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last minute fill-in gigs.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by One_Dude, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Two stories......

    Once..........back when I had barely been playing a couple of years, mostly just for stuff i was doing on tape.

    A friend of mine, both him and his wife in different bands. His wife called and asked if I could fill in or know anybody? His wife definitely has a good set of pipes, band is top notch. Music was towards the jazz side, not necessarily by milieu but my ear was already developed from playing guitar and piano.

    I talked with Margo a while exhausting all the people I knew, she knew most of them and had already checked with them. I figured she had to be desperate as she knew I usually played guitar and had not played bass for that long. Basically, I had the equipment, made a reasonable appearance and there was a possibility that I could pull this off with as long I kept a poker face or at least glared at the drummer if I dropped a clunker.

    I declined, mainly as I was friends with both her and her husband and didn't want awkward feelings if I "Hindenburged" the gig on her.

    Always regretted that, though we are still friends to this day and 30 years on, it was never an issue.

    Looking back, wished I had done it, being friends, probably would have cut me slack unless I had really screwed up. The keyboardist would have no doubt grabbed a little more left hand that night.

    Second example. Friend of mine had just joined the Local. His name on file as a bassist. Gets a call to play either day before or day of a show. He asks me whether or not he should take the gig. I tell him of course, are you serious? Wood shed his tunes as much as possible beforehand. Have to keep in mind, he was about 10 years younger but that, gives you an idea of his point of reference.

    Chuck Berry is playing Springfield, Mass at the Civic Center, 12,000 seats, the show....pretty much sold out.

    Those of you that saw Keith Richard's movie on Chuck, Hail, Hail, Rock And Roll. That was pretty accurate.

    Chuck hired local musicians in the general area. There is NO rehearsal. They are told to appear, given some basic instructions on what WILL be worn and that they will be paid $X number of dollars....union scale plus.

    Mr. Berry meets the Musicians about 15 minutes before they are to go on stage. Chuck explains that he will call out the song and the key to them before they start. It will be fast paced. Last words from Chuck, "keep your eyes on me, let's go!"

    My mate said it was the most scary and chaotic thing he ever did. Incurring the wrath of CB was something he did not want in his memory banks.

    He also knocked it out of the park. He also mentioned it was beyond awesome. That He has THAT as an experience.

    He had been playing bass for about two years, far more seriously than myself at that number of years.

    There could be a third scenario, but lets just go with these two.

    When I have encountered this later in life......I take the job and enjoy the ride. Its life, enjoy!
    mexicant, chadface and ELG60 like this.
  2. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    Oh yes, the last minute fill in. Done this more than a few times, for me it varied from having well organised charts, no problem with that to yes we have charts but they don't: more work but still doable.

    I normally take these kind of gigs because sometimes it pushes your boundaries, you meet new people, some who you would work with again and it improves you as a player.

    Don't worry about being out of your comfort zone, you listen, adapt and succeed!
  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    You've only been burned if you don't get paid what you were promised. :thumbsup:
    BooDoggie likes this.
  4. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    I do it all the time. Play 3 or 4 hour shows with no prep, no practice, with people I have never played with before. Sure it isn't my most stellar playing. Basic where I really don't know a tune, a little more me when I do know the tune. Been playing blind like this for 30 years. Fun stuff to do!! Especially when you are not required to be perfect, which I do not accept gigs that are "performance" based, but more I am a hired gun.. And since I have been a professional 6 day/night a week player for many years, it really isn't that difficult to follow the rhythm guitarists hands
  5. Hasty


    Jul 4, 2014
    Fort Worth, Tx
    I've done it more than a few times with charts. Always fun.

    Best advice I ever got was when I started playing out live again a few years ago and I was a little nervous. The drummer told me the most important parts of the show were the first and the last note... everything in between those two was just filler. Best advice ever! After that I just relaxed and had fun and I still try to do that to this day.
  6. OK, so here is the outcome of this last minute gig. I should preface this by saying that, while I never heard them play and did not know any of the members, this band is popular, plays about 50 gigs a year, and is well respected in our local area.

    I called the BL about noon today and left a message; he called back in less than 5 minutes. I initially asked if he would put me on his sub list for any future fill-in gigs. He said "how about tonight", and confirmed that they had charts and were playing simple songs since their regular bass player was missing. The gig was at a local rehab facility and was for one hour (6:30 to 7:30).

    I have a lot of experience playing out so I said "OK, I 'll do it". Load in and setup went well, they have their setup routine well rehearsed and were ready to go in less than a half hour. They wanted me to run thru the PA without using my amp at all; this is not my first choice since I find it difficult to hear myself with just the PA. But, we ran it as they requested. After the gig the BL said "next time let's use your amp".

    We played 18 or 19 songs. Their book of charts is well organized, and there were just a few songs where their current arrangement did not completely agree with their chart. I was able to cobble those songs together so that only the other band members would notice the little mistakes, but was able to get the progression right before the end of the song. There were 4 or 5 songs that they play in a different key than shown on the chart, but I was able to transpose those songs on the fly.

    Most of the songs on their set list are ones I had not played, but I was familiar with all of them. Mostly songs from the 50's and 60's. I think the gig went very well and I didn't lay any big fat eggs. They each thanked me for filling in, and we all went out together for a late supper. All six members are nice folks and very friendly. The BL asked me if I would be interested in more fill-in work and I said yes. He also said he would call me when they schedule their next practice session. That would be great; I hope it works out.

    All-in-all I am glad I did it. I don't know if a rookie could have pulled it off, but I have enough experience with different bands that I was able to do it and have fun at the same time. For me, it's all about having the charts, even though they were not 100% correct. Without the charts it would have been a struggle.

    Thanks for your input and encouragement.

    Thump on,

  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I do stuff like this a lot unless someone pulls out a bunch of songs I'm clueless about. My motto is, "If you don't know it, fake it." If I clam, so what? Can't hear it from my house :D
    Ross W. Lovell, jerry and Passinwind like this.
  8. Tony In Philly

    Tony In Philly Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Filthydelphia, USA
    I can't tell you how many times that method got me through "fake gigs".
    instrumentalist likes this.
  9. Hevy T

    Hevy T Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2011
    Lethbridge, AB Canada
    When in doubt, cut down the volume and hide behind the kick drum :)
    Ross W. Lovell likes this.
  10. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    Gimme charts and let me look at the guitar player's hands, and I'm good to go.
    BooDoggie likes this.
  11. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    I do it. It's fun!
    Ross W. Lovell likes this.
  12. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002

    Last minute/less than 12 hours? Unless I know the material already, I'd be tempted to say no.

    Sounds like nothing more than a night of someone calling out chord changes to you and getting dirty looks from other band members when you don't catch something.

    Lots of people will say the challenge will build your musicianship skills, but with that's not much prep time for material you don't know.
    BooDoggie and pcake like this.
  13. baileyboy


    Aug 12, 2010
    Same here. I'm not a pro, and therefore, need time to work on the songs. I'd rather defer to more capable bass players.
  14. Low Class

    Low Class Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2005
    Orange Park, Florida
    There is only one way you will get better. EXPERIENCE!!! Take the gig!! One of my fortes in my playing career has been the ability to jump into almost any situation on a moment's notice with no prep and pull the gig off without anybody knowing I was a fill in. This has only come from experience. Not only do I enjoy the challenge but a lot times they are the most fun. Take this gig as the first step in improving yourself in this aspect as a pro bass player. The better you get at this the more gigs like this will come your way.
    Ross W. Lovell and mexicant like this.
  15. BooDoggie

    BooDoggie Typical Dumb-ass with a degree

    Mar 29, 2014
    The last time I did that, was the last time I did that EVER... Unless the other members of the band are willing and able to take the time to help you chart the songs you never heard before RUN AWAY...

    I did a fill in for a group about 20 years ago that were playing country covers that I had never listened to before. The night did not go well at all. The songs I knew I played well. The songs I didn't know were a complete train wreck. I haven't' been asked to fill in or even join another band since then because word spread that I screwed up their gig...

    So... Do what you want, but don't say you haven't been warned...
    EddiePlaysBass likes this.
  16. BooDoggie

    BooDoggie Typical Dumb-ass with a degree

    Mar 29, 2014
    Here is the rest of the story!!!

  17. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002

    That would be my main worry. Plus in this digital age it’s quite likely that any train wrecks will be posted by an audience member.
    BooDoggie likes this.
  18. I always say "some folks drive fast cars or jump out of planes for the excitement, I do things like this for the thrill of the gig" sure you might crash and burn,but what a rush if you do pull it off!
  19. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I've done a bunch in my life, a lot of the time it led to other work or new musical relationships.
  20. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Last minute fill-in is how I got started playing gigs in Madison. A pianist called me up on a Friday afternoon, for a Friday evening gig. I said yes.

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