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Not getting booked for gigs by an old friend

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by clodhopper, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. clodhopper

    clodhopper Guest

    Jun 6, 2011
    I'd like some advice (possibly of the "stop being a dick" sort) about a situation I'm in with a very old and valued friend. We have been playing together for over 20 years and developed much of our musical outlook and thinking together. He is a pro musician and teaches jazz at a local college. I was a pro double bass player but about 15 years ago changed direction and pursued a career in an unrelated field. I've maintained my involvement in music to a lesser or greater degree over that time, mainly on electric bass. Over the last year I have really got back into playing and gigging and have got a double bass and got my technique together. I have played with this friend a few times in jam session type settings. Recently he has had a few high-profile jazz gigs and to my surprise has booked other bass players, without explanation. I have felt quite bad about this as I feel I can do as good a job as anyone on these gigs. I haven't mentioned anything to him about this. Last week he contacted me with the offer of a gig, but the music he wants to do is somewhat comedic in nature and certainly less serious than the music he plays on other gigs with other musicians. My feeling is that I'm now on his B or C list, and he will use other players for the top level gigs.
    I haven't made any decision or any moves or even spoken to him about this, but feel bad about him booking other players in preference to me and that the offer of this "comedy jazz" gig is somewhat condescending. I've tried to think through reasons this may be happening but just come up with answers that don't make me feel any better about the situation. Either he doesn't think I'm technically up to the top level gigs, or he doesn't like my playing so much, or he is booking players who are regarded as more "professional" and known on the scene so that it reflects well on him. And there have been times when the situation was reversed and I booked him on gigs even though there were musicians I could have booked who were technically more proficient and more known on the scene. I booked him because I liked the musical "story" he told, and wanted to help him get more exposure.
    I should say that the working environment around here is pretty much "freelance" and not regular bands with regular members, so booking different players for different gigs is by no means unusual.
    Not sure what to do. I don't know if I would feel comfortable doing the "comedy jazz" gig, but I love his playing and value our friendship, probably above the music. Any advice would be gratefully received.
  2. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    No offense, but maybe you are not good enough.
    Picking back up something for one year doesn't necessarily make you a top player (for any instrument). You asked I am telling you straight one possiblity.
    Not saying this is the only option but I see a lot of folks on here who say "Well I have been playing bass for a year and they think I am not good enough." Obviously this is not exactly your case.

    But short answer ask him straight to his face, politely. He may just tell you. We basically just let our drummer go from my band, because he wouldn't come up to the level of acceptability with his playing.
  3. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    My .02:

    Take the gig. It's a way to start working with him again, and the music biz is a people biz.
  4. SoLongJake

    SoLongJake Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2007
    Des Moines, Iowa
    You shouldn't expect your friend to abandon musical relationships he may have been cultivating for the past 15 years since you stopped playing with him. He may be worried that you're not going to be around for the next 15 years.
  5. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
  6. clodhopper

    clodhopper Guest

    Jun 6, 2011
    Good point. I hadn't really thought of that.
  7. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I'm definitely a "B list" player. When I started playing in Madison, being "B list" meant playing a couple gigs a week. Things have slowed down since then. There are plenty of gigs that I could handle, but the "A list" guys still get the calls first.

    I think there are several reasons to hire top players if possible. First and foremost, if they are better musicians, having a top band makes even a lounge or restaurant gig just a bit more fun and interesting. Second, those other bassist may be returning the favor and hiring the pianist for gigs. Third, many players use gig time as a chance to fill in their calendars. I played with a guy who would pull out his calendar during break, and offered unfilled dates to other players, so that playing a gig with him automatically led to more gigs. Fourth, those players might have a few "fans" who can be counted on to fill seats at the gigs.

    So I think these are all forces that tend to put the top players on the stand, even for low profile gigs. For better or worse, jazz is a meritocracy to a considerable extent.
  8. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    In this market for music (and day jobs) you just can't judge yourself by the amount of work you get or don't get.
    It's a MAJOR recession regardless of what any BS newspeople say. It took me almost 6 months to get a decent paying dayjob when I got a laid off late last year. Just going back to work now!
  9. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA

    A foot in the door is a foot in the door. Roll with it.
  10. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    I'd take the gig. FWIW, I would not ask him about why he's not booking you unless you're sure that you two are good enough friends that it won't make him uncomfortable. The only thing I can think of would be to find the best teacher possible and ask for pointers? Either way, I'd stick with it if you're enjoying the music so you can try and work your way back up to the A list.

    Good luck.
  11. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I would do the gig and gradually work your way back into the line-up. If you were A-list before, you'll be there again. I know with electric bass a long break won't take long to bounce back from. In fact sometimes a break can make you a stronger player.

    Keep reassuring your friend that your heart is 100% back in it.
  12. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv

    Also, don't get friendship mixed up with business. Maybe he's looking out for the players that depend on this for a living, which he should be doing. He's opening the door for you; be grateful.
  13. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA

    Yeah, this is pretty much it.

    And, you can't be offended when he HAS called you for a gig. You describe the gig as "comedic in nature" and "not serious" and feel it's an insult of a gig. Frankly, that is pretty rude thinking on your part. He obviously thinks the gig is worth taking.

    And, he could be calling you for the comedic thing because you are FRIENDS and he knows your personality better than some of the other pros he uses.

    If he is a pro and has always been a pro, he needs to maintain pro relationships to keep gigging. Can the other bass players he uses get him a paying gig? Can you?

    In your own words, "Stop being a dick."


    Take the gig, have some fun, and I'm sure he'll throw work your way when it works out. But, you have to pay your dues like anyone else--you've been out of the game for 15 years. You are at the bottom of the totem pole. Why not tell him straight up, "Hey, I'm looking to work more. If you can't use me, make sure others know I'm available."
  14. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Sounds like you're getting carried away.
    Talk to him. If you have been away from the scene for a while
    that would be one reason he does not use you all the time.
    You have to work you're way back in sometimes.
    The comedy gig could be big.
    I did a comedy music gig years ago, the turnout was very good every night.
  15. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    I do not know the exact requirements of the gig, but comedy in general requires a deft touch.
  16. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    schenectady, ny
    +1 here, my thoughts also. It may be a 'B' gig in terms of pure chops, but comedy requires a whole other skill set.
    Honestly, a lot of jazz performers aren't very good entertainers, so you could also look at the offer as a compliment.
  17. interested in why you seem to think your old friend owes you something.
  18. clodhopper

    clodhopper Guest

    Jun 6, 2011
    I don't think he does owe me anything. I would just hope that given our long history together he would regard me as a worthy musical collaborator.

    But great advice from all and I'm really glad I posted this. I may even consider sacking my analyst. ;) Thanks to all for responding.
    From all your advice it sounds like I should just swallow my pride (so to speak), accept the gig and do the best possible job I can do. And hope that my performance is impressive enough that he will start considering me as an A list player, and worthy of booking for more gigs.
    Good motivation to practice harder anyway.
    Now I just need to regain my sense of humour!
  19. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    It is HIS gig... not yours. He as the right to book whoever he feels confident with. These guys have probably been cultivating a working relationship with him for years while you were working at your day job. Maybe the other guys have no other income so he gives them the good paying gigs while you get up early and go workin'.

    Take the gig if you want to play... if you want to pout, turn it down. I think there is a reason he asked you though, he probably does enjoy your presence. I would play it and enjoy it myself.
  20. 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
    As a professional musician and a jazz teacher, he certainly has relationships with many bass players. Is there a reason why you think you would be his favorite? Maybe the other guys are more familiar with his repertoire and he's more comfortable playing certain genres and venues with them.

    I'd say hang in there, play the gigs he gives you as best you can, and maybe you will work your way into his favored circle for other gigs. Complaining to him will probably put him off.

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