Gig situation...advice welcome

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by ZuluFunk, Nov 5, 2001.

Read before voting, please.

Poll closed Nov 25, 2001.
  1. Stay with originals

    8 vote(s)
  2. Do thge cover thing

    6 vote(s)
  1. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    I guess it belongs here.

    I've been in a band doing mainly originals. Bass, drummer, singer, and acoustic guitar. Pretty jazzy/funky. We've sort of become the "house band' for a local club and have a small but loyal following. We also get a crowd going and keep more folks coming in every night.

    The owner has asked if we would consider playing more covers. Gung-gung!!!

    It's a tough situation. His rationale is that he doesn't want to lose people who come in and don't recognize the music and would therefore leave. He's also only owned the place a few months. We are also the CHEAPEST band he could ever imagine booking. He has repeated his request and now approaches us with this "I thought you guys were going to do more covers."

    We've got about 15 original tunes that we play. We are limited in our ability to cover due to the instruments we have, the guitarist's style, and our singer's voice. We've been working on the originals in order to get them to studio and cut several mini CD's (3-4 tracks per).

    Working on covers will take away from our time focusing on the originals.

    If we don't, we may lose the gigs. We were counting on the money to put toward studio time.

    So it's a bit of a catch-22. Learn covers , keep gigs and studio money, but originals will suffer,


    Stay with originals, get them tighter, probably lose our steady gig and studio money.

    I also am fond of being in an original band. I've done the cover thing, and wasn't that happy. Same story as the drummer. We are not going to sound as good as other cover bands anyway. Just an acoustic guitar - he's totally awesome, but can't play an electric to save his ass for some reason.

    Also, I'm the only guy with any money. Singer and guitarist don't even have transportation.
  2. Freakapotamus9


    Jun 20, 2001
    wow ..... thats a tough situation.

    if hes not paying you very much, i would say check out some other clubs / coffee houses / bars / whatever, or set up local concerts.

    im an avid local concert goer, theyre the best man! get a couple other bands, rent a place that you can play at, charge a few bucks and make your money that way.

    i know how you feel about covers ... i hate doing covers. it just isnt the same. spend more time on the originals man. and maybe try to get the acoustic friend to practice the electric.

    good luck! :)
  3. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    I'd say do the cover thing, but I'd rather play the originals too. Tough spot, and I guess that I can't give any real advice. Whatever it takes to keep the gig, and there are some covers that make good use of acoustic... We picked up 'Follow Me' in about 10 minutes, and it's a huge crowd pleaser. Also 'Gimme One Reason'... Admittedly dated, but cool basslines can abound... I'm currently in a cover band, but also work with a gal who pens tunes, so I get both worlds. The cover band gigs pay for my musical 'toys' and the singer/songwriter keeps me from starving creatively... The 'Thursday Night Blues Jams' keep my large butt moving! :D

    Good luck in whatever you choose,

  4. John Davis

    John Davis Guest

    Mar 27, 2001
    Houston, Texas
    I would play covers, then slide some originals in every so often(like every other song, or every two songs). But that's just me.
  5. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    Stay with the originals. my band has never plaed covers for a gig. but maybe if your in a bar type thing, then maybe SOME covers would be a good idea.
  6. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    I should clarify that we do some covers. We used to to the whole first set covers except the last song. The second set would be mostly originals, then the last set would be mostly covers.

    Most of the covers never sounded good. The guitarist and singer do a duet thing that started before the band formed. We just added the bass and drums to the acoustic tunes they were already doing. They aren't used to playing things "straight up". They have messed things around and are often hard to follow as a 4 piece.

    The originals just come across better musically. Those two are artists, but not necessarily "musicians" in the sence that they don't follow changes and such. The drummer and I have done the cover thing and know any cover tune cold before taking it to the stage. We get tripped up by the other two who get mixed up between the original way and their own 5 different versions.
  7. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    In my opinion, it's always more of a struggle when you decide to be an all-original band as opposed to a cover band. In my particular area, original bands are hard to come by, because there are no places that cater to all original bands (except the small-ish coffee shops and open mic nights on Sundays or Thursdays). Do you like the gig you have now? If so, learn some covers and keep it. If not, dump that situation and work on your original music, but be prepared for the long, hard road that surely lies ahead of you. It seems to me that it wouldn't be that hard to learn a handful of covers, in the style of music that you are currently playing, keep the gig you have, even if it's only so you can showcase your original songs.

    Good luck with whatever you choose to do!
  8. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Are there any other places nearby that you play, or could play, that your following will go to? If you don't want to become a covers band, then I don't think you should. I've been in the same situation before - I was offered a gig playing covers in a pub for £200 a night (that's for the lot of us, not each, by the way.) but turned it down for the same reason you're having doubts - my originals band barely gets enough practise time as it is.

    If you still want to keep the gig, then maybe you'll to compromise a little. Learn a few more covers, but keep the originals in. And there's not necessaryilly anything wrong with not playing a cover note-perfect - try "interpreting" them a little differently. That's what I used to do when I was in a band that did play covers - of course, if any of us had been able to play our instruments properly, we wouldn't have had to do them our own way...
  9. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Ever since I've become a professional musician, I've looked at it as you are being hired to perform a service. It's like if you are working as a computer programmer, you might want to write a program in BASIC but your boss wants it in Cobol, since he's the one giving you the bucks, you have to do what he says. The bar is the one who's hiring you. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you should change just for the bar, but I think it's important to listen to the feed back of other people. I don't think there's anything wrong with learning a few covers to keep your gig. I wouldn't ditch all the orginals just to keep it, but as much as the hardcore "I'm never selling out man!!!!" kind of people would hate to hear it, you have to comprimise once in a while. Just my two cents.
  10. You could change your name and then do covers of your originals????

    If it doesn't take you long to learn more covers go for it. It aint is fun but it is money and more experience. Look into more places where your own music is appreciated. I would say do both.
  11. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Amen brotha! I should forward this to my (soon to be former) bandmates!
  12. My advice is, do covers but in an original way. I mean my band plays covers of cheesy old songs. We do punk rock versions of "Baby One More Time" and "blame it on the boogie". We have also done a version of the inspector gadget theme tune. I think covers go down well if they can recognise the song but if its in your bands style. Try and do a funk version of a Limp Bizkit song or some other Nu-Metal rock thing, im sure it'd go down well.

    (I am in no way endorsing Nu_metal of Limp Bizkit, its the irony, dont you see??!)
  13. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    IMO, that depends on where you are. I mean, I doubt anyone in my town* would stick around long enough to see 45 or 50 punk versions of Top 40 radio songs! Like I said before, I am sure there are some songs that are in the same genre as what you are doing, that you could cover. It didn't sound to me like the bar owner wanted you to do only cover songs -- it sounded like he wanted you to do more cover songs. There is a difference.

    *I read in a lot of your profile information, that some of you believe that you live in the most boring town of them all. "The city that always sleeps," and "Boredomville, USA." I don't think you can truly appreciate the meaning of "boring," "small-minded," "closed-minded," or "rinky-dink," until you visit my town of Appleton, Wisconsin. Can I get a "hell yeah" from some of the other Wisconsinites here? Only in this area, can a cover band be the biggest thing since the electric bass guitar was invented.
  14. 72beetle


    Jun 10, 2001
    Phoenix, Arizona
    If you have covers in your set already, then you should tell the bar owner that more covers/set means more pay/set. Since you're catering your show to his wishes, he should in turn cater your pay to compensate.

    The simple fact is, unless you're seriously established on your own, most bar gigs mean covers in the set - but it sounds like you have some leverage on the original/covers ratio. Use it to both keep your gig and get more money to get closer to your studio goals.

  15. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    That wouldn't happen to be the Appleton that Cliff Yablonski lives in, would it? :p
  16. 6-stringer

    6-stringer Guest

    Feb 5, 2000
    two words bro: FREE BIRD! (kidding)
    The band i'm with ran into the same problem when first gigging. Here is my advise. Sit down as a band and pick some tunes that inspire you, and cover them. Unfortunatley, that's just the way most clubs work. The good side of it is that you can break out the covers to newer audiences to keep their interest, and sneak those originals in on them.
    If your a funky/jazzy band why not do some tripped-out versions of old standard jazz tunes.
  17. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    No problem bro. :)
  18. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    If you've heard of it, it's probably not the same Appleton. :D
  19. BWB


    Aug 30, 2000
    Knoxville TN
    Sage advice. You can "not sell out, man!" and
    retain your integrity by jamming in your garage
    for a lifetime. You can also elect to "do what is
    required" ----as is the case with ANY profession
    that you choose---- and be a pro. Amateur or
    pro, you ....make the call.

    I kind of enjoy pocketing those stacks of 20 dollar
    bills and drinking free beer at my cover gigs,
    but, hey, that's just me.

  20. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    Just as follow up...we are going to put a few more easy covers in the set.

    There's no issue of "I won't sell out to the man" crap here. We just need time to get the originals tight enough to get on the CD. Rehearsing covers will take away from the time needed to do that.