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New Gig...big changes

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Marcus Willett, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    For those that may care or have a few minutes to kill... ;)

    I've been the bassist at the Legends in Concert show in Branson Missouri since it opened in 1998, and also Music Director there for the last 2 years. It's a good paying steady gig, and it's served me well. The last few years though have had a steady decline in the quality of the band; losing some key people and it looks as though our drummer is leaving in January.

    The main reason is the schedule. We quite literally do just under 600 shows a year. More than any other theatre in town...really. I realize that to someone who has no gig or even a job, it sounds like I'm whining. I'm hip. But trust me when I tell you that year after year of having no time, and never being able to have Thanksgiving dinner with your family (got 2 shows that day...always) and not being able to go out of town for Christmas (we've got 2 shows on Dec 24, and 2 on Dec 26) and seeing the effect this has on the cast morale will bring you down.


    I've been offered the bass chair with Andy Williams. Despite his age, he's actually working quite a bit these days. He's got his own theatre in town (IMO, the nicest one), and he's doing a couple European tours and an Asia tour next year in addition to a TV spot with Burt Bacharach and talk of a new album next year. It's a very classy gig, lemme tell ya. And with the exception of 6 weeks in November/December, he does one show a day. Pretty sweet.

    I had to leave Legends before the end of this season, but I've covered everything. I've lined up a competent sub, done all the arrangements for the Christmas shows and tied up all the loose ends. To their credit, management at Legends was very cool and supportive...they could have held me to the $1500 buy out clause in our contract for leaving before the end of the season.

    Gonna be a big change, so it's a combination of

    :hyper: and :eek:
  2. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    Marcus, congradulations on the new gig!!!


    Sounds like a good situation, glad to hear it!

  3. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Thanks dude. It's always tough to leave a steady gig especially when you've been there a while, but I'm cautiously optimistic.
  4. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    I can totally relate, I did a year & a half on Burbon St. in New Orleans back in the late 90's myself, and it was pretty rough, 6 hours a night, 5 nights a week, but it was STEADY. Leaving that gig was scary....but necessary for my sanity and freedom, as I was about to MURDER the bandleader & guitarist (dueling pot & coke habits onstage is NOT fun)...
  5. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    The new gig sounds like a great opportunity. Congratulations! I envy you being able to make a career out of it in the music biz. I played a couple steady gigs in the 80's before reality set in. I love what I do now as well and am lucky to be able to play out 1-3x/month with my best buddies from high school, even now 26 years later. So on some level, I'll always be envious of you.

    Let us know how things work out. Heck, I may even hit you up for tickets when my in-laws visit there, which they do every year!
  6. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Well, I know it sounds like I'm being a whiner, but don't envy me too much. It becomes just like any other job after a while, believe me. Truth is that I work at an assembly line, it's just that the product is a show. As much as you might love playing, when you have to do the same crap over and over again day after day...well, it's just like any other job: it's work.

    That's actually a big part of my decision. I don't like playing anymore...it's a drag and I don't like feeling that way about it. A lighter schedule with more time to work on things that I find rewarding (I've got TONS of transcriptions and improv material that I've been wanting to work on for years, but I'm so unmotivated to play anything after work) will hopefully help.
  7. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Andy Williams? That's a pretty big gig! Congratulations! Hopefully this new job won't leave you as burned out. I imagine playing two shows a day of the (presumably) same material would be kind of a bummer over a long enough period of time.
  8. daofktr

    daofktr irritating, yet surly

    Feb 15, 2005
    aurora, IN
    duuude...can i hate you now, or hate you later?
    seriously, nice landing! i'm sure you'll have fun!
  9. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Jumping from steady work is always a bit scary and uncertain, but when you gotta do it, you gotta do it.

    One friend of mine jumped ship from playing with Trisha Yearwood after about two years of steady work, in an attempt to get more recording work around Nashville. He ended up getting a great offer to come back after several months. Another friend quit a road gig with Tanya Tucker, only to get picked up by Wynonna for a few years.

    A step up isn't possible if you don't take a step . . . .
  10. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    Sounds like your moving in the right direction. It's hard to maintain passion when anything becomes a mind numbing repetitive grind that takes away from, rather than adds to, the overall fabric of your life. Most of us here would love to have had to make the choice you did! I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that the Andy Williams gig opens yet more doors for you. I wish you nothing but the best with your new gig!
  11. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004
    Congrats, I can't imagine doing 600 shows a year. I can see how it wouldn't be fun anymore. Unless it was a lot of freeform/jam music, but even that would get old.

    Gard: I would guess that the Bandleader was the weed smoker and the guitarist was the coke user. That would not be fun to deal with.
  12. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    Yup, it was like trying to referee a boxing match between Speedy Gonzales (on guitar) and Droopy (bandleader/vocals).


    18 months of that really wore me out!!!


    The drummer and I were always sober on stage, and we'd just do our best to ignore 'em.

  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I can relate, Marcus. I just quit the band I was in for 8 years. The last weekend of October will be my last gig with them. I honestly can't wait! I am so frustrated with the goings-on in that band and have been for a long time. I don't have a gig with Andy Williams or anything waiting, although I do have plenty of work. Plus I'm going to start bandleading and producing shows a lot more.

    Hey, when you get some downtime, starting in March, the Original Comets are going to be playing the Dick Clark Theatre. You MUST go see them! They are the best band ever...all between the ages of 71 and 84, and they rock like KISS!
  14. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Thanks for the kind thoughts guys, really.

    I try really hard to keep perspective. I know lots of really great players who can't make ends meet. Guys who have to get the dreaded "day job" :eek: just to pay the bills. I've been there, I can dig it. Back in Miami in about '87-'92 when I spent every friggin' day wondering if I would make rent that month, or worse yet, if I had made a huge mistake even choosing this as a profession..I would have KILLED just to have the chance to make maybe, what $400 a week playing my bass?

    After a couple "Stilletos" tonight (a drink I came up with at an after hours gig I do with an R&B band here called "The Stilletos" --- 'Three Olives' cherry vodka, orange juice, splash of pineapple and a splash of sprite...for those of you into that sort of thing...like me, for instance), I've managed to learn a few things.

    No matter how much you love it (and I mean no matter how much you love it), if it is something you have to do every day...especially the same way every day, it will eventually suck. Don't kill what you love by making it something you have to do every day...if there is no way around that, then do your best to minimize it. I'm trying to right now.

    Bass players don't get hired to play fast. Or to play solos, or to tap or any of that. If that's your thing, that's totally cool; just don't expect to get paid for it. Bass players get hired for time and tone, and to a lesser extent (but still significant), reading ability. I strive and always will continue to be able to blow over changes as good as Pat Metheny or even Brecker, but the truth is that even if I attain that lofty goal, for 99% of musical situations I will ever be in, it's just for me and almost no one else. There's a reason why Tony Levin is on so many friggin' records, and it ain't his solo chops.

    Success in the "music biz" has very little to do with music. When I got promoted to Music Director at Legends, I found that almost none of the new responsibilities were "musical" in nature. Mostly administrative and a lot of baby-sitting insecure egos that needed to be re-assured.

    Make the hang. This is an important social interaction. Our drummer is leaving this year. He is without a doubt one of the best (if not THE best) drummers I have ever worked with. This guy is so solid, it's sickening...he's a friggin' rock,and I have played with some awesome drummers.

    (side note - the bass player is only as good as the drummer. I don't care who you are...Jaco, Wooten...whatever...put him with a lame drummer and it sounds like crap)


    He's leaving because like me, he's tired of the schedule. He would stay "if he could get another show gig"...but here's the thing: He doesn't make the hang. No one in town gets to hear him. No one in town really knows him or his playing (which is a damn shame), so guess what...no gig.

    We musicians could all benefit from a course in marketing. The cold, hard truth is that no matter how great the product is (your playing/musicianship, for example), if it is not marketed well, it will almost certainly fail. Are there exceptions? Sure. And some people win the lottery...I don't wish to leave my life to chance any more than I absolutely must.

    This gig (which I admit, could be a great opportunity) happened NOT because I'm some amazing mother-f**ker player, or that I can solo over 'Giant Steps' at 300 BPM or anything like that. It happened because I made the effort to go out and be seen doing 'my thing' (as opposed to playing the show, which as we discussed is a job), and eventually playing a bit with Andy's MD, who then came to know me and what I had to offer as a player. And when I had played with him, it wasn't a big thing. Just playing some tunes, trying to lay it down with solid feel and good tone, and when the time to solo would come up, do a respectable job...just try to be musical and tasteful. Trust me, you are not going to play anything that is gonna blow away a guy like his MD who has been playing jazz with HEAVIES for 30+ years. Don't try to show off your cool licks...try to make music that would sound good regardless of what instrument you are playing.

    Anyway, end of rant. I've been very fortunate to be able to make a living playing my bass, that is true. It comes with a price, tho...that is also true.

    More later as developments warrant... :smug:

    THAT is funny! Because that theatre is one of the "other" gigs I am looking into for next year. There are supposedly 5 shows in that theatre next year, and the 3:00 slot is what I'm looking into...

    Small world...
  15. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I can't relate. I've played maybe 75 gigs my whole life.

    When I read the comments about all the time it takes away from your family, I was glad to see that you left. To me, family time is worth far more than any amount of money.

  16. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004

    "Anyway, end of rant. I've been very fortunate to be able to make a living playing my bass, that is true. It comes with a price, tho...that is also true."

    It's late, so I'm just going to say great post. Some truths about the music business laid out there for all to see.

    Hope this next gig brings you some pleasure.
  17. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Man, last night I played my last show at Legends. 8 1/2 years. I added it up...right around 5,000 shows. Every one of them with an Elvis; every one of them doing F**KING "SUSPICIOUS MINDS"! I AM SO SICK OF THAT F**KING SONG!


    It's wild, that's the longest steady gig I have ever had and I've got about 2 days to learn Andy's stuff and start rehearsals this weekend. Even though I know most of the guys (or girls, as in the case of his drummer) in the band, it's gonna be weird...

    Keepin' my fingers crossed...
  18. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    Marcus, dude....

    ...you're gonna KICK @$$!!!!


    Just be you.

    (By the way, I still spin that demo CD you sent me back in...nevermind when...:eek:....good stuff bro! :D )
  19. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    I'm late to this thread. Keep posting as the Andy Williams gig progresses. I don't expect to be reaching that level of gigging but would sure like to hear how the process works. It's great insight for all TB'ers.
  20. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Thanks Gard. I'm not really worried about "cutting the gig", as it were. Frankly, it's fairly easy stuff for the most part. What does concern me a bit is giving Andy what he is used to hearing. The guy he had before was there for 14 years, so Andy is used to hearing what he played and how he played it. It's going to be a challenge to try to (initially, anyway) cop someone else's thing while trying to still be me. That's one thing I will miss about Legends...it was pretty musically free in the sense that I could play just about whatever I wanted, within reason.

    As for insight, the hardest part is going to be the charts. I'm a pretty decent reader, and none of the music is really tough, but most of the charts have no harmonic information at all... just notation. It makes it tough to embellish and really make a part come to life, at least at first. Lots of odd segues, lots of stuff in keys like Gb, many key changes within a tune, etc. Takes the reading from a situation (which I'm used to) where the chart is an approximation of what you're going to play with some figures written as a guide, a few specific things, and the harmonic structure to create a part with. This is gonna be "Play this, exactly this, no more, no less." Again, it's not hard, it's just a different mindset that what I'm accustomed to.

    Man...I'm gonna hafta change my sig...