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Being prepared for the unexpected

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by T Prior, Oct 27, 2020.

  1. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    While I'm sure many of us rehearse on a regular basis with our bandmates or rehearsal/practice and prepare at home on our own. But, are we prepared for the unexpected ?

    You know, when the singer fly's right past the bridge and goes to the next chorus or goes right to your SOLO ! Uhmm, interesting, now what. We typically only prepare for the EXPECTED.

    Certainly we prepare for the "ORDER" of things but are we prepared for the "OUTSIDE THE BOX" scenario ? Because they come up often and someone has to respond in milliseconds and bring the entire unit back to ground zero, wherever that may be.

    Being a polished prepared player is one thing, a good thing, but being prepared to deal with the unexpected is quite another , because it happens, and probably more often than we realize.

    There are no chord charts, no lyrics on an Ipad etc , that can prepare us for this. Its on US. Its our instinct. MENTAL preparation, Mental awareness , every song.

    If we think we have been to shows where the performing bands were great, every song, we are probably mistaken. I can imagine a top notch band going back to the Green room laughing.."I can't believe we missed that bridge " . Fact of the matter is , only they knew, nobody else knew.

    How do we prepare ? Its a totally mental process, maybe not following the rules or the rehearsed format, but following the other players. Its called paying attention, not just to the song but to everything thats taking place musically. Things can easily go real bad in a NY minute but if we are paying attention, we can probably avoid it or even turn it into a PLUS.

    TRUE: Last summer I played a reunion/memorial show up in Ct , I played with bandmates that I have not seen in decades. We rehearsed the night before and it was like we had never stopped playing together. OK, not so fast. The show the next night, we opened, in front of maybe 2000 people in the field. We only had to play two songs. First one went ok, second one, well, not so OK...It was Hendrix "FIRE". Uhmmm what happened to the prelude part that led up to the solo ? GONE-MISSING- Now what, its a vital part of the song. The solo is built around that prelude. Well a whole bunch of decades of standing in front of people with a guitar took over, thank god, as I was the only guitar player and there was nobody else to lean on. My mind was in an "Uh Oh " moment for a second or so. The Bass player and I looked at each other and just kinda grinned , we picked up the 2nd half of the guitar solo which led us back to the verse again. We both knew. When we got backstage we laughed and even funnier was that the drummer and singer didn't even realize it ! So much for rehearsal .

    Many players who have been performing for decades can write a book sighting all the songs that were screwed up over the years, in front of audiences, yet nobody knew .

    So be prepared ,not just musically ,but mentally. Because its going to happen to you if it has not already. And more than 1 time.

    Consider this a public service announcement. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2020
  2. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

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    My band's girl singer has a bad habit of rolling into the next verse at the wrong time, or repeating a chorus without any sort of signal or provocation.

    We just roll with it, and never miss a beat.
    Because we love her, and it's a great band.

    I have learned, however, to 'count-in' when I want to prepare her for dropping into the next verse or chorus, at the end of a guitar solo for instance.

    ;):oops:
     
  3. srblue5

    srblue5 Tele-Meister

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    100%.

    I agree that if we're paying attention, we can either avoid it or, better yet, turn it into something cool.

    Years ago, I remember coming across a sound clip of the Stones playing "She's So Cold" live in the early '80s where Charlie Watts comes in on the wrong beat and he and Keith are completely out of sync for almost a minute (the 2 and 4 were coming in on the 1 and 3). I bet there was much hilarity onstage while they sorted that one out and afterwards.
     
  4. telel6s

    telel6s Tele-Afflicted

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    I've leaned to just roll with it. Sometimes more successfully than others. I've worked with new to pop/rock/country vocalists who came from more formal choral backgrounds who have missed the timing of the next verse, chorus, line or start of songs. I would just figure out where they might make the mistake and be ready. If I want to sound good, part of my job as an accompanist is to make the vocalist sound good - not leave her/him hanging and gloat that I got it right.

    I also played in one band where the leader would rarely stick to the set list so you had to be ready. He is a really good band leader in that he reads and interacts with the crowd so the changes were often for good reason. But he usually wouldn't turn around to tell the rest of us what he was going into next. Even better (or worse depending on your point of view), there were a couple of times where he learned a new song that day or even on his drive into the gig then decided mid-set to start playing it. Based on where we typically stood on stage (corner of a bar really) I would have to move in front of him to catch his chords then yell the song, key, changes to the drummer and bass player.

    What I've found is that doing that is a skill that not everyone has. There are plenty of more proficient players than me but I have talked with some of them who would never want to play in a band like that.
     
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  5. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I expect the unexpected.
    It’s part of my job.
    I play with the gamut of performers.
    Some highly skilled, some highly suspect.
    With the skilled, I have to meet their expectations.
    With the unskilled, I have to be ready to play intros, outros, fills and solos, often with (their) erratic time feel and questionable arranging skills.
    I love my work, but it’s often trying of my patience.
     
  6. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    Ahh! Nice comments ! a few dittys from above...


    Comment: What I've found is that doing that is a skill that not everyone has

    True but it can be developed over time, its called experience



    Comment: Some highly skilled, some highly suspect.

    I love that line !




    Comment- With the skilled, I have to meet their expectations.

    YEP..the rubber meets the road, thats why they keep calling you



    Comment - With the unskilled, I have to be ready to play

    Yep and they are counting on it ! Thats why they keep calling you !
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2020
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  7. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    I'm the "sound guy" at a church, where we have a really topnotch band, and I have heard these guys working out arrangements on short notice pretty much every Sunday morning for quite a few years now. It's the skill that impresses me the most - sure, when it's time to "deliver the goods," their playing is impressive, but what bowls me over is how they find the licks and the groove and the structure so reliably and so organically. I can't say enough about how good these guys are. And when a guest comes into the mix, they leave the exact right space for the guest, too.
     
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  8. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Afflicted

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    It seems that half measure wants to slip in or get cut between vocal lines.
     
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  9. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    One exception: James Brown with Maceo leading the band. Those guys didn't miss. They practiced changing up on the fly.
     
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  10. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    There are two bands - James Brown's, and King Sunny Ade's - that I have heard who can do the most amazing trick. They both were (are) able to shift grooves so abruptly and so tightly that it sounds like two pieces of tape spliced together. Once you've heard it you never forget it.
     
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  11. dannyh

    dannyh Tele-Afflicted

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    That’s why I’d take a band full of guys that are “quick on their feet” as my first choice any day. You can’t teach that.
     
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  12. Ron R

    Ron R Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    This is why I like the idea of practicing/rehearsing on a weekly basis, not going on the fly. Because, while you are preparing for the expected and trying to eliminate those unexpected moments in doing so, I think the added time playing together helps prepare you for the unexpected as well.
     
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  13. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    I worked with a bass player in the 70s who had been on the road with James Brown. There were hand signals. If you missed a signal, it was a $100 fine. Miss several, you're off the bus.
     
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  14. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    No doubt, but what if you are filling in, like so many here do ? Rehearsing can never prevent a flub, a lapse of concentration can and will. Thats why UNEXPECTED is unexpected ! :)
     
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  15. FMA

    FMA Poster Extraordinaire

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    This may or may not be on point, but a long, long time ago, a musician I respect very much said the best quality a bandmate can have is the ability to listen. Just listen. And go where it goes.
     
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  16. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Listening never gets the attention it deserves.
     
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  17. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    image.jpeg
     
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  18. 39martind18

    39martind18 Friend of Leo's

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    I guess I'm among the erratic, but my time has improved greatly over the years playing with computer backing. I still fluff things occasionally, but I just blame it on the "drummer." Always gets a laugh.
     
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  19. DavidP

    DavidP Friend of Leo's

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    My 2 rules when playing live: 1) everyone starts the song together and 2) everyone finishes the song together... What may happen in between -- you cope with it!!
     
  20. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Funny!
    Poor drummers!
    I by no means have perfect time feel, either.
    I can be an “excitable boy”, and rush a bit.
    I do try to find the common groove.
    That’s why I really value a great drummer.
     
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