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Society gig/ jobbing survival aka stuff they don't teach you in college

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by chicagodoubler, Apr 11, 2009.


  1. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Fiscally, the jobbing scene is one of the most rewarding gigs out there. Musically, sometimes a lower ring of hell, especially when you're stuck playing with cats who are dark or just don't know the secret rules of this musical underbelly.

    Last night's gig reminded me of a crash course an old band leader gave me in the rules of this game years ago. It'll be fun to see what you cats have to add to this partial (and jaded) little list.




    Be ready to stop at any time for announcements.

    Tip well if there's an open bar. Be discrete if your ability to sip on the gig is suspect. If you can't survive Gloria Gaynor without a drink, bring a flask!

    Know the difference between a Rhumba and a ChaCha. Also be able to play a Tango, Merengue, Polka... this comes up all the time.

    Keep them on the dance floor, even if it means playing two ballads in a row... gotta be sensitive to what the crowd wants. After all, they payed a couple grand for you and your buddies to get drunk and do what you love at their daughter's wedding.

    If it's a "jazz" gig, don't be surprised if they ask for something they can dance to aka pop. Diversity is your friend here. The client often isn't. Keep some top 40 in your book just in case.

    When you lead this sort of gig, end on a high note and offer overtime. Usually the client is sauced and will bite eagerly.

    Carry a spare bow tie in your case. Some schmuck will show up without one. Probably the drummer.

    The A section of "At Last" ain't just I-vi-ii-V, but some bands will play it that way. Those bands are a bunch of clowns, complete with big shoes and foam noses. Same goes for bands that don't play the intro, which is the only cool thing about that wretched tune.

    On your Christmas gigs, pull out the Dradle song. Egalitarian song choices win you friends.

    Yes, the load in sucks. That's what wheels are for.

    Know the Sinatra arrangements, the first chord of "Unforgettable," Ipanema in all 12, Brickhouse, every corny disco song ever, those ACDC songs everyone plays, etc... Alot of leaders love to call these tunes without a rhythm chart, and won't ask if you know them before counting it off.

    Be happy to be working, and to be getting payed well for what we do. Yes, the gig is a little Mickey Mouse, but the bread balances out your next coffee house gig, and the worse the gig is, the more stories you have to tell the cats on your next hit.


    :p
     
  2. Man that's my life. I do tons of weddings and corporate parties in the Washington, DC area. The society gigs really do keep you on your toes. You have to be a good reader, you have to know a bunch of tunes when there arent charts, and most importantly you have to make the audience think you are having the time of your life while playing I Will Survive for the 10,000th time.
    I do like the challenge these gigs present and I really like what they pay!!
     
  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Bring 'em on. A magnetic pickup can help if the gig gets stupid loud, or to drive a band that's having a hard time hanging together.

    Try not to look like a cadaver, and smile through the whole thing including load out.

    At every one of those gigs, there are invariably a couple of cats who are real players and looking for a bassist to hire on their next gig, or who at least know some good jokes.

    One thing I have noticed, though. Band drama. I can't count the number of times that players have tried drawing me into their personal drama with the bandleader or other players. They will say things like: "Don't get discouraged if the bandleader rides your ass all night. That old goat can't play at all. Just ignore him and play whatever you want."

    Then I give the bandleader exactly what he asks for on the very first tune, and I don't hear a peep from him for the rest of the show.

    Here's a trick, and I don't know why it works, but it does. When the bandleader calls an unfamiliar tune, ask what key it's in. Without fail, the pianist will respond by playing the first few bars, which is usually enough to grab onto.
     
  4. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I'm pretty well out of the casual scene, but you've inspired a thought or two:

    Even if it's a so-called jazz gig, bring the plank. I play plank about once a year. I am always dressed in black-and-white, wearing a black bow-tie, for the annual "Celebration."

    "Y'know, sir, some bands would make you go through the office for overtime. But tonight if you work directly with the band, we're gonna Save You Some Money." (Needless to say you can only play this line if "the office" doesn't mind.)

    Working in Central Connecticut we had a little medley. IMR it included Hevenu Sholom Alechem, Mazel Tov & Simcha Tov and Hava Negillah. A band full of goys -- a roomful of goys -- everybody likes a hora and it gets people onto their feet, ready for the Rock-and-Roll portion of the Celebration.

    "Start spreading . . . . . . . . . the neyews . . . "

    "let's all salivate and have a good time!"

    . . . YOU ARE THERE BY CHOICE! As the late Margeurite Scheips put it, "Peetah, MacDonalds is hiring!"

    Thanks for the memories. Play on!
     
  5. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    And a big Easter Amen to Sam's last comment.

    Complaining about a gig that *you* took is just boneheaded.
     
  6. abaguer

    abaguer

    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    done tons of these and for about 15 years provided the largest part of my income. These days the society club date scene in NY is GREATLY diminished. I understand it's not the same in Washington and other cities but every bandleader I know around here has suffered significant dropoff. My bandleader has experienced an 80% drop over the last three years and he's back to playing cover rock gigs at 55 years old for a fifth of what he made as bandleader. Dark indeed.

    Surviving one of these gigs is the least of my concerns these days. Getting a reasonable amount of them is what I'm after. Since my wife got laid off two weeks ago I'd gladly play I will survive and At last, with our without intro.;)
     
  7. Wilbyman

    Wilbyman

    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    These gigs are going away somewhat I think. There are still a bunch of them at Christmas but the rest of the year is thin. Thank you day gig.
     
  8. bobsax

    bobsax

    Jan 16, 2011
    Southern Oregon
    Great thread from 4 years ago. I love to resurrect the good ones:D
    The SF scene has diminished significantly also.
    I was in a band 15 years ago that did a lot of conventions as well as weddings and we were all full time without day jobs. I don't see too many of those bands anymore.

    I'm curious about the DC scene. A few years ago when we were all in the tank I remember reading that the DC area was doing well. Reading between the lines I assumed the DC economy was being propped up by all the special interest groups and lobbyists.
    Can anybody back me up on that?
    Any old time DC musicians out there see an increase in lobbying events?
     
  9. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    The market here has changed dramatically. There are too many bands trying to get a slice of an ever-shrinking pie. Cover bands are eating up a huge chunk of the work. Our only remaining corporate gigs are for banks and Fortune 500 companies.

    Many bands are playing with loops and tracks. Disco is almost gone completely. My own band refuses to do Shout or the electric slide or the chicken dance. The horns don't play on half the dance set, and will likely disappear within my lifetime. Some bands are taking two keyboards out. Most of the drummers have triggers and pads. It's still better than a 9-5 though... :)
     
  10. Man, this is so true. Hardly anyone knows the intro and ending of that tune.

    "The A section of "At Last" ain't just I-vi-ii-V, but some bands will play it that way. Those bands are a bunch of clowns, complete with big shoes and foam noses. Same goes for bands that don't play the intro, which is the only cool thing about that wretched tune."
     
  11. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Your first second choiceâ„¢ Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    It's actually the second chord to "Unforgettable" that you need to know. That, and the fact that it resolves a fourth higher than it starts.

    - Steve
     
  12. Another rule: do not assume that you are invited to eat unless stipulated in the contract.

    I remember subbing on a gig, watching in horror as the guitar player casually sliced himself a big hunk of wedding cake...before the cake had even been seen by the bride and groom!

    I used to keep a log of the different venues/ country clubs in the area; which bartenders and waitresses were cool with setting up the band, how crappy the load-in was (park next to the stinky dumpster, up three flights of stairs, through the disgusting kitchen, etc), which had the best-tipping crowds...
     
  13. bobsax

    bobsax

    Jan 16, 2011
    Southern Oregon
    That's should be nominated for the Darwin Awards.
    What happened to the guitar player?
     
  14. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    There's a legendary sax player here who's famous for scarfing pre-permission. I've even known him to take an early dip in the indoor club pool with "borrowed" trunks.

    Ike
     
  15. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    At least he used trunks.
     
  16. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Toronto

    That's pretty funny!

    My favourite appalling memory of playing at weddings was the one where the groom and his father got into a fist fight. You never saw a reception clear out so quickly!
     
  17. - nothing packs the dance floor faster than a slow waltz or a slow 12/8 ballad.
     
  18. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Polka.
     
  19. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    fdeck-

    I had a leader call a polka medley as an audible last year. The band folded. If he'd called Moment's Notice we would have nailed it... :rolleyes:
     
  20. How about Moment's Notice AS a Polka?
     

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