Gig advise?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Rip Topaz, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. I just got the call this morning. I've got a fill in gig next month with a country (!!!!!) band.

    A little back story. I've been playing semi-professionally since '83, mostly in metal and cover bands, but have done many open mic gig where I backed up acoustic players.

    I also play regularly at church, so I've got a good handle on my equipment and I'm a pretty advanced player.

    Can anyone offer any suggestions on techniques and patterns (maybe?) that would make this gig a bit easier?

    I'm planning on making cheat sheets for as many of the songs as needed, and I'll be ok having a music stand on stage with me too.

    As far as the genre is concerned, I don't have much experience, so any pointers are appreciated.
  2. Depends on the style of country you are playing. Older country is usually played simpler, more I V type patterns, walking the changes etc. I will be honest, a lot of the country getting played on air in my area (1 station) is so bland I quit listening. I'm sure there is a lot of current stuff that really kicks butt.

    Another thing is your sound typically needs to be pretty clean and really full sounding with maybe a touch of chorus.

    Good luck & enjoy your gig.
  3. The songs range from VERY early Johnny Cash to Nancy Sinatra to newer stuff. Lots of very easy stuff from what I've listened to so far.
  4. Update: rehearsal went really well. Of course I didn't know any of the songs, but I was able to follow along and the band as a whole sounded great. Everyone was happy about my playing even though I'm a total noob to country.
  5. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Are these covers or originals? When next month is the gig?
  6. Mostly covers, but there were one or two originals.

    The gig is May 18, and we are having once a week rehearsals until then. I'm a little confused by the discussion after we played last night, though.

    From what they were saying, it seems they're under the assumption that I am now a full member of the band. There's already talk of booking more shows. Gonna have to clarify that. Not a problem for me, just like to know where I stand.

    All things considered, I had a great time. Yeah, I was playing catchup all night but I think I did pretty well. I managed to follow along with everything they played, and never had to "sit this one out". I'll be spending some time over the next few weeks learning the basslines a little better, on my own time.

    As I said in previous posts, I have literally ZERO experience playing this genre. That said, I've been playing for long enough and spend enough time playing with other people, so after a little adjustment, I did fine. I actually had a great time, just laying back and grooving.

    It'll be nice to not have to worry about jumping all over the stage, working the crowd. For this gig I can just hang back by the drummer and chill. Already ordered my cowboy hat!!
  7. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I'm currently in a similar situation, having just joined another band. Personally, I download all the new tunes from iTunes, then learn and practice them on my own, over and over again. I'll also listen to them in the car to memorize the structure. Given you experience, you should have no problem picking them up in a month.
  8. Yeah, I'm not concerned. They're all great guys and amazing players. Very helpful. The cool thing is that they are all old enough that there was no attitudes or pretension. Just friendly people who love music.

    That's the best situation you could hope for.
  9. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Sounds good there, Rip. I have found that the country crowds are often the friendliest folks. I like the music, even though much of the bass parts are very simple. But, with simple country it's all about the feel and what the song is about. Making it "yours" can be tricky, but there are always places where you can have a bit of liberty, even if it's only to invert a chord for a moment or hit a two-beat lick. Something you might wanna take notice of is how long to hold each note. It can vary from song to song, but sometimes it makes all the difference in the feel (country "groove," if you will) that is needed for each song. I think that the more you listen to the covers you'll see what I mean. Good luck with it, pal.
  10. I've noticed that. The length of the note seems to make the most difference.

    It would seem that I have some studying to do.

    The real fun happens because since I'm not a country "purist", I can still add a few ideas of my own, as long as they fit the song.
  11. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Something else I do on some country songs is to palm mute so as to get an upright sound (say on a song like "Crazy"). I also play flats, which helps. Of course, all that is helpful in other genres as well, especially jazz.
  12. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I read an interview with Dave Pomeroy many years ago where he was asked advice on playing country. (I think it was DP, it was many years ago :) )

    His response:
    "Find the simplest bass line you can possibly get away with, then play half of that."

    I always keep that advise in mind when I play a country gig.
  13. That's actually really good advise. One thing I made sure of last night is to really simplify my lines. Playing in a rock format normally, my basslines are all over the place. Doesn't really work for this style.

    I have flats on all my basses so my tone was right where it needed to be. On a few songs I broke out my '54 P copy, which has ashtrays and foam mute. Sounded perfect.
  14. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I think he was being a little tongue-in-cheek, but it really isn't far from the truth. Every time I've played a line in a country band that seemed too dumbed-down, it worked perfectly and every time I busied a line up a bit, I ended up wishing I hadn't!

    That's because it IS perfect! ...for country, anyway. I use a MIJ '51 reissue with ashtrays, foam and flats and the tone rolled just a little bit back. Really, just about any bass can be made to work just fine, but that rig is there already. Plug and play!
  15. Yeah, not sure how it happened, but over the last year my entire rig evolved into the perfect setup for this band.

    My signal path is pretty simple. My main bass is a MIA 60th Anniversary P, backed up by my Dillion 5204 (53-54 P copy) and my Xaviere P. the first two are more of a tele style P, so they'll be at the front of the line. All three basses are strung with Chromes. The Dillion has ashtrays and mutes. The Xaviere is my "normal" P.

    No effects (most of the time), straight into an Acoustic B200, Di'd to the PA. Sometimes I skip the amp and run my bass into Irig, which plugs into my iPhone and gives a pretty convincing B15R sim. I'm debating on using it live, it sounds pretty good and it's ALOT lighter than a 75lb combo amp.
  16. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    honestly, if you play modern worship in church then new country should come pretty easy - it's on the same level of complexity and groove is often similar.

    if you're coming from metal, the best advise would be to play attention to the recorded bass lines especially on the classic country stuff and stick close....don't overdo it cause your technique allows you to. respect the music and where the bass belongs ...very foundational and pulse oriented. sync with the kick! !

    also, the gig will call for more classic round tones ala p and j bass. you can do it with a rock bass but you want to chill out the hard mids you need to cut thru a metal band.

    when i re read the post it appears as though you've got lot's of strong basses for the job. looks as though you have a real pro attitude! you'll be great!
  17. GregT


    Jan 29, 2012
    Southwest Missouri
    As Russell L said, the length of the notes are a concern in order to make country work. Sometimes you cut the note off halfway through and leave a big empty hole which is not a problem at all. The guitar player will fill it in nicely and you will be able to hear everything.

    On a boom-chucha kinda beat, the bass will play the boom and the guitar will play the chucka, if that makes any sense.

    There are rests on bass in country music sometimes and to a great result. Playing right there with the drummer really shines.
  18. LowBC

    LowBC Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2008
    Music Go Round - Aurora, CO (owner) We buy used gear!
    I believe joke is that country bass players "live on Route Five"?

    good luck!
  19. One of the things I'm really enjoying is the space between the notes.

    Over the years, I've backed up acoustic musicians on several occasions. It's alot of fun for me to strip down my normal playing and just lock in completely with the drums.

    The band has enough musicians that I'm really able to lay back. The interplay between the lead guitar and the pedal steel is an awesome thing to watch.

    I've got the tone nailed. Now it's just a matter of continuing to familiarize myself with the genre, and learn a crapton of songs.

    I think that coming from a different style of playing is what is really making this so much fun for me. I'm a total rock player in every way, from the fast runs to the goofy stage moves. To be able to put on a cowboy hat and a pair of shades and stand back by the drummer looking cool, is extremely liberating.
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Ya, that's it...same as any other genre...gotta learn the songs. The stylistic things come easy enough in time. I just wish bass players would get over this "simple simpler simplest" thing with country bass. Time and a place for everything, and I'd never add notes if they didn't sound good, but man, does it make the music bland! The country music business really has its head up its ass and they just do everything they can to suck every little bit of originality out of the music because accountants rule Nashville.

    EDIT: Sorry for the rant. Have fun, bro!