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The Three to Four Hour Band Gig?

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by MilwMark, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. daddyplaysbass

    daddyplaysbass Tele-Holic

    Mar 19, 2003
    Chandler Arizona
    Back in the day when we ran out of tunes; we would lie and say we had a request for something we did earlier
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017
    J Hog likes this.

  2. rburd2

    rburd2 Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 13, 2016
    Georgia, US
    10pm to 2am is a pretty normal bar cover gig time in Atlanta and the surrounding area. We usually play 3 sets with short breaks in between. If the crowd is really digging a song, we might add a solo, do the last verse again, then another chorus.

    If we're lucky, we can get upwards of $100 apiece. But if you take out gas for rehearsals and the show, strings and picks, a few beers (there are rarely free drinks), maybe dinner for me and the wife (if the place has good food and we can get there early enough), I usually lose money playing a gig. It's a good thing I actually enjoy it.
    Johnson johnson likes this.

  3. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    Most of my career has been spent doing 4-4 1/2 hour club and casuals gigs like weddings, corporate parties, etc. In the summer 1 set or 2 set outdoor festival gigs are more frequent but never the norm for most of the bands I've been in.

  4. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 17, 2003
    Charlotte NC
    Uhh, not quite. Party music ? Huh ? Bars are not background music . Dances are not background music, the bands and the music are the reason people attend. Some bar bands play covers some don't. Some clubs/ bars want covers some don't. Some venues are shows, some are not. Some bars go out of business because they restricted the music to all original, some stay in business because they don't want only original. Some players stay busy weekly for over 4 decades because of what we do, some players have a gig every couple of months because of what they do.

    It's wide open.

    I dare say, after doing this for over 40 years and still active, I don't play any background party music. Wait... correction, now and then I get asked to play a Folk Music Society kinda get together thing , but it ain't background . As a trio it's a ton of prep and work. It's a totally different set list from what we are familiar with. The good news this gig is only two hours but the food is all foo foo kinda stuff that nobody actually knows what they are eating. The pay is right around $200 per man. People listen. They came to hear the music and maybe sing along.

    Wedding bands, interesting, a great Wedding band MAKES the Wedding, a bad Wedding band has the event a quiet room and will indeed just become background something or other. Wedding bands that rock the planet are indeed some of the most difficult gigs to handle for a guitar player and they get paid the BIG BUCKS. Not uncommon for a really cookin ' Wedding band to be busy 40 weekends out of a year and get paid in the $3000 range.

    Speaking of note to note covers, Hotel California is one of them. Not to be described as a "churn out a note for note " kinda song.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017
    daddyplaysbass likes this.

  5. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Tele-Holic

    Apr 15, 2017
    Harvest, Alabama
    Most of our gigs involve four sets, and we usually play 45 minutes each set with (obviously) 15 minute breaks. It depends on the type of gig and the overall desires of the host. Sometimes it's just three sets.

    We have played bars quite a few times, but most of our jobs tend to be private parties and class reunions.

    The pay is all over the map. We take what we can get, and occasionally turn down a job because they don't want to pay enough to make it worth the while.

    There are some variables, since we sometimes perform with five band members, and sometimes four. For private parties and reunions, we have been paid as little as $400 and as much as $1,100.

    The worst we did, generally, was when we played this one particular bar for 'the door'.
    (The bar owner made his money from liquor and food sales, we got paid precisely what patrons paid at the door in the way of the 'cover charge'.)
    In those instances, it's all a matter of advertising and making sure that you could draw a large enough crowd.

    Our take from those gigs averaged a paltry $200.

    This Saturday we are playing an enormous outdoor gig in the downtown park.
    The organizers are expecting somewhere around 5,000 people to be there during the day (visiting the street vendors, technology displays, restaurants, and food trucks), and we are expecting to net less than a thou.

    Praying for a dry day, and no pop up thunderstorms.
    T Prior likes this.

  6. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Tele-Holic

    Jan 15, 2013
    Heart O' Dixie
    9pm-1am bar gigs and 8pm - 12am wedding receptions. Add 60 minutes load in, and 60 minutes load out to those. Add dinner and toast time to the reception gig, and deduct two breaks. Those turn into 6 and 8 hour gigs respectively. Bar gigs are lower $$ for fun/practice, receptions are for real $$.
    daddyplaysbass and T Prior like this.

  7. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    May 9, 2015
    Seekonk, MA
    It's a simple matter of a principle of economics- the law of supply and demand. Everybody and his nephew has a guitar or a bass or a set of drums or bongos. Plus musicians are the biggest whores. We'll work for table scraps if it means getting some much needed exposure to get a chance of being the one lottery winner in an ocean of millions who breaks through and gets their name on the marquis.
    Despite all that, chicks dig musicians. Go figure.

  8. mrmousey

    mrmousey Tele-Meister

    Aug 6, 2016
    Largo, Fl
    My experience in doing 40 plus years of bar gigs, not concerts mind you, is that the norm is 4 hours. Usually 9-1. or 10 -2, although in some locales you might have the 9-2, or 10-3 marathon.
    In the last 10 or so years things have changed a lot with the dying off of the Honky-tonk generation, and the no smoking regulations and draconian DUI enforcement.
    It's a different world now than it was when I first started playing in the 70's.

  9. Daddydex

    Daddydex Friend of Leo's

    Feb 15, 2007
    As a solo performer, I sometimes do 3 hour sets. 1 long set.

    The longest gig I ever did was 9 hours. I did a combination of solo and 4 piece band.

    If I had to I could cover an 8 hour solo gig with no repeats. I would take a couple of breaks however...

  10. soul-o

    soul-o Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 29, 2007
    This week is a pretty good example of the variety of gigs I play in terms of set length and pay, covers vs originals.

    Last night I played a very casual pub gig in an Irish bar, show up with my acoustic, 2 sets with a fiddle player and upright bassist $50 plus tips. "Tips" were mostly of the dark beer variety
    Tonight I am driving an hour to play my original music at a cool book store for very little money, but probably sell a few copies of my new album.
    Saturday I have a wedding in Boston, for which I am also playing ceremony guitar and I am making a significant amount of money for that. It will cost $25 to park.
    Sunday, I am playing originals opening for Peter Case of the Plimsouls at a house concert in East Boston, no guarantee but I have sold a lot of CDs and vinyl at previous house concert with Peter Case. Also, I LOVE Peter Case.
    Monday, my dance band is playing a large civic event with the Tall Ships coming into the harbor. This will draw many thousands of people to the waterfront area. Pay $200 for one two hour set. Huge, enormous pain in the ass load in because stage is near a Federal courthouse. `
    Tuesday, I am doing a two hour solo acoustic covers and original set in the same area, $150 mights sell some merch, but probably not (tourists).

  11. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 15, 2010
    Played plenty of 4-hour/4-set gigs. It's good if we start at 8, ok if we start at 9, Hades-on-a-Stick if we started at 10.

    We always have a few songs that we can drag out longer (as jams, or better yet, as sing-alongs, getting the crowd into it)...

    I prefer two- or three-set gigs.

    I don't play a lot of covers...and most of the covers I play are obscure. Within the last few years, I have added some more recognizable covers, like "Move It On Over", "Hit The Road, Jack", "Midnight Hour," "Dock of the Bay," etc., in order to keep the interest of the crowds who want to hear covers...most people who come to see us know they're going to hear originals.

    As far as requests, if we know it, we'll play it. If not, I'll say, "We play any request written on a $50 bill...we'll play it right if it's written on a $100 bill!"

    I actually got $50 for an a capella version of "Seven Bridges Road" that way. :p

  12. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

    Oct 3, 2010
    When I was doing a lot of gigs, three sets was the norm. Gigs usually last three hours. Sometimes as few as two, often as many as four.

  13. Doghouse_Riley

    Doghouse_Riley Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 11, 2016
    California is close to passing a law to extend bar hours to 4am. I'm wondering, for the bars that choose to stay open until 4am, will that result in a) 5 or 6 hour gigs with an increase in pay b) 5 or 6 hour gigs without an increase in pay or c) later starting times but still 4 hours or d) stays the same?

    What's the norm in NYC, Chicago, NOLA, Vegas, Miami or other cities with extended bar hours?

  14. Wrong-Note Rod

    Wrong-Note Rod Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Mar 4, 2009
    my last rock cover band did 9pm to 2am, 15 minutes between.

    club owner was a slavedriver but we played there at least once a month.

    the 4th set, the strings felt like knives.

  15. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity

    Dec 8, 2010
    Up North
    I cut my teeth playing five-hour a night gigs for weeks on end at the same club then, off to the next town.

    The longer gigs are for the cover bands.
    Done my share!
    Not having to set-up and tear-down every night is pretty easy to get used to.
    Just walk in, turn stuff on and, start playing.

    Pay: $350 a night and up.
    J Hog likes this.

  16. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity

    Dec 8, 2010
    Up North
    My guess is it will be decided by the customers.
    DJ's will probably benefit from the extended hours more than anybody else.
    Doghouse_Riley likes this.

  17. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    When I played in Portland bars in the early 70s, it was usually for 5 hours, 9:00-2:00. "45 on, 15 off" was a phrase I used to hear a lot. I was young, still in high school, and was adamant about being professional about everything I and my bands did. I'm sure I would have thought in unprofessional of us if we didn't stick to this, so stick to it we did. Playing for a living when it is also your art and passion, means picking your battles, and learning to work within constraints of any kind.

    For about 6 months, our band played 3-4 nights a week in bar in Oregon City/West Linn, with a solid millworker clientele. We played straight country, folk-rock (Buffalo Springfield, Byrds, Hollies), blues, and country-rock, as it would come to be known. A few guys in the band were from Pendleton and were friends of the Dead road crew. They shared the same kind of hippie-cowboy approach to life as Ken Kesey and the road crew, all from the same part of Eastern Oregon. Because of this friendship, we had a very strong Dead, New Riders, and Commander Cody strain going through our set list.

    Then across town to SE 122nd, where we played 2-3 nights at Jack and Jill's Inferno. It was like playing in a basketball court. It was more of a rock place, and featured bands such as Heart and Bachmann-Turner Overdrive on weekends. The only country we played was when some of the Dead roadies would come to our gigs. One night, the only other people in the place were a young couple, who had requested something as an anniversary song. Then the roadies went over to their table, dosed the guy, picked a fight with him and sent him home, and made off with the girl. We knew to watch our drinks when they were around, and if we had a cup or glass, we'd keep one hand above it.

    I've been in infinitely more sedate world of classical music since the late 70s, where nothing I have experienced has come close to rivaling a typical gig in the old days. The biggest upheaval in classical music was moving the starting time of concerts from 8:00PM to 7:30PM.

  18. Junkyard Dog

    Junkyard Dog Tele-Holic

    Mar 7, 2016
    Suppose a patron comes in on Tuesday and says to the owner, hey I was in here around 9PM on Friday night and that band you had was great. Later another regular comes in and says to the owner, hey a bunch of us of came in pretty late on Friday and that band was awesome, we had a fun time dancing, and so forth. The bartender overhears all this and tells the owner that he feels obligated to point out that, yes, the band did do a great job entertaining the customers, but it should be noted that they played Honky Tonk Women twice that night. I doubt the owner would even care if you played it four times.

  19. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    Suppose a patron tells the owner nothing.
    He's not available. That's why he's the owner.
    He's at home watching the Nics game.
    Anyhow, in fourty years I've yet to see a band repeat a set, so I have ways assumed it was a big faux pas.
    Pineears likes this.

  20. Junkyard Dog

    Junkyard Dog Tele-Holic

    Mar 7, 2016
    Nah, not a big deal on a 4 hour gig. If the joint is the busy the bartender is not going to be counting your songs anyway. And presumably the owner (or MOD, etc.) will at least call in after the Nick's game to get the bar sales.

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