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Sitting In - Your Band's Policy

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jaywa, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    So I'm in a "variety" cover band that's about three years into its run and picking up some good momentum and has a good following. The market we play in is pretty small and a lot of musicians in various bands know each other and check out each others' shows.

    This past weekend we allowed a couple of guys from other bands to sit-in with us on a song or two. This turned out to be a very bad decision as the "guest guitarist" was ridiculously drunk, started the song in the wrong key and butchered the lead so bad that our drummer ended the song prematurely on purpose to get him off the stage. This happened at the top of the set and the whole rest of the set was a disaster even after we got the guy off stage. The guest drummer didn't do quite as bad but was also very drunk and made us sound like a very mediocre band on a couple of songs we usually play very well.

    My band has agreed we need to adopt a "policy" on sit-ins but we are debating how hard of a line to take.

    Option 1 - "Nobody sits in, ever."

    Option 2 - "If we know you, you're good enough and you're not too drunk to play you can have a song or two."

    Normally I would think Option 1 would be a no-brainer and that is my personal preference, but I think one or two of the other guys in the band are leaning toward the more lenient policy cause they sit-in themselves with other bands and feel we should not be above reciprocating. It's kind of important in this market to keep good relations with other bands in terms of referrals, etc. Also for example my drummer sometimes likes to let another guy sit-in so he can go out and hear how his kit sounds (since we don't have a soundman, we mix from the stage).

  2. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    One band I play in it's option #1.

    The other bands it's option #2

    It's a judgement call.
    Some people a pushy, they come out have a few drinks, and want to sit in.
    It not an obligation. (get your own band)
  3. pbagley


    Jun 2, 2008
    Ham Lake, MN
    The band I'm in pretty much lets anyone come up and sing. We've rarrely had anyone sit in on an instrument - last time was when our old drummer sat in for a song and that was last year.

    We always make a big deal out of the "guest". Announce their name like they are a real start for our show, play it up big. Some fall right on their little faces, sounding like cat in heat combined with a hound after a fox. That bad. some are worse.

    Once in a while one of our guest vocalists will sound pretty darned great.

    In every case we thank them and send them back to their friends as a rock star when the song is done. People seem to like it, it breaks up the night, and we get to all learn new songs... That's how I first played White Rabit.

    Then again, we're a hack cover band. We never have a set list and we run pretty loose and free. It may not work for everyone.
  4. rockinrayduke

    rockinrayduke Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2007
    Henderson, NV
    We use options 1 & 2 depending on how we feel and the situation.
  5. Don't call us, we'll call you.
  6. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    WE, are paid to play and entertain. It is very rare for us to let someone sit in on anything in a gig.
    There is a Thursday get together here locally. One of my guitarist is a host. Anyone can sit in then. We encourage them to do their thing then.
  7. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    And for me, the reciprocity thing doesn't really hold water because I don't go to other bands' gigs and ask or expect to sit-in with them. It's their gig so why should I do something that will probably put neither them nor me in the best light?
  8. Jaywa-
    Option #3- If we want you to sit in, we'll let you know.
  9. Lazylion

    Lazylion Goin ahead on wit my bad self!

    Jan 25, 2006
    Frederick MD USA
    We had a drunk guy in the crowd late Saturday night hollering for David Allan Coe. Our girl singer responded, "Edgar Allan Poe? Isn't he a poet, or something?" She's so cute! Once she finally got the name straight, the guy hollers out "Ya want me to sing it?" I'm thinking no no no, we want you to sing Bohemian Rhapsody, pal, how bout it? Of course, he wanted to sing the only Coe song anybody ever wants to do, the dreaded "Perfect Country Song", also known as "Darlin'" or "You Never Call Me By My Name". :rolleyes: There are a few Coe songs that are actually good, why does no one ever want to do those??

    So our singer invites him up! The drunken fool gets onstage, we start playing, and surprise, he doesn't know a word of the verses. He can't start the song! Our girl singer is looking around to find one of us that knows the first words, because of course, she doesn't know them either. I'm huddled in the corner, not meeting anyone's eye, because I've been playing country since the late 70s, sung the song a thousand times, and played it with others singing a thousand more. I'm hoping the moron will give up and go back to his beer. But no, we keep vamping, he keeps floundering, and finally I holler out "It was all that I could do to keep from crying", hoping that would be the kick-start, and we could just get it over with.

    But no! He sings that one line, and then he's stuck again. :rolleyes: We stumble our way to the chorus and, amazingly, he knows that! We do it, end the trainwreck, and the idiot staggers back to his seat.

    I'm just not drinking enough these days. :scowl:

    The night ends, and it seems our singer is pissed at me because I wasn't more forthcoming with help for the knucklehead. I tried to explain that I've lived that scene, with that exact song, a million times before, and she says "so have I". I don't think so, honey, you were 10 years old when I started playing these country places. I've got a few repetitions on ya!

    I hear they booked us for a bunch more dates. That's great!.. right?

    Beats unemployment!
  10. I would recommend this third policy as your main option.

    Someone sits in as a guest only if it has been prearranged with the band, and possibly including a rehearsal with said guest.
  11. watspan


    Nov 25, 2002
    madison, wi
    we have invited guest members to sit in but have refused the occasional drunk who wants to sing--with the exception of Mustang Sally for one of the last songs of the night we'll let hot chicks sing "ride sally ride"
  12. Joel S.

    Joel S. Reserved for future witty use...

    Jul 9, 2008
    The only way my bands have let anyone sit in, or I've been able to sit in has been for one of the following reasons:
    • It's an open jam session
    • Person who is "sitting in" is in another band with a number of the band members.
    • Person sitting in is a good friend who people in the band have played with, is sober, and can play the tunes.

    We have done the above and allowed drunk hot chicks to sing the chorus of some popular songs.
  13. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I let people sit in all the time. Usually they are guys from other bands that have the weekend off. Once in a while if someone mentions they play, I'll make the offer even if I don't know them.

    There's maybe two guys I know quite well that I'll let get up on stage if they're drunk. That's only because at their drunkest they kick my butt at my best.
  14. bassfrenzie


    May 26, 2008
    Our "official" band policy is no sit ins unless invited. but we do make exceptions - depends on the situation.

    If we don't know you, or we know you and your drunk, you will not sit in.
  15. Silaxian


    Dec 16, 2002
    Charlotte, NC
    Traditional etiquette for the sit-in is that the guest player is in for ONE tune and only one tune unless asked to play another. This assumes of course that the band in question invites guests to play in the first place. Personally speaking I have avoided the practise for many years, having been the victim of a drunken stumblebum too many times.
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I like this approach.
  17. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    The above "policy" makes a lot of sense to me as well. Especially the part about being sober... no one in our band has more than a couple of drinks on stage the whole night so why should some drunk make the rest of us look bad? And of course, keeping good-looking women off the stage, that would just be plain un-American. :p

    I'll float it with the other guys and see what happens.

    Thanks to all.

  18. The approach we used to take as well. We usually had an open floor to people that wanted to sit in, AS LONG AS WE KNEW THE PERSON...or if a friend could vouch for their playing. We had some nights where we would have up to 10 guests play with us...Taylor Hicks included. :rollno:
  19. badstonebass


    Jun 7, 2006
    The band I am in is a well established band that has been around since the 80's. Needless to say there have been many line up changes and the band had a LARGE following with many musician friends.

    We have sit ins at EVERY show of at least a couple tunes.

    However these are people who are known to do well and have a history with the band. Old members in the crowd almost always get asked up for a song.

    Drunk idiots and wannabe's never get asked to play.
  20. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    One thing I have gained from having sit-ins is a new appreciation for the guys who are in my band. Not one time has anyone ever sat-in who was a better player than the guys I play with on a regular basis.

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