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My Big Debut -- Fronting a Band with Piccolo Bass

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by PauFerro, Mar 18, 2016.


  1. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Well, I'm on the Eve of my big debut.

    I had a Bill Gates moment about a month ago. Visited with a restaurant owner and sold an original jazz band without zero new material for regular restaurant work before I had formed the band. I found the players, and now I am fronting a piano, bass, guitar, drums and bass/piccolo bass band that plays mostly original traditional, smooth and fusion oriented, easy listening jazz. We put together repertoire in three rehearsals. I contributed 80% of the new material and am excited the band likes it. I would have liked more original material from the group, but was thankful for the songs they contributed.

    I used an approach where I take standards, modify their chord structure, and then write my own heads. I also change the feel -- bossa is swing, swing is bossa, bossa is smooth jazz, swing tune is done fusion. Band in a box has been a great friend helping me find a voice and feel for each song. Then the band takes that reference and creates their own related, feel out of it that is never the same, but alters the song enough that I feel we can call the tune our own. I had one of the band members describe one of the tunes as sounding Path Metheny ish, which I took as a complement because he's one of my heroes of innovation.

    I could not even remember what the reference song was for some of the songs after leaving them alone for a while. And for most of the songs, the band couldn't even identify the original standard I modified and re-melodied and "re harmonized" if you can call it that. It was a phenomenal way to create original material quickly.

    Not used to being out in front, and I have to switch my piccolo bass down with an octaver when not soloing. So does our guitar player when I am soloing. The keyboard player also doubles on left hand bass for certain songs.

    Wish me luck!

    I am a bit nervous in spite of being a rock on stage as a regular bass player. I have the piccolo to deal with, intricate melodies to play, much more soloing, switching between instruments, and then I have to manage the PA at the same time. It's breaking new ground...

    Report after tomorrow night :)
     
  2. hondo4life

    hondo4life

    Feb 29, 2016
    SC
    Sounds awesome. Have fun, but go easy on the free drinks.
     
  3. Hamish MacCleod

    Hamish MacCleod Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2014
    South America
    Cool, looking forward to an update.
    Rondo
     
    PauFerro likes this.
  4. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Good luck. Also, nail down allocation/signoff of rights/credit/etc. for the original material now, while everyone's happy, not in the possible future when something goes sour. We see the latter often enough.
     
  5. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Well, I did it. Overall, the evening was a success. Owner was happy. We packed the place. People seemed to really like the music, said the owner. There was no place to sit. People stayed later than usual, which was the goal of the event (late night jazz). what was cool was having the whole audience clap after we played many of the songs we had written. And what was really cool was this guy that was fascinated with me. He came up later and said "every great band must have a great bass player like you guys". that was a complement because I've always considered myself the weak sister in the bands I play in.

    I had to switch between my electric bass on a stand, and a piccolo bass I strung behind my back on 75% of the songs because I played the lead.. I had never practiced that in rehearsal because we were focusing on getting the songs right. I learned how to pluck open strings on the low bass so it rang, when open strings fit the harmonic structure of the song. This was to keep the low bass going while I got my piccolo bass into position. There were times plucked the open strings as I left the piccolo to go back to the bass on a stand.

    And of course, there was a TON of technical problems. The stage area (if you can call it that), didn't have sufficient power to run our equipment for some reason. Neither of us (guitar player or myself) could use our octavers to simulate bass when necessary on our guitar or piccolo bass. for some reason, the power kept ebbing and flowing to the point we had to go through the system all of us. And for some reason, your system kept distorting -- perhaps due to not getting enough power? I am not sure.

    The good news is that we dealt with all of those problems. Plus, our keyboard player really rehearsed for the gig and played almost as well as the pros I play with. I drew on what I call "developing musicians" for this gig since it was a) original music, and most pro cats don't want to play original stuff in this town unless graduates of our university's composition program b) it was a restaurant gig.

    I gave all the money to the band and didn't take a penny myself on this one (willingly). Because I looked at the whole thing as self-actualization.

    And that's my report!!

    I don't think copyright disagreements are in the cards with this band as we all bring charts with us we wrote ourselves and there is very little collaboration -- each song is a solo effort. Thanks goodness
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2016
  6. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    Great experience and great report. Good on ya.
     
    PauFerro likes this.
  7. BassCliff

    BassCliff

    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.
    Hi,

    It's great to hear that you were able to overcome so many challenges and still pull off the gig, making the clientele and owner happy. I love your concept and look forward to pictures and video in your next report. ;)

    Congratulations on your success. I'm sure it will lead to more bookings for you. Maybe you'll even get paid. ;) That was a very generous gesture to take care of your band mates and not take a cut yourself. I'm sure it will pay off in the end. Corporate parties love little jazz bands. You could pick up some nice coin. Now, get out there and make some more great music. :)

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    BassCliff
     
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  8. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Even better news now. Owner just contacted me about filling up the next two months with different jazz groups on Saturday nights. With four groups under my wing, all jazz, I don't think I'm going to have a problem. The only thing is he wants it to be all original music. That's a kicker. At least we know we bought his confidence with our music and marketing work....I love phone calls like that.
     
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  9. BassCliff

    BassCliff

    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.
    You know what that means! :D




    Thank you for your indulgence,

    BassCliff
     
  10. McG

    McG Goat Hill Gamblers

    Oct 6, 2010
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Awesome deal. Share some pics/video if you can. I know we would all like to see them.

    Ha Ha... I was thinking the same thing :laugh:
     
    BassCliff likes this.
  11. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..

    No pictures = gig never happened ;)
     
  12. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I had too much to do that night to even think about pictures. He expected a lot -- music piped into a neighboring room. Everyone wanted to talk to me because I was the organizer. All the musicians were dependent on the mixer I brought, and I hauled all the gear. The entire night (almost) was new, original music with a group of musicians who had never played before. And then we had a draw for prizes etcetera. Plus, the power at the front of the room was on a dimmer switch and no one knew it, so we couldn't use our effects pedals and my insrument was really distorted at times due to insufficient power. It was tough. Pictures were the last thing on my mind.

    I will see if we can get something next time for you guys and the facebook page.

    Met the owner this evening and negotiated a deal for the next two months. I have to pack the place with all the different groups I have going. Everyone on my list will have at least a couple gigs over the next couple months. And some will be out 6-8 times at this one venue....I have work to do!
     
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  13. BassCliff

    BassCliff

    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.
    Hi,

    That reminds me of the old joke.....

    Q. How do you get a musician to complain?
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    A. Give him a gig!


    :D



    Thank you. I'll be here all week!


    Thank you for your indulgence,

    BassCliff
     
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  14. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Another good night, but the crowd tapered off due to bad weather, and perhaps it being Easter weekend. Band played better than last time and the crowd really liked the music. So gratifying to have the entire crowd erupt into applause over the original music, and to see the songs take root in the rest of the band (accents, nuances, etcetera)/ They were really interested in the meaning behind the songs. And I kept them interested with musician banter -- telling them how musicians communicate on stage in an improvised environment, how i've had situations where musicians show up right before the gig, set up quickly, and start playign together -- only meeting each other verbally and shaking hands on the first break. They were fascinated.

    Really fun stuff!!!
     
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