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Playing out again after time away from music...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Sundogue, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    About three years ago, I took time off from music (which was about two years after a similar, but longer hiatus). I didn't touch my bass at all, I didn't even listen to music much. Then about a year and a half ago I joined a band to play out once every couple of months...just for the fun of it. No pressure, no commitments in any way.

    Then the leader of the group decided to just put things on hold and basically take a long (permanent?) hiatus. That was fine with me as my wife and I had a baby (7 months old now) and I really didn't want to play much any more anyway.

    Shortly before Christmas a guy I knew called me as he needed a bass player. I told him I wasn't really interested at the moment, but things could change. Now, after Christmas, my wife and I were talking about our financial situation and neither of us want her to work outside the home (we have three other kids) as she works as a graphic designer from home.

    I thought I could just get a part time job somewhere, but there really isn't much money in part time jobs relative to the time one has to put in. Then I remembered that guy calling me. There really is no better (or better paying) part time job than playing in a band. My wife and I discussed it and we are all for me playing out again.

    But...On the one hand I've really been enjoying being at home at nights and the weekends with my family and don't really want to be playing out every weekend. This band I tried out for plays out about four to eight times a month. The money would be great as I'd be making anywhere from $100 to $300 a night and we could use the cash.

    A part of me wants to play out again. I love playing and this band is a great group of people to work with, and the money is fabulous for a part time cover band. I do need a part time job...so what kind of part time job is this good?

    The other part of me doesn't want to do it. After 25 years of playing out, I kind of like being home and not dealing with the hassle of playing out (rehearsals, hauling gear, the bar scene, late nights, missing time with my family, etc.). Another thing is the set list is very boring, old, worn-out covers that really don't thrill me much at all...and they play a lot of wedding gigs as well. Don't get me wrong, the crowds don't feel that way about the music and they always pack 'em in and it always makes for a very fun time.

    If I do it...it will be a very major commitment on my part (and in fairness to the band, I'd want to be that way about it). If I do it, I"d be doing it more as a musical mercenary. I'm kind of torn about this. I'll be 45 years old in a couple of weeks and I keep having giant swings of emotions about it...from being jazzed up about playing again, to depressed about dealing with all the crap associated with playing out.

    Any advice from any of you who may be going (or have gone) through something like this?

    I guess I just need some feedback from both perspectives.
  2. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Although I haven't had the "time off" experience, I have been in exactly the same position regarding working in a cover band with worn out tunes, playing bars and weddings, doing it just "for the money". Really, it does kind of suck quite a bit, but as you said where else can you get a decent (and in some cases, ahhh, "unreported") part time pay that could compete with gigging??

    You do have to keep in mind the rehearsals which cut into your personal time .... no pay for that. And I hated having to leave family functions early on a Saturday to go to work.

    I tired to circumvent this by playing as a for-hire freelance bassist. Sure, I got lots of calls, and I could turn down those gigs that interfered with any personal plans. But too many times I played with bad players in crappy places, and that got old really fast, as well.

    Then, I decided to primarily do only studio work, with a limited amount of bar/wedding gigs. Worked okay, but when you're recording on someone else's tunes you have to play what they want, even if it's just a super simple (and boring) quarter note walking line. Almost no creative playing going on in that field (for me).

    In my case I didn't desperately need the money to pay bills or feed my family (fortunately) so I could afford to be a little picky about the gigs I accepted. But the other side of me needs to play in a creative environment with good players, and in a public place where people can dance, listen, applaud, whatever ......

    I've just committed to a power fusion trio with two very good friends (and great musicians, too) .... they are working about 5-8 times a month for pretty decent money in nice clubs, and rehearsals are on an "as needed" basis since everyone is a pretty good sight reader (we can work out arrangements at the gig, easy with only three people). It's nice to be in a strong creative playing situation again with good friends ..... hopefully it lasts for a while ....... :cool:
  3. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Well, the entire set list doesn't blow...but even the "good" songs are ones I've played so often in the past that they are kind of a snoozer. ;)

    Also, I made up my mind that although the setlist is not my ideal choice of songs, I can easily go with the flow and find enjoyment, even in a three chord, three note country tune. Part of the reason for this is this band has quite the following (having been around for thirteen years) and no matter where they play, the house is packed and everyone is dancing and having a great time.

    Conversely, I've played in a band that played more technically difficult, inspiring, challenging and interesting music...and while the playing was more fun, the experience playing out with that band was not. The crowds just sat there and watched us play like they were watching TV. So, though the music was more appealling, it wasn't as much fun.

    If the people are more into it and having more fun, I feed off that more. So I can deal with the (less than ideal) song selections.

    Yes, rehearsal time isn't paid...and there will be quite a few more rehearsals up front than I would care to do. But like I told them, I don't get paid to play...I'd do that for free. I get paid to practice, travel, setup, teardown and haul heavy equipment. Playing music is just the side benefit. :D

    My biggest concern is whether or not I can deal with the heavy gigging. Granted it's nowhere near the amount I did when I did it full time (200+ a year way back when). But after years off, and then getting back into it and only playing a few times every couple of months I noticed that the day after a gig I was just shot. If we did have a back to back gig (like on a Friday/Saturday), I really didn't look forward to the gig the following day. I was more relieved when we played a gig and then wouldn't have one again for another month. I enjoyed playing...but then after it I was pretty glad to just go back to my family and not even think about music for awhile again.

    This will be different...almost more like back when I was a full time musician. Play back to back gigs (sometimes not at the same place)...then repeat it again the next week and so on.

    I'm gettin' older and I don't recover from gigs like I used to. No, I don't drink and I take care of myself, but gigs wear me out more now. But that's another issue. After years of staying up late and gigging, my life did a 180 and now I get up at 5:00AM everyday. It would almost be like working a swing shift playing in a band now.

    The guys are very nice, easy to get along with, and they are talented with extraordinary voices. I've known them all as musicians (and they knew me) in the area for the last 30 years...just never played with them. They sound good together, even if they do play kind of a stale set list. When I tried out with them it was fun (even the ones I thought would be a bore). I don't know if that was just because I hadn't played for a while or not.

    I just don't want to jump on this and find I can't hack the regular gigging anymore. That wouldn't be fair to them...especially since for the past year or so, they've had to play musical chairs with bass players coming and going.

    I don't desperately need the money. We pay our bills on time and have some leftover, but we aren't doing all that great either. But my wife and I do have a pretty tight budget and it would just be nice if we had some extra cash that we've been lacking over the past few years, so we can do some things as a family that we usually don't do because of a lack of money. That's what initially prompted all this. I could get a part time job...but no job compares to gigging be it for money or fun.

    One thing gigging has in it's favor in relation to my family life, is that for the most part, I'd be gigging when they're asleep, so I wouldn't really be missing out on much in that way.

  4. buzzbass

    buzzbass Shoo Shoo Retarded Flu !

    Apr 23, 2003
    Seacrest Out......................
  5. Larry99


    Aug 17, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I'm in a similar situation at the moment as I took about a 6 yr hiatus from playing because of kids, day job, family, etc. I've recently gotten back into it in a fun little rock trio with about 50% of our material what I'd consider stale. ...but I try to have fun with it, maybe get a little creative with some of the bass parts. You're right, the worst part is packing up after a gig at 2am, getting to bed at 3:30 - 4:00 but I'm still having a great time after about 6 months. For me it will be coming to an end as one guy is burned out and the other is moving. I just got a new bass and I plan to persue another project afterward because I'm enjoying playing again wayyyy too much.

    I asked the great Jimmy Haslip a similar question (he is a devoted family man) when I was returning to the scene and in a nutshell he said that music makes people happy and as such is good for the world. If your wife is agreeable and it makes you happy then it's even better. the supplement to your income is also plus.

    It sounds to me like you want to do it. I say if you can get paid to play music to a packed house most of the time, it's a no brainer. You could always feed your GAS and get some new gear, that always makes me want to play :hyper:

    good luck
  6. Kronde


    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    Sundogue, you provided sage advice to me in the past...I don't think I can match your eloquence but I have always lived by the following with respect to my family ...

    Happy parents make happy children.
    Happy husband makes happy wife.

    If playing makes you happy, and helps to remove financial stress it is probably worth losing a bit of sleep over. I know the 5:00 am (6:00 am for me) wake-up is painful, but I can usually snatch a power nap in the mid-afternoon for 20-30 minutes after a gig, which does wonders for me. The effectiveness of the power nap cannot be overstated. My brother in-law is a physician and bascially made it through his entire residency on power naps. He converted me. It also helps greatly if you have an understanding spouse, which it sounds like you do.
  7. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Thanks guys.

    Yes, there are more pros than cons. I've been a professional artist too, for almost 30 years (and I've had little sleep for long periods of time because of my 7 month old baby girl...bless her heart :D ) so I know all too well about power naps. ;)

    I am very lucky to have a very supportive and understanding wife. In fact I probably wouldn't even be considering playing again at all were it not for her. She's always been encouraging about it. And while I was debating it, she was the one who kept talking me into it.

    I do love playing music. I love playing it more when there is an enthusiastic crowd (which always seems to be the case with this band). The husband and wife that started this band (drummer and keyboardist respectively) have two boys the same age as mine...and the band does play a lot of outdoor festivals that they bring the kids to. So they are very understanding and sympathetic to family needs.

    Still...I do know that over the years my enthusiasm for playing out waned more and more. I still get pumped up before every gig (every bit as much as when I was in my twenties)...but the day after the gig is a major downer (both emotionally and physically). Part of the reason I took time away a few years back was joint problems. Too many gigs too close together caused me a great deal of pain in my hands and wrists. I still don't know why. But I have taken better care of myself since, and it doesn't seem to bother me anymore (at least with practicing)...but then again I'm not playing out so much...YET!!! :D

    Keep the reasons (for or against) coming. I need all the support I can get.

  8. fatsobasso


    Dec 24, 2005
    Ormond florida
    Try and get the guitarist and singer to do a small acoustic set(no bass)that was a real savior for me,when i played gigs.
  9. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Hey Sundogue, long time no see! For me, if I could make $1k a month playing music, I'd do it! That's enough incentive for me! I would, however, work on procuring a sub as you are a family man and will want to take time here and there to do family things! That's the only advice I'd give you! I love gigging, even though I don't dig half of the tunes, but I hate the packing up after! I then have to travel 40 miles home.
  10. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yeah DWBass, I haven't been active for a long time.

    It really is too good a situation to pass on. I wouldn't have to find a sub...they are using a sub right now to fill in until they get me worked in. The guy they are using now does not want to play out much at all and is really only doing them a favor as they are long time friends. They realize he isn't quite the right person to play bass for them...he's barely adequate, so they scale back their list somewhat.

    I just tried out for them on Tuesday. They've got a gig this Saturday, but it was too short notice for me. My first gig with them is on the 20th of this month. I've got about 80 songs to learn, but thankfully most are simple and I've either played a lot of them in the past, or they are just so well known that I really only need to know what key they play in.

    Still, I don't want to just wing it and jam. I'd rather have a few rehearsals with them under my belt first. They are one of the few bands I've seen that actually flow from one song to the next with very little pauses in between.

    I'm anxious to get going on it...but I still feel a bit apprehensive about the regular gigging. It has to be at least 10-15 years since I gigged that much. But I guess I won't know until I actually do it. Thank God I take care of myself and exercize. I'd hate to think how I'd feel if I took this on a few years back when I was basically a couch potato.

    I also work all day (10 hours) and would then have to drive a half hour home, eat quick and then another 45 minute drive to and from practice during the week. That doesn't thrill me either. Oh well, I'll have to see how this "plays out :bassist: ".
  11. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    The only problem with that is...they want me to do the acoustic guitar playing for that stuff. That's fine with me...but it won't give me a break. :)
  12. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    :D Buzz, I think you're a bit harsh with your crew, there are lots of situations way worse than yours ...... BTW, the D210XLT is kicking some major butt :bassist:

    @ Sundogue,

    Just gigged last night, got home at 2:00 am, up for work at 6:00 am, feel like I was pushed through a strainer and then stomped on by a high school marching band :(

    But the gig was GREAT, the band sounded incredible, people were really digging us, got some decent cash to take my wife out for a really nice dinner this weekend ..... so yeah, it's worth it ..... :cool:
  13. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    That's what I'm talking about... :crying:

    Now that's what I'm talkin' about! :hyper:

    I've made up my mind to do it. I really won't know for sure how I'll handle it, until I actually have to. We shall see.

    One thing in my favor is that I will never have a gig where I'd stay up late and have to go to work the next morning...but I do know from past experience that the day after a gig, it's not a lot of fun for my family to be around me.
  14. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I went out Saturday night to check out the band (who were playing out with their "fill-in" player).

    I felt sorry for the bass player. He was totally lost even though he's been practicing with them for a month now and has cheat sheets for every song. There were so many songs where the bass needed to be strong and the song suffered greatly without it (it was there, but weak and often in the wrong key), especially during guitar leads, as they are a four piece band with only one guitar player and the keyboardist doesn't play with a heavy left hand (thankfully...for me anyway).

    I didn't offer to fill in, nor did they ask me to, which is good because I don't like to jump onstage anymore without a few band rehearsals under me.

    I have about 1/3 of their material down now, even though I've only been practicing their set list for less than a week (and I have very limited time to do it). First gig with them will be on the 20th, so I have to get cracking on it. I certainly could do no worse than what they have now, but I'm pretty anal about songs being played perfectly (or as perfect as possible anyway).

    They sounded better than I remember. Even though a lot of songs leave a lot to be desired (as far as my interest), seeing them play them live, the songs don't sound half bad. The crowd sure gets into them. They'd play a song and I'd be thinking..."Oh, not that one!", and kind of cringe at the thought of having to play it. But then a bunch of young hotties would be out there dancing and I thought..."Well, at least playing some of these tunes would be entertaining for other reasons. ;)
  15. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    Where I'm from there's good market for guys that do one man shows. Since you can play guitar and were asked to an acoustic set going down this line could be a good option for you. The money to be made can be just as good as a share from playing in a band. You don't need to travel to practice you can do that when ever you want on your own time on your own terms. In my experience there's more venues to play in(alot of small pubs will take guys like this on which seem to be more common than bars that will take a full band).They would only have to €150 to €200 euros for their nights entertainment as opposed to maybe €300-€700 for a full band. The gear required from yourself is generally lighter although there's probably more of it. just a small PA a desk a monitor and an acoustic guitar and maybe something that can play a backing track. Set up time is absolutely nothing compared to playing with a big band. No need for lights, backdrops huge PA's huge amps ridiculous amonts of cabling etc. no need for sound checks venues are smaller so you dont have to eq the room or whatever.

    Although from a personal stand point it would probably be alot less fulfilling going through all those tired out songs on your own than with a band. But for the sake of convenience time thats required and the money I think that you should give this a consideration. On the other hand it really is hard to beat a wedding band for money.
  16. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Well, I'm no guitar player. I can play guitar...but in this band it would only be on a couple of tunes at most.

    I don't know enough songs to play a night on guitar...and singing is surely not something I am all that fond of. I'll sing some backup stuff, but lead singing? LOL.

    So if I did a solo gig with a guitar, I'd show up...play a half a dozen tunes, back-up myself on vocals and call it a night. :help:

    It isn't a big deal to setup the gear for the band as there are four of us and they don't have all that much. Still, at 2:30 AM (midnight for weddings) it will be a pain to tear it down and load it up.

    But the money is great. After all these years I still can't believe people pay us to play music. But then again, I've pointed out to people that I get paid to travel, setup, tear down, and haul equipment. Playing music is just a nice break in between and I'd do that for free!
  17. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    You certainly don't have to be a guitar player and nobody ever seems to be too confindent of their voice. If you do backing you need a fairly decent range and if you've got that and can hold a note (also handy for backing vocals) your half way their. I wouldn't rule it out straight away though. As for being a guitar player chances are for most songs you'll only need to know a few chords. Let the backing tracks do the work. I've seen guys do this in my town a few times. It must be the cushiest number in the world....well its the second cushiest....you could always get a lap top download a few thousand songs make a playlist plug into a pubs sound system press play talk some s*it everynow and then have a few beers and call yourself a DJ. :spit:

    But you seem set to do what ya gotta do for the sake of your family. At least tell the guys in the band that you'll do it for a couple of months and then see how you feel afterwards. If you don't think your up to the challenge then there'll be no hard feelings you can research a replacement for them maybe who could take over if you decide it's not for you.
  18. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yeah, I really don't know how it's going to feel gigging with regularity, even if it is just on the weekends, until I actually do it.

    There's no way I would ever walk out on them if it got to be too much. If, after a few months it is more than I can handle, I'll let them know and stick with them until a sutiable replacement is worked in completely. I'd never leave a band hanging...ever.

    But I think I'm ready for it. I haven't gigged steady in over ten years, but after hearing them play the other night and practicing their set list, I'm getting that feeling again where I know it's the right thing. It just feels right now, so I'm just going to go with the flow.

    It really helps that they are such great people to begin with.
  19. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    This thread reminds me that I need to get more gigs going! My wife changed jobs and is getting $50 less a week and my health insurance increased by $25! That $1000 a month looks real good right about now!!! :bawl:
  20. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Man, now that we have a new baby and I live in the arctic circle of northern Wisconsin (think fuel oil prices), extra $$$ is mighty motivating!

    I wouldn't even bother doing this were it not for the cash. There is no way I'd devote much time to a band, whether they gig frequently or not, if the pay sucked.

    But this is the goose that laid the golden egg. $100-$300 a gig, per person? I remember playing in bands where $300 was for the whole band!

    I have the opportunity to make in one month of playing, as much as one paycheck from my regular job. And that's for playing music!

    I just figured as long as I've got the gear, and the talent...why look elsewhere for part-time work?

    $$$ = :hyper: