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First gig in 5 years coming up. Lots to learn! ZZ Top covers.

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by tfarny, Apr 17, 2017.

  1. tfarny

    tfarny Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    So, short version: Always been a hobby player. Got into acoustic folky stuff years ago, pretty much put away my electrics, didn't own a pick but had three capos. Have played maybe 6 gigs total in my life, either in "pay to play" bands or supporting a singer-songwriter. Bought a fixer house 2.5 years ago - nightmare & money pit, destroyed all hobbies and free time until now. Did not pick up any guitars during that time.

    Finally found some free time! Joined the local music school's "band camp" ZZ Top tribute. Turns out we have a gig at the Elks Club in town, big (for me) stage, Saturday night, 150+ people possibly at the end of June. The other band members are all much fresher than I am, as in, so far it's been me slowing down the rehearsals. My soloing truly stinks, my timing is hit and miss, you name it. I'm one of two guitarists, doing at least some of the singing, and the only one who has ever picked up a slide.

    Anyhow, they're not going to kick me out and I have time to practice, it's a short set, and ZZ tunes are not super-duper hard, and the audience is always really friendly for these "band camp" gigs. I have the gear. I'm not exactly worried, but...

    If you guys have practice tips or advice I would love to hear it. Stage fright etc. is not my issue. It's really just counting out the LONG solos, timing, and so on. 9 more rehearsals is what we got.

    Feeling very rusty and not as with-it as I had hoped. But having a blast for sure.
    Blue Bill likes this.

  2. Staggerlee666

    Staggerlee666 Tele-Meister

    Jul 24, 2014
    A lot of his stuff begins on the weak beat, I.e. it is quite syncopated. My suggestion is to always play to a metronome.

  3. crossroader

    crossroader Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

    Sep 24, 2004
    Endicott, NY
    If timing is an issue for you, then by all means, practice on your own with a metronome in between your band rehearsals.

    And, of course, playing along with the original recordings can be helpful - for both timing and note selection.

    Don't worry about note-for-note accuracy. Get the signature licks down and then just keep the feel going.

    And you can probably skip the shower cap thing. ;)
    68Telebass and t guitar floyd like this.

  4. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

    Jan 14, 2013
    DC Burbs

    ZZ Top songs are usually weird. Like Sharp Dressed's like 20 measure of soloing over C in one spot. I can't count that high while I'm in the moment and sometime neither can the band. Perhaps discuss with the band as to shortening it up, or making sure the drummer hits harder (or different) as the solo section is wrapping up. I assume you all are in the band camp thus you can discuss stuff like this?
    callasabra, BBill64 and Flyinlow like this.

  5. tfarny

    tfarny Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Thanks guys - yeah, the timing of these tunes can be weird. I need to do a lot more counting in my head and remembering all the stops, breakdowns and so on. We Worked on Cheap Sunglasses and La Grange last night - hardest two-power-chord tune I've ever tried! I've been playing along with the originals but I think I might need to record my own little "backing track" for some of the trickier ones, especially where I'm singing. Singing along to a record is way different than just plain singing.

    I think I'm just gonna wear shades and a cowboy hat to the show - no shower cap, funky suit or fake beard.

  6. Flyinlow

    Flyinlow Tele-Meister

    Feb 9, 2017
    NE Indiana
    If you're doing Just Got Paid, I'm Bad I'm Nationwide, etc... Make sure not just you, but everyone knows how many measures to count, or maybe how to cue off a certain riff to make the next move. They aren't the hardest songs in the world, but everybody has to know when to move.

    Ex.- In the lead of Just Got Paid, it moves from E to A at it's (the lead's) 10th measure, back to E at the 14th, stops in E start at measure 22, back to main (intro) riff at 24... So, it can be pretty easy to booger it up.
    CJM3309 and Flat6Driver like this.

  7. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 14, 2013
    are ZZ Top consistent with these bar counts when they play live? or are changes just cued by one of them? genuine question

  8. Catawompus

    Catawompus Tele-Meister

    Nov 29, 2014

  9. Sjnoring

    Sjnoring Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 26, 2017
    Hah wow just like me. I felt like the weak link too. But I've noticed over the few rehearsals we've had that the other guitarist is a one trick pony who's a deer in the headlights when he gets outside of the music he grew up with. Nobody's really that good a singer. The drummer is very good but not cut out for rock. So I'm bringing more to the band than I think. You probably are too.

    And I'm also the only one who can play slide!
    Rospo and 68Telebass like this.

  10. Sjnoring

    Sjnoring Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 26, 2017
    Easy to booger the main riff too. Totally cool but you have to get not only the timing but the greasy feel so it doesn't sound like an etude.
    JTM45blues likes this.

  11. tfarny

    tfarny Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    That's just what I'm figuring out on these tunes - the hard part is not so much playing the notes he plays, it's remembering when to stop after 20 measures of C and head to the F riff. I'm trying to think of things in groups of 4 measures each, and so on. I'm also just plain having trouble improvising blues solos - I know that's what every home guitarist does, but man do mine suck. Such a different world than fingerpicking a short little thing on Capo 7. I am always heading to the 5th, the worst note most of the time, and avoiding the b7 and b3, the only two notes I really need to be playing...It helps the band / is slightly embarrassing to me that the other guitarist is a complete shredder on this stuff. We were trading fours at the end of LaGrange - it was like bringing a squirt gun to an NRA meetup. At least I can play some slide. But good for him! I think I need a looper pedal just to practice jamming. Anyhow this is already making me a much better player and I am not at all sick of the tunes yet, which is a great thing.
    Set list so far: Cheap Sunglasses, I'm Bad I'm Nationwide, LaGrange, Tush, Sharp Dressed Man, She Loves My Automobile, Waiting/Jesus, just got paid, with several more to be chosen.
    xland and 68Telebass like this.

  12. rich815

    rich815 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Aug 22, 2016
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Add Brown Sugar and I Wanna Drive You Home to your set list! Just because I like them....:D

  13. 68Telebass

    68Telebass Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 2, 2014
    Northern Arizona
    You will be Awesome! Keep the slide handy- work out some "meaningful" stage looks to the drummer solidify the change-ups- (don't be afraid to "edit" measures for band cohesion/ease of counting- no one in audience will notice or care- its band camp! You will nail this thing!
    You are already learning from the other guitarist (and I'm sure he IS watching you too!). Sounds super supportive, and the set list looks great-

  14. tfarny

    tfarny Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    It looks like they are so tight after 40 years (!!) of playing the same tunes as a power trio that they have an actual mind-meld going on.
    68Telebass likes this.

  15. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity

    Dec 8, 2010
    Up North
    Keep hitting your head against the wall until you break through.

    Don't be afraid to ask the Drummer to count things out for you.
    Work on eye contact with the other members for Cues.
    Stop the song if it starts to tank on you at practice. GO over that part until it makes sense to you.

    Above all: Pay Attention to what everybody else is playing. It is the best way to learn.

  16. ddewerd

    ddewerd Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    I play several of these tunes too.

    On some of the longer jams where you might have a hard time keeping track of measures, listen closely to what the guitar is playing right before the chord changes. Often times there's a little signature riff, maybe repeated a couple of times.

    Tell the band that you are the one that is going to trigger the transition. When you feel it's the right time to switch, work your way into the transition riff and give a signal to the drummer and bass player (head nod, guitar neck wiggle), then on the switch give a big exaggerated guitar swing on the downbeat of the new chord. Hopefully the drummer catches it with a slight drum roll or other transitional pattern.

    I've been doing this stuff for years, and my trio can basically go all over the place and then come back together in time. Think of it like this - you know there is a change coming up, and you know what the change is, but you're not sure exactly when. So just come up with a signal, give a head nod, and go with it. After a couple of times through you'll get the hang of it and it'll be second nature.

    Plus, it's a lot more fun to play using stage communication than it is to be more robotic with everything coutned out exactly.


  17. hrstrat57

    hrstrat57 Tele-Holic

    Nov 21, 2016
    Rhode Island
    YouTube is your friend / Justin for example has covered a lot of it his stuff is crystal. Cliff notes for rock, what a time we live in. No more sitting in front of the living room console hi fi for days trying to steal chops!

  18. lil scotty

    lil scotty Tele-Meister

    Jun 29, 2016
    Phoenix, AZ
    Forget about counting bars when you're soloing. Even if you learn the solos note for note, you will get derailed at some point and need to improv. Guarantee you will not be counting at that point! Just have the drummer (or somebody else) cue you and the band into the next part of the song. You don't need that added pressure.

    (Oh, and what ddewerd said above!)

  19. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

    Jan 14, 2013
    DC Burbs

    I play with two groups regularly. One does blues which is a little more regimented format wise. I share a bassist with both. He makes charts for everything and is a stickler for using them with the other group (lesser musicians and less experience). I do much of the lead work in the lesser group, and I'm comfortable "winging it" some but they others cannot. I work a lot with the guys on who to watch for various things. Singer, step back up to the mic when my solo is over. :)

    I discussed with a friend who's a better singer and has run some good bar bands. She said that she struggles when her guitar player does something different than the last time they played it. I found that interesting.

  20. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

    Jan 14, 2013
    DC Burbs

    The other thing is, have a bail out spot. One of the guys I play with, gets behind or off track and doesn't know how to get back on line. So, it's helpful to know how to get back on track and make it look like it was all OK all the time. :)
    68Telebass likes this.

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