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Getting gigs at crappy bars?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by RicPlaya, Feb 11, 2004.

  1. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    I'm not trying to be derogitory but I don't have a mullet, I am under 30 years old, workout, and the rest of the guys in my band are the same. By no means am I a In Synch type guy. My question is we do play a good mix of tunes new and old but these bar owners think I am some pretty boy or something and don't want to book us. I don't want to play the bigger venues till we get a little tighter but I am sure we could book a gig at any of these places that cater to more modern music and a more diverse crowd besides all older people, or bikers etc. Not that there is anything wrong with that we def have all kinds of people in our fan base and try to cater to everyone but it seems we turn a lot of these bar owners away, they think we are yuppies or too young I can't out my finger on it. But we give these guys a demo with a good mix of new and old tunes but no luck booking at any of these local dumps, what does it take to book a gig in a crappy bar? What do these owners at these rougher establishments look for? I know it's a weird question, thanks.
  2. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001

    Make the patrons comfortable = more bar money. (Whatever) about you guys does not do that I guess.
  3. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: GK, EMG and D'Addario
    Booking agents are all the same. They all suck. Just once I would love to get a gig without having to beg.
  4. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    The "rougher" establishments main source of business is usually their "regulars". The owners of these places won't hire a band that they think might drive out the "regulars" because it's not too hard for them to find somewhere else to drink. If your band can play 4 hours of Blues, Southern Rock, and a few dance tunes for the ladies, you'll probably get booked as much as you want. I would suggest you make a demo with Sweet Home Alabama, Old Time Rock & Roll, Keep Your Hands to Yourself, and Mustang Sally as highlight tunes. Wonderful Tonight and Rolling Stones' tunes also go over very well.

    Good luck...
  5. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    If they aren't into your image, it may be difficult to get in as a lot of junkier club owners seem to have tunnel vision... especially when it comes to original bands.

    You might try getting opening gigs with other bands that play in there. If you do well at those, they'll book you.

    PS: You wouldn't be talking about the Old Miami Tavern, would you, by any chance? ;)
  6. bill h

    bill h

    Aug 31, 2002
    small town MN
    Do it all by mail and the phone!!!
  7. Gotta agree with Slater here; if the owner thinks your music selection (I got the impression you're a cover band; correct if I'm wrong) wouldn't appeal to regulars, you likely won't get much of a shot; that's just generally smart business on the owners' part. If you're going for crappy bars, the pretty-boy image won't help either.

    Yea, hopefully you're not against naming names...what establishments have you tried?
  8. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I agree with just about all the above, and I've got a little to add....

    The ONLY thing they care about is how much money they're gonna bring in at the bar. Chances are they have regular bands that play there and there's no reason they should take a gamble on an unknown band - ESPECIALLY when you yourself say you look as if you don't fit. You also said you need to tighten things up before you hit the bigger bars. That doesn't sound like a band I'd want to book. even if you're not saying that, I venture to bet something about your attitude is - and they can smell it.

    If you want to play these places you're going to have to give them a GOOD reason to book you. Offering to open for another band for free just so they can hear you is a good idea and could be very much worth the time investment. Something we recently started doing that's working really well is selling ourselves to the same types of bars for $240. we're 3 peice so it comes out to $80 a man. we've been asked back every time so far. they seem willing to take a gamble when you cost a lot less than the other bands they're booking.

    I've also learned that you need to be very friendly, accomodating, patient, no, relentless, and NOT TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY. i flat out can't do it, thank god my guitarist Randy can. i've gotten hung up on in mid sentence 3 or 4 times and i want to burn the bars down and kill the idiot bartenders that do it. Randy somehow laughs it off and tries again the next week. it really isn't anything personal. half the time they're drunk, and they get lots and lots of calls from unkown people wanting to play their bars. they get burned a lot with bands that suck and empty the places for them on what would have otherwise been a good night. they also then have to deal with a band that wants to get paid for emptying their bar and is probably going to give them a hard time.

    i'm learning lots about this and i'm beginning to see where they're coming from. if you go into it with the above understanding and you're a good, tight band - i think you'll do alright. your looks won't matter.
  9. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    If there's a particular bar you want maybe you should go hang out there and get to be friends with 'em. :)
  10. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    I think referring to the bars as dumps might have something to do with it.
    Joe is right, your attitude is that you guys arent that great yet, so play the so called dumps. I am sure that comes through to owners, even if you dont mean it to.
  11. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    But we give these guys a demo with a good mix of new and old tunes but no luck booking at any of these local dumps, what does it take to book a gig in a crappy bar? What do these owners at these rougher establishments look for?

    Erm, have you tried asking them?
  12. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    Thanks everyone, trust me I am faaar from being pretty! I'm actually a bigger, bald dude with a long gotee. I don't think we have a bad attitude or it could be bleeding through. We are a cover band and I think the bars are worried about the regulars more. This has happened at a couple of places I don't want to mention any names in case we do eventualy get a gig at one of them. I just think I don't have a look that would appeal to thier crowd, and a lot of time these people seem high or drunk all the time when we talk to them and very unprofessonal so I'm not sure if we want to play at all of them. We are very professonal and that may scare them off. We get over 100 people we bring to every one of our shows, but I'm not older and I think these guys think i will play all Blink 182 or some nu metal crap when all i want to do is crank out some war pigs. I just don't think a lot of these people even care, we even had a band playing at one of these bars play our demo over the PA and they all liked it and the ladies started dancing to the demo. It's funny how the big time bars in my area bug us to play all the time but we just want to get a little more gig savy first before we hit the "big time" venues and we can't book a gig at some of the less known rougher places, it's crazy. I'll keep trying, I'm going to another bar tomorrow. This bar seems to have a good diversity of bands that play there and one of the waitresses thinks I'm a hot stud so she can introduce me to the owner :bassist:
  13. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Best of luck to you. Really, just ask what they need and want, straight up. I help my local club owner judge who to book, and the main thing is we want bands who are real, not trying to say whatever they think we want to hear.

    I've been in bands that played big venues really early on, it might be OK just to go that route. If you bring in 100 people, and play the first set, the club's already way ahead.
  14. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Kill me now
  15. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    BANG !
  16. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Crap, now I gotta listen to hendrix and elvis all day.
  17. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    You'll do fine, just watch out for the wardrobe malfunctions.
  18. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    Mostly I agree with Slater on this one. But Schwinn hit the nail on the head - drink there. Stop by some of these places for a beer at least once a week and get to know some of the regulars and the folks that work there. Make sure you always tip the bartenders. Go check out some of the other bands that play there and talk to them on breaks. Sit in for a couple of tunes if they offer. Eventually people will start asking "how come your band doesn't play here?"
  19. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Not Impressed By Those Who Flaunt “Authority” Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    A good way to get experience and a following is to set up your own shows.

    Rent out a hall or get a park permit when things warm up, do posters, email, newspaper advert...share the night with other like-minded bands.

    Play parties, Frats and Sororities. Do that cheap.

    Anyway, do whatever you can to get a buzz going before you take it to the bars. Or skip the bars all together. You'll have more fun playing music to people who really want to hear you than playing to people who put up with you while they down a few beers and try to hook up.

    Putting on your own shows also teaches you a ton about promotion...which will help you later on anyway. You also don't have to be as concerned about what songs you play or how loud you are.

    Think outside of the bar!
  20. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Drop in and see what bands they ARE hiring.

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