? for working pros- process of filling in on short notice and/or getting permanent work

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Ant Illington, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Inactive

    I'm an amateur with a day job. I played in local original bands for a few years 20 years ago. Took about a 13 year layoff from bass then came back to play at church about 5 years ago. In a few years, I'll be able to leave my day job and scratch by and I'll be free to make music and hopefully a little money so I won't be scratching so hard :). My music world seems to be a little different as you'll see below, so I seek a different perspective in case my almost-wife strongly suggests that we move somewhere warmer, somewhere with a possibly less-robust cover band scene. Thanks in advance for reading and helping, working pro you.

    Background: About a year ago, as I was concurrently getting ready for my first sub gig and taking lessons unrelated to the gig, I was going through some difficulties with the leader of the band who was pretty much against using subs (I was invited by my friend, the guitarist). The BL wouldn't narrow down the giant repertoire or give me a set list. And, of course, no charts. I should mention that this is a long-running band AND they call songs on the fly and he rightfully didn't want to change that. My teacher was kept abreast of the situation and he was like "any worthwhile band is going to give you charts and a setlist." He didn't know this band at all, by the way. In retrospect, I believe my teacher's thinking was corporate/corporate wedding bands rather than a relatively organic band of friends and/or world-class musicians playing R&B.

    That's not me mincing words, by the way- To be clear, my teacher might have been thinking of his experience in the predominantly white corporate/wedding scene vs this band which is mostly black, playing mostly black music. What I am saying is that my experience, just a sub for one band, is apparently not typical of higher level bands (my sub band IS high level). To lend further credence to my guesswork, a spinoff band is being worked on where I am to be the co-bassist. Same deal- mostly black music, mostly black guys. I said to the BL, the guitarist from the other band, "I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get all of this stuff down in time. Is there any chance that XXX [the other bassist] is transcribing stuff and maybe we can each do half?" He kinda smiled and said "nah. you'll be able to do it." F&*%!!! "Nah" is not exactly what I wanted to hear. I said, "you mean XXX can just walk into this gig and play it?" Friend: "you have to understand that most of these cats have been playing these songs 10x a week since they were 15 years old and if they have to learn 10 new songs from the past couple years it's nothing." Ah, I see. So, back to my teacher's words vs my experience with the R&B bands, different musical communities apparently do things differently. I am thoroughly happy with the organic way but I have no idea if I will be able to truly cut it at higher levels or if I will even have the opportunity to get into that scene if I ever move from Chicago. So, I want a plan B.

    I know that there is no one size fits all and at this late age and lack of both a great ear and advanced schooling, jazz of any high caliber is probably out of the question. I know that traditional jazzers do standards and are expected to know them and nobody is given charts as they are already out there. Modern jazz/fusion leaders have a lot of bass grooves written out (from what I hear)- drop in a guy who can read and who can improvise a solo over anything, and boom, a few days work and it's a go.

    Then you have the great guy (name escapes me) we all read about last week who knew the entire repertoire of Billy Joel/Elton John and miraculously got the gig without looking for it. Wow.

    Oh yeah, as another example of my knowledge which seems to be only of quite unconventional ways: my guitarist friend got the touring guitarist gig for a really big R&B female vocalist. When I say R&B, I don't mean I IV V blues. I mean stuff more complicated than that. I think he got the gig from playing with another big vocalist and/or from one of the bass heroes who he worked with. Anyway, it went like this: Artist's rep: "do you want the gig with Ms. xxx." Friend: "yes." Artist: "okay, I'm going to Fed Ex the charts to you... we'll see you [I think it was two weeks out]." Airline tickets come. Days go by, no charts. I forget what went on after that but he's told he'll get the charts when he arrives... he arrives and was given a 2 feet tall stack of binded charts 6 hours before the first gig. He plays the gig. They take the charts back and say, "thank you, we'll see you next Saturday" [or whatever]. Seriously?

    So what typically goes on from "do you want this gig" or "do you want to audition for this gig" to you being on stage, whether it is an emergency sub situation or getting ready for a planned world tour.

    *I'm curious about any non-jazz, non-classical, non-pit (I think I understand how those work) national/international gig that is NOT heavily bass-centered- in other words, run of the mill bass playing where you aren't going to play an inordinate number of trademark bass lines as you'd have to in Rush, Zeppelin, etc. Do you get charts? Isolated tracks? Full notation? "Figure it out yourself if you want the job!" How much lead time have you had before audition/gig? Is there typically a back up guy on call who knows all the stuff in case of emergency or are there guys who can walk into anything and pull it off on a days notice?

    *I'm also curious about upscale wedding bands and corporate bands, too. How do you get those gigs? Do they give you charts/notation to learn before audition? How much lead time, if so? Do they each have duplicate musicians to fill in? Are there subs walking around (besides me) with 50-100 songs ready to go on a day's notice for a few hundred bucks every once in a while when a fill-in job comes up? That seems crazy, I can barely do it and I have no other gigs to worry about. Are pro subs just so good that they can wing it even without having memorized the songs?

    Thanks, again. Please let's keep the guesswork out and let's hear from the they guys/ladies who are playing more than just cheap bars. I know how that scene works!