Sidemen dilemma

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Doug R, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Doug R

    Doug R

    Jan 27, 2011
    Spokane, WA USA
    So frustrating.

    We’ve had a nice, comfy little oldies trio for about 4-years – guitar, bass & drums & all three sing – but our guitar player had to move away to another state. The drummer & I would like to salvage the band but can’t seem to find a replacement guitarist/singer. We have the PA, lights, do the website, own the band name domain and get most of the bookings. Now we’re starting to turn down job offers, and I fear they will dry-up quickly if we keep being “unavailable”.

    Seems like having a ready-made instant back-up band available would be a good thing for any competent player/singer. We’re older, mature, experienced and pretty much managed things to make it easy for the other guy to just show-up and play. Just add bass & drums and… instant trio. We get fun gigs that pay well too.

    Now we’re getting replies from our ads from karaoke singers and a couple acoustic player/singers, but nobody who is able to play guitar & sing in a trio situation. We are both eying ads for bass players & drummers too, but would prefer to keep it together somehow. It’s not that easy to find a drummer who doesn’t suck or play too loud who is a nice guy, has his act together, plays on good equipment (with cases!) and sings too.

    Jeez, I hate starting over. We had nearly 100 songs arranged that were getting pretty tight after several years of gigging. Our Craigslist ads so far haven’t located any competent players. It happens again & again to bass players & drummers, as they are usually considered the “sidemen” no matter how professional - and may be solid basis of a band.

    How do the sidemen recruit a new front man? Time to bury this baby and fend for ourselves? We’d welcome any suggestions.
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    This is a pretty common occurrence in jazz groups. I play with a trio that has had a succession of singers. Typically each singer brings their own repertoire, and also picks up some of the band's repertoire. The drummer is the bandleader.
  3. Wow, yeah that's a bummer.

    Maybe be more open minded - for example, add a sax player instead of a guitarist and come out new for 2014.

    Anyway, good luck and best wishes.
  4. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Can you and the drummer take over leads if you find a good guitarist who isn't a great singer? Or is the pie big enough to cut four ways (singer + guitarist instead of singer/guitarist)?
  5. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    If you and drummer can sing, then the guitarist doesn't *really* have to sing too. Just bring in a guitarist.
  6. NeverIsNow


    Jun 25, 2013

    Then again, if you have someone who's solely a singer, he might not let the rest of the band have any vocal input.
  7. I would hang in there, your selling points are way far above the usual "singer guitarist wtd" advert. Go out to some open mics and someone with the chops you need will snaffle you up on your terms.
  8. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Personally, I wouldn't turn down the job offers. I'd book the gigs because it is much easier to attract competent players, even if it's just a fill-in for that gig. With no gigs, it's hard to get a good player to come out, let alone commit to a project. But, once there are gigs, the good players come out of the woodwork and all of a sudden 'too busy' and 'not interested' becomes 'available' and 'willing'. And even if someone you targeted isn't available, they will more likely refer you to someone if there's a paid gig available.

    It also helps to make it as easy as possible for someone to jump in on short notice. Charts and recordings for the songs should be readily available for a fill-in. Flexibility in the material, arrangements, and key also help. You may need to add or remove songs for a new vocalist, switch a key to fit their range, etc.
  9. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    I don't understand why you're so adamant about keeping your trio. It's going to be a lot easier to get a good guitarist and a good singer. If it were me I'd be looking for a female front. Since you already have some male vocals, this will make you much more versatile, allow you to salvage your band, and end your frustration. Good luck!
  10. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are.

    Are you and the drummer lead singers?
    How was your song list divided as to how many songs did each player sing lead on?

    If you're looking for a lead vocalist/lead guitar player to exactly fit in with your group, it may be a long time to exactly fill that roll, especially someone who's in it for the long run.

    +1 to finding alternative players (keyboards, sax, female vocalist, guitar only, etc.) to keep the gigs going.

    Good luck.
  11. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Shocking! Why not check out some other bands in your area and ask players that you like. If they aren't interested perhaps they know someone who is.
  12. Doug R

    Doug R

    Jan 27, 2011
    Spokane, WA USA
    Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement guys. Still lookin'.

    To answer a couple of your questions:

    We each sing about a dozen - mostly oldies - and really aren't "frontman" caliber on vocals - more like comic relief for the main singer - but we do a lot of backups & harmony. We really do need a good singer and good guitar.

    Yes, we may have to go to 4 people, but we play some fairly small places where more stuff on stage and more people to pay can be a problem. I also really like having a small trio as a bass player (more room & freedom) and the relative ease of fewer people to deal with. Easier logistics all around.

    As for changing musical directions, our little niche has been 50s oldies & rockabilly, and that's the kind of jobs we get. If we go with a different style of player, we won't fit as well into those oldies gigs, car club events, etc. that we get. We'll have to find new places to play. Besides, we just really like old time rock & roll!

    Gonna have some players over to meet & jam, and hit a couple Sunday night jam sessions out on the town.

    Starting over gets really old at my age - I've never had a band last more than 10-years in the nearly 50-years I've been a bass player. Give me some stable, settled guys over a hot-shot player anytime. The band will get good & tight if you can keep it together for a while without somebody flaking out on the group.
  13. duff beer

    duff beer

    Dec 2, 2007
    You're looking for a front man who can do all the guitar, most of the vocals, and who also likes older 50's rock.

    That eliminates at least 95% of the people out there. Good luck in your search.
  14. Space Pickle

    Space Pickle

    Apr 15, 2013

    Book the gigs, *then* worry about how you're going to do them.
  15. Yo Doug,

    Bands are living things, none last forever. Smooth times and volatile periods. Change is the only constant. Finding a good people to play with may not be fun but as the bassist and thus the most mature person in your group the responsibility of finding personnel falls solely on you!

    I would try asking other musicians for ideas. As a bandleader myself I am always in semi-search mode for players even when I don't need any right then, asking other musicians I trust for info.

    If you must use want ads make them clear and specific about what you're looking for and what you have to will still have to wade through a musical mental ward of emails/calls to perhaps find one decent prospect....could be fun though!

    Also now that you are [DEL]maturing[/DEL] aging you might want to consider a pianist/vocalist...Billy Joel...Tony Bennett?

  16. Have you tried something besides Craigslist? Try local music stores, jams, other musicians you know, local college music departments, etc. What you're looking for may show up in the strangest place...local VFW or Moose Lodge.