    Mar 30, 2009
    I know I won't have trouble playing them mostly note for note after a week or two if I'm lazy. I would really like to be play with this guy though because out of all the people I have encountered, he seems to know best about actauuly getting on the ball and getting gigs. Are you saying if I know the progression, most people won't realize the difference? As long as rhythms are followed, of course, I could just play the root the whole time?
  6. I think it sounds like he's assuming that you already know a bunch of the standard cover band stuff.
  7. totallybacan


    Mar 30, 2009
    Oh man that's what I was afraid of :/
  8. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    If you're all cover band vets, you could do a gig in less a few days, except for this:

    If you don't know the material already, a three or four set gig with you also singing lead clearly isn't going to be happening this weekend. (That is, it might happen, but it won't be happening.)
  9. Thats a fun song with a nice JPJ bass line. My band didn't want to play that one - enjoy.

    As for the OP - I usually would like a few rehearsals before taking it in front of people. Even if they are basic tunes, it's good to get the beginnings and endings tight.
  10. Yup. Time to get busy, and fake your way through it. If you can play even one or two really, really well, grooving hard, and he's worth a damn, he'll recognize your talent and give you a break. Make sure it grooves.
  11. Get practicing!

    Nah but if you really don't think it'll be possible, just gently explain to the guy that you're new to the whole cover band thing and you're going to need a little more time.

    If he fires you or something, you can rest assured that you probably didn't wanna play with someone like that again.

    Let us know how it works out man
  12. It is a fun line but I never heard the song. All I ever had from Led Zep was a Best Of, and it did not include that one. Hey, that was before MP3s, Youtube, iTunes, Rhapsody, etc...

    So yeah, I have it in rotation.

    Ok, why is this thread in humor, and not in band management? Just checking.
  13. What really makes a big difference in this situation is how good & attentive the drummer is. I've been called in the afternoon to fill in on a gig the same night with cover bands that I have never played with, and been worried about the songs that I wasn't familiar with, but because the drummer knew the correct beats, where the breaks were, and did a fill when a chorus or bridge was coming up, it made me sound like I had been playing with that band for a while. It also help if the frontman knows how to lead the band.
    You should get together with them to go over the songs, and you'll have a good idea whether or not it will go well at the gig.
  14. I've done the jam cram a few times and this is my system.

    1. Pick the easiest/most familiar tunes and learn them first. Leave the less familiar/hard songs for last.

    2. Find and print tabs/standard notation from tab 911 etc. Helps if you can sight read tab/music.

    3. Listen to and practice to the youtube recorded or live versions. Make corrections to the tab based on what you're hearing. Downloading would take a bit more time.

    Good luck!