Who Hires The Substitute ?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by ArtechnikA, Aug 4, 2021.

  1. ArtechnikA

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

    Feb 24, 2013
    Rhetorical question - I'm not actually looking for an answer.

    All the recent talk about BL-vs-Partnership business plans reminded me of a past situation. The band in question imploded several years ago.

    It was your standard 'voting democracy' organization with 5 members. The guitar guys thought they were in charge and always voted together when they could be bothered to respond.

    We're discussing booking a gig. I tell everyone I'm open for every date except one, for which I have a prior commitment and have for months. So naturally, that's the day they decide to pick; I reminded that I've told them for months I was not available. They said "go get a substitute."

    I said no. "You pick a date you know I'm not available, _you_ get a sub. If I have to cancel after I've agreed to a date, _I_ get the sub." Well it turned out that the "voting democracy" members had never bothered to establish any connections outside our own little band; they were clueless on the local scene.

    Moral of story (among many others): If you're going to do everything by committee and consensus, "the band" better know how to contact a sub. I expect most actual BL types have some kind of list of contacts for every position in the the band.

    So how does it work in your band? Is it your responsibility to hire a sub for your position even if it's because the band decided to go on without you?
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I always ask, because it’s contingent on so much - are they looking for generic bassist or do they have a particular sound in mind, who has the deepest book, etc. Some bandleaders have specific people they like to work with, some don’t.
  3. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    I always have a specific sub in mind if and when I can't make the gig. This person is actually better than me, so I use him sparingly lol....
  4. Eilif

    Eilif Grooving under the MDW runway.

    Oct 1, 2001
    In my last gig I started out finding subs here on TB for the rare instance I couldn't make it. However, when BL began to take any gig he could get he luckily also discovered he could find locals willing to play for pennies.

    Ended up working quite well for a few years. I played almost every good gig (about 3-4 a month, mostly weekend evenings) and when he wanted to casually play the legion on Thursday night for tips the guitarist would cover bass or some local would sit in for fun.
  5. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    I would generally try to help the BL find a sub if he/she needs the help. But if they did something like this- deliberately choosing the one date of several offered when I could not make it, I would feel the way you do about it. It's not my responsibility to fix someone else's poor choices.
  6. When someone suggests a date I am not available I tell them "I'm not available that date, but feel free to get a sub" It puts it on them from the get-go.
  7. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    It depends on who knows the best sub for the job.
    klyph likes this.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Like everything else, it should he a partnership. If you know somebody, reach out to them. But warn the rest of the band they should be looking too. Everyone should work together.

    If you guys are all pro level, they will be able to bring the sub up to speed. If you're weekend warriors, they may need you to be at a rehearsal with the guy to help with some show notes on things you do differently from original recordings.

    Their initial reaction was ridiculous. But everyone should pull together moving forward.
    Engle and lfmn16 like this.
  9. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    I’m always willing to suggest a sub, but my BL’s always do the hiring.
    NOVAX, fdeck and JohnMCA72 like this.
  10. Hurricane Jimmie

    Hurricane Jimmie Supporting Member

    So Anyway, I always call the guy who I replaced when I need a sub. I'm very lucky that he's usually available and has maintained a good relationship with the group. If he ever comes to a gig where we're playing, I try to call him up to sit in for a few songs.

    But if he can't cover for me, I turn it over to the BL. He's been running this band for 25 years and has built a pretty deep bench of players. In fact, that's one of the reasons for the bands longevity. If someone can't make it or moves on, someone is available to step up.

    But all the effort to have a sub ready isn't necessary until the band starts to get busy. BTW, I wouldn't commit to a group that didn't have a BL.
  11. ArtechnikA

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

    Feb 24, 2013
    Sorry my original post was a bit ambiguous...
    I agree the answer is clear for band with an actual BL.
    How does it work for the democracy guys?
  12. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Haven't been in the situation yet, but your method seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    I really have no idea who I'd reach out to cover for me if that ever came up.

    But there's enough local TBers that I'm sure someone would step up.
  13. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    There is no correct answer. Totally depends on the gig, your position in the band or that particular gig and whether the person who hired knows someone already or not.

    Dont think either is wrong or out of place but always ask before getting a sub first. You dont want your sub to show up and then another sub is already there.

    One main problem I have found with getting a sub myself is that once you do that, the subs professionalism reflects on you now. So if your sub is late to the gig, its your fault, if they cant play the set, its your fault...etc. So all in all, I would rather them deal with it but its not a big deal either as long as you know your subs are reliable.
  14. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    the democracy bands i've played with never booked gigs when someone was busy. but had i not been available, i'd have suggested someone i knew to the band, gotten the okay, and then contacted the person.
    tbz likes this.
  15. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    If they book a gig knowing I’m not available, it’s on them. If I cancel a gig I agreed to, it’s on me.
  16. Slough Feg Bass

    Slough Feg Bass Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    San Francisco
    if it's full democracy band, then this should all be agreed upon waaaaaaaaayyyy in advance, like you should have had this talk a long time ago, and they should know who is gonna do what in case of this situation.
  17. aprod


    Mar 11, 2008
    Its the band leader's responsibility.
    getrhythm and 40Hz like this.
  18. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    ^This. It’s ultimately B/L’s call - and responsibility. Although it’s ok to offer suggestions and/or help provide one.
    getrhythm likes this.
  19. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I would argue that anyone could find and hire a sub, BL or otherwise. If the BL prefers to get his own player, they can do it. But sometimes it might be the guitar player that has the contact or maybe you are subbing yourself out and choosing the sub. There is no one way, just depends on how the band in question functions.

    OP: i don't see why you couldn't help find a sub assuming you have a contact, just to help the group. if you don't have a contact though then it's on them if they want to play the gig with a bass player present.
  20. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    Current band, my BL handles that. Thinking about it, I’m not sure that I’ve ever hired one. Always been the BL. For any position.

    I don’t do band democracies so I’ve no idea how a sub would work under those conditions; I assume you hire your own.