Sit in with a band on a cruise ship?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by rockdoc11, Oct 3, 2018.


  1. rockdoc11

    rockdoc11

    Sep 2, 2000
    Just curious . . . I've been on a couple of ocean cruises and listened to bands playing in lounges where I knew most of the tunes. having been away from my bass for several days, it might have been fun to sit in, but I've never asked.

    In "real life" I'd never make such a request, and would only get on stage if invited by someone I know in the band who knows me. But on a cruise, things are different (or are they?).

    I'm curious: any of you have any experience on thoughts of asking to sit in with a band on a cruise ship?

    And I'm NOT talking about the ship's orchestra. Those guys are a different story altogether.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
     
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  2. QweziRider

    QweziRider Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    Nope. Not different at all. It's their gig.
     
  3. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    I would expect that any such request would be neither honored or appreciated.
     
  4. You could ask them if they ever have an open mic. I think the answer will be no but at least you wouldn't embarrass yourself so much. Or maybe it is that different on a cruise.
     
  5. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Those bands are there working. If you get to know them on the cruise and THEY invite you up, no problem. You should not ask to sit in.
     
  6. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015


    Please stop and think about what you are asking and how it would look, especially to the person you are looking to replace?

    Where did you ever get this idea that it would be okay?
     
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  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    These guys are working their butts off for not enough pay. They have no idea who you are. How do you feel in the middle of your third set if some total stranger comes up and asks?
     
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  8. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Kentucky
    My 3 decades of experience have proven those who ask to sit in typically have no business doing so. Those musicians who come to your show and don't ask are the ones who show the highest respect.

    Not saying the OP wouldn’t do a fine job, just my experience.
     
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  9. QweziRider

    QweziRider Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    Just spoke with a friend and fellow bassist who does this for a living on ships. He's clearly nicer than I would be in his shoes (hell, he's nicer than I am all around).

    "Essentially, if we trust the guest we are ok with it as long as the band leader is ok with it"


    So my guess is it's a mixed bag just as on land. But being on the sea doesn't mean "things are different."
     
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  10. Being at sea as a guest on a cruise ship does appear to be on the far side of surreal though.
     
  11. sm49341

    sm49341

    May 12, 2013
    Michigan
    No on the sit in. I wouldn’t. But i did do this last May on a cruise. There were two hand sanitzer guys at the entry to the daytime cafeteria. “Washy washy” was a little tune theyd sing, and one guy had a pretty cheap poorly tuned acoustic and knew maybe three chords and had little rythm. The other guy was actually a decent singer. He also turned out to be our table waiter at dinner, he sang some then and we had a few laughs. I joked with them every day walking into the cafeteria. One day i couldnt stand how out of tune the guitar was, so i ask the guy if i could tune it with PitchLab on my phone. He asked if i played, i said sure, some. The singer wanted to do Elvis, so we did I cant help falling in Love, right there in the cafeteria. I got a hoot out of that, and so did they. So actually i DID play on the boat, but not in a performance setting.
     
  12. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I was on the Blue Note at Sea Jazz Cruise within the last year and a half. I did ask the assistant cruise director whether there was a jam session, and he said "no". I asked him why (politely). He was one of these young bucks who get a kick out of telling you "no" using sort of arrogant language. Part of his answer was "there was no room in the schedule for it". I didn't say anything, but I thought "this is JAZZ -- jam sessions and sitting in part of the culture of jazz". And walked away silently "shaking my head". Later I heard their late night band performed jazz and allowed people to sit in -- and at one point, it was with Marcus Miller on piano as a guest jammer with their late night band! But no where was it announced.

    So, it happens; I'd be careful how I asked it -- you never know what opportunities lurk for those who ask. I'd ask something like -- "I've never been on a cruise before so I thought I'd ask -- do you guys ever let people sit in, particularly at late night performances? Just trying to understand the protocol...." Give them the option of telling you what standard practice is.

    I will say this, at almost $4000 to go on the cruise, I had a feeling they wanted everyone to be happy.

    I took my bass on the cruise, and decided I'd just keep my ears open or ask the cruise director, not approach the musicians. Not exactly sure how celebrities view us common people, so I was going to simply play it cautiously.
     
  13. that's the bit about it that makes me think you can get away with asking the wrong question the right way. Maybe get a shot at stardom, maybe get told no.
     
  14. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    That's why I went to the cruise director. In asking him the question, I learned there that the cruise director -- a person who has a direct responsibility for the customer experience -- didn't think it was important to have a jam session, even when asked for one. That told me not to ask any of the bands playing at late night times if I could sit in.

    Having a shot a stardom? That was never on my mind. And to me, a shot at stardom is a shot at being called to be part of a celebrity musician's band. That was never my motive, and I know that there isn't a snowball's chance in florida that I'd ever be asked even if there WAS such a shot.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2018
  15. Just a turn of phrase, no sleight intended.
     
  16. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    You will likely never get to know them unless you meet them on land at a port of call. They have very strict rules regarding passenger interaction. That's the reason I turned dow quite a few fill in gigs with cruise bands.

    ....that and they always told me their movements were restricted to awful parts of the ship, including "shoebox-sized" rooms.

    No thanks. I'm both sociable and claustrophobic.
     
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  17. john_g

    john_g Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    Ive been on a bunch of cruises and even looked into what it takes to be a player on a ship back in my younger days. I would say, unless you know the BL or bass player and their setlist really well, I wouldnt bother as you will be told no. Its not a typical local bar gig. Depending on the band and situation (rock bands, orchestra, duos/trios, etc) they generally have to be very qualified (sight reading, auditions, etc) so it is a job. I know I wouldnt allow anyone to sit in for a competitive job I was working.
     
  18. GBBSbassist

    GBBSbassist I actually play more guitar... Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2010
    Chicago
    A cruise isn't an open mic night. Those guys are there working for a paycheck. I don't think they'd take too kindly to you asking if you can do their job for them.

    While we're on the subject of "sitting in", in my opinion (so take that for what you will), it's something that should only ever be suggested by the band requiring the sit-in.
     
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  19. mojomike001

    mojomike001 Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2013
    South Florida
    It is rude and inconsiderate to put the bandleader in the uncomfortable situation of having to diplomatically turn you down or grudging allow you to play. This applies to shows on land as well. If it’s not a jam, don’t ask to jam. If the band knows you and asks you to play without you soliticiting, that’s ok. If you play, be alert to the subtle hints when it’s time to get off the stage. Never overstay your welcome.
     
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  20. Steadfast

    Steadfast

    Sep 28, 2015
    Search Me
    I played for 4 years on cruise ships.
    Normally no.

    Some cruises have talent shows. Do it then. Or, start a conversation with the band when they are on break. Let them know you are a musician. If the conversation develops they may invite you to play. If not don't ask. It often is problematic for the band. Especially if a passenger complains.
     
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