What do you do if a bandmate keeps suggesting multiple covers by the same artist?

srblue5

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In what respect is this guy “bandleader?” Does he own the van and PA? 7 years you’ve put up with this dude? Sounds like an egomaniac. Don’t you think you deserve to be in a more musically equitable and collaborative situation?
Wow. Sounds like you're talking about a band I'm in.

Egomaniac and bad musician for a leader, and he's not a collaborator, either.

I'm dialing it down.
He started the band years before I joined and owns the PA and pays for the rehearsal space. He also sings lead and sometimes plays lead guitar. So he's the "bandleader" to me.

The Dylan obsession has intensified over the past few years but was always kind of there when I first joined. Sneaking songs into the set without notice seems to be a new thing over the past year. I'm not sure what's going on with him but there are some other ego issues as well. I am looking into my options, although band/gig opportunities have been rare lately (which is partly why the Dylan fixation and ad hoc cover ideas concern me as I fear it's limiting our audience and people wanting to hire/hear us).
 

4 Cat Slim

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I'm sorry to hear that you're still dealing with this problem. I remember your first posting about this last August. I chimed in with a somewhat similar situation, in that I thought we were not giving
people what they wanted to hear, even though we were a praise/worship band playing to an older
congregation. You'd think it couldn't get that complicated.

Your bandleader is a Bob Dylan fan and not likely to see choices beyond Dylan's material,
and that's unfortunate. I wish I could give you good advise or at least say something
beyond the fact that I can feel the pain.
 
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pypa

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Tell him that Hendrix and Roxy Music broke the mold on Dylan covers ;)

I think you're right to want to limit the # songs per artist. I say that not as a bandmember, but as an audience member. One deep cut is like "wow, cool!" Two or more is like "ok, we get it."

In the end though, there's really no bad songs to cover except Free Bird.
 

telel6s

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Which songs, or era of songs, is he suggesting? Any tracks off of "Love & Theft" (what an awesome album) or "Modern Times"? Or is he going for deep cut 14 verses with few changes and no bridge Dylan songs? Or some of the lesser played but still accessible songs like "It’s All Over Now Baby Blue". Or does he want to do all seventeen minutes of "Murder So Foul"?

Does your audience want to hear these songs? What kind of gigs are you playing? There are lots of great Dylan songs (says Mr. Obvious), but really only so many that will grab the attention of a general audience. Some of his greatest songs are great because of their lyrical content, not their musical composition. If you're playing a folk festival, listening room or quiet coffee house, break out all the Dylan. If you're playing the local brewery, winery or pub, keep it to the songs that at least 30% of the audience will be able to sing along with.

My final question is how is the band trying to play them: Are you trying to sound like Dylan? Or is the band leader inspired by these songs and wants the band to play them the best that the band can be? I know these two examples are outliers of success, but Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower" or Adele's "Make You Feel My Love" are so good precisely because they didn't attempt to sound like Dylan. When was the last time you heard someone covering Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower"? Probably never because everyone, including Dylan himself, is playing off of Hendrix.

I saw a guy at an open mic recently who sings in a Dylan tribute band (no idea where or how often that band plays). He knows the material and sings it well (well, like Dylan). But the first two songs nobody knew what they were. By the time he got to doing all seven verses of "Tangled Up in Blue" people were looking at their watches wondering when the next act would get to use the mic. At an open mic, that can happen. But for a band wanting to get gigs and earn money that's trouble.

Obviously, I have no answers for the original poster. If the band leader is stuck in this lane of wanting to do 48 Dylan songs there may not be much that can be done about it. Except in the long term the band leader may find that he's now a one-man band.
 

GGardner

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I know these two examples are outliers of success, but Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower" or Adele's "Make You Feel My Love" are so good precisely because they didn't attempt to sound like Dylan.
And the Byrds, Jason & the Scorchers, Byrds, Harrison, Byrds, the Band. I'm by no means a Dylan fanboy, but I can confidently say that there are far worse things in life than being forced to play Dylan covers.



I challenge you to watch this and not smile from ear to ear. This is how I imagine my retirement to look like.

 
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telel6s

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And the Byrds, Jason & the Scorchers, Byrds, Harrison, Byrds, the Band. I'm by no means a Dylan fanboy, but I can confidently say that there are far worse things in life than being forced to play Dylan covers.
Completely agree. There are tons more examples than the two I listed. And that was the point of my asking "how" this band leader was wanting to play the songs. To play them just like Dylan's original or to take these songs and make them sound the best this band can do. I kind of cringe listening to Dylan's "Just Like a Woman". But with Norah Jones on lead vocals it's such a nicer song (and she doesn't change things up much, she just has a voice and knows how to sing).

As to being forced to play Dylan covers, that's great if that's going to be the band's focus. But if it's a general cover band I think you've got to have variety. I sometimes play in a trio with two female vocalists. We're up to six Brandi Carlile songs but make it a point to not play more than two per hour. Way back when I was in a general blues rock cover band we probably had 12 to 15 Stones songs at the ready, but unless there was a request we would at most do three or four over a three to three and a half hours gig. That's just not about overdoing one artist's song cateloge, it's also that for every additional Dylan/Brandi/Stone/etc song that goes onto the set list you have to remove some other good song.
 

srblue5

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Which songs, or era of songs, is he suggesting? Any tracks off of "Love & Theft" (what an awesome album) or "Modern Times"? Or is he going for deep cut 14 verses with few changes and no bridge Dylan songs? Or some of the lesser played but still accessible songs like "It’s All Over Now Baby Blue". Or does he want to do all seventeen minutes of "Murder So Foul"?

Does your audience want to hear these songs? What kind of gigs are you playing? There are lots of great Dylan songs (says Mr. Obvious), but really only so many that will grab the attention of a general audience. Some of his greatest songs are great because of their lyrical content, not their musical composition. If you're playing a folk festival, listening room or quiet coffee house, break out all the Dylan. If you're playing the local brewery, winery or pub, keep it to the songs that at least 30% of the audience will be able to sing along with.

My final question is how is the band trying to play them: Are you trying to sound like Dylan? Or is the band leader inspired by these songs and wants the band to play them the best that the band can be? I know these two examples are outliers of success, but Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower" or Adele's "Make You Feel My Love" are so good precisely because they didn't attempt to sound like Dylan. When was the last time you heard someone covering Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower"? Probably never because everyone, including Dylan himself, is playing off of Hendrix.

I saw a guy at an open mic recently who sings in a Dylan tribute band (no idea where or how often that band plays). He knows the material and sings it well (well, like Dylan). But the first two songs nobody knew what they were. By the time he got to doing all seven verses of "Tangled Up in Blue" people were looking at their watches wondering when the next act would get to use the mic. At an open mic, that can happen. But for a band wanting to get gigs and earn money that's trouble.

Obviously, I have no answers for the original poster. If the band leader is stuck in this lane of wanting to do 48 Dylan songs there may not be much that can be done about it. Except in the long term the band leader may find that he's now a one-man band.
I'm not super familiar with the Dylan discography (aside from Slow Train Coming, Highway 61 Revisited, and Infidels, mainly because I'm a fan of Mike Bloomfield and Mark Knopfler), but most of the songs our bandleader foists on us are ones I haven't heard before (and I have listened to a lot of music in my years). They do tend to be longer with multiple verses (albeit musically repetitive yet a little unpredictable in terms of when the song is supposed to be over vs. whether we keep playing).

Because the bandleader has been increasingly springing them on us mid-set without warning, we kind of stick to generic bluesy-rock arrangements. Without a proper rehearsal beforehand, it's hard to break out of that spontaneously and add something unique to the songs without them sounding like a complete train wreck. At our last gig, the bandleader kicked off yet another Dylan cover, saying he had just learned the song at 3am that day, and was annoyed when we weren't getting the right tempo for him at first. He had us change keys 3 times before he settled on the right one to sing to.

I'm not really sure if the audiences we're playing for care that much or actually want to hear such Dylan songs, but it kind of does limit our sound and appeal when we're doing impromptu Dylan covers in that generic way, instead of our own originals or covers by other artists that can give us a little more variety. The ad hoc nature of the Dylan covers also makes us seem more unprepared and unprofessional -- it's different if it's an open mic jam or a rehearsal or something. Some of our "festival"-type gigs have included artists who do mostly original material, which is something we're lacking in (even though we have written and practiced a lot of originals at band practices). I guess if they're not well known Dylan songs, nobody will really know that they're covers but that's beside the point.
As to being forced to play Dylan covers, that's great if that's going to be the band's focus. But if it's a general cover band I think you've got to have variety. I sometimes play in a trio with two female vocalists. We're up to six Brandi Carlile songs but make it a point to not play more than two per hour. Way back when I was in a general blues rock cover band we probably had 12 to 15 Stones songs at the ready, but unless there was a request we would at most do three or four over a three to three and a half hours gig. That's just not about overdoing one artist's song cateloge, it's also that for every additional Dylan/Brandi/Stone/etc song that goes onto the set list you have to remove some other good song.
I agree. I do think variety goes a long way and helps keep our audiences and bandmates engaged alike. I would expect my bandmates and audiences to get annoyed if I made us play nothing but Lennon-McCartney or Paul Simon songs (especially lesser-known/regarded fare like "Honey Pie" or "Cars Are Cars").
 

telel6s

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I'm not super familiar with .........
Ugh. Good luck to you. Does not sound like a situation I'd want to be in. But bands, as with all types of relationships, have their pros & cons and ups & downs. Very personal decision to stay in them or decide it's time to move on.
 




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