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Outdoor cold weather gig

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Kronde, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. Kronde


    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    I am playing an outdoor gig tonight for a country club oyster roast. We just got a nice gift from the northeast/canada in the form of a cold front...we are slated to play outside on a covered (thankfully) patio. Temps are expectected to be in the mid to low 40's during the second set, which is kinda cool for a southerner...this kinda seems foolish to be playing this show outside, but that is what the contract specifies...

    Assuming I have to gut it out does anyone have any advice for playing under these circumstances?
  2. 1. It's obvious, but dress warm, especially while you're setting up. There's nothing worse than hitting the stage freezing before you even start playing.

    2. Stand next to the lighting rig.

    3. Have a *hot* beverage on hand to warm yourself and your hands up between songs if required. As horrible as it is, a cold beer will make things worse.

    4. Simplify your playing if it gets really bad, just chunk it out and keep things solid. You'll be thankful you're not a guitarist once the hands go numb.
  3. Kronde


    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    many thanks, I plan to dress warmly - I like, and will use, the hot beverage idea. I think I will just hit the starbucks after we setup and pour it in a thermos...hopefully they have some of those outdoor heaters setup... one can only hope.

    This may be the only time I am jealous of the drummer!
  4. peabody

    peabody Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2002
    La Crosse, WI
    I once did an outdoor gig in Wisconsin in early October...temps were in the lower 40's to high 30's (I even saw a few snow flurries). The best obvious advice is to dress warm, but you don't need to overdo it....just a turtleneck and a sweatshirt worked for me, but then again, I'm a very active player. I'm not sure what your lighting set up will be like (we played an evening gig), but I did find that stage temperature was very bearable with the lights on. The biggest issue we had was keeping the guitars in tune...and keeping the crowd warm. There's nothing like finishing a tune and hearing the sound of mittens clapping together!! Enjoy (and stay warm)!!
  5. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    Hey Homeboy :hyper: ! Fellow Charlotte Resident here! Who are you playing with?

    I've played a couple FYAO (freeze yo A$$ off) gigs over the last 4 weeks. I put on a funny looking knit cap on. Even if you have a dress code for the band it's so cold nobody cares if you have a hat on. You can also cut the fingers out of a set of gloves if it gets real bad.
  6. Kronde


    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    I am playing with Bill Noonan Band aka "The Country and Western Bill Show" with a couple of the old "Rank Outsiders" one member from "Federal Bureau of Rock and Roll" and little 'ole me. We will be doing about 50% originals and a range of covers from motown, '70s country to the rolling stones. These country club gigs usually start off stiff and loosen up later on (read after much consumption by the crowd). All it usually takes to get em going is a little motown real early in the second set and they are putty in your hands for the rest of the night ;) Maybe we need to get them to do mass stretching exercises (ala Richard Simmons) so no-one pulls a muscle...
  7. Kronde


    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    yo jimbob...forgot to ask about your gig... We must have run into one another as some point...
  8. Akami

    Akami Four on the floor

    Mar 6, 2005
    Having played outside on many occasions I can definitely testify to the fact that your hands getting cold will be one of the worst things you have to deal with.

    The worst one for me was being set up in an open front tent on a frozen lake.
    They put propane heaters in back of us and we had on all our winter gear, but the bonfire was too far away and it was down around -10 below. :(
    They kept bringing drinks to keep us warmed up, which just got us drunk, and it's the only time I ever passed out onstage!
    I was still playing right up until I slipped over backwards and I heard one of my buddies anouncing over the mic that we were done for the night as they carried me off! :rollno:

    Fingerless gloves will help some but playing bass it's possible to go with a light set of stretch glove liners. :)
  9. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    PMed you.
  10. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    You shouldn't be. I spent a year as a percussion major way back when. Trust me, you don't want to change places. Numb, frozen hands do not take kindly to the shock transmitted back through your sticks. The colder it gets, the more it hurts. Played (read: survived) in the marching band through a couple parades in the middle of winter. What moron plans a parade in any season other than the summer/spring!?!
  11. svenbass

    svenbass Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2002
    I did a St. Patty's day gig in Boston - 36deg. The key to my success was actually wearing a pair of surplus army gloves I keep in my glovebox for emergencies. It was very wierd to use full fingered gloves, I made a few clinkers at first, but by the end of the set I could actually play. I may have kept a pick handy for faster stuff (I'm strictly a fingerstyle player) but can't remember -it was back in '96 or '97. I did it later that spring on upright, which was a little easier beacuse the scale was more accommodating.

    A funny sidenote - A soundguy we had befrended on St Patty's day handed me a coffee to help keep warm - I figured it had a little booze in it and thanked him. Of course it cooled off quickly so I chugged it within the first three tunes. All of a sudden I was quite warm and a bit too fuzzy. He had intended it to be shared with the rest of the band - there were six shots of good bourbon in there. Needless to say I, wasn't the slightest bit chilly!
  12. jbahleda


    Feb 22, 2004
    if you can, avoid hollow bodied instruments, staying in tune can be hell.

    I tried playing upright at an outdoor halloween festival in Athens Ohio the other week and it was the worst intonation I have ever gotten.
  13. My 'instrument' shrinks when it gets cold.


    If it gets cold, the most important thing to do is try to keep your hands warm. If they start to freeze, your playing will go down the drain. You can bring ten sweaters, four pairs of pants and earmuffs all you want, but those parts of your body can take care of themselves (provided you're not playing in alaska).
  14. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    A flask of Southern Comfort or Blackberry Brandy :hyper: Just don't overdo it and get sloppy. ;)
  15. Kronde


    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    Well I wish I would have had the benefit of all of the posts before playing the show. I really didn't have any tuning issues to speak of however my hands were so cold that they hurt by the end of the second set. A few cocktails may have temporarily helped but we were prohibited from drinking by contract (maybe this is actually a good thing that we will do more of?). As all who have played similar country club gigs will know, musicians are treated like "the help". We had no heaters near us, just a 55 gallon drum with a wood fire off to stage right to huddle around during the break. Anyways, I didn't have a problem keeping my body, head or feet warm...it was my hands. Most notably, when I picked my bass up for the second set the strings were like ice cubes...soon my fingers and hands were too. Between every song I put my hands in my trouser pockets (the warmest part of my body) to try to get some feeling other than pain back in them. Next time I will certainly wear a pair of thin gloves and if I have issues I will just cut select fingertips off of the gloves.

    Live and learn I guess. No preparation like experience.
  16. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    Dude...I hate it for ya!
    Welcome back to the Sunny South
  17. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    - Wear something with pockets, and keep hand warmers in there. Between songs, throw your hands in there to warm em up. If it works for NFL QBs.....

    - Use a pick. For some reason the cold doesn't affect my wrist movement as much my finger movement.

    - During set breaks, wrap a scarf around your bass neck. It will help keep the strings warmer.

    - Simplify your lines, but don't let your fingers cool off too much. When they stop moving, it's hard to get them started again.

    - Drinking only gives you the illusion of warming up. It hampers your ability to regulate body temperature. Bon Scott died of Hypothermia, which was abetting by his excessive drinking.

    - I find that gloves (with or without fingers cut off) hamper my playing as much as playing with cold fingers. Plus, mittens warm up the hands much better than gloves do.
  18. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    This bears repeating. Alcohol dilates blood vessels, causing a short term illusion of warmth that masks accelerated loss of body heat.