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Song ideas for new cover band - with a twist!

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by mikew31, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. mikew31

    mikew31 Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2008
    Superior, WI
    Hello all! This might get long, but I'll give all the background so you all know the motivation. I'll sum up at the end. I am currently in an originals band that consists of me on bass, a drummer, one guitar player, and the guitar player's wife on vocals. Singer is the band leader. Singer and guitar write the songs, drums and I write our own parts. We've been gigging locally for about 4 years. We're decent. We get a nice reaction from folks, but we're not a draw. We recorded a CD, basically just for us, our families, and the occasional fan that wants one.

    The originals music scene around here is pretty cliquey. Lots of punkish rock, hipster new-grass, singer songwriter, and jam rock. We are more pop-rock with some bluesy leanings at times - hard to describe. We are atypical of the area, and as such, the singer is getting disenfranchised with hustling gigs and having a hard time finding bands to play with us on multi band gigs (which is pretty much all of them). Many of the gigs start at 9 or 10 and go late. We are all 40+, so the late shows are not so fun anymore. All of this leads to singer not wanting to continue with this.

    Here's the twist. She wants us to become a cover band that plays nursing homes! Her mother had been in nursing homes before she passed away about a year ago, and she thinks they are in need of better entertainment options. We could easily provide that with some shows for the residents. Singer has some connections and the gigs are there if we want do this. We've all agreed to give it a try. Could be an interesting venture. Early gigs with an appreciative audience.

    Here's where the wisdom of TB comes in. What suggestions do you have for assembling a set list for this type of gig? Probably one or two sets per show. We're not doing the fools on stools thing, we're playing as a full band. We want the residents to have fun and enjoy themselves. What songs would you recommend? Although the singer is female, we can do covers of anything, we'll arrange it for us. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

    TL/DR - Sick of original music scene and want to form a female fronted cover band that provides entertainment at nursing homes. What songs would you recommend?
    dbsfgyd1 and Bassbeater like this.
  2. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey

    Pasty Kline

    Dolly parton

    Ok, those aren't songs but artists that in my experience the older crowd gets into
    PanRap and MrLenny1 like this.
  3. mikew31

    mikew31 Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2008
    Superior, WI
    I definitely think we'll incorporate a little Elvis. The rest of the band is not into country so we won't be doing any Dolly Parton. Patsy is so ubiquitous that we may want to consider that. Thanks for your suggestions!
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  4. kartiste


    May 5, 2008
    One of my projects is a band comprised of early boomers (i.e., some people our age who are in worse shape than we are are in nursing homes already). The other guys insist on playing stuff popular on the radio in the 60's and 70's. Most of this stuff you never hear played in any of the watering holes around here, probably because the demographic who would fondly remember it is home snoring by the time bands usually start (I guess I'm the exception). We have very few gigs. I don't know why I continue reheasing with them - for practice, I guess. I'm urging the BL to investigate the nursing home market. Thus I am interested in the outcome of this thread. I could tell you our set list, but I can't say authoritatively it would be your best bet, because we haven't run it at nursing homes as yet. We did play a Class of 72 HS reunion and got a request for Puff the Magic Dragon, which we faked thru to great response. We are in the South, but nobody was asking for Elvis or Dolly Parton.They liked Wonderful Tonight, Born to Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride, Time Won't Let Me, House of the Rising Sun, etc. My best advice for tunes is figure out the mean age of the residents and look up what the Top 100 was for the years they were in high school, and go from there. Sorry for rambling.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
    Munjibunga and mikew31 like this.
  5. Paulabass

    Paulabass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2017
    A very close friend of mine plays nursing homes, solo, with tracks.
    He plays 2:00 to 4:30 for $175 dollars. Then he goes to work with his band.
    Good gig!
    Elvis, Hank, Beatles, Danny boy....
    If you can get thru that reasonably sane, that's good coin, and suddenly getting your serious musical project is easier to afford.
    mikew31 likes this.
  6. mikew31

    mikew31 Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2008
    Superior, WI
    We already do a version of House of the Rising Sun that we're planning to use. Good to know it should work well. I like the Clapton one for this gig as well. Not sure if the Steppenwolf would go over with our singer. We had a discussion about the songs from the era, like you suggested. This is such an unknown for us, I appreciate your suggestions.
    kartiste likes this.
  7. mikew31

    mikew31 Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2008
    Superior, WI
    The potential hours for this gig is very appealing to us, lol! I like the Beatles idea, definitely on my radar. As much as the rest of the band was opposed to country, I think some Hank or Cash might be mandatory. Thank you for your input.
  8. Paulabass

    Paulabass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2017
    The good news- the folks in seniors homes were born around 1938, that makes them thirtyish in the summer of love. You gotta play oldies- but it's oldies rock! They were hip to Hendrix, and grateful for some Dead.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  9. ahc


    Jul 31, 2009
    No. Virginia
    50's, 60's and early 70's Top 40 hits.
    Munjibunga, mikew31 and EdO. like this.
  10. Including 60's bubble gum pop. Sugar Sugar, Chrimson & Clover, anything from that era that was probably actually recorded by the Wrecking Crew. Same era Motown too. We're doing a cover of Love Train that goes over really well in bars, drives em to the dance floor.
  11. mikew31

    mikew31 Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2008
    Superior, WI
    Any songs in particular you would suggest? We've got some in mind, but hearing what other people think will certainly help us put together a stronger list. We're thinking 60s and 70s songs mainly.
    Good call on the two songs! Maybe the original Mony Mony would be good as well. Now this makes me think of things like Hang on Sloopy.
    kartiste and EdO. like this.
  12. jeff62

    jeff62 Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    bassliner50 and mikew31 like this.
  13. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I have a friend who plays nursing homes. The setlist is made up pretty much anything from the 50's, 60s and 70s. One thing you have to remember is that most people who are in nursing homes were in their teens in the 50s and 60s. Play songs from that era but nothing that is too heavy and you should be fine.
    Groove Doctor, mikew31 and Nashrakh like this.
  14. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Send a sign up list to the nursing home before you play and learn the songs they want to hear. If you cover them as close as possible to the originals you're going to make some people VERY happy this way.
    rocu and mikew31 like this.
  15. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Think about it. If they are 75, they probably listened to 50-early 60s rock in high school, let alone early adult years. You all should hit one or two local facilities and speak with the staff and residents to ask them.

    The big issue is volume. Think "MTV Unplugged" volume and even stuff like Johnny B. Goode etc. works.
    Nashrakh, Seanto, DirtDog and 5 others like this.
  16. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Totally agree on volume - playing a nursing home as a full band is a challenge, because you'll quickly get the "too loud" complaints - even if they liked rock and roll in their teens.

    One thing I would suggest is to think POP from the era of their youth. Crooners, Bill Haley and Comets, Jan and Dean, doo wop. Also, my mom is 76, born in 1941, she's not in a nursing home but she's the generation. That first wave of American rock and roll died about 1960 and the next big thing for that generation was folk music - the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul, and Mary. That's what she most often talks about as what I would call her "heart music." People older than her - the ones in their 80s and 90s - are the pre-rock and roll generation, and may want Cole Porter and Nat King Cole.
  17. mikew31

    mikew31 Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2008
    Superior, WI
    Thanks for all of your ideas. We are certainly conscience of the volume thing. Drummer will use practice kit with boomsticks and brushes. Only vocals will be mic'd. Guitar and bass through amps with low volume.

    We were thinking 60s and 70s music, but I think you guys are right that 50s and 60s are the way to go. To be honest, we tend to put our twist on covers. I like note for note, as close to the original lines as possible, but the rest of the group struggles with that idea. I'm of the mind that people want to hear what they are used to, not our take on a song.

    Keep specific song ideas coming. Any song titles you know work with this age group from your own experiences. I've got a good list going already, but you guys will come up with things I won't think of.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  18. Joan Baez - Diamonds and Rust
    Bob Dylan - Blowing in the Wind
    Creedence Clearwater Revival - Proud Mary
    mikew31 likes this.
  19. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Yup, 50s and 60s. As @buldog5151bass pointed out, it's simple math.

    I don't think trying to play the tunes note-for-note is important: After all, you'll probably be doing a lot of songs for which you don't have the same instrumentation as the original, or the original featured a male rather than female vocalist, etc. Just don't wander too far from the original groove and tempo.

    Some specific songs that I play in one of my bands that would fit the bill are Runaround Sue, Runaway, Bony Maroni, Palisades Park, Wooly Bully, and a medley of (parts) of Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On -> Great Balls of Fire -> Good Golly Miss Molly.
    kartiste and mikew31 like this.

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