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Sacked the lead guitarist 2 days before a gig ...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by GManfromOz, Mar 31, 2017.

  1. GManfromOz


    Jul 27, 2016
    After much bitching and moaning both here at TB and in everyday conversation our band leader finally sacked our lead guitarist. Apart from his many and various crimes against melody, rhythm and structure what brought him down was his attitude and lack of commitment to the group. Anyway, that's old news.

    Wednesday; the ax fell, long enough after morning coffee for the taste to have left his tongue but a long wait until the sticky sweet pleasures of a lunch time pad thai. This is the cruelest hour. It had to be done quickly after "the incident", so we couldn't wait until after the Friday gig. It was brutal, almost Stalinist, but without the queues for bread and toilet paper.

    I tried to activate my network to get a replacement lead guitarist, no luck. The band leader, a man of seemingly unlimited contacts in all sorts of spheres, and not adverse to dropping great bundles of cash on his hobbies, says he had "the guy" ... and potentially a long term replacement. Great! So I send "the guy" a set list with annotations and keys. No response. "It's cool" says the band leader, "he'll be fine". I sense a fuster-cluck coming up, we all do.

    So it's 7:30pm before the 8:30pm kick-off. We meet "the guy" and go through the setlist, and hammer him with the variations to the standard bar hits we play, who starts, where we stop. In 10 mins he's had a tropical deluge of information and admits that there are a few songs that he's never played ... Oh. I'm now very nervous in spite of "the guy's" relaxed attitude. As we get on the stage he says, "just make sure I can see your hands". (That my hands are shaking so much they are not actually visible is another matter.)

    From the first chord of set 1, song 1 (Alright Now) it was clear that there wasn't going to be a problem. It turns out that the band leader had found a professional session guitarist who had recorded and toured with some of this country's biggest acts and, it will be alleged, jammed with Joe Walsh. By the end of set 1 audience members were doing the "I am not worthy" bow at stage front - God's truth. I sent emails to my other band buddies in the break telling them to get down to the club and check this out.

    Right through the evening "the guy" lifted every song, powered up with eye watering leads and sat back with gentle, graceful fills and licks where required. The two songs he didn't know at all ... within a few bars of working within the key during the drum intro he had the signature just right, he kept his eye on my fretboard, worked out what was needed, what the progression was ... and then played it in a way you'd think he'd been working on for years. By the beginning of the 3rd set I said, "go nuts man, do whatever you like". He did. How much the BL dropped on this guy I don't know but it was worth every cent.

    Afterwards "the guy" packed up his gear, helped with some other logistics, then bid us all farewell. It was as if we were visited by the Easter Santa Bunny, or Superman, I can't decide. I said to one of my band mates afterwards in the parking lot that what I saw was the difference between a musician and someone who just knows how to play a bunch of songs (ie. me). He agreed and we discussed music tutors and actually learning scales. I so want to be Superman.

    Happy days ... but we still need a lead guitarist - can anybody help?
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
  2. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Wow, that was cool :cool:

    Not the direction i expected, either. You're likely a pretty good bass player, but definitely a great writer ... i especially liked the 'queues for bread and toilet paper' part!

    He inspired you :thumbsup:
  3. Stumbo

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

    Feb 11, 2008
    Cali Intergalactic Mind Space - always on the edge
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Yeah, going beyond learning a bunch of songs is the way to go. A much bigger but very worthwhile journey.:thumbsup:
    nixdad, bassbully and SlyFoxtrot like this.
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Great story. I love those last.minute thrown together magical nights. Your adrenaline is up but after a while you're just having a blast. I guess that's why I actually love fill in gigs myself.

    Great writing style @GManfromOz . Every bit as entertaining as the story itself.
  5. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    schenectady, ny
    mmm, pad thai
  6. I can relate to it all. Fantastically written. This should be in Rolling Stone magazine.
    vulturedog, mngnt, bassbully and 4 others like this.
  7. Aye this writing is hilarious. Good work man, I just had a crap evening but you made it better. Become that guy, it's definitely possible!
  8. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    How do you become that guy?
  9. GManfromOz


    Jul 27, 2016
    Thanks for the compliment, that's very kind.

    Be that man, that's my goal. I took up bass three years ago and I'm solidly OKish but the more I play/practice the better I get. I wish somebody had drummed that obvious truth into me 40 years ago.

    Thanks for the compliments TBrs. Today was a good day.
  10. GManfromOz


    Jul 27, 2016
    How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
    hrodbert696, Duder, bobba66 and 3 others like this.
  11. I've no opinion on the topic. I just wanted to say this paragraph rivals some of the best literature I've read in a long time.
    jeffbrown, Spidey2112, Duder and 7 others like this.
  12. Alivefor5

    Alivefor5 Supporting Member

    Jul 17, 2006
    Nice. I know a guy who writes a few lines about every gig he's played in 40 years. Who was in the band, the place, the crowd, etc.
    The above story should be the opening to your book. Keep it going.
    LiquidMidnight, pcake and GManfromOz like this.
  13. cableguy

    cableguy Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    That time is passed for me, but I'll just be happy playing music and having fun.......
    RyanJD likes this.
  14. Well written OP..... i even read it out to the wife and kids to some audible laughs.

    Practice, Practice, Practice....
    Some of us, like me, will never become that guy no matter how hard we work. I wish I'd taken up bass at 15 instead of 45.... but I'd probably have been half arsed just like i was with guitar for 30 years.

    The last 3 years or so I've practiced bass so much and still do so every day.....playing songs, improvising to chord progression backing tracks and noodling around. I'm now decidedly OK and wouldn't be too nervous playing with just about anybody. ..... but I'll never be that guy. Some people just have that feel and ear.
    RyanJD, PauFerro, Krebsy and 2 others like this.
  15. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    I am not sure practice will ever help. There's one thing you can't practice at home or rehearsal space: gigs!

    Having gig experience is the only thing that will get you up to snuff. Having ears, listening to live to others while playing. It's much easier to have a last minute sub as a guitarist, than the other way around, say having a sub bassist "look at your fingers and hands" for those songs he doesn't know. Bassists usually have to rely on getting the right note on ONE, but the guitarist can very well, hang on to at least the upbeat (TWO) to play the right chords, after watching the bassist provided he plays roots all of the time. The guitarist have more leeway in terms of waiting, syncopating, or not having to play on the downbeat each time. I usually have learnt those single hit songs, by the time it repeats second time around, and if it's a song I "vaugely know" from memory I can usually pull off the bridge or middle eigth too.

    And that guitarist you couldn't hire for keeps?

    EDIT: BTW you've been totally spoiled now, thinking that you'll find another guitarist like him. Like, that yardstick print he made upon you will be the yardstick for the next guy, of course, which can be a tricky thing to come by.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
  16. GManfromOz


    Jul 27, 2016
    We'll observed honch. I had a pro bass player fill in for me a couple of times and the drummer said he'd never let it happen again.
    Honch likes this.
  17. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    The drummer and bassist have to gel, it's easier all around to "save trainwrecks" if they should occur live. The gtrd can just stop playing without crashing the whole song. It's not THAT important really. The momentum of any song is kept by the rhythm units, bass and drums, and they must know each other. They can - really - care a little bit less about the gtrd. It may sound a crass and cynical view, but so it is.
  18. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    First that, and then this:

    What happened? Did he turn down the offer or what?
    RyanJD and btmpancake like this.
  19. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    It's the totally opposite my on stage "frights". There can be thousands in the audience, but the only instance I becomes very nervous, and feel very at unease, is only when other musicians feels that way, or their insecurity or nervousness comes forth PRIOR to any note. With some people, it has mostly to do that they went away just minutes before the gig into the toilets, and came out without flushing anything... They have glazed stary eyes, and it all goes haywire usually...

    I mean that OTHERs have to start off in the first place, with showing great deal of insecurity and lack of confidence, before I turn nervous too. I am definitely not ever one to start that. It's contaminating like you get when someone else is yawning, you start yawning too. I would be more concerned if that guitarist showed insecurity and nervousness, or had to smoke a lot of weed, or drink alcohol or snort before going on stage. Only then my alarm bells would go off...

    It's the same with me and on stage antics. I can't do that while playing, because after a while, my hands starts to shake from the adrenalin, and I start to play "nervous" or do quite a few clunkers. So it's good as a bassist, you can sort of stay in the background, groove and move a long a bit, but stay calm. I would never ever get anywhere if I tried some Flea antics. I would turn nervous for absolutely no reason at all. BUT! I know this, so that's why I stay cool...if there's a sub somewhere, I'll be the one that cues him/her and show them my fretboard hands. I tend to be the one in every band, that doesn't forget to cue the "new" people when needed. Others are too preoccupied with their own performance/egos so if they cue the sub people they often forgets to.
  20. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    As a cover top 40 or classic band, that are exposed to a lot of sitting in, or sub musicians, it's best to record just a "one mic" only in you rehearsal space, all of the reportoire and put it up on dropbox or something, make MP3 files for it and send the WHOLE LIST AND GIG to whoever is subbing, then he/she can concentrate on just those songs he doesn't know. Today, it's easy peasy sending links, chords, lyrics, arrangements, and if you have any variations from the original. You hear COUNTINS too (it's important to not let them be edited out) and endings well.

    And whenever on a gig: During soundcheck, JUST play those 2-3 songs that the sub doesn't know or have played before. Believe me, this saves a lot of time.

    If possible with a cell phone and headphones, if it's a know tune, hook him up on the rest of the unkowns to iTunes or Spotify, provided that your versions not deviate too much from the original. Or to Dropbox really to your own recorded versions, and let him listen a bit. A real pro should be able to "get" the form, chord progressions, and be able to transpose to whatever key your band plays it in. Mostly you can go through them halfway and then continue to the next song. They're just repeating verses/choruses but you must have the ending nailed down.

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