Are Local Bands Getting Worse?

teleplayr

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There's a local group that landed a recording contract with Warner Bros. that I never understood how they did it. I used to do a lot of business with their manager when he ran a local record store.

The name starts with "Flaming". I'm sure I'm going to get "Flamed" for posting this!
 

VonBonfire

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You could make it work if you were willing to be on tour a lot, but that’s also living most places. How many bands in nyc or la make it big without playing other cities?
OP was talking about cover bands and the low quality of the musicians though. Cover bands thrive on playing locally and regionally so backwater areas just can't be expected to turn out plentiful numbers of quality players because quality players who are serious gravitate towards areas with more plentiful gigs and other quality players.
 

chris m.

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Could some of this stem from people not going to church, and from school music programs being gutted? From preschool through high school I was singing in choir, playing in school band, taking music theory in high school, etc. plus having big hootenanny potluck jam sessions in the backyard with friends and family. Plus lots and lots of guitar lessons. By the time I formed my first band in junior high I already had a sense of pocket and groove. I think nowadays a lot of players just don’t have that deep, early grounding in ensemble playing/ singing from a very early age.
 

cyclopean

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OP was talking about cover bands and the low quality of the musicians though. Cover bands thrive on playing locally and regionally so backwater areas just can't be expected to turn out plentiful numbers of quality players because quality players who are serious gravitate towards areas with more plentiful gigs and other quality players.
Where did he mention cover bands? Is there even much of that going on?
 

VonBonfire

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Where did he mention cover bands? Is there even much of that going on?
I guess he didn't mention them specifically it was just an inference I drew from his post. "Local club bands" and "not being familiar with the material". Is there a big original music scene in rural Vermont? I didn't suppose there was so I guess I reckoned he was talking about cover bands. Even around Austin/San Antone a large portion of bands are doing covers so I'm not sure what you mean by "is there even much of that going on?" I thought it was the norm?

Seems like a bigger headache finding venues that support all-original bands/performances that actually pay anything besides "percentage of tickets you sell" type stuff. I do covers, but it's blues and covers are expected even with big name acts and no one flies off the handle over some originals along with it, it's actually appreciated.
 

cyclopean

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I guess he didn't mention them specifically it was just an inference I drew from his post. "Local club bands" and "not being familiar with the material". Is there a big original music scene in rural Vermont? I didn't suppose there was so I guess I reckoned he was talking about cover bands. Even around Austin/San Antone a large portion of bands are doing covers so I'm not sure what you mean by "is there even much of that going on?" I thought it was the norm?

Seems like a bigger headache finding venues that support all-original bands/performances that actually pay anything besides "percentage of tickets you sell" type stuff. I do covers, but it's blues and covers are expected even with big name acts and no one flies off the handle over some originals along with it, it's actually appreciated.
I’ve never seen a cover band in Austin, but i’ve seen a ton of bands doing original material there. I frequently see live music multiple nights per week and i never hear of cover bands except for Halloween shows. I saw a listing once in Austin for a siouxsie and the banshees cover band but i didn’t manage to catch them.

About six years ago i saw a really cool fest in Brattleboro that was largely bands from the pioneer valley area doing garage/indie/noise/experimental/punk music. I’ve also seen indie rock and straight up hardcore punk shows in the pioneer valley. My old punk band played club 242 in Burlington. Johnny Hobo came from the Brattleboro area.

I can’t even think of venues that book live music where it isn’t primarily musicians and bands playing originals.
 

cyclopean

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I guess he didn't mention them specifically it was just an inference I drew from his post. "Local club bands" and "not being familiar with the material". Is there a big original music scene in rural Vermont? I didn't suppose there was so I guess I reckoned he was talking about cover bands. Even around Austin/San Antone a large portion of bands are doing covers so I'm not sure what you mean by "is there even much of that going on?" I thought it was the norm?

Seems like a bigger headache finding venues that support all-original bands/performances that actually pay anything besides "percentage of tickets you sell" type stuff. I do covers, but it's blues and covers are expected even with big name acts and no one flies off the handle over some originals along with it, it's actually appreciated.
Have you looked into renting halls?
 

VonBonfire

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I’ve never seen a cover band in Austin, but i’ve seen a ton of bands doing original material there. I frequently see live music multiple nights per week and i never hear of cover bands except for Halloween shows. I saw a listing once in Austin for a siouxsie and the banshees cover band but i didn’t manage to catch them.

About six years ago i saw a really cool fest in Brattleboro that was largely bands from the pioneer valley area doing garage/indie/noise/experimental/punk music. I’ve also seen indie rock and straight up hardcore punk shows in the pioneer valley. My old punk band played club 242 in Burlington. Johnny Hobo came from the Brattleboro area.

I can’t even think of venues that book live music where it isn’t primarily musicians and bands playing originals.
Much of the austin area is cover bands or bands that do both.

Have you looked into renting halls?
Not really. There is too much horsing around with all that and it couldn't be sustained regularly enough to make it worth my while. Most of the gigs I play are outside of Austin with decent guarantees and good tips along with some corporate events. I'm out in Fredericksburg and New Braunfels area this weekend. Pretty much playing everywhere but San Antonio and Austin these days though I do have one or two dates this summer inside city limits. Pays better to play elsewhere. San Antonio is unbelievably bad in terms of worthwhile venues for such a huge city. Dead, essentially.
 

WireLine

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When I was a pup, nearly everyone who had a guitar was playing in some sort of band…by the time the got to young adult hood, they already had years of working with other artists. Now, less than 10 people I know under age 30 play anything other than games, most of which have no aspirations.
 

cyclopean

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Much of the austin area is cover bands or bands that do both.


Not really. There is too much horsing around with all that and it couldn't be sustained regularly enough to make it worth my while. Most of the gigs I play are outside of Austin with decent guarantees and good tips along with some corporate events. I'm out in Fredericksburg and New Braunfels area this weekend. Pretty much playing everywhere but San Antonio and Austin these days though I do have one or two dates this summer inside city limits. Pays better to play elsewhere. San Antonio is unbelievably bad in terms of worthwhile venues for such a huge city. Dead, essentially.
I’ve been to Austin at least once a year for most of the past twelve years and I’ve seen no evidence of this, but i’ve seen a bunch of local and touring acts doing original music. The Melvins, the sonics, youth of today, melt banana, world burns to death, amebix, cocksparrer, manikin, bastard, d-clone, the subhumans etc etc etc.

It’s a real stronghold of original music and touring bands.

Having a few friends down there and chaos in Tejas made it a place i visit frequently for being from the east coast.
 

cyclopean

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I don’t know the area around Austin super well, but austin proper seems absolutely lousy with music venues for a city of that population, unless a whole crapload of them closed since i was last there in 2019.
 

keithb7

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We only play covers. We do pretty good. I know we could be better if we each didn’t have independent, busy lives. We get a decent number of steady gigs. We’ve all been together as the current group for about 5 years now. Harmonies are getting pretty decent. Band is tight. The newer songs a little loser. To be expected for a bunch of grey bald guys.

I’m the youngest band member at 51. The other working stiff in the band is 53. The other 2 members are retired. They are active and take care of themselves. Our focus audience is aged 40 and up. The pay? Meh. Ok. The tips coming-in are better than the gig pay. At our last gig a guy (he had to be 70+) made two trips to our tip spitoon. $50 each trip! He and his lady danced a lot. They’d sit down for a minute, then we’d start up another great song they liked. Then they’d be dancing again.

Retirees today grew up with the Beatles and the Stones. Steve Earl and REM. They danced through all the decades that we play covers from. Lucky for us.

Its just a local hobby. A good time. We make people happy. They dance. We’re happy. Spring chickens we ain’t, but yes there still are locals bands gigging covers.
I don’t think we suck.

20-somethings here gotta be reading my post thinking, jeeze these guys are old. When gigging I don’t feel a day out of my 20’s.
 

RCinMempho

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We only play covers. We do pretty good. I know we could be better if we each didn’t have independent, busy lives. We get a decent number of steady gigs. We’ve all been together as the current group for about 5 years now. Harmonies are getting pretty decent. Band is tight. The newer songs a little loser. To be expected for a bunch of grey bald guys.

I’m the youngest band member at 51. The other working stiff in the band is 53. The other 2 members are retired. They are active and take care of themselves. Our focus audience is aged 40 and up. The pay? Meh. Ok. The tips coming-in are better than the gig pay. At our last gig a guy (he had to be 70+) made two trips to our tip spitoon. $50 each trip! He and his lady danced a lot. They’d sit down for a minute, then we’d start up another great song they liked. Then they’d be dancing again.

Retirees today grew up with the Beatles and the Stones. Steve Earl and REM. They danced through all the decades that we play covers from. Lucky for us.

Its just a local hobby. A good time. We make people happy. They dance. We’re happy. Spring chickens we ain’t, but yes there still are locals bands gigging covers.
I don’t think we suck.

20-somethings here gotta be reading my post thinking, jeeze these guys are old. When gigging I don’t feel a day out of my 20’s.

I remember the "old men" where I grew up all played in big band jazz bands in their younger years. Seemed so far fetched to us as kids. Saw a picture the other day of some of them on the bandstand. One was a local band director. Three of them were music store owners - competitors in small area. They're all gone now. Good men. Foster dads of a sort to all us kids.
 

VonBonfire

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I’ve been to Austin at least once a year for most of the past twelve years and I’ve seen no evidence of this, but i’ve seen a bunch of local and touring acts doing original music. The Melvins, the sonics, youth of today, melt banana, world burns to death, amebix, cocksparrer, manikin, bastard, d-clone, the subhumans etc etc etc.

There are hundreds of bands playing every weekend in the Austin area, you can pretty much find anything you want to see from bro country covers to blues to jazz to punk and metal. Even the New Braunfels area just south is approaching almost 100 acts on a weekend. They aren't punk or metal though. Red dirty country americana whatever music mostly. Solos, duos. Blues, blues-rock, and rock.

I don’t know the area around Austin super well, but austin proper seems absolutely lousy with music venues for a city of that population, unless a whole crapload of them closed since i was last there in 2019.
I just don't think you are that familiar with the scene here, only visiting once per year. There are still a ton of venues for everything but jazz and classical. Most of them pay really poorly, so it's always been garbage in that regard. They change hands frequently, and a club is opening or closing all the time. But yes you are correct the whole city has made an ugly shift since 2019, musically and otherwise and definitely not for the better.
 

loopfinding

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What musician who is extremely serious about pursuing a music career hangs around in Vermont or other backwater area? Either they are clueless, financially unable to make the move to an urban area where regular live performance is possible, or prefer to be a big fish in a very small pond.
You could make it work if you were willing to be on tour a lot, but that’s also living most places. How many bands in nyc or la make it big without playing other cities?

actually you can probably make it work much better in smaller places in general, so long as there's a minimal scene. that's the irony of the current situation.

in the states i've lived in chicago & nyc, and here in europe in berlin, barcelona, and madrid. regardless of genre of music, dudes from chicago or dudes from spain can get moderately "big fish small pond" status in-town, and soon enough on the internet get writeups (they become wherever-the-hell's "scene brewing" go-to) and are touring all the time.

dudes in nyc or berlin who have double or three times the average concert attendees on any given night are pretty much completely ignored, locally and globally. if you can become a "thing" in your smaller metro area, you're in a much better spot than someone going to nyc, LA, london, berlin, etc to "make it."
 
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David Barnett

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I’ve been to Austin at least once a year for most of the past twelve years and I’ve seen no evidence of this, but i’ve seen a bunch of local and touring acts doing original music. The Melvins, the sonics, youth of today, melt banana, world burns to death, amebix, cocksparrer, manikin, bastard, d-clone, the subhumans etc etc etc.

It’s a real stronghold of original music and touring bands.

Having a few friends down there and chaos in Tejas made it a place i visit frequently for being from the east coast.

Venues that have original music, and ones that host cover bands seem to be completely different circuits with little overlap, in much of the country. It's easily possible to be involved in one scene and be mostly unaware that the other even exists. Often they don't even advertise in the same local free entertainment papers.
 




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