OK, I'm in two bands. One is a pretty stable situation and has been gigging locally for years. The other one is pretty new, but is built around a project which has evolved and now I face a dillema. My best friend started playing drums last November. A mutual friend (who is a guitarist) and I talked him into picking them up. He is one of those guys who is always grooving to music and tapping his feet and fingers. We knew he would pick up the drums fast and he has. Pretty solid drummr, still needs to work on his fills but that's another story. Anyway, we figured that the three of us should work together and set a goal of a show for our friend the drummer to work towards - to keep him focused and motivated. We decided to focus on a Halloween show the next year (this year) and began to plan what it should be. Easy drum parts, but fun rock and roll music. The Halloween angle made an easy decision for a bunch of guys in their mid-30's. We decided to do a KISS tribute show. Afterwards, we would work on original material and a broader range of covers, but we all agreed this would be fun. Well, we needed singer and another guitar player, so we asked my business partner who has been in several bands as both a singer and a guitarist. He loved the idea and we had a band. The problem is the mutual friend of myself and the drummer... is not that great a guitarist. He isn't a natural talent and has no stage presence. Very average. At the time we made the plan, we were thinking one show for friends and family. Now.... we have a 20 song KISS set, and through people who have visited practices and word of mouth, we are getting lots of large bookings for the month of October at various halloween parties. A few weeks after coming up with the idea, I talked to my wife's cousin about it. I've played with him few times, and he is an absolutely amazing guitarist. Fantastic. Plays lead stuff on Metallica to SRV. He said he loved the idea and wished he could be part of it. Well, we had four guys already, but as I mentioned... this isn't a tribute band, it is just a tribute show we are doing. So I asked him to come to practice. Fast forward..... after lots of practices, it is clear that our weak link is the original lead guitarist who is a mutual friend of myself and the drummer. The project to get my friend to learn drums, had blossomed into what is actually a pretty damn good band and a 20 song set Halloween KISS show that is getting tighter and tighter. The problem with the show is that we are a five man band doing a show based on a four man band. Not a huge deal, given some artistic license but it just doesn't look right. Dig? Anyway.... Two of the last three practices (which are big deals because our singer and our really good guitarist come from at least an hour away to practice) the original guitarist hasn't shown up, and hadn't bothered to tell us he wouldn't be there. This pisses me off beyond words. It is the ultimate disrespect to the guys in the band who are driving that far to be there and we were counting on him on some leads and lots of rhythm riffs. Today, he doesn't show up but the four of us did... and after being pissed off, I had an epiphony. We had the best f*cking practice ever today. We tightned up our set list and added 2 new songs in the course of a four hour practice. It sounded great and the chemistry was fantastic. What I knew already was crystalized today... the guy who didn't show up, and didn't tell us he wouldn't be there is the weak link. I think that beyond just having the right look and chemistry for all the halloween shows we are booking this year, we need to think beyond that and realize that not only is this four piece group who played today, the best fit for the look and sound of the set we are working on, it is the best chemistry and most reliable group for beyond. Problem... the guy I am thinking of letting go was sort of the co-founder of the idea, though since then I have pretty clearly evolved into the band leader in this project. He is also a much closer friend to our drummer (my best friend) than he is to me. It would put our drummer in an akward position. Is it worth it to let this guy go at this point? Too late in the game for something that originally was for fun and to get our drummer focused? Or do we owe it to ourselves as a band to think about the quality of this show, and beyond? Dependability is a major issue for me. And this is twice now that the guy has left the other four of us in a lurch for an important practice. Thoughts?