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Which group would you stick with?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by npbassman, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. npbassman


    Apr 25, 2002
    So I've been on the comeback trail for about 4 months after a 7 year layoff. To date, I have been jamming with a number of different groups (basically anyone!) to get my bass feet back under me and I think I'm at the point where I need to stick with one group.

    For the past month or so I have been playing with a jam group where I can hang but I'm clearly the weakest player. We play strictly funk/bluesy funk, fusiony stuff and the players are really good. The drummer is actually a former session guy in NYC and there's no other way to put it, he's a monster player and sticking with him will only raise my game. To boot, his friends are all basically at his level too. They keep me on my toes. We don't learn songs ahead of time. We show up, someone calls out a key and we go for it. There has been talk to take the next step and agree on some tunes to learn.

    The positives of this group: I will get really good really fast. They play 15 minutes away from my house. Music is my hobby and family/work come first so travel time is important for me. It's not a gigging situation but we get together fairly regularly.
    The negatives about the jam group: They play just funk and fusiony stuff and sometimes i just wanna rock.

    I have also just auditioned with a formal band that intends to practice once a week and gig once a month. They're good players but not as good as the jam group. I would say we are all at about the same level. It sounded really tight the first night but it won't be the musical bootcamp that the jam group is. The band does a variety of music from Doobies, Rush, Jeff Beck, Michael Schenker, Steely Dan, and also the same stuff as the jam group such as TOP, motown, etc. The drummer is nowhere near the jam drummer but he's strong and we locked in right away. The guitarist copped Steely Dan (Josie, Kid Charlemane, Peg) like I was playing the CD. He also pulled off What is Hip, Michael Schenker and Rush tunes convincingly too.

    Positives of this group: They play a variety of tunes that I enjoy and the music was tight.
    Negatives of this group: They are 45 minutes away from me. Also right now it's drums, bass, 2 guitars and I'm also not sure how motivated they are to get a vocalist and keyboard player so I fear it may end up like a weekly jam that doesn't go anywhere.

    I only have time to stick with one group and I have a decision to make. I really enjoyed playing with the band but they are 45 mins away and it may end up just being well,, a jam 45 mins away. I also feel like I shouldn't walk away from a talented jam group that is 15 mins away from me and would basically be a music/bass boot camp.

    What to do, what to do....
  2. Flip a coin, or go with your gut feeling. I'd probably jam with the better players - but I HATE bands that have long 3+ hour group practicing ever week and only gig once a month. It should be the other way around, gig once a week and a short 1 hour rehearse once a month.
  3. Mvilmany


    Mar 13, 2013
    Upstate NY
    Like you, I play music now only as a hobby.

    45 minutes both ways = 1.5 hours travel. That's a long way.

    Other things to consider:How stable are the musicians in each group? Are they people that you'd bring around your friends/family. At one point, I used to work with some really great musicians, but found that their problems with alcoholism and a personality disorder made it a problematic situation.

    My current band contains a couple of members that are less experienced, but are very stable, and I can foresee this group continuing to progress steadily over the long term foreseeable future.

    What does your intuition tell you?
  4. aggrokragg


    Dec 18, 2013
    Go with the first group.

    Being a family man, the 15 minute drive is a huge factor and I think that along with the challenge will keep you going. Also, genre preferences aside, if you and this very talented group of folks eventually learn some formal songs (or write some) it kind of feels inevitable that you'll probably want to go play some gigs, even if they are just in town for friends/family. Convenience can play a large role in long-term viability.

    It could stink if you gave up the opportunity to be with a group that challenged you to grow musically for one that seemed great but ended up not being what you expected long term.

  5. randyripoff


    Jul 12, 2008
    You're a hobbyist. Which group is more fun for you? That's the one you should go with.

    Playing with better musicians is great, and I'm sure you'll become better yourself as time goes by with the funk/fusion group. But if you're not enjoying the music and you're not trying to make contacts for the future, I'd question how much time you want to spend with them.

    On the other hand, from what you describe, the other band is going nowhere fast. Sounds like your classic "let's start a band to give us an excuse to get away from our families for a bit and drink beer" band. There's nothing wrong with that if that's what you want to do, but from your description it sounds like they aren't going to get out of the basement any time soon. The added downside of travel is another downside. However, you do enjoy the music more.

    Ultimately, I'd just make a decision based on what's best for me. As a hobbyist, I'd be inclined to go with the band that's more fun.
  6. IncX


    Jul 23, 2007
    i'd definitely go for the first band based on travel time alone.

    i think i can also join band #2 if i just want to rock out, i can learn the songs at home and just show up come gig time. having said that, i just wont be available for most rehearsals. if they cant handle that, i guess band #1 it is.
  7. Wesley R

    Wesley R Supporting Member

    How about join one, and still keep looking?
  8. N.F.A.


    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    Group One would be my preference. It's close. Monster drummers are few and far between. You said it will help you up your game and improve your chops.
  9. Ronbassman


    Jun 1, 2011
    Go with #1 band. They challenge your skill set, making you a more complete musician. If you're their weekest member, you'll only get better. Plus, driving ONE HOUR AND A HALF every week takes its toll pretty fast. Sometimes $#!+ happens and band practice gets cancelled the very last minute. Then, as you drive 45 minutes back home, you'll be thinking "I've should've picked the other group." Not to mention flat tires, gas prices, accidents, etc. How far from home you ought to be if an emergency happens?
  10. noagreement


    Oct 12, 2006
    Yo Philly!
    Group #1 definitely! The ideal situation is to play with players that are slightly above you (and be 15 minutes or less away). If they want you there, they like the fit and/or see your potential to play at their level. Don't take that situation for granted - it's definitely an opportunity.

    I am currently in a similar situation (a second band) with a drummer in particular that is a monster. I take it as an unspoken compliment that they are willing to work with me. If the potential is there, a lot of guys would rather see someone progress rather than have a lazier master bassist that just shows up and plays well.
  11. npbassman


    Apr 25, 2002
    Everyone, thanks for the replies and advice yesterday. I actually had a jam with the rock band last night and going in I had two things in mind. Make sure I have fun and ensure they are good, stable people. Well, I'm going with the jam group and here's why.

    At the initial audition, after we were done playing and complimented each other on the music one guy opened the conversation with "so last week I had to put my cat to sleep" and then the others proceeded to tell stories on how they had to do the same on their pets at some point in their lives and how sad they got. The conversation went on for about 15 minutes. Kinda awkward and a little uncomfortable but I said ya know, the music was good so I'll go one more time and make sure everything is cool. It was probably just the guys trying to comfort/empathize with their friend.

    So last night, they spent most of the session completely bashing the previous bassist in between songs but they insist he is still a good friend. When we were done, the first thing someone throws out is "you know the biggest problem I have with state employees is? It's 123, XYZ". In the meantime I'm quietly packing up my gear and noodling around. 20 minutes later...they ask me what tunes I want to work on for next week and also say "hope we didn't offend you, we really are a cool laid back group". I didn't have fun and I will let them know that it isn't going to work out. Jam group, here I come!
  12. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    What are your personal goals?

    To improve as a musician? In what ways? In what musical genres?

    To have a convenient "jam night"?

    To gig and make money?

    What are the goals of these two ensembles?

    To jam? To have fun? To get out of the house once a week?

    To gig? To record? To make money?

    My band usually rehearses once a month, sometimes less, and gigs 4-15 nights a month. We usually rehearse in a rented studio 40 minutes away. It's worth it to me. Plus I get to deduct the mileage from my income taxes.

    Your time, your convenience, and certainly your family are important considerations. "Rehearsal" normally implies purpose, working toward a musical goal. "Jamming" could be "practicing" together to improve your skillset. But where is that leading? What do you hope is the ultimate outcome? What do you want out of this?

    I can honestly say that I've never taken part in a "jam band". Even in my very first band as a teenager, practicing in my garage, we had a performance to prepare for. I was 13 years old playing at my first high school dance in 1970. Sure, we had our fun but we were focused and had a plan. What's your plan?

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  13. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    What are you looking for - to get gigging, or just have fun? Sounds like #2 is not going anywhere. They say they want to gig, with songs that require strong vocals, but are not motivated to find a vocalist? I would not travel that far unless either the situation was perfect, or they were getting lots of gigs, and I was looking to gig.

    I would take #1, but let them know your feelings. Hopefully you can gain more common ground, as it sounds like they are flexible, which is important. Maybe you aren't the only one who wants to rock more.

    But as said above, nothing preventing you from still looking. If #1 develops, you might need to make more of a committment.
  14. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Stick with the funk/fusion jam group - for the time being. Stay in contact with the rock band, and play with them at least once in awhile - as time permits. Express your interest - but also your concerns - freely. See if/when it begins to seriously gel - the key word being seriously - and make your decision when the time is right: not yet.

    Few bands offer can offer all things. Don't decide prematurely, as the way circumstances work out often has a way of making your decision for you. Don't throw away a golden opportunity to (rapidly) improve your musicianship skills - and have some fun - unless you've got something certain and solid to replace it..and you're sure you want to go for it. :eyebrow: