The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of my next gig

Boris Von Teufel

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pool 26 on the mighty miss
A little background info first. I was asked by the entertainment committee of my boat club to assemble a band to play a party at the harbor. I’m pretty much an average hacker, but I do have a good ear and a great memory for words & music. I’ll be singing some lead and playing acoustic & electric guitar. The rest of the band consists of bass, drums, guitar, sax w/vocals, harp, & banjo.

The Good: The rhythm section are real pros. The other guitarist is a music teacher, the bass & drums have played together for a few years in another project, and the sax player used to gig regularly with well known local R&B bands.

The Bad: It’s supposed to be a community style band where all comers are welcome so I have to find something for everyone. The harp & banjo are very green. The banjo player is in his 70s and mostly plays bluegrass. The harp player has never played with a band before but she is excited to play in front of friends.

The Ugly: The gig is on June 18th and getting everyone to a rehearsal is like herding cats. We were able to jam twice so far, with mixed results.

Our song list has to be simple & easy, but inclusive. Laugh if you want, but get ready for Mustang Sally, Sweet Home Chicago, & Wagon Wheel! There’s some Hag, Tom Petty, & other 3 & 4 chord tunes on the list too. We’re playing in front of a home town crowd, so our efforts will be appreciated no matter what. The veteran players will help to support us amateurs, and we’re there to have fun. If anyone out there has some advice on how to keep this gig fun but “professional” please chime in. I will follow up with a post gig report.
 

johnny k

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Agreed with scottser, have the beginning and end part ok, then the middle part if you mess up no one will hear that. Hear yourself and listen. so that you can correct if something goes wrong. And do it,. Have a few comedy routines on hand, because otherwise it will be noticeable. No evil eye, just do as if everything was planned, though it isn't. Smile, dress to the occasion, maybe a boat hat or something, and play surfin bird.

Best of luck.
 

billy logan

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Sep 18, 2019
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weatherford tx
(like what johnny k says)


Practice endings.

At an airport somewhere I heard a band playing a vague song - dominated by a dreary keyboard sound
AND I WAS ASTONISHED
when the song ended to enthusiastic applause from the very random audience of travelers. Snappy ending.

[ETA: If a recording you're covering has a fade-out ending maybe there's a live concert version - if you're at a loss for an ending]
 
Last edited:

String Tree

Doctor of Teleocity
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Dec 8, 2010
Posts
18,217
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Up North
A little background info first. I was asked by the entertainment committee of my boat club to assemble a band to play a party at the harbor. I’m pretty much an average hacker, but I do have a good ear and a great memory for words & music. I’ll be singing some lead and playing acoustic & electric guitar. The rest of the band consists of bass, drums, guitar, sax w/vocals, harp, & banjo.

The Good: The rhythm section are real pros. The other guitarist is a music teacher, the bass & drums have played together for a few years in another project, and the sax player used to gig regularly with well known local R&B bands.

The Bad: It’s supposed to be a community style band where all comers are welcome so I have to find something for everyone. The harp & banjo are very green. The banjo player is in his 70s and mostly plays bluegrass. The harp player has never played with a band before but she is excited to play in front of friends.

The Ugly: The gig is on June 18th and getting everyone to a rehearsal is like herding cats. We were able to jam twice so far, with mixed results.

Our song list has to be simple & easy, but inclusive. Laugh if you want, but get ready for Mustang Sally, Sweet Home Chicago, & Wagon Wheel! There’s some Hag, Tom Petty, & other 3 & 4 chord tunes on the list too. We’re playing in front of a home town crowd, so our efforts will be appreciated no matter what. The veteran players will help to support us amateurs, and we’re there to have fun. If anyone out there has some advice on how to keep this gig fun but “professional” please chime in. I will follow up with a post gig report.
Make sure you get Paid BEFORE the Gig. :lol:
 

FMA

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Apr 29, 2003
Posts
5,597
Make sure the 'greens' know the rule:

when in doubt, lay out

Yes. Put together the set list so that they can play on songs that they know and sit out on those they don't.

Short story, had a friend who played the harp and he'd come to our gigs and ask to sit in. He's an OK player, and we told him which songs would work with harp. He'd plug his mic in and after the songs were over, he'd stay and keep playing over our stuff. (We think he wanted to join the band, even though we don't really need a harp player.) After a few gigs where he did this, and we'd tell him to sit out and he wouldn't, I was appointed to tell him, gently, that we don't need harp on every song and that we rehearse this material to get it tight and to get arrangements down and he was welcome to sit in for a few songs where the harp worked. The result? He stopped coming to our gigs.
 

Boris Von Teufel

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Posts
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Location
pool 26 on the mighty miss
Thanks for all the good advice. We're not doing the gig for $ it's more just fun amongst friends. That doesn't mean I'm willing to lower the bar and put out a sloppy mess and embarass ourselves. You guys are spot on with starting & stopping together. If we can nail that, I think the rest will be gravy. The wild card is whether or not our "greens" will actually practice on their own in between rehearsals. If all else fails we can just keep their mics low for the gig and let the pros do the heavy lifting. Since it's a harbor & boat club, we've named the band the Bad Buoys.
 

Flaneur

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I'm more of a 'Once Upon a Time in the West' kinda guy......

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ouatitw.jpg

MV5BMzg3NGZiYjMtOTc5Mi00NjcwLWE4OWMtNWFlOWIyYmIyMzA3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDAxOTExNTM@._V1_.jpg
 

telel6s

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Northern Virginia
In addition to what others have said about getting in some rehearsal time - not only will people learn the songs that way, but that will also give you a sense of what needs to be controlled in the arrangements - here are some other random thoughts:

That banjo might be my biggest concern. They are LOUD! And less experienced banjo players tend to not yet have the skills to play quieter. Even if everyone is plugged in with a PA, the dancefloor in front of the band could still sound off kilter thanks to the banjo, especially if they don't know all the tunes 100%.

For what this gig sounds like, be sure to give each person a chance to solo. (1) They'll have friends in the crowd that will cheer for them regardless of skill; (2) then it may be easier to ask them to dial things back (if necessary) on the other songs.

When putting the set list together, make sure everybody knows the key and version of the song you are covering. Darius Rucker "Wagon Wheel" is not the same as Old Crow Medicine Show "Wagon Wheel". OK, maybe not the best example since those are both in A, and aside from instrumentation and Rucker's being a bit faster, if you can play one you can play the other. But you get my drift.

Nobody is allowed to get drunk until you are done playing.

But in the end.....just have fun! From your description I'll bet that's what the crowd is going to be doing.

(I recently played a short set of songs for a friend's birthday. A guy he knew whom I met three days before the the party plays violin/fiddle. I suggested he play along on The Beatle's "Birthday". Then at the party, he decided to play on five of the seven songs. I gave him the list, my key, and he spent about ten minutes listening to tunes on his iPhone. "Birthday" went off great. Everything else, in my opinion, was a mess because the guy was not listening to what I was playing or looking for my very demonstrative cues. At one point I just stopped playing because he had gone into some jamsolo thing with no regards to the song. I was not a happy camper.

But you know what? The crowd there loved it. Cheered for us. Someone bought each of us a beer. Six weeks later and some folks still mention what a fun night it was.

So whatever you are able to do in advance, and I'm all with you on trying to get some semblance of order and professionalism to this, come the night of the gig just enjoy yourself.
)
 

Boris Von Teufel

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pool 26 on the mighty miss
Update for all, we just had another rehearsal & I'm ready to remove the Bad & the Ugly! The Bad Buoys put together 20 songs which feature the band as a whole and some special spots where the banjo and the harp lead us through their tunes and the pros provide the foundation. After we ran through our 20, we had a free jam which led to another 5 or 6 blues/R&B standards that came together nicely. I love the variety of material (Tom Petty, James Brown, Hank Sr & Jr, Roger Miller, plus some Bluegrass & R&B instrumentals) & I think our audience (age 50-80?) will dig it too. Our pro guitarist paid the band quite a compliment when he said that our rehearsal had the energy of a performance, unlike some other groups he had played with.

If we're anywhere near as good as we were last night for the gig, we'll be $#!ttin' in tall cotton! I've asked for people to shoot video or at least get audio for the gig. If that happens, good or bad you'll see it here.
 

Linkslover

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Mar 16, 2017
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322
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Naples, FL
I can't argue with any of the advice previously given, but I'll add one piece.

HAVE FUN!

When it's obvious the band is having fun that's contagious. If you're having fun it's a pretty good probability that the audience so have fun too.

Play through the mistakes. If someone subs the wrong verse, back then up. No one but the band will notice and no one else will care.

LL
 

Boris Von Teufel

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Joined
Oct 5, 2021
Posts
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Location
pool 26 on the mighty miss
We'll definitely smoke something at the gig! The turning point was getting the harp & banjo to relax and play what they can rather than intimidate them with a load of tunes & force them to learn them all. They both have really good ears and are happy to play what's in their wheelhouse. If this turns out to be an ongoing project, we'll see how they respond to kicking it up a notch with some more challenging material. We're all good friends and working together has been a pleasure. I'm so glad we've been able to come together and maximize our strengths rather than focus on what we can't do. All fun, no frustration.
 




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