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When does it turn into an Audition?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Remyd, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    So, I need some gear. And when you're a working stiff, buying more gear means spending more money, which I don't have (because of a blown head gasket). I guess I need about $1000 (almost the cost of a head gasket repair) for PA stuff and a pre-amp, hopefully before a mid-summer festival.

    Ah, hah! I realize that I have a (limited) musical talent, and I also know some other people that might be similarly interested in processing time and beer into performance and payment. A gig, or rather 5-6 gigs is what I can do to assuage GAS.

    So, I'm looking to expand and start playing some gigs. My usual group is a bunch of hobby players, really just for fun.

    Me - Blues, Jazz, Folk, Country
    Strange non-kit Percussion Guy
    Metalhead Rythim Guitar
    Grunge Growler Backup Male Vox
    Folk/Country Female Vox (split lead)
    Hipster Indie Chick Vox (split lead)

    I asked each of the members in turn for four songs. I got four songs from each. The set list looks like the band list, with 20 songs, four each from five genres. It lacks cohesion and although I love the folks personally, turning those folks into a gig-able group was not going to be an easy path. Turns out that this is not gonna happen without major changes, so I've got to keep that group as hobby-only.

    But I still need some gear and my wife was out of town this weekend. So, to Craigslist I turned...

    Ad included some pretty specific "what I want" language:
    Responses = 10

    4 of the sort disparaged above, including a teenager that advised "everybdy can thrash". That was nice to know. One less thing to worry about.

    Jams = 3 (one more this week)

    One was with an 80 year old, one-eyed blues singer that could only be described as loony-toons. You expect Blues vocalists to be a mess (how else would you learn to sing the blues) but this guy took it to a whole new level. We spent more than 20 minutes of the session discussing his alternative spiritual path over the last 20 years. Um, that's nice, but I thought we were running a few songs...

    He then got six kinds of offended when I used charts, even though HE was reading a prompter, because "why can't you feel the music, man". My reply, which I was way, way to polite to say, was "Because you gave me the charts at 10pm the night before an 11am session and I'm SIGHT READING, you chickens*** a******!" I did my "polite" hour and then boogied before I saw the fava beans and Chanti come out.

    Gigs = "We don't have anything scheduled yet" from EVERYBODY (except the thrasher kid who had 2 metal sets a week lined up until summer)

    Results = 1 guitar-vocal who was too obscure for audiences. He was pretty good and might turn out OK if I can get him into a song list that people might, y'know, enjoy.


    Is *anyone* getting >10% worthwhile responses from CL? Is this even a reasonable place to start, or do I have to go schmooze around the musical community (which I would much rather not do)?

    Is a little combo work really that hard to put together in a city of almost 3 million? Don't classic country bands know every song made between 1940-1980? Aren't jazz and blues guys supposed to be able to play a thousand songs, and a thousand more if you hum a few bars? Where are the old classic rock guys that want to do teeny tiny bar shows?

    When should these sessions turn into more "audition" than "jam"? Should I start recruiting people specifically for my project rather than try to get involved in someone else's thing?

    EDIT: This has turned into a little more saga than question. Someday, there will be some kind of results, but g'd knows when.
    Last edited: May 5, 2014
  2. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Yes, especially if you want to be out playing with them.
    ThePez likes this.
  3. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    With whom?

    People in the "local scene" community are overwhelmingly not my style, folk guys look down on me because of a lack of a DB, and the blues guys I've met recently are [DEL]all hooked on drugs and bat**** crazy[/DEL] not too interested for some unknown reason.:bag:
  4. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    I think you stand a better chance of getting 5 strangers to come over and replace your head gasket, but that's just me...
    DocGeorge and LiquidMidnight like this.
  5. JimmyThunder

    JimmyThunder Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2008
    New Hampshire
    that's craigslist. and musicians. keepers are one-in-a-hundred.
  6. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    If they had their act together with lots of gigs and lots of contacts, they wouldn't be on craigslist. Sorting through the nuts is just part of the process. But you can find a decent group, especially if you're more clear in your ad and if you're patient about it.

    Sometimes, too, a group that doesn't work out leads to contacts with a group that will. For instance, I joined up with some guys via craigslist about three years ago or so. A few months of practice, then a train wreck of an open mic followed by a couple of rehearsals that showed they had no idea how to fix the problems, and I decided to leave. But there was one guitarist who was worthwhile in the group, who also left soon after I did. He and I stay in touch and still do projects together from time to time.

    Really, though - yeah, schmooze. Open mics and jam nights are good for that. If you post on CL, no one knows you from Adam. If they hear you play and chat with you over a beer, they can decide you're a guy they could use in their project.

    I'd also keep talking to the group you're playing with. You're presumably happy with how they play and they all get along, sounds like. Cohesion will be an issue, but the solution is to step up as band leader. I would talk to them about how motivated they are to gig and how flexible they can be with their musical choices; find where they overlap. Talk to them about the need to define what KIND of band you are, that you won't be able to get and keep gigs being the little-bit-of-everything band. You can have some variety, but it's all got to revolve around an identifiable core. Even songs that were originally from one genre, you might see shifting into a new sound just because it's the five of you playing it. What happens to a metal song if you play it with no pounding drum kit, just miscellaneous percussion, and sing it in three-part harmony? What happens to a folk tune if if you play it with a heavily distorted guitar? If you can get them on board with those ideas, and be not band Hitler, but the buck-stops-here decision guy, you might have something with them.
  7. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Welcome to the world of Craigslist! The upside is it is FREE. The downside is also that it is FREE.
    What this means is you have to ask at least 20 questions with every response to avoid wasting your time. If you think you will get somethign that is a PERFECT fit for your needs. Think again, you may have to compromise, particularly if you are not a great player yourself. But you can probably do better than this with more filtering. Be aware it may take you months to find something that is even close. So keep woodshedding.

    Atlanta is particularly bad for this as our music scene is not good for Cover Bands. CL is populated by the same group of has-beens and basement players who have been running the same ads for a bass player for the last two years in Atl.
  8. marmadaddy


    Oct 17, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    Q: Where to find musicians who want to gig?
    A: At gigs.

    Go to the venues where you'll be looking to play. Introduce yourself to the bands and their friends. I can pretty much guarantee that at least some of those friends will probably also be musicians.

    A word of advice: if all you're looking to do is throw something together to do a few gigs and make some quick cash you'll do much better by getting the gigs first. Once you have those, finding decent musicians becomes much easier.
  9. I am going through something similar. It just seems like the well is running dry out there. We have been looking for a singer for a few months now, have been using a couple subs while we search.

    I can't believe nobody is interested. Like, rarely even getting responses from people. Those who do respond are pretty out there, in most cases. It's odd. Our subs tell us we're the easiest band that they work with, they have a lot of fun, and they get paid enough to do it.

    I'm secretly hoping the the band one of our subs plays in regularly falls apart. Then he would likely go with us permanently. I've been trying most things I can think of. It seems like anyone who's decent and wants to be out gigging is doing just that, with another band. It almost seems like you have to have good timing and just catch the right people at the right time.
  10. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    A fine point, but I'm not comfortable doing that without some kind of lead instrumentalist that I can really hook up with. For me, the bass is all about roots and rhythm so without a good melodic lead that I actually know and trust I don't want to set myself up for disappointment.
  11. go play with the metal kid for the time being.
    nataku333 and MrBKerth like this.
  12. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Okay, took some of the advice and nailed a song list for one set (gotta start somewhere) with my existing group:

    Ho Hey
    Ain't no sunshine
    Wagon Wheel
    Be My Girl
    Wild Horses
    Rivers of Babylon

    Not what I would have picked, but a couple of these have fun lines. Next set will be much more Remyd-influenced.

    I also met with the guys from the last session mentioned in my OP: Blind (literally) guitar player, a drummer who's "still learning" and a MINDBLOWINGLY TALENTED trumpet player (who, of course, comes as a package deal with these other schmoes). We're going to run some tunes tonight and see what happens.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
  13. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Turns out that metal is really, really, REALLY fast and really, REALLY loud. I am not a fan of either of those things, even for $.
  14. MrBKerth

    MrBKerth The Gypsy Bravado

    Apr 20, 2013
    I had the same experience. My ad was something to the tune of
    "I'm not looking for experimental out there music, I've got school so I can't be committing to unplanned ventures more than 50 miles outside the DFW area unless planned ahead, no metal, no singer songwriter stuff. I'm just looking for a rock band.

    a ton of responses
    "Hi I'm so and so and my band is actually on tour and we'd love to have you come play in Austin for this show if you learn the songs our old bassist didn't chart out. We have no idea what he played but here's our tracks so just learn them and we'll meet at a house in Dallas this weekend"

    "Hi I am in a band named after a greek god, and we are really looking to push the boundaries of our music and get experimental. Improv skills are a plus"

    like 4 responses to the tune of "Hi, I play x instrument. I don't know any other musicians but I really want to be in a band. Come jam at my house?"

    Finally I saw a band and was the second bassist to send in a request to jam. They liked classic stuff like Zeppelin all the way through todays Raconteurs and Dead Weather. Couldn't be happier. There's gems out there, but you are going to have to do A LOT of sifting to find something worth your while
    DocGeorge likes this.
  15. everyone has their preferences. loud could be rectified with ear plugs. fast is just you learning and perfecting a new skillset. but if you dont like the music nothing is going to change ur mind. so no harm no foul.
  16. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO

    The drummer is a pretty close friend, but I didn't know he was allergic to groove. The pocket was so far away, I thought I was playing on a billiards table. I guess there's a reason I wasn't playing with him before. I had to physically remove his bass drum pedal and high cymbals to get him anywhere near the beat.

    Blind guitar player learns by ear, never played any jazz before, and isn't a quick study. I had to scream changes during the tunes. Turns out I have trouble singing lead while screaming changes and playing a very simple walk-up line. Had to switch to roots and drop the vox to keep from embarrassing myself.

    Trumpet player is rustier than a rusty rust with extra rust. I got about an hour of horn playing out of him before complaints started and his lips turned this magenta shade that made me worry about his blood pressure after 90 minutes. There were some inspired solos, though, even if there were a lot of "jazz notes" (aka big fat clams). He seems to still need to work on attack, release, sustain, intonation, breath control, embouchure, and timbre. I'm pretty sure that's all of the things in a brass instrument, right?

    I really like these guys, but if *I'm* the talented one, it's gonna take A @#$%-ton of work.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  17. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    I don't dislike metal at all, but I certainly don't have the skillset or gear to gig with anyone in a genre where blazingly loud is the default volume and fast is more important than accurate. I've heard some AMAZING metal artists (more with a guitar than a bass, but still) so I'm not disparaging anyone, but even the ballads are heavy as h3ll.

    I moved to EBG from the DB where accurate is WAY more important than fast if for no other reason than the instrument is so (physically) large and has no frets or physical position indicators at all.

    *I* couldn't play metal on a DB for a jillion dollars. Probably can't do it on the BG either though. :bassist:
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  18. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO

    Played with a couple more folks this weekend. One good, one medium, one bad group. Might stay with the "medium" one, 'cause I like the guys. Have two more scheduled for this week.

    And my little jam session. Which was not great.

    * Set list was a laugh. Calls were for multiple songs I've never even heard. We did like half of the list and spent an hour noodling with songs that we'll never run again. It was so bad that one of the singers got grumpy and refused to "do anymore songs that I don't know" after a couple hours.

    * Growly sang some leads. He only actually sang one song all the way through, but getting a backup guy to do anything besides backup isn't the easiest thing. He badly needs to learn about the various forms of attack and release. And how to cue off changes.

    * The gui**** has only a passing relationship with time. It was always a little notable, but this week it was especially horrific. It was honestly disturbing to me, because he's supposedly a "rhythm guy". Attempting to correct this with a boom-chick-boom-chick click track got the comment "I can't play with those, they always mess me up". If we ever get a real drummer, he's going to have big problems. I switched to straight-quarter-roots, which usually helps those that need to find the groove. That turned out to be a bit optimistic. It's pretty hard to lock up with a guy that gets lost in the middle of phrases and adds extra beats during transitions. I made him promise to be my metronome buddy this week.

    * Beer was prominently featured. Many beers in fact. So many beers that the gui**** started re-tuning to one of those step-down metal chords in the middle of the set. He swore he could make it work. Except that he was playing my spare acoustic. And he was hammered.

    So, as expected from my last session, it turns out that the musicianship of my jam session is such that putting them together in a cohesive way is gonna be WAY too much work. I'm not a music teacher and I'm not going to start, either. This is another example where I'm the best musician, which is just a shame.
  19. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    I really, REALLY wanted to take this advice this weekend, but failed in quite a depressing manner. Turns out that interest is almost nil for putting a set or two together. Well, actually everybody has ideas, but not even one of them fit with the existing group. The singers couldn't care less and the gui**** has a long way to go before he can go play out in a more "melodic" circumstance.

    I am a patient guy, but not a Zen monk - play or play not; there is no try.
  20. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Ah, well. I'd cut my losses then.