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Would you say "yes" to this?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by PauFerro, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I am an electric-only, jazz bass player.

    Some of you know I have evolved into what I call a contractor's model of band management. I started three bands and work with 11 musicians. I have first call players in every position, and subs about 2 deep for when the first call guys are not available.

    I've been pretty busy as a result - as I let the second call musicians perform at all gigs they book, and with a wide variety of jazz styles and instruments to offer clients, I seem to be able to get a lot of gigs. I also make a point of bringing on people who have sales backgrounds, even if they aren't top players, training them in jazz, and then enjoying their phone calls asking me which group they should pitch for the various leads they have generated.

    There's another bass player I met a while ago, and he plays upright bass, cello and electric bass. We did a musical festival and were on the program at different times.

    I think he's at least as competent as I am (probably even better) and he keeps offering to play duets and other things. I think he sees how busy I am with gigs, friends me on facebook, and calls me now and then. He invites me out to his gigs and is active commenting on my facebook posts regarding music. He's the only fellow bass player that has ever done this. It's always been cats on other instruments trying to build a relationship that do this. So, this is new to me.

    Then, the first call drummer I work with, who is in sales, indicated he found a gig but the client wants upright bass -- would I mind if he used the keyboard player in the jazz trio I formed and the three of them (the upright player who contacts me a lot, the keyboardist, and this gig-booking drummer).

    And then, after I posted a trio gig the other day, this bassist asks if he can sit in with the group on facebook.

    I would like to ask:

    a) What would you say to the drummers' request to do the jazz trio gig without me due to this client request for an upright bass (which I don't play)? [Incidentally, I have never had a client insist on upright bass in the last 110 gigs I have done]. [Also, this gig booking drummer just called me with three other leads for our trio, without the upright bass requirement as well, so I don't think this is an attempt to necessarily displace me from the jazz trio I started, particularly given how busy I've kept this drummer with my own sales efforts].

    b) What would you say to this upright bassist's request to sit in with the jazz trio group, essentially, taking the bass chair for a few songs?

    Just curious what you think. I have already responded to (a), but am thinking about (b). But I would like to know what everyone thinks before the big reveal on (a ).
  2. I wouldn't worry about either. If this guy is trying to steal your gig, he will or he won't, eventually. Life's too short.
  3. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    a.) yes (can you even stop them form taking the gig by saying "no"?)
    b.) yes (why not?)

    I see no compelling reason in your post to do otherwise, more on call musicians =more gigs for the band
    The only reason I can see to deny either is some kind of fearful selfishness -or just plain greed.

    Are you really the band manager, paying yourself for both manager and bassist roles?
    Ross Kratter and lvbass like this.
  4. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Sounds to me like you now have a sub, who can play both upright and electric. I have seen gigs where they wanted an upright although it's unusual. Unless you have a contract with them, what's to stop the other musicians from getting gigs in which you don't play. If you feel they are taking bread from your mouth, stop using them.
  5. friendlybass


    Jul 19, 2012
    A) id take him at his word and have the other guy do it. As long as upright guy isn't swiping your dudes you should be alright.
    B) let him sit in, since he's asking you dont have to kick him any cash, you get a break during the night, you can check him out and talk shop after, and you'll have an upright guy in your pocket.
    I definitely get your concern here, jazz work pays well and can disappear quick. But upright guy appears to want to work for you, not compete for your network. Keep him around you always need a sub for yourself too!
  6. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    I am also in the yes/yes camp.

    Let the drummer play his gig with the DB and let the DB sit in with you on one of your gigs.

    The point has been made that you may gain a sub. I am suggesting that you may get the opportunity to sub for him as well.

    In any case, knowing everyone you can meet in your metro's jazz scene can only prove beneficial in the long run.
  7. Sounds like plain old networking to me.

    Like David said, really he doesn't need your permission. He's being courteous and professional by running it by you so he doesn't burn his bridge. You sound like you have enough players that if something goes south you aren't in any trouble. I think I'd be fine with it.
  8. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    I'm also in the YES/YES camp.
    Heck, if it were me, I'd even see about arranging something as a quartet in which both of us could play, him double bass and cello and me on electric. That has the potential to be a lot of fun.
    Old Blastard, lvbass and vmabus like this.
  9. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Ok, there are are enough responses here that I will share what I said.

    1. I created this "machine" of gig bookers, and one of the risks is they will go out and do exactly this -- start staffing their gigs with other cats. I said "yes" to this one, but told the guy he was my first call drummer in two of the bands, so if he wants to retain that status, I need to be his first call bassist. I book way more gigs than he does, so he said fine. No problem there.

    2. For the second question, I'm probably going to say Yes. I play piccolo bass, and I know the heads to a number of songs. I don't play them much live, though, due to the hassle of carting equipment and the fact our keyboard player, while a really good player, doesn't like to do left hand bass in a lot of tunes.

    It would be cool to be a front-man for parts of this gig, playing Mr. P.C, Comin' Home Baby, Watermelon Man, Blue Bossa heads like a front man -- something that us bass players don't often get to do, and a few other easy tunes with this guy holding down the low end. Could be yet another four piece group to sell!

    That's my resolution to the questions...
    Ross Kratter, lvbass, vmabus and 2 others like this.
  10. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Also in the yes/yes camp. I wasn't aware you didn't play upright, either. I can't recommend picking one up enough - you would not BELIEVE the market out there for 'doublers', in a variety of styles.
  11. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Yes, I'm definitely the band manager -- but only when I book the gigs. If someone else books the gig, I get involved to the extent they want me to in the management realm. When I book gigs, though, I normally leave a cushion to compensate myself for the time I put into arranging it all. I find I don't resent being a band leader when I get a higher share. I have a "rule" I try to abide by, and that is, whatever the gig pays, I always get more than the other musicians if I book the gig.

    I will sometimes pay out of pocket to have the musicians perform if it is a cause I believe in, or if I feel the band needs a shot in the arm, though. I do this on a limited basis, and only when I feel strongly about it. Occasionally (rarely), I will play for free and let the rest of the band split the pie evenly, again when I feel I should, but do that only about once a year.

    I have wanted to do this for a long time. The reason I haven't done it is

    a) when I play the uprights in the stores, they are AWFUL to play. Action way high, can barely make a sound. I think they are not set up properly and that has deterred me.

    b) I'm kind of a small guy -- 5' 3.5" and my body seems to reject the instrument.

    How much time do you think you have to spend with the instrument to get competent on upright? I am quite competent on electric bass. I can walk over anything, and solo over most moderately difficult tunes now. I also play fretless but normally only in rehearsal, probably out of simply not pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
  12. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    You don't have to get a 3/4-size upright, they make 1/2 and smaller-sized instruments. That's unfortunate that there aren't any good URB luthiers/shops near you. Perhaps a road-trip/shopping-vacation is in order? I can recommend shops on both coasts, and even one shop in the Michigan area, if it gets to that point.
  13. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I was actually thinking of getting a 1/4 size instrument. We have a good string shop in town that has used and broken in instruments. I know -- lots of cats will cry foul on the smaller sized instruments. But I have found that much of that is noise. For example, I've played short scale basses for 25 years after luthiers told me no way, the low E isn't strong enough. 108 gigs later no problem.

    I did find the 1/4 size uprights were kind of quiet though...not as throaty and loud as the larger scale instruments...

    What do you think of this one right here? Don't want to spend an arm and a leg....but I think it's time I got upright.

    Cecilio Size 3 4 1 2 1 4 Upright Double Bass Case Bow Wood Black or White | eBay

    How much time do you think you have to spend with the instrument to get competent on upright? I am quite competent on electric bass. I can walk over anything, and solo over most moderately difficult tunes now. I also play fretless but normally only in rehearsal, probably out of simply not pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
  14. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    I'm no URB expert, but I'd wager the cats on the doghouse-side of the forum would love to talk your ear off about various makers of URBs and ERBs :) I've got a carved-top Shen 3/4 that has been awesome, but I also had a phenomenal luthier in Massachusetts set it up and maintain it for me. Ed Fuqua also seems to know his stuff, and he patrols the electric side of the forums every now and again.

    And how can I forget! (All Hail) Bob Gollihur's site is a wealth of information - Gollihur Music - Upright Basses, Pickups, Preamps, Amps, and More
  15. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    Sounds like you're turning into a pimp, and I mean that in a good way. You can put together a variety of acts, there's demand and you're getting a cut regardless. Sounds like you're mostly worried about him stealing your spot playing bass. Give him a shot, keep him in line and let him know who's boss.
  16. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    If you can manage things right, you can run two bands at once, with yourself in attendance at one of them. I work with a drummer and bandleader who told me that, many years ago, there was one New Years Eve when he wrote checks to 50 musicians playing in multiple venues.

    An old saying: "Hold your friends close, and your enemies, closer." If the other bassist has to work without you, he will find a way to do it.

    About learning upright bass, I would only advise to do it, if it's something you'd love to do for its own sake. Treating it as a business proposition is likely to be an expensive and possibly painful mistake, because you won't find the motivation to get good at it.
    Ross Kratter likes this.
  17. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I already manage three groups -- so I know it's doable...it gets a bit challenging managing multiple musicians expectations though, but you end up with a lot of musicians that know the same repertoire and can easily sub them when they aren't available.

    What has happened is the problems I used to experience as a BL have nor reversed. The musicians played in 5 different bands and I was barely gigging, and spending all my time orienting new players because the first call guys were never available.

    Now, with 3 groups, and 11 musicians, 3 of whom are gig bookers, I'm finding I'm really busy, and they are not as busy as I am....strange reversal of fortune!
  18. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    I was lucky to have an upright bass "loaned" to me for about a year. The guy's kid had quit playing, and he was tired of looking at the thing taking up space in his tiny pad.

    I got to live with an upright. Haul it up and down stairs. Move it in the car. And work on playing it. Fun, but a huge mountain to climb. It's going to take lots of hours.

    Everything you know is still valid, but you have to figure out a very different animal. The huge scale and string spacing are just the first things to deal with.
    And, they are loud. No quiet headphone practice at night. If you play upright, everybody in the house gets to listen to you practice.

    However, unless you play at acoustic levels, they need amplification. Now your into a pickup and pre, or a mike. More stuff to buy and figure out.

    I'm amazed at the guys who can double.

    Also on the menu was back pain, hand pain and complaints from upstairs.
    I have it a shot and gave it back. Ymmv, of course!

    I would let the new guy bring it on. You get a sub, a guy to hold down the bottom while you solo, and another gear in your machine.
  19. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    With two bass players in the mix you can just book more jobs.

    Even if you don't get a cut from the jobs you don't play, a busy musician is a happy musician. The better your on call guys do the better they will like the situation and happy people tend to be more loyal and dependable than those who might be thinking the grass is greener. Keep it plenty green for your organization and a lot of potential BL headaches will never happen.
    Ross Kratter, 99Z3 and vmabus like this.
  20. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    If the look isn't important, you could always try a Kala bass, Rob Allen or Godin A4 to get a fairly convincing upright vibe.

    I would also say yes/yes to the original questions.

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