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Need advice please...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by tbof, May 16, 2011.

  1. tbof


    Feb 13, 2011

    Recently, I started playing with two guys from work, both are in their late 40's/early 50's. It's done me a lot of good because I've had it rough in the last year. Anyways, one of the guys (our guitar player) is an alcoholic. I didn't know this until a few weeks ago. The first few times we've played together everything was fine and we all had a lot of fun. We don't do covers or anything, we just jam. But lately our guitarist has been showing up at our weekly jams more and more intoxicated by booze. And for the first time yesterday things started to get pretty ugly. He was already drunk at noon when I picked him up. Once we got to our drummers house, we started jamming after we set up our gear and the poor guy would stumble and catch his foot in cables, unplug his own guitar amp and would get all tangled up in his headphones cord, knock over his beer bottles (one on our drummers keyboard), couldn't listen and follow the beats when we played and was just playing his thing as if we weren't there which sucks when you jam (not to mention he had his worst tone ever too!). He even complained I wasn't looking at him so that he could visually let me know when to change keys - when in fact I was looking at him the whole time and HE would never giving me the sing! :rollno: Was a real bubble man.

    I was pretty bummed out last night when I got home and thought this could very well have been my last time playing with them. Even our drummer looked a little pissed. We jam at the drummers house and our alcoholic friend is a little messy.

    I really liked jamming with them the first few times. It's the first time I found some folks that have the same musical affinities and goals as me. But the alcohol and drugs (he also admitted doing some cocaine the night before) is a no go for me.

    What can I do? Can you just ask an alcoholic to stop drinking? I guess not. I really want to help him out. He said he wanted to stop drinking and that our little jams really helped him, giving him a new hope and a new perspective on life. But in a way I don't think these jams really help him. They are just another excuse to go out, buy more alcohol to bring over to a friends house and rock 'n roll all night and party every day... :bassist:

    What should I do? :help:
  2. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    Too much BS from the sound of it. The group should let the guy know that the jam sessions are not intended to be a plastered, free-for-all.

    The message for him: If he can't show up (and stay) in control, he should jam somewhere else.
  3. +1 to this:
    "The message for him: If he can't show up (and stay) in control, he should jam somewhere else."

    Been there and done that with drummers AND guitar players. That's exactly the message we put out to them. We don't jam with them any more.

    Having a night like yours brings back some bad vibes and sore memories. I just start to pack up when I see those signs, I won't put myself through the frustration..
  4. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009

    Walk away.

    I've played with alcoholics before. There isn't anything that YOU or ANYONE else can do for the guy. If an alcoholic isn't ready to change, you don't have a prayer of getting to make any real changes. The alcoholics I have played with range from just plain sloppy/horrible musicians when they are drunk, to full on mean, hateful, horrible, vile drunks. It's a no win. Find some guys who drink in moderation when they play.
  5. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Well, you had a few good jams. It's a shame, but sounds to me like you're done. Good call. It wont get any better with a guy like that.
  6. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    1st, talk to the other guys & see if you're all on the same page with this. If everybody agrees to fire the drunk guitar player, do it immediately. If not, bail out. The only other alternative is to keep on going as you've described it, because it's not going to get any better.
  7. tbof


    Feb 13, 2011
    Thanks for your advice guys. I really appreciate it.
  8. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Well, it's no secret that I don't understand musicians that just get together to jam and there are no shows involved.

    However, me personally, I will not tolerate drinking at rehearsals, any kind of substance really. Meaning I will pack up and leave, just not my scene. It was when I was 14 up to about 23 years of age, but thats where it ended.
  9. You're absolutely correct.

    I'd give him one chance to clean his act up, no more. He may toe the line for a while if he's true about "getting a new perspective". As soon as he loses the plot he has to get fired and go do the ten steps, no other way.

    Or just walk away, running.
  10. I agree we had this happen with a drummer early on we had no idea he had the problem he only drink at the shows but he crawled into the bottle before long and we fired him. I do not think you should wait his problem is not going away anytime soon and it takes a lot to stop drinking and you have to want to do it for yourself not others he doesn't sound like he is looking to quit. Walk away is your best course of action.
  11. tbof


    Feb 13, 2011
    The thing is I can't just walk away. This guy is a work colleague and a good friend.

    I had a long talk with him yesterday over the phone. I let the rabbit out of the hat. Without judgement and blaming or anything, I told him that if he didn't take care of this problem I would back out of our little music project.

    He took it so hard that he later called me in tears from his car in our company's parking lot to tell me he had just spoken with a union delegate and a supervisor to inform them he wanted to go in rehab (we have a rehab program paid by our company to help people that have alcohol and drug problems). I called the delagate just to confirm he had spoken with my friend and he said he indeed had spoken with him.

    I called my friend this morning and he's meeting someone in a rehab center this afternoon.

    Even if I might never do music with these folks again, I'm glad I'd at least helped a friend by giving him "the time of the day". I did what I could. Who knows, this might save his life.
  12. OPBASSMAN1994


    Jul 30, 2010
    You did the right thing tbof. hey, you never know. When he is out of rehab, he could be a changed man, and a better guitarist for it. And when all else fails: pray. Remarkable things can happen when you do that.
  13. You did the right thing. It's no longer about the music, it's now all about your friend getting the help he needs.
  14. yep you did what needed to be done...
  15. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Seems like he really wants to keep jammin' once he gets out of rehab.

    I suggest you give him more encouragement that if he does get his act together you'd be fine to keep jammin' with him.

    Maybe you can find another guitarist to jam with in the mean time. No downside to having two guitarists later on.

    Also, if he starts drinking after rehab, I suggest that you ask him to get back into rehab again. It may take more than one round to get rid of a lifetime problem. Based on my experience with some people I know, he'll possibly need to substitute on-going counseling and medication to keep things under control. Usually the bottle is self-medication for other problems. He faces a tough road. Keep encouraging him. But, please, I strongly urge you to not try to assist him other than encouragement. He needs to do this on his own. Don't spend any time on the phone or at work listening to his problems. Refer him back to his rehab counselors.

    Good luck.

    Hope your friend makes it!
  16. 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
    A few years ago, I was in a similar situation. The guys I was jamming with said they wanted to start gigging as a band, but the lead guitarist never did any homework, and always came to practice drunk. He just wanted to noodle, and only play the parts of songs to which he knew the hook.

    After about a month, at a practice, I just told them that's not what I'm looking for, and they could call me when they wanted to get serious. The rhythm player called me and said he felt the same way but didn't know how to give the lead player (his friend) the boot. I have no idea what happened after that.

    BTW, that's why I'll never answer a want ad that has the word "jam" in it. I don't want to jam, I want to perform music at gigs.
  17. 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
    Way to go.
  18. Hell yeah.
  19. tbof


    Feb 13, 2011
    Yes, that's exactly what I'm planning on doing. It's all very good advice. I already told him the other day that I'd be there to jam with him once again if he got his act together. Besides his alcoholism, he's a very nice person. I told him I was very proud of him for going into rehab on his own will and that he could call me when he'd be okay. The only favor he asked me was to keep in touch with his wife (who's freaking out at the moment) and make sure she is doing okay, which I promised him I'd do.

    He admitted the only positive thing he feels like he has in his life at the moment were our little weekly jams and that he doesn't want to lose that. He said his father forced him to start drinking when he was around 7 years old ("Drink this boy and make a man of yourself"...). He's over 50 today, so he's basically been an alcoholic all his life. He has a very steep road ahead of him but for some reason I believe him when he says he's had enough and wants to change.

    We'll see... :)
  20. tbof


    Feb 13, 2011
    Hi every one. Just a quick follow up.

    My friend is doing really well. He's still going to his AA meetings (not AA but the same thing). He hasn't touched booze or cocaine in the last 27 days. I speak with him on the phone every two other days and I can tell just by the tone of his voice that he's not drinking. We started jamming again two Sundays ago and so far so good. When we go there no one brings or drinks booze. It's like day and night! We've recorded two of our jams and we sounded quite good.considering I've only been playing bass since March! I'll try to post some clips when our drummer gets to making cds.

    Thanks again for everyone's advice. I'm really happy with how things are turning out. But most of all I'm really proud of what my friend has accomplished.

    Keeping the faith and the fingers crossed. :)

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