I usually hate gig stories, but...

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Remyd, Aug 1, 2016.

  1. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Usually, I'm not too big on the gig reports, but Saturday was a-freaking-mazing.

    TL;DR - Best paying most fun gig in quite a number of years.

    For background, my group is a four-month-old quirky all acoustic Americana/roots trio with Resonator, Banjolele, and DB. Our lead man is a SSW that's a retired hobo and loves ragtime, jazz, and bluegrass. I'm like a pig in mud for that type of stuff. It's the kind of act that's a throw-back with pun-filled banter and silly characters (I'm Bullfrog) and people (for the most part) haven't heard outside of a vaudeville throwback or kids show or something. Most of the time we're buskers, but in the last few months we recruited a "manager", got our social media stuff together, changed all the rusty strings, and have otherwise been getting fancy. Because of the strange flavor of the music and the odd-ball instrumentation, sending mp3's to clubs and booking services and stuff is a waste of time. Every show we've played has been word-of-mouth or social media driven - thus the need for someone that's in the know to get all this stuff together.

    In the last 6 weeks, besides busking we've cut a demo. The studio where the demo was cut is owned by a foaf and is cutting us a heck of a deal because our backup singer is pretty darn cute. My best guess is something like 12-16 more hours to get the demo into a finished EP. But, regardless of the deal, 16 studio hours costs a pretty penny. And we're broke. The thing to do was to raise a little money, and what better way to do that than to act like dancing monkeys on a street corner while sweating buckets and trying to remember songs that we probably played one time in practice. Last week, we busked some events and gathered most of the scratch for another session. A short session.

    Our singer also booked a private party. "Oh, yeah, there's this party coming up next weekend and they invited us - pays cash though". Usually I like an idea of the pay etc, but why not? The venue was a private home in a swanky area of town, 60-70 guests over the course of the night and a few more family/kids/staff. Call at 6, a showy set from 8-9 and then a couple more musical sets running until about midnight. Appitizer-y food (didn't get any pics though), fancy booze, etc all on the house. This was a very nice party, I mean NICE.

    The hostess was a peach. I think she may also have a crush on the backup singer. When we were unloading, she showed us the sign that she'd made - it was a 4' tall chalkboard drawing of our logo. It looked amazing. She'd heard that we were trying to get our recording in order and offered to setup a tip jar, which we refused once for politeness, but were "convinced" when she "insisted". She also tossed our pay (plus a fat tip) into the jar in the form of a fairly substantial handful of 20's "to get you started". Yeah, 20's. It wasn't a small jar either.

    The room was already set with the furnishings removed and about 40 chairs of various types from recliners to folding. It had rock walls, slanted ceilings, skylights, and a giant wall of french doors, which made soundcheck (such as it was) more difficult than would normally be. We played a couple acoustic, but it sounded restrained in the back part of the room and would have been sucked up by the audience during, so they asked us to use the house amps. There were actually house amps, a little Kustom PA50 (50w 2x 4.5" with a horn - really impressive for the $) for each of us. Setup one for each of the singers, then ran cords, placed speakers, etc. The hostess walked through during this part and mentioned that she was all about that bass and asked if I needed a mic. A quick pickup hook up later, I ran into one as well. That obviously wasn't the kind of amp that you'd hope for in DB-land, but between my pre ($50 Zoom) and the massive 2 band eq, I made it work, if not rumble. The EQ curve probably looked like it was drawn by an epileptic with a drinking problem, but it sounded at least OK.

    The first set was the more street-performer one, we've played it all the way through a couple of times in front of people, and the shtick is fairly well worked out. A little back-and-forth, an explanation of what a hobo is, assurances that that's still a thing, some puns, you know - shtick. There are 9 songs including 7 originals and 2 strange covers (a minor key version of a bluegrass tune and a parody) and the whole thing takes 50-55 minutes. I can't recall ever getting a better reception to any of it. We got a overwhelming reaction to the ballad and the people literally started dancing to the last song, a high-energy one that makes every child under the age of 10 jump around like a cracked-out kangaroo.

    Does anybody else ever feel like you're just faking it every time you get on a stage? I'm always unhappy with the flow or the bridge in some tune, or the banter, or the sound of my bass, or SOMETHING, but the people still keep coming with the compliments. Someone will figure out that I suck soon, but they haven't yet, so maybe there's hope. The group of people with compliments and stuff was so insistent that I barely had time for a cig before we went back on. Folks honestly didn't believe that our hobos were real. Bullfrog is a cigar-chomping character with a silly hat, but Wolfy Diggs earned his hobo name with a stick and a sack, and Darlin is similarly as real as it gets. The situation required some explanation, but also sold some merch, so balanced out nicely.

    The next two sets are much less polished - mostly just calling from our book. 2nd set was 14-15 tunes and the 3rd was 10. There are a couple of jazz tunes in there where the ssw is relegated to background and I get to do a duet kind of thing with the banjolele-ist. Every time I get to a jazzy bass song with runs and syncopation and cadenzas and stuff, people gush even though if there were actual jazz cats anywhere in the vicinity they'd snicker like a cartoon villain. Whatever, it sounded like I wanted and was fun to play.

    The people tipped. I mean, they REALLY tipped and bought up the merch that we brought. By the time we collected all the $, we had cleared 3 times as much as our already very generous performance fee, which will finish the album, buy one of those little Kustom things, restring everybody, do a run of some kind of merch, and give us a little cash besides. This is not typical for people that mostly perform for spare change on the street.

    Manager took video of the whole thing and streamed on fb/twitter. Had 250+ peak Periscope viewers during the 2nd set, so not huge in Japan or anything, but still some love. Besides the sound quality (lots of background noise + echo chamber room + crappy amplification + phone recording = yuck), I was really impressed. There were a couple of clams here and there, but it wasn't the seafood buffet it seemed like while I was performing, and half of the screwups sounded more like an artistic choice (rather than omg-there's-no-5-in-a-m6-so-slide-up-quick-before-anybody-notices). My performance animation is getting to be a tad over the top from all this busking, but Bullfrog's a cheezy dude and you can't stop him from bopping. If I start to fall off stages or something I'll reevaluate. Maybe.

    Manager won't let me release photos or recordings or anything like that until she's had her way with it, but here's a picture to prove the happenings, de rigeur.


    EDIT: Stupid gig stories; edited for bad grammar
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
    Eli_Kyiv, Stellvia, mc900ftj and 28 others like this.
  2. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    That does sound like a very fun experience. Are you on facebook or other places where the curious among us can go?
    nixdad likes this.
  3. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    FWIW, Gin Mill Minstrels | Facebook has a couple things, and there's a twitter feed (Gin Mill Minstrels (@GinMillMinstrel) | Twitter), but the demo is in a very demo kind of state and releasing it in the wild is not a good idea for my ego. If you want them anyway, drop me a PM.

    6 weeks from now, it will (almost certainly) be a different story.
    nixdad likes this.
  4. Great report!!
    nixdad likes this.
  5. dtripoli


    Aug 15, 2010
    What is that girl playing?
    A Ukubanjo, Banjolele?
    Appears to be the combination of the two most favorite instruments of the TalkBass community; Ukulele & Banjo.
    In all seriousness, sounds like you had an awesome night, thanks for the gig story.
    nixdad likes this.
  6. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Banjolele-ist is my new favorite-y compound-ish word-thing
    nixdad and BassCliff like this.
  7. Hi,

    Most excellent. Thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to being regaled by more of your adventures. How so very eclectic. :)

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    audreycashin, bolophonic and nixdad like this.
  8. Good for you, Remy.
    nixdad likes this.
  9. modulusman

    modulusman Inactive

    Jan 18, 2004
    Don't waste your money on the Kustom PA 50 unless you never plan on playing a gig outside of some ones Living room. Save some money and buy a decent powered speaker and a small mixer you can run the whole band through.
    nixdad likes this.
  10. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    That's a great story, and Im gonna let you finish, but can someone translate for me?

    GregC, HypersoulRocks and grinx like this.
  11. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    FOAF is a friend of a friend, SSW is a singer songwriter.
    pcake likes this.
  12. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Cool. Retired hobo?
  13. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Little PA50 from GC = $80, 10 lb
    That other stuff > $80, 10 lb
    Winner: PA50

    I just need a (lightweight) 2 channel vocal booster/monitor for my singers that was purchased with single-gig money, not a giant crazy rig (that costs 5x as much) which will need to be purchased with rent money. We've been completely unamplified previously, even on stage in real "venues", without complaint. It's a street band after all and 75% of the book was written prior to the 50's when amplification became so much less crappy AND we're constantly walking fairly long distances. The instrumentation is quite a bit louder than you'd think.

    A hobo that's retired. That one's easy. ;)
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
  14. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Of course. Like a vagabond on sabatical.
    CatSquare and GregC like this.
  15. Eclectic type stuff like this is big around here - at the best live music venue in town - EVERY group has either mandolin, banjo, uke, DB, or all four. Bluegrass is a huge influence on the music. My very naive question is - where did all these people come from?? I don't mean that in a snarky way - I mean, what/when/how did these players find the old music - or have they been playing it forever, but now have an audience? I'm honestly really curious - bluegrass was never anywhere NEAR my musical radar, and then overnight it's everywhere!

    Also - the girl. She is super cute - she is your ticket to gigs and cheap studio time.
    BassCliff and Gaolee like this.
  16. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    Very cool. So many of us forget that having fun is part of this.
  17. interp


    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    Wow, you have achieved that rarest of things on TB: writing a fairly long description of a gig and making it a great pleasure to read. Thank you and good luck in your further endeavors!
    BluesOnBass, Jimmy4string and JmJ like this.
  18. Pet Sounds

    Pet Sounds

    Mar 8, 2009
    Great band name! Nice story, too. Best of luck.
  19. Keep 'em coming. I love gig stories whether they come from Behind the Music with Motley Crue or a four-month-old quirky all acoustic Americana band. I love the photo. I'd come out to see you guys perform.