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OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options #3002235 08/08/19 05:02 AM
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J. Dead Offline OP
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Background: at one time I played in a successful band every weekend and pulled in enough income to live modestly, but it was a second income, so I ended up doing well for a while. I got divorced which meant I had to get sitters for the kids every other weekend and it was affecting my day job, so I had to hang it up. After that I played in a couple cover bands that played far less just to keep playing but the money was crap and I felt like I was playing below my pay grade and not real happy. So those bands dissolved and I started doing fill-in work. This was nice because I could play with established bands that paid well and were talented without having to commit to anything. That said, it turned out I played most frequently with one particular band. You may have seen in my recent posts that my friend, the band leader, passed. His widow has requested that the band name be retired and that other bands cease to do tributes to him. I can understand her pain and the need to not be reminded. The simger is sort of taking the reins and most of the band members are continuing under the name of the singer's old band name that was dissolved when he joined this one. He managed to keep most of the scheduled gigs booked under the previous band name. Regular keyboard player is going to retire and another keyboard player is taking over, as I told him I didn't want to play every weekend. He more or less promised me 2-3 gigs a month which is about what I want to play, but I think there is a lot up in the air right now. Will they maintain the same crowds? Will the new keyboard player be willing to give me that many gigs? Hard to predict. So my thought is to see how it pans out and how many gigs I get.

I also play in an original progressive metal band. The drummer invited me to audition for lead singer for a progressive cover band he's forming (Boston, Manfred Mann, Genesis, Triumph, Kansas, etc). My worries is that this is a startup, and side project for each of these guys, so no guarantee it will lead to anything. Also, he indicated he's giving it a year before he ditches I think and his current cover band to seek so,etching that can land the GOOD gigs ....the kind I play with the band I sub with.

I want the best of all worlds ... music I like, good gigs, decent pay, every other weekend.

Thoughts?


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002238 08/08/19 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by J. Dan
I want the best of all worlds ... music I like, good gigs, decent pay, every other weekend.

Thoughts?
Yeah, that's what I want too.
You can't always get what you want.
But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.

Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002241 08/08/19 05:55 AM
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A rolling stone gathers no moss


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002252 08/08/19 11:51 AM
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The FM rock thing has been done to death. You can still make money at it but it has a limited scope. You can't dance to a lot of that music Dan so your market will be limited. You might get some festivals but it would mostly be bar band stuff with the groups you named The first year or so is building process and the start up is a lot also.


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002260 08/08/19 01:00 PM
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Dan, you're so good at this I imagine it won't be hard for you to have your choice of gigs. thu


The great thing about music is that there's always something to learn. The frustrating thing about music is that there's always something to learn!
Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002262 08/08/19 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by J. Dan
The drummer invited me to audition for lead singer for a progressive cover band he's forming (Boston, Manfred Mann, Genesis, Triumph, Kansas, etc). My worries is that this is a startup, and side project for each of these guys, so no guarantee it will lead to anything.
One of the bands I’m in fits this description. Everyone in this group has a main band (or two) they play with, and we all sort of consider it our “diva project.” We formed because we enjoy playing this music; I dig it because most of the songs are keyboard-driven. We are all veteran players and get along very well, so no egos, drama, etc. So of the three often-discussed reinforcers (money, music, hang) we solidly have two of them, which has helped keep us together for the past 3-4 years. When we do play out (only about 3-4 times per year) we really make a huge spectacle of it, bringing out large PA, lights, production, etc. We try to make it an “event” and create a local buzz, and so far it has worked. Sure, for the first six months it was a ton of work, but it was enjoyable and low pressure, driven by our love of the music and camaraderie. So I would encourage you to give it a shot, it could turn out to be something you find rewarding and enjoyable.


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002265 08/08/19 01:45 PM
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I know different regions lend themselves to different kinds of music. I don't know how your prog rock cover band would fare in my area (that sounds really fun, though) -- the more typical classic/southern rock stuff still has a solid draw around here, as well as other specific genres. What's your sense of the audience for that in your neck of the woods? I imagine with that one, money would be the big question mark, but if it seems like there might be a market for it, certainly seems worth a shot, as long as it wouldn't mean you'd need to drop your other sub gig, or your original band. I guess that's the current unknown.

Balancing different projects and personal time is tricky. That's something I've been doing a lot of work on this year, after a few years of "TAKE EVERY GIG POSSIBLE." I definitely think a lot about the music/money/hang triangle, but other factors have become apparent to me too -- when I'm honest with myself, if I know I'm going to have to travel far and play to a mostly-empty room, I'm almost never making enough money to make it worth it, even with (especially with?) the original, labor-of-love projects that make up most of my musical life.


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002276 08/08/19 02:45 PM
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You know you're local scene better than I do, but I can't see a Genesis/Kansas cover band playing twice a month in the Bay Area. Some gigs here and there, sure, but I don't see that music picking up new fans under 40.

Consider stepping outside your comfort zone. Like, way outside.

There's an alt-vintage-country band that gigs regularly next to one of my piano gigs. I don't know 95% of what they play. I've never played country, but when I listen to them, I hear my piano fitting like a glove. It may be an illusion but I feel a strong urge to find out if it's real.


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002295 08/08/19 03:53 PM
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Since you are in St. Louis, throw in some Nektar and April Wine and you will be good to go! grin


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002338 08/08/19 06:39 PM
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If a great band you want to be a part of plays a little more often than you like, join them anyway. Once established, find another dependable keys player that you can trust to sub out a few gigs.


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002341 08/08/19 06:52 PM
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I've had the good fortune of organically moving between bands every decade or so and the last time I was in what I'd consider a "start up" was 30+ years ago in an original band that evolved to become relatively well-known and can still sell out reunion shows periodically when we reconvene.

I've done the wedding band scene (as the drummer said, "better food, better hours, better money") but I grew weary of it and have settled into mostly a 2-3x per month '80s/classic/modern rock band full of veterans that are great friends with no drama. We have an established set of venues and a decent local crowd. I don't love all our covers, but am 90% happy.

I've decided if the time comes to pivot again, I won't do a start up at this point in my life/career. I'd prefer to join an existing band that has the right ratio of music/money/hang potential. I've been getting some nibbles from a couple of newer tribute bands (we have some good ones for Tom Petty, Talking Heads, The Cars, etc.) and I'd think about joining a project like that if the circumstances were right.

I have done bits and pieces of "hired gun" playing as there are not enough keyboard players around my area. This can occasionally be fun, but can also be a lot of work if I get a call saying "hey can you do this upcoming gig?" and I don't know all the repetoire or have the sounds...lots of time learning and programming sounds as I'd want to show up and do the shows well.

Not a great answer there, but just sharing how I look at bands in this era of my life, which I think is pretty similar to yours. Good luck!

Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002349 08/08/19 07:57 PM
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I agree with most (so far) that the prog band would be a tough slog to get off the ground. It's too unfocused to qualify as a tribute act, and could very well end up being just another bar band playing bar music in a dying market. Focus would help - something that would set you apart from the crowd.

Although it's difficult for me to follow what's going on, the other band seems to have more promise. It should be fairly simple to come up with a band name that's reminiscent of what the former leader's widow no longer wants you to use (understandably). And with a little creativity, you might arrive on something so close that everyone who sees it will know exactly what's going on.

This sort of thing is done with spin-offs all the time - although not usually under such unfortunate circumstances. Best of luck to you no matter how this goes Dan.

Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002442 08/09/19 02:57 AM
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The other band will not have a spinoff name. It's already named - it will be the same name as the singer's band that he dissolved when he joined the one that has now dissolved. Prog rock actually goes over fairly well around here. In fact, in the other band, we already played some of it. In fact, maybe the biggest hurdle would be that there are already enough acts to cause some competition. There is one called Superjam that has been around for quite a while and does very well. There are some local Tribute bands that fall into the genre as well, including a Kansas Tribute, a Styx tribute, a Journey tribute, a Rush tribute, etc and they all do well. The biggest issue is that it's a startup and I don't know that any of the guys in the band have any really solid connections to land the good gigs. If it was 5-7 years ago, I would have been that person, but as a side man, I haven't booked gigs in a long time now. Also I'm not sure I would be happy as a lead singer (they have a keyboard player already, I would only be singing). Seems like it could be fun, but I don't want to tie up my time for something that ends up dying on the vine and miss out on potentially higher paying gigs.


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002460 08/09/19 09:49 AM
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If I have to be honest, the idea of being a lead singer is probably the source of some of my pause. I've sang lead on lots of songs in lots of bands but was never THE lead singer, and these songs are particularly tough. I could probably nail an audition, but I have to be having a good day to really nail these songs. What if there's a gig and I'm NOT having a good day. I can be sick and still play keys great, but not sing. Also, I love playing these songs on keys. What if I don't like the keys guy? I already play most of these songs with other bands. I don't want to be the guy who is nitpicking.


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002486 08/09/19 01:58 PM
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I have found that as a keyboard player in my area, there is plenty of work. It just depends on what music you want to play. My primary band is an eight piece band (3 horns) and we work about 60-70 shows a year. This band does a few weddings, a lot of festivals and private corp jobs and the money is good. The other bands I am a hired gun or a fill in for other KB players. I also to a solo show and have a Trio. Last year I played over a 170 shows and this year should be close to that. The fill in work doesn't pay as well although on occasion it is comparable. The solo work is mostly good pay and I am thinking I might increase that because it is local. The Trio work could pay well if I upped the focus, but I just use it to fill dates and that is mostly bar gigs.

I say stick it out and see where it leads, you will always have options. Just let it unfold, that is what has worked for me after loosing a 250 shows a year with a major regional act.


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002496 08/09/19 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by J. Dan
If I have to be honest, the idea of being a lead singer is probably the source of some of my pause. I've sang lead on lots of songs in lots of bands but was never THE lead singer, and these songs are particularly tough.
I hear that! Over the last five years or so, I've gone from being a frontman/bandleader/singer-songwriter type to playings keys and/or bass, singing backgrounds, and taking the occasional featured vocal. I go into gigs with a lot less anxiety!


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002513 08/09/19 05:25 PM
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Stepping out of your comfort zone can be uncomfortable, but can also provide opportunity for growth. I was unsure if I wanted the responsibility of carrying most of the “musical load” for the quasi-prog group I mentioned in my previous post...it is definitely a different level of having to “bring it” (e.g., compared to my pop/dance band). Admittedly a lot of things had to line up for this band to occur, including a collective reduction of jobs among all of us during the first few months we were putting things together. Had this opportunity presented itself today, I would have declined due to other commitments. But the good news is now that the core song-learning/wood-shedding for our show has been accomplished, if we get a call for a gig we can be ready in 2-3 rehearsals.

Dan, I’m not sure how many critical factors align for this project, but I would still urge you to consider showing up for the first audition/rehearsal. At a minimum it would be a new experience and perhaps be of some personal benefit (e.g., even if it confirms that being a lead singer is something you don’t want to do) as well an opportunity to network with new/other musicians...services of whom you may want/need to connect with down the road.


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002532 08/09/19 09:35 PM
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Yeah, as I've been thinking it through, I suppose I have nothing to lose by auditioning. I already have a gig lined up next Friday with the other band under the new name and it sounds like there will be more to come fairly soon, so that should give me a chance to see how things are going to shake out with that situation. That one scratches some of the itch with stuff like Boston, Foreigner, Styx, Journey, etc as long as I can stomach Backstreet Boys, Brick House, etc. lol.


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002534 08/09/19 09:44 PM
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Some comments about the local market here in Vero Beach FL -- use or ignore as you see fit:

(1) The music scene is retiree centric. They have disposable income, and like to get out and socialize. Within that, there's a lot of latitude, but probably not a lot of appetite for the St Louis-centric fare I think you're up to. I wish, though. Most fun I ever had was playing in a keys-centric prog rock outfit. Also paid the worst, but that was OK.

(2) The younger crowd has no money and no time. They're just too busy with their lives. The forty-something crowd that's making money wants to get out, but there's not enough of them. I did a few high school reunions, which were OK, but not a sustainable thing.

(3) The key to a successful band in this market seems to be the vocalist(s). Latch into a good, talented vocalist (preferably female and not too hard on the eyes) and the rest seems to take care of itself automagically. All the venues prefer acts that are fronted by female vocalists. Yes, that can come with its own challenges, but I'm now playing with two different female vocalists that are super fun to listen to and play with, and are super well-balanced. Lucky me.

BTW, I've been happily married for 35 years. Aint't gonna screw that .

(4) Being a decent keys player gets you in the door. What tends to seal the deal is the "band package": dedicated rehearsal/recording space, light show, PA gear, local network of better players who like playing with me, etc. Not an option for everyone. Lots of folks here who are decent musically, but can't earn enough to bring all the extras. That being said, I no longer will be the sound guy for bigger gigs. Hire someone, it's not me.

(5) Don't even think of going off the beaten path. Originals bands and "projects" live a short life. You play what people like to hear, give them a fun time, maybe put your unique spin on a classic, and you get invited back. It's that simple. All illusions of artistry won't help you, although people try and die regularly.

(6) That being said, there's an interesting local band that's starting to get exposure (SoulJam) that's a modern hippie reboot. I've played with them. The formula still works (strong female vocals, double drummers!, songs that people know) but they add their own secret sauce and it works well.

I have found my peace with the local music scene. As long as I tame my more insane impulses, I'm good.

May you be good as well.


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: cphollis] #3002553 08/10/19 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by cphollis
(Don't even think of going off the beaten path. Originals bands and "projects" live a short life. You play what people like to hear, give them a fun time, maybe put your unique spin on a classic, and you get invited back. It's that simple. All illusions of artistry won't help you, although people try and die regularly.


At least where my band plays (mid-Atlantic region) we can get away with mixing our originals with covers people know and like and that we enjoy playing as well. We sell our CDs at gigs in conjunction with online airplay and downloads. Ain't loads of $$ but at least people are hearing, enjoying and to some extent buying our original music.

I HAVE to play original music in some capacity. Doing strictly covers is not something I ever want to do. But that may not be an issue for Dan or other folks. YMMV.


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002561 08/10/19 05:21 AM
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Yeah I do originals just to have a creative outlet and get our music out there. It doesn't really conflict with the money making gigs because we don't play the originals out very often.

Owning PA and/or lights doesn't mean anything because all the venues have house sound and lights and if we want more we just hire it out,

The thing that has helped me most to land keyboard gigs besides being a competent player with good sounds, is the fact that I can sing as well as play guitar and sax - so I can fill in whatever pieces they need.


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002588 08/10/19 12:10 PM
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There are plenty of bands with 2 keyboard players. Kansas being one of them, I don’t know much about gigging and the like since I haven’t been in a band other than playing keyboards during my former high school music class’s concerts where I got to play my music teacher’s Yamaha DGX digital piano, a Moog Sub Phatty (which I helped program), and a Novation Mininova (which I programmed too, some good sound capabilities), but choose the band that you think will support your musical needs the best.

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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002669 08/10/19 09:10 PM
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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002679 08/10/19 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by J. Dan
The thing that has helped me most to land keyboard gigs besides being a competent player with good sounds, is the fact that I can sing as well as play guitar and sax - so I can fill in whatever pieces they need.


overstating the obvious. smile

you rock, my brother. thu


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Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: davedoerfler] #3002747 08/11/19 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by davedoerfler
Originally Posted by J. Dan
The thing that has helped me most to land keyboard gigs besides being a competent player with good sounds, is the fact that I can sing as well as play guitar and sax - so I can fill in whatever pieces they need.


overstating the obvious. smile

you rock, my brother. thu


This. If you're lead singer Dan, would you be putting aside your instrumental (and programming) skills? How do you feel about that?

Cheers, Mike.


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Re: OT: Thoughts on Future Band Options [Re: J. Dead] #3002828 08/12/19 12:17 AM
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I'd still be doing fill in gigs when I can. That's the rub. They pay well, and if Im not available as much, I may get bumped down to 2nd or 3rd call instead of 1st call - they like to have the same guys fill in when needed for consistency. So if your calendar is generally open, you're more likely to get the first call.


Dan

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