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Let me tell you about my "b" gig. (Long)

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Blackbird, Sep 8, 2003.

  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I usually post about my main band, but for once my "other band" has provided some post-worth material.

    I hardly ever consider this project a band because it is very disorganized.

    A little background: The lead singer is from West Africa and actually had a recording career there, but is no longer under contract. She's been working on a CD project for over a year and a half (I was in the band for about three weeks before we went into the studio). They had me record 14 bass tracks (and guitar on two tracks) in one day and never called me back to the studio. Then, they replaced me with another bassist on a few of my tracks for some reason, then had me re-record my parts in two of the songs in a different studio a year later. After all that time and remixing and rerecording, the disc, minus 4 or 5 tracks, is ready to duplicate.

    This band is like a revolving door: The original keyboard player has been in France for the past 2 years and the other people in the band are still acting like he's on leave from the band, so to speak. Early this year, I met a percussionist who's been in the band longer than I, but whom I had never seen. He dubbed his instrument later and we never did much playing together after the recording. He's now quit the band and was immediately replaced with a guy the singer met playing in the park. (Luckily, this guy's a great musician and I'm excited to have him on board) We had a less fantastic trumpet/keyboard guy for two weeks, then he was gone. We got together today and met two new band members: one new guitarist playing a very cheap instrument, I mean, below Galveston, it was that bad, but he's a friend of the other guitar guy, so he must be ok., and a congolese guy to do backing vocals who sounds like a tone-deaf didgeridoo. Maybe the songs are in a bad key for him. I just thought the previous simile was funny.

    Rehearsals are few and far between and more often than not, start late and don't cover everything.

    Why do I stay with this band?

    1)My main band does gig and travel regularly. Having a sporadic "b" band breaks the monotony of the main gig without straining my schedule,

    2)The main backing musicians (The ones I met two years ago, plus new percussion guy) are very good players and have become good friends. Playing together keeps us sharp. We create many great musical moments together and appreciate each other's efforts.

    3)The music is very rewarding to play. It is very groove oriented, but with varying dynamics and more complex rhythms. I feel playing this music made me a better player.

    Ok, now for the story:

    I go to the singer's house to rehearse today (first one in about 4 weeks, because I was out of town 2 weeks ago playing with my "A" band)<- BTW, thanks for coming, Sheep Man.

    There, I meet the new guitar guy and the didgeridoo guy. I set up, play, hang out then split to meet another friend. Singer tells me next week's gig was moved to October.:rolleyes:

    Anyway, after meeting the other friend, I went home. Half an hour later, I get a call. "B" band lead singer asks me where I am, as if I were flaking on a gig today (Nothing was scheduled for today). Turns out she sings in this west african restaurant and apparently some industry people are there. "Producers", she said. As I was not able to drive, someone had to come and pick me up. When we got there, guitar guy 1 and nu-guitar guy are there. Nu-percussion guy's and didgeridoo guy too. They're on break. I arrive, set up, the break ends. We played three tunes and I was really having fun. We had people dancing in a restaurant(!) and we hadn't been on a stage as a group in months. Then, the singer says "Thank you, good night". I was pretty pissed. I spent more time standing in the fog waiting for the car than playing.

    Then, some dude shows up with another percussion guy who sits in. I'm ready to leave the stage when the guy's teaching chords to the guitar guy(F-E-D-C, exciting, huh?). So now we start playing this dude's song, and I must confess, while the singing was good and the percussion guy was good, it started getting boring around the fifth minute, so I started noodling. In the context of the song, but definitely overplaying for its own sake. Hey, it's just some guy who crashed the stage, right? Wrong.

    Anyway, the lead singer ends the set with La Bamba and I start packing up, Then I hear that the other guy, the guy whose song I noodled on, is actually a recording artist in Congo - d'oh! The guy liked our playing, though, shook the musician's hands and took my card. It's good to have your name on a piece of paper you can give out quickly.

    Anyway, here are a couple lessons I walked away with today:

    1) If you want to get good, or if you want your band to get good, get on a real stage and play in front of a real audience. No studio or garage can prepare you completely toface a room full of people who don't care about you.

    2) If you end up accompanying some singer you don't know, don't be a dork about it. Just play as well as always. You never know who's listening.

    There must be some more lessons in there. I just gotta figure them out...

    Sorry it's so long.:eek:
  2. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Sounds like you learned one lesson that I seem to get taught over and over again: The proper response to the question "How could you have *possibly* not known about this gig?" is, "How could you have *possibly* neglected to tell me about it?!?" and if it becomes necessary, "Are you forgetting which one of us doesn't smoke pot or drink excessively, so that he can actually remember things somewhat reliably?"

    Darn musicians...

    :rolleyes: ;)
  3. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    Sound words! I find that a pro attitude is a must EVERY time you strap a bass on. (business cards are a must too)
  4. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I thought I mentioned that no gig was scheduled for that day. She just called us all at the last minute to do it because she wanted to play for some people. Heck, she called the drummer and the guy didn't even show up. Scary, as my "b" gig is everyone else's "a" gig.

    By the way, I don't smoke pot or drink excessively, so she must be the one. :smug:
  5. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Oops - time for me with my "darn musicians" talk to pull the curtains in my glass house...

    ;) :bag:
  6. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    What do you know, it's got a sequel!

    The lead guitarist is now sort of in charge of scheduling and calling people to rehearse. He calls everyone and we agree to rehears at 11 in the morning at the singer's house, except new percussion guy who can't make it. It's supposed to be a one hour thing.

    I arrive at 11. So does the guitarist. The backing vocalist practically lives there, so she's there too. We have a bit of breakfast and we hang around a bit. We see a rough cut from a video we shot a few weeks ago.

    Guitar guy #2 shows up 30 minutes later (like he said he would) which is fine. Drums are almost set up but drummer's not there yet.

    Around 12, singer calls drummer to see what the holdup is. Leaves message. 30 minutes later, drummer calls back asking if someone can pick him up (guitar guy #1 is handling the call because singer doesn't want to deal with it). Now, the singer's house is not exactly near, neither is the drummer's location. No one's too keen on driving to pick up the guy (he could have asked in advance, btw), so the drummer says "Fine, I'll catch the bus and show up whenever the **** I want" and hangs up. Now Guitar guy 1 is pissed at the guy too. I fear a scene.

    Well, we quit waiting and just rehearse vocals guitars 1 & 2 and bass with no percussion at all, great timekeeping exercise for me (gotta look at the bright side).

    Rehearsals drag out because there's no set song sequence, plus guitar guy 2 needs to learn the songs. No fault of his, but it the lack of a set makes the whole thing drag out.

    Drummer shows up around 2:30 and says nothing. He's quiet, but no one's talking to him. We're busy playing a song. He sets his stuff up and plays too.

    The whole thing ends at about 4 (mind you, it was supposed to start at 11 and last one hour).

    In the end, the singer shows the demo of the CD artwork (which is very nice, btw) and thanks us for our dedication, but trails off into criticizing the drummer for being late. I mention that that's a different conversation, but I feel that the singer's more secure about asserting herself with the drummer when there are people within earshot.

    I leave around 4, there's a gig at 8 (the one that was canceled last week? I don't know) but the singer asks me to show up at 6:30 to soundcheck. Now, the day's been shot to hell, I have 2-3 hours to do all the other things I had planned to do on sunday, so I do them quickly, badly or not at all.:mad:

    I show up at the place at 7 (once bitten, twice shy) and i'm still The first to arrive, so I call the singer. Apparently, they're on their way. The club, a latin/salsa place, is actually very nice.

    The band shows up and so do my "A" band bandmates (I invited them). We play the gig (about 40 minutes, choosing songs at random, lots of dead air between songs) and we're off the stage. It was a fun but very inneficient day.


    3) Have a set list made in advance so you can rehearse a show, not just songs.

    4) Be punctual and professional. Be respectful of everyone else's time, but also be respectful of your own time. If the event runs over the time alotted and you have other things to do, leave. It's not your fault other people can't stick to the schedule and covering up for them isn't doing anyone a favor.

    5) I once read about something called a "ritual space", meaning a place where a certain activity is to be performed. A living room may have enough space to accomodate a band, but it doesn't provide an atmosphere conducive to making music. There's always a TV, a kitchen and a telephone to distract us from the task at hand, which is to play music. It's fine to socialize, but people who mix work and play end up doing neither.

    Man, I gotta learn to be more concise.:rolleyes:
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Cripe. I know I'm not in the band, but I quit!
  8. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I just keep thinking "Three more months and I'll be in L.A."

    Thank God my "A" Band kicks butt!:D

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