I guess that’s the end of the Dad Band, which never was anything special, but at least had a reasonable rehearsal schedule. I met this drummer “Dude” on Facebook in a musicians wanted group. He SAID he was looking to do a low tempo amateur project that was a “I’ll play mine, you play yours” type of thing, so I met him. He is a fairly talented drummer, but was trying to get into singing and needed some support at open mic nights and that sort of thing. Nice guy, even known for it in a community having to do with our kids, and rich as hell. Good start. We’re both pretty dad-ish, and I have a couple folks on the phone list that are pretty dad-ish, and something acoustic and low tempo would fit my schedule nicely. I went and jammed with him one night; I played DB. He was fairly good – we hooked up on blues and jazz pretty easily, but his rehearsal space is a concrete basement and it’s hard to hear. We played for a couple of hours, and he invited me to an open mic night a couple days later at a coffee house in our neighborhood. That evening, he was 4th on the list, behind a guy that banged chords on a DI Squier Strat on every single vocal note. It was really, really bad. Obviously, this was a sign of things to come that I failed to recognize. So dude comes out from the back with a cheap guitar. And no drum. And here I am thinking that I have befriended a drummer. He sang a tune and it was very not bad, obviously just strumming coyboy chords for accompaniment, but it sounded like he was really feeling it. The next song was a wreck and he stopped twice, but I choke on stage more than a cheap tractor, so I am willing to mine for diamonds in the rough and all that sort of thing. Who doesn’t need a drummer though, right? Luckily* a few more $2 beers were just the ticket, and I’m thinking “Hey, this cat has potential!” We text and agree to meet the next week. I brought a friend who is a, uh, rhythm guitarist? Not really sure what to call it, but not really all that musical. For example, I asked him to finger a Cmaj and tell me what notes were in it. He was not able to do that, and he had to count frets to play a closed D, but whatever. He’s a buddy and he can learn songs by rote, and he can sing a couple songs, and he was perfect for this project. So, Dude starts to sing. And ON THE SAME SONG, he was not feeling it. He was not feeling even in the ballpark of it. No love, no growl, no falsetto, none of the things I heard the other night. He was like a kid singing lyrics off a cell phone. Pitchy and breathy and bad mic technique and off key and forgotten lyrics and just everything that could be wrong with someone that reps themselves as a vocalist of any kind, much less the frontman. Again, missed sign, but whatever. Overall, we have a great time and get focused on three songs for the next week – really helps that my buddy and I have a dozen songs in common that were pretty appropriate in this context. Dude swears he’s going to listen to the track on repeat all week. There was a week or two delay, so I used the time to bring a ubass to a biker bar for acoustic night. Multiple people attempted to buy it. Not my scene usually, but a couple cheap beers sounded like a good idea, and bikers need bass players. The next rehearsal includes a trombone player of the same dad-ish sort. He’s good and he knows theory but he also has the thing that classical instrumentalists have where they learn all about music for dozens of years, but then have trouble with more guitar oriented styles because nobody writes anything down and it’s a big adjustment. Happened to me, but I got over it, and this guy blows a fairly hot bone, and has a growly baritone with good intonation and simple harmony knowledge, so he also agreed to join. Dude is a little better, but not a lot, and still crazy pitchy. He gives me a bunch of crap because I don’t usually sing. The more we hang out, the more comfortable that he gets with snarky cutting comments when I make a suggestion. I pitched 3 songs, one of which I sing lead, and he shot all three down. I REALLY don’t usually sing anything more complex than children’s songs, so my book is very, very slim. My wife advises to watch out for the b*tchy ones. I learn my parts and listen to the recording, and hate one of the basslines so rewrite it, and all the sort of things that you do when you start a new band. I decide to switch to the ubass and the guitar player decides to plug in to compete with the drums and bass and bone and newly amped vocals. Volume in the concrete basement is getting pretty serious. I get that lead song together, learn the one sucks-y one in about an hour (Dude has had 4 rehearsals and 6 weeks), and head to practice. About halfway through the next practice, Dude gives me some more flak about never singing. Pretty much demands that I “do my part” since he’s practicing so much, at least I could sing harmony ‘cause I’m a fancy-pants musician. So I do. My voice is (as always) a little strange, and my technique definitely needs work, but I know how, right? I do basic major harmony to the suck-fest tune and did one of those “what if you did it more like this” things you have to do when you’re lots better than someone else. I was warmed up and feeling it, so sang it and sorta-nailed it as much as I ever do. I talk about emotional investment in the lyrics being more important than the actual notes, but Dude disagrees and complains about that too. By this time, we’re up to a dozen songs and most of them still suck. The first three are STILL NOT together vocally. Easy bass parts because all three were ballad-y made it possible to do pile on for the vocal chorus and that sort of thing. Turns out that Dude gets like a million times better if someone else is singing along, even just chord roots. What do you know about that? My wife advises “I don’t even want to meet that guy at this point” Next rehearsal I insist on vocal warmups before we play. I have a favorite so I play it, and the band sings along half-heartedly. I get us going with my one song, and the bone player takes one. Everybody is feeling good and we put a checkmark next to his. Then, Dude takes the crapfest song and butchers it as per usual. I suspect he hasn’t sung a note since last time and play him some of my recorded practice scales – thinking that this would be proof of how much I suck and by inference how awesome he feels. But he reached over me to press stop in the middle and said “we don’t have time for this”. I say some nonsense about “the way to get better is to fix the weakest link and that’s background vocals” and “we all need to practice” at the end of the session. Dude pitches the band name “The Kelpies”, but they also didn’t know that’s a Scottish sea monster, and it wasn’t that kind of project, so we decide against it. That dumb ramble brings us up to today, a few weeks later. There’s a text thread going about changes in the bridge of something and the walkup for another thing, and yesterday’s messages included… “Notes, chords, keys, all part of one big cosmic thing, man. I’m sure Remyd would go on about it for days” “Yeah, and he gave me a handout [the circle of fifths] and explained that it was the answer to everything. I’m still trying to figure it out” “Problem is what chord to play here to make the song work or the harmony work.” So, I brought a keyboard. Unpacked, warmed up instruments and I insisted on vocal warmups. I got a “this again..” from Dude, and I said the only ways harmonies get good is good intonation. Then I went to the keys and did the whole this is a perfect interval and a minor one and a chord inversion thing (and re-explained the circle of fifths). Then I made them sing one line of a song and picked harmony notes out on the piano for intonation. Dude opined multiple rude things throughout and entirely failed to grok the fullness. At the end of the explanation, I look around and everybody is nodding, except for Dude. Dude intuits how these rehearsals are for everybody, and that I should just practice at home. So, I got a little steamed at the constant rudenness. I said, “How about we play that song again with a recording on so you can actually hear what you actually sound like?” He said “What? Why?” and I had to say “Afraid of what you’ll hear? Why don’t we record this right now?” Got a blank stare, so I said something like “Out of patience for today”, then packed up to stares and silence and burnt out before I said something really, really mean. My buddy carried the amp stuff, promised to grab my mic (which he did not do grrr), and said “see ya”. Rude bastards that are incapable of and/or hostile to improvement do not make for a good band. And people that suck should not step to people that are many times better than them and then get butt-hurt when they’re petard-hoisted. Done-ity-done-doney-done done. Because my favorite thing to do at the end of a musical project is to work through my frustration, and my favorite bass forum is always a willing audience is why.