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#1646236 - 07/18/05 05:24 AM When a promoter crashes your practice....
Cozmicslop Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 372
Loc: Chicago
...do you throw them out on their ass?



A couple of labels have expressed interest in my buddy and myself on the strength of a bunch of demos we've done. This prompted us to try and reform a band we we're both in. When we contacted the former lead singer, she told us about a gig her promoter friend was trying to get together. A kind of old school prom featuring 80's 90's R&B. Would we be interested?

Cool a perfect way to get some exposure for the new group.

Very brief background info....

She has a beautiful voice but tends to be a little timid. She takes a while to learn a song, but when she does, it's worth the wait. The gig is end of August. Plenty of time for even her to learn a half hour set. We're still looking for the back up singers. Having had a couple of no-shows and missed communications, no one was sweating it, because before this gig popped up we were going to be focusing on recording anyway.

First practice went as expected. The music was tight but the singer was unsteady. To help her out, my buddy on keys brings in his wife and another former band member (both excellent vocalists who no longer want to perform) to help out at practice till we fill out the group.

So today at practice Deb aka ms. timid informs us the promoter is coming by to meet the band. I tell her, "This is not a good time. You don't even know the songs yet. We haven't even picked the last two girls yet." (After a month of auditions we know who we want, but getting everybody together at once has been problematic.)

So we grit our teeth and practice in front of this promoter.

Promoter: "So this is your band?"

Deb: [lying] "Yes."

Promoter: "Do you guys always rehearse sitting down?"

Mark (keys): Well no, actually we do rehearse differently, but this is just a practice, they're just learning the songs...(cut off)

Promoter: "Because you should rehearse like you perform. I want to see how you guys move, your dance steps and everything. Could you talk to your people and get them to do it that way"

Me: (Biting tongue after already having lost patience with the entire demeanoer of this interloper....calmly and respectfully) "See this is just a practice. It's hot as hell in here and we feel it's better to be relaxed to learn the new material. (Plus no one knew you'd be here clawing at the curtains)

So the promoter goes on to tell us who she is, drops a bunch of names (Gerald LeVert, Keith Sweat as well as some other local celebities, DJ's and whatnot). Tells us that as headliners, {WHAT?} we'd be expected to carry the show, and her investers blah blah blah, need to know we can pull it off. It's expected to be a touring revue etc. The show and our name would be mentioned on the most poular radio shows....

Oh, and you will be paid, just not for the first show.

The bells are starting to go off as I'm nearly drawing blood from biting my tongue.

I'm feeling like my future mother-in-law showed up for dinner two hours early and started eating off the stove before the meal was finished, then telling me how to cook.

Was this a ploy to catch us naked and sounding like shit to get a free show? I'd been told that we had been booked for three songs, to perform with other similar groups. And that we'd been booked already on the strength of our demos.

The kicker?

Promoter: "We we're only doing this to help you out Deb"

It reminds me of the old Robin Harris Joke. A boy and his grandfather are walking down the street. They see two dogs copulating. The boy asks, "Grand pa, what are they doing?" "Uh see that one dog hurt his foot, and his friend is just helping him across the street." The boy sighs, "Gee, you try to help out a friend, they fuck you every time."

I don't mind playing for free. I do it all the time. I also mind helping out a friend. But when I do, i usually show up with just my axe and do as much or as little as I please, and the food and booze better be good.

This is an entirely different animal. Plus we have to provide our own PA and backline. That means hauling gear and being hours early for sound check and changing clothes in god knows what kind of conditions.

All in addition to who knows how many rehearsals till Deb and the girls get their shit together. All other projects get put on hold while we're working on this one show. I know if I don't do it, they're (Deb's family and friends) gonna make me feel like I'm not helping Debs career, but I could get her on either of the labels I sign with. I don't need these people's help. But apparently Deb and her husband feel she needs it. So I can see it happening despite my protests.

What burns me most is this sneaky assed promoter talking out of both sides of her face, and sneaking up catching us with our drawers down instead of a couple of weeks later when our show was tight.

I would have just thrown her out on her ample ass.

Except it wasn't my house.

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#1646237 - 07/18/05 02:04 PM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
BluesWithoutBlame Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 774
Loc: Oslo. Norway
I got kinda mixed reactions...though I have to admit I had trouble following the story.

Main thing, if (from the start) the deal was "it's a freebie", I think you ought to let them know for the money (nothing) you will let the promoter hear you when you are ready to play for them.


On the other hand, if there was pay involved, I can understand that they may want "a taste" of what they are going to be in for...but that would be like one song, and then they have to leave and it is understood you are ramping up and will be ready.

It is amazingly stupid for them though to act as if they were organizing some huge concert when the headliner isn't even getting paid. Sounds like wannabees (th promoter I mean).

Business is business, they want a professional show they ought to pay professional scale.

Too many bottom feeders get WAY too much "power" dangling "yeah but it'll be EXPOSURE" at ya.
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#1646238 - 07/18/05 02:12 PM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
cherri Offline
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Registered: 09/10/03
Posts: 731
Loc: N. MI USA
I sympathize with your plight, this stranger barging in and trying to dictate your practice.

However, if Deb can't do her homework and learn the songs before practice, then you don't owe her anything. Practice is to put the polish on the material (in that sense I can understand the promoter wanting to see you rehearse a 'show' - moves and all). Learning lyrics is something a vocalist should do on her own, and come to practice prepared. I wouldn't sit down at practice any more than I would show up with no strings on my guitar.

I guess this is something you should discuss with your band mates. Tell them how you feel, tell them about the alarms that are going off, and decide as a band how to handle the situation.
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#1646239 - 07/18/05 03:58 PM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Lee Flier Offline
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Registered: 09/13/00
Posts: 15398
Loc: Atlanta,GA,UNITED STATES
Wow. NOT a cool situation at all, and I'd be very firm in putting my foot down with this promoter and also have a good talk with your singer. If they don't intend to pay you for this gig, the promoter has NO business being there, and even if they are paying you, they STILL have no business showing up to a rehearsal until you say it's OK and it has been agreed between all of you that this is a "showcase" for the promoter.

At this point I would question whether this gig was even worth doing at all. After all, it's you and your buddy who had the label interest, and are re-forming the band. You'll have plenty of other opportunities down the road.

So basically you're going to have to figure out a way to take back the reins in this situation. It sounds as if first your singer, then the promoter, are trying to "take over" the band before it even gets off the ground and that is never good. You guys need time to incubate and re-estabish your sound on your own terms. THEN you can present yourselves to people and decide whether or not you will do freebies and who can attend your rehearsals, if anybody.

Lots of bands who are really good fall apart within a few months BECAUSE a lot of industry folks can smell talent and start trying to dictate what happens before the band even has an identity and foundation of its own. I saw that happen (and was in the middle of it) WAY too many times in L.A. Don't let this happen to you! You've got to get your priorities straight, establish lines of communication and be able to present a polished and united front, BEFORE you play for anybody. Good luck, I'd have probably slapped that "promoter" upside the head.
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#1646240 - 07/19/05 01:00 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Cozmicslop Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 372
Loc: Chicago
BWB & Cherri.

Thanks for responding. I appreciate the points you both make.

There's nothing wrong in proving your value. And Deb should quit expecting her hand to be held all the time.

But Lee really nails what pisses me off most. This never should have happened. Deb shouldn't have allowed us or herself to be set up like this. Apparently this person is a friend of hers and is using her personal relationship to bully a mouse around. Her husband aint a big help because he bullies her too. He believes in this promoter and expects big things out of this.

I don't deny that it may be.

I'm really most pissed at myself. When it comes to organization, logistics, production, even creative direction, I'm pretty effective. They respect my skills and intelligence.

I feel like I punked out and let us get walked on trying to be graceful with this bully because they were so excited about the opportunity. But I really don't need to be whipped into shape by a former performer who knows more than I do and is just 'trying to help me out.'

I've hooked up my share of friends with some pretty cool gigs without ever making a thin dime off their sweat. I need her help like Mike Tyson needs a body guard.

Lee, I'm really taking your post to heart. I've mishandled this so far. I know I'm gonna end up butting heads with both her husband and this promoter, but I'm not helping anybody by being such a wuss about it.

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#1646241 - 07/19/05 08:53 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Lee Flier Offline
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Posts: 15398
Loc: Atlanta,GA,UNITED STATES
Glad you're getting to some clarity about the situation... and I wouldn't blame myself if I were you. I don't think you acted like a wuss at all - I'm sure that the whole thing threw you completely for a loop as far as what to do, because you didn't want to start right off throwing your weight around in a new situation or throw a wet blanket on anybody's enthusiasm, and yet Deb obviously did something really unreasonable right off the bat. \:D That's a tough spot to be in and it was good that you didn't fly off the handle about it. And in a way it's good that it went down that way because it backfired so obviously that it should be really easy to make your point with them now!
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#1646242 - 07/19/05 09:32 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
coyote Offline
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Registered: 04/16/01
Posts: 7012
Loc: New York,NY,UNITED STATES
I was with you right up to this point. And I ain't gona disagree with you; I'll just remind you that such superstars as Hendrix had other performers "whip them into shape". The problem is that the whipping, in your case, is waaaaaay premature - as you already know.
Quote:
Originally posted by Cozmicslop:
But I really don't need to be whipped into shape by a former performer who knows more than I do and is just 'trying to help me out.'
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#1646243 - 07/19/05 11:42 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Cozmicslop Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 372
Loc: Chicago
Chas Chandler had been a part of a hugely successful band. Not only that, he was feeding and clothing Jimi as he whipped him into shape.

This aint quite the same thing.

Anyway. We all (the band) had a talk today. Deb apologized. We accepted. We settle on the material tommorow, and full band rehearsals start Saturday. The commercials are already airing on V103.

It's a new day. Incidentally, the promoter went back to her people singing our praises, so no damage was done. I also found out despite our willingness to do it on spec, they've offered us 20% of the door. But now they want a Luther Vandross medley to honor the late singer.

I'm asking for two weeks. Then we'll do a showcase for the production company. If they give us 20% of the door (I'm looking for sample contracts), they'll get their Luther medley. Otherwise they'll get a cover from the 70s, 80's and 90's plus some originals from the demo that they heard that got all this started to begin with.

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#1646244 - 07/19/05 11:49 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Lee Flier Offline
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Registered: 09/13/00
Posts: 15398
Loc: Atlanta,GA,UNITED STATES
Cool! Glad to hear you're working through this without too much grief.

And best of luck to you by the way, sounds like you have some great opportunities coming your way and I'm sure you deserve it.
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#1646245 - 07/21/05 12:59 PM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
way2fat Offline
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Registered: 02/09/04
Posts: 4121
Loc: Egypt
The wild card is the husband. Does he play/perform/know what he is talking about?
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#1646246 - 07/21/05 07:03 PM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Cozmicslop Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 372
Loc: Chicago
Quote:
Originally posted by way2fat:
The wild card is the husband. Does he play/perform/know what he is talking about?
Based on previous experience, the husband is a disaster waiting to happen at worst. At best, only a couple of comments distant from a good asswhuppin'.

The stories I could tell....

[more backstory]

Before I met any of them, Deb was a back-up singer in Mark's previous band, 'Market Value'. Her sister Krishaun, and Pam (who's now helping out by coaching Deb), traded the leads. That band was kaput for years before I came along due to squabbling between the vocalists.

Mark and I were in a couple of bands together. Both came apart at the seams. Later, we put another group together, but we had to kick the vocalist out because of his "reliability" issues.

We had all this material and no one to sing so we pulled Deb in to be a lead singer (something she had never done). We patiently put up with the months it took for her to learn the material, redoing whatever we needed to feature her voice. In a few months we went from hole in the wall dives to the Cubby Bear and Cotton Club. We worked our asses off.

Early on, her husband (Let's call him Sam) tried to act as manager, even trying to replace me on more than one occaision. Mark, I later learned, informed him that that would never happen. To Sam, the band was all about Deb. Since she didn't drive, to get her you got him. Mark tried to include him in the group as a background singer and he would practice often but never had the balls to get up on stage.

When I produced the bands demo, he blanched because I took a producer credit (not money, we all put up the money, they just let me run the show). He saw a promo pack I designed and accused me of selling the CD. He wasn't the reason the band broke up, but his meddling wasn't helpful. Mark and Deb had creative differences that I did my best to stay out of. I tried to make it clear that I was happy to be in a group that had such potential.

People.

Her people. His people. Crawling out of the woodwork. Ya'll ought to do this. That. The other.

I tried a couple of times to get them to talk to each other, but pretty much left it alone. When he called, I was there. You need what? What's the gig? Bet on it. Same with her. Need a guitarist? OK. I'll get back.

That brings us up to-date pretty much.

Since we''ve been trying to get this train back on the track, his (Sam's) meddling has begun anew.

Last night he brought a powerpoint presentation to practice. I tried to tell him that all this is premature. He's trying to divide a pie that doesn't even exist yet. He's still in some otherworldly dimension that has us as Deb's backup band rather than Deb being a member of a group.

A group still forming.

So, I told him that this is Marks band. I consider it so since it was his vision.

In other words Sam, put the powerpoint chart away, put the beer down and help us make this demo. Fortunately, I warned Mark before hand that Sam was gonna bring this shit to him. He treated it with far better humor than I did, to his credit, and laughed it off with some pretty funny jokes.

When Mark, Deb and I had a brief moment alone, I said point blank, "If Sam wants an agent fee for this gig, I'm down, but after that he has no say. He's not manager. If he performs, he'll get paid like anyone else would, if not, he'll have no say past his commission."

They agreed. Just like the previous issue, it's clear that it's on Deb to put her husband in check.

That's not my job.

I don't like arguing and I don't like conflict.

They both know that. Deb realizes that she needs help onstage. That means she wont be capable of leading on all the material that we've written or even the covers and unless in the studio, she sure can't sing her own back up. I fear Sam's bullshit has the potential to put off the people I'm trying to recruit to fill out the band. If I were joining a band, and I had my shit down, as a coupleof these possible singers do, I wouldn't want to be hearing a bunch of bullshit from someone's spouse who wasn't even in the band.

Both our wives, Mark's and mine, have made a lot of sacrifices, and put up with a lot of shit because they know we love what we do. And, know that we would be doing it anyway, whether or not there was a dollar at the end of it.. If only Sam could support Deb the same way.

He sure wouldn't want my wife running this shit. We have more contacts thru her than he's ever produced.

She'd fire Deb with the quickness just because of him.

Doubtless to say, she's a woman whose judgement I trust, but she bites her tongue and tries not to interfere.

I've decided to shut up about Sam for this particular event. When it's done, if it leads to other gigs, I'll be happy.

If I get sick of Sam, I'll find Deb another bass player.

What Sam doesn't realize, is that I can pick up a phone and get some of the baddest guys in town to work with me on the project of my choice. That's so, because when I was hooking people up, I wasn't focused on my own pocket. If he could get all these musicians, studios etc. to do for his wife what they're willing to do for me, He wouldn't be all up in my face with a pie chart.


Thanks way2fat......

I needed to get that off my chest too.


I'm calm.


I'm good to go.

Thank you guys for letting me rant.

I'm sure there's more bullshit ahead.

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#1646247 - 07/21/05 11:43 PM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Basshappi Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 06/16/03
Posts: 3353
Loc: Tucson,AZ
Sounds like you're doing a-okay Cosmic!

Just keep your head up and your eyes focused on the positives. Best of luck to ya'.
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#1646248 - 07/22/05 06:56 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
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Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
If it is such a hassle now, what will happen if any real money comes into play? Take your buddy, dump the bitch and Don King, and move on now, before you waste any more time.

Find people who want to play what you want to play, under your direction. How do you have time for all this Junior High bullshit? As someone else around here uses in his signature line.... man, that bullshit is bulllllshiittttt!!!!

NO OUTSIDERS!!!!! NEVER!!!!!!

Bill
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#1646249 - 07/22/05 07:39 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Cozmicslop Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 372
Loc: Chicago
Quote:
Originally posted by basshappi:
Sounds like you're doing a-okay Cosmic!

Just keep your head up and your eyes focused on the positives. Best of luck to ya'.
You have no idea how theraputic it's been for me to vent this stuff here. And get some excellent advice and council at the same time.

Basshappi, my kid lives in Tuscon. If you ever find yourself in Kinko's and see a gigantic 6' 8", 350 lb giant with arms bigger than most peoples legs, that would be my baby.

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#1646250 - 07/22/05 07:51 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Cozmicslop Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 372
Loc: Chicago
Quote:
Originally posted by bpark@prorec.com:
If it is such a hassle now, what will happen if any real money comes into play? Take your buddy, dump the bitch and Don King, and move on now, before you waste any more time.

Find people who want to play what you want to play, under your direction. How do you have time for all this Junior High bullshit? As someone else around here uses in his signature line.... man, that bullshit is bulllllshiittttt!!!!

NO OUTSIDERS!!!!! NEVER!!!!!!

Bill
A boot in the ass, well recieved.

Thank you sir. May I have another?

I don't know Bill. My wife says exactly the same thing.

"Ya'll ought to sing your own songs", she says.

I'll re-evaluate everything after this event is done. She's a sweet person, and I love her kids. I don't want to abandon her, but I have too much shit to do. If Sam can't learn to sit down and shut up, I'll be forced to leave her at the curb.

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#1646251 - 07/22/05 08:37 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
Quote:
Originally posted by Cozmicslop:
[QUOTE]....She's a sweet person, .....
Who is playing a game by allowing her husband to impose himself into something that is none of his business, and generally disrupt the whole deal. She has to be digging it on some level. It is her responsibility to tell her old man to shut the fuck up and drive. Not yours. By putting you in that position, she is fucking you. Just my opinion.

Play your own songs. If anyone is interested in you on any serious level, that is what they want anyway. Other diversions waste your time, no matter how much fun they might be. And this doesn't sound like much fun.

Oh, and as to your original question..... what asshole invites someone to practice without checking with the others first? I'm tellin' ya, this broad don't care about you, she's riding you like a rented mule.

Oh, I love Cubby Bears. Haven't been there in years, but I played there a long time ago, several times.

Bill
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#1646252 - 07/22/05 10:37 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Lee Flier Offline
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Registered: 09/13/00
Posts: 15398
Loc: Atlanta,GA,UNITED STATES
Yeah I would say after reading your last "backstory" post, that I would tend to agree with Bill: you guys don't have time for this high school crap. The leadership needs to come from you and your buddy clearly, and the focus needs to be on what brung you to the dance in the first place: your songs, and the fact that you guys obviously have your shit together.

I do understand why you thought this would be a good gig, and why you'd want to start off doing some covers. That's a great way to solidify a band. So I'm not sure I entirely agree with Bill that your originals need to be your 100% focus right away. That's really up to you. My band has always done the odd cover gig and we enjoy that, and think it has made us a better band. But certainly if you do cover gigs it should be because 1) you enjoy it and it's good for getting the band to jell, and 2) you're getting paid. If neither of those things are happening... and some chowderhead is just using it as an excuse to pull a power trip... then it ain't worth it.

And I do think the "no outsiders at rehearsals" rule HAS to be laid down. When you are ready, and if you've all agreed to have a showcase for somebody at a rehearsal, then fine. But there are a lot of people out there who haven't yet recognized the importance of this rule, and I think new bands should agree to this right off the bat, it saves a LOT of grief. Tell spouses and other relations that rehearsal is like being at the office - you don't just invite your spouse or friends to hang out at your office while you're working, but it's less clear for some reason that people who aren't in the band or working with the band shouldn't be at rehearsals.

I think if all this is made clear, though, it could still work. We had our issues with "outsiders" when we first got together but it ceased being a problem once we got our boundaries established.
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#1646253 - 07/22/05 11:27 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Cozmicslop Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 372
Loc: Chicago
Man, I'm glad I brought this here. I was originally hesitant to post it, but now that I've heard from you guys, it reinforces what I was feeling all along.

We had a slamming rehearsal Wednesday night. Mark dusted off one of his old tunes. After a few takes we were owning it. Mark's wife and Debs husband did backup vox and it was kickin! The harmonies? Man!

It took him half an hour to teach us all the song. He took us all into the room one group at a time. Two hours later the song was ready to record. My dog is just that dangerous.

We could take that group into the studio and kick ass.

But we can't take it to the stage.

That might work for this particular gig, but it's not the band we're putting together.

I'm gonna have to to treat the event and band separately, while trying to run them in concert.

I still have to find vocalists for my band. We need somebody to get these songs out.

I'm gonna see what happens tomorrow. Sam has to take the kids to a churh picnic, so he wont be around working my nerves. Darlene, who knocked us off our feet during her audition will be here. I also have another young singer auditioning.

The music is tight and Mark is a genious at harmony. Brian Wilson is his hero. As good as it sounded Wednesday, I can only imagine what he's gonna cook up tomorrow.

The gig is simmering in the crock pot.

Tomorrow we work on the band.

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#1646254 - 07/22/05 11:32 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
Quote:
Originally posted by Cozmicslop:
Man, I'm glad I brought this here. I was originally hesitant to post it, but now that I've heard from you guys, it reinforces what I was feeling all along.

Usually, people who post such questions already know the answers.

Bill
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Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1646255 - 07/22/05 11:56 AM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Cozmicslop Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 372
Loc: Chicago
Agreed.

Next time, I'll sack up more quickly.

Just because I don't like conflict, doesn't mean I can avoid it.

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#1646256 - 07/22/05 09:59 PM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
picker Offline
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Registered: 06/13/04
Posts: 13315
Loc: Near 12th Street and Vine...
I'd say the best advice you've gotten so far is "you don't have time for this high school crap". The singer may not dig what is going on with her husband trying to horn in on the band, but she may still have to put up with it to keep peace in the home. Do you need to do the same?
Finding people with talent and accomplishment enoough to make good music is hard. Finding the same type of people that you can get along with is even harder. But trying to make good music consistantly with people who bring relationship issues to the table in this magnitude seems nigh onto impossible. You're doing the right thing. Find another singer, someone who's husband doesn't have a secret urge to be the next Bill Graham, and get on with the music you & your buddy Mark write so well.
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#1646257 - 07/24/05 08:45 PM Re: When a promoter crashes your practice....
Dr. Ellwood Offline
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Posts: 16337
Loc: MoTown
WELL! I can say this about a situation like that.. and I have thought about it for twenty five years... I had a promoter crash a rehersal once..Punch Andrews Bob Segars manager.. I kicked his butt out and I bet it was the most crazy thing I have ever done! just a thought.. you NEVER know in this business... for you Detroit musicians ..you know what I mean... ya Im a stupid idiot! oh and by the way.. a group named Rare Earth got the gig and the push we could have had. A true story take it for what its worth.........
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