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KB Players-Go Mercenary, Leader or Solo


ProfD

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There have been enough threads about the treatment of KB players and issues that arise with being in 'bands'.

 

The reality is that most bands really want and need a good, dependable KB player.

 

Some cats around here are already ahead of the curve so this will not be news to them.

 

For those who are fed up with bands, there is a silver-lining.

 

KB players should be mercenaries, leaders or play solo, whichever route best suits their skill set.

 

Come up with a list of tunes you already know and/or are willing to learn.

 

Find 'comfortable' gig situations that allow you to play, have fun, get paid and go home.

 

Regardless of whether you play for livelihood or fun, there is no reason to be in an unnecessarily stressful situation.

 

A muso has enough headaches without having to worry about egotistical bandleaders, unreasonable rehearsals, crappy pay, etc.

 

Respect starts with self. Takeover the reigns of your gig(s). Do whatever it takes to make it worth your while.

 

Surely, it will be a mutually beneficial situation for all parties involved. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Amen brother!

 

Below is my response to an "audition" I had yesterday. The leader of the band was nice enough (his wife made us ribs!), but the rest were a bunch of premadonnas that actually quit after the first set.

 

I wanted to thank you and **** for opening your house up to me yesterday...that was very nice of you and I enjoyed the food!

 

As to the rehearsal/audition, I'm going to have to go ahead and bow out. I'll keep this straight forward, but will give you addional critiques and reasons if requested.

 

You and I both know, a set list of 50 songs of unfamiliar music to go over in less than two days on a holiday weekend is ambitious. For future auditions, I would strongly recommend giving someone a list of 10 songs that will be played at the first rehearsal, and then give the prospective member at least 2 weeks to practice for the audition. I can't help but feel that you and I had a different interpretation (then the other band members) of what yesterdays rehearsal was supposed to be. For some context, I'm friends with a local bass player who played in the LA scene before moving up here recently. He has an audition with an eight piece band in 2 weeks. They gave him 15 songs to learn and a month to prepare...and this is with a style of music he is familiar with.

 

Life is too short for drama and unfortunately, that was a full dose of it yesterday. I'll go ahead and hold off on my other views that lead to my conclusion, other than to say, your attitude is fantastic. The other members of the band need to brush up on their professionalism if being professional is in fact their goal.

 

Thanks again, nothing personal to you....I think you're great.

Steinway L, Yamaha Motif XS-8, NE3 73, Casio PX-5S, iPad, EV ZLX 12-P ZZ(x2), bunch of PA stuff.
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I joined a band a few months ago, and it became a situation where everything is going right.

 

First off, the other band members are old pros. Between us, we've got close to 160 years experience. With that much experience, we've all had to deal with situations that were less than ideal, less than fun, and we're in agreement that the fun is the primary reason we're doing this. Because we are all accomplished listeners, as well as players, we all have the freedom to play what we feel the song needs. None of the "Leave the Clav out of Superstition" crap.

 

Second, there's no problem with finding time for rehearsals ... we don't rehearse. We have enough material between us where we could go several nights and not repeat a song, all without a single rehearsal. We play such a wide variety of genres, with tons of songs to cull from in each genre. Country, Swing, Blues, Classic Rock, we're fearless, and will try anything.

 

Third, the money. While it's not great, it's on a par with the rest of the area bands, and in some cases a bit better.

 

We've been together only about four months, and already we've acquired a reputation for great music and professionalism. One local club right on the Cocoa Beach Pier requires all new bands to play a 1 hour audition so the management can hear them. We went to set up the audition, and the management said the audition is not required, because they've already gotten the word on us.

 

We all put this band first, but no one has a problem with some mercenary work.

 

My wife agrees that this is the best band she's ever heard me play in.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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Mr. Nightime, I truly hope you cats keep going that positive flow indefinitely. That is the ideal 'gig' to which most musos aspire. :thu::cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Mr. Nightime, I truly hope you cats keep going that positive flow indefinitely. That is the ideal 'gig' to which most musos aspire. :thu::cool:

 

Yeah, me too. I'm too old to play in something that's not fun.

 

 

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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I do the mercenary thing, and I'm a leader in a project. Really, it's "MD and BA" for musical director and band asshole. I like the leadership role, but I also like the ringer role.

 

As far as auditions go- yes, learning 50 songs over a holiday weekend is a pretty tall order- unless you have a gig over the weekend too. I learned 40+ songs one time for a band 3 days before the gig, and while I didn't ace every one, the band was real happy with what I did. Seems their usual player would play a piano type sound on everything, and I was picking out synth lines and things that I thought were important in the songs.

 

For our guitar player audition recently, I gave him the whole set list, from a prior gig. I said learn what you can, but if you can definitely lock in the 1st set, that'll be great. Well, he came in and had the entire show learned, in a week. Obviously he got the gig!

 

Typically, I will give an auditionee a week and around 5 songs to learn. Then we'll schedule the auditions with more than one player on the same day- like one person gets from 7-8, then 8-9, etc. This also tests their punctuality, which is as important as learning the songs.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

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I do the mercenary thing, and I'm a leader in a project.

A project is the operative word nowadays. :thu:

 

It is the band equivalent of a limited liability corporation. ;)

 

I grew up in a time when bands had a 'signature sound'.

 

I'm beginning to accept that such is not a big deal today but that there are other ways of accomplishing it. ;)

 

A project may not be definitive i.e. having a recognizable sound.

 

However, having the right musos at skilled positions can provide a reasonable assurance the music will sound good and serve its intended purpose. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I do the mercenary thing, and I'm a leader in a project. Really, it's "MD and BA" for musical director and band asshole. I like the leadership role, but I also like the ringer role.

 

As far as auditions go- yes, learning 50 songs over a holiday weekend is a pretty tall order- unless you have a gig over the weekend too. I learned 40+ songs one time for a band 3 days before the gig, and while I didn't ace every one, the band was real happy with what I did. Seems their usual player would play a piano type sound on everything, and I was picking out synth lines and things that I thought were important in the songs.

 

For our guitar player audition recently, I gave him the whole set list, from a prior gig. I said learn what you can, but if you can definitely lock in the 1st set, that'll be great. Well, he came in and had the entire show learned, in a week. Obviously he got the gig!

 

Typically, I will give a auditionee I usually give them a week and around 5 songs to learn. Then we'll schedule the auditions with more than one player on the same day- like one person gets from 7-8, then 8-9, etc. This also tests their punctuality, which is as important as learning the songs.

 

I like your scope. The thing is, it wasn't supposed to be an audition. Was supposed to be more like "here's our list, lets get together and check it out." But then the singer and guitar player got all emotional. The other tricky aspect that was educational for me, it's really hard to fake it when there isn't a bass player.

Steinway L, Yamaha Motif XS-8, NE3 73, Casio PX-5S, iPad, EV ZLX 12-P ZZ(x2), bunch of PA stuff.
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Depends on your needs as a musician. If you're full-time sideman as I am, then you need as many gigs as you can get. And the best way to get gigs is to have a large network of muso buddies who know you and what you're capable of. You also need to build a reputation for being reliable, punctual, hard-working and having a positive attitude. Don't bring your girlfriend to gigs (would you bring her to your office job?), learn what's asked of you, show up on time, and bring an open-mind and positive vibe to rehearsals and gigs.

 

I've had situations like your audition, where I had to learn 35+ songs on very short notice. And we all know that putting together keyboard parts is at least three times as much work as any other part because of setting up splits, layers, finding your sounds, etc. But you know what, the minute I accept the gig the rest of the band expects me to deliver. No excuses, no bitching, no complaining. You accepted so do whatever it takes, lose sleep, take a day off from work, whatever. Hard-work and sacrifice ALWAYS PAYS OFF!!!!

 

Well, everytime I show up at a rehearsal or gig I have my shit together and the others are always impressed. Is it because I'm some phenomenal virtuoso musician? No. Is it because I could learn songs faster than others? Probably not. What sets me apart is I'm willing to dedicate the time to doing things properly and to the fullest of my capabilities. And this goes the same for all the other professional musos I work with. Everytime I speak to them, they're working on songs for an upcoming gig, or losing sleep for this or that. It's the only way to keep being hired and people being able to depend on you.

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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I've had situations like your audition, where I had to learn 35+ songs on very short notice. And we all know that putting together keyboard parts is at least three times as much work as any other part because of setting up splits, layers, finding your sounds, etc. But you know what, the minute I accept the gig the rest of the band expects me to deliver. No excuses, no bitching, no complaining. You accepted so do whatever it takes, lose sleep, take a day off from work, whatever. Hard-work and sacrifice ALWAYS PAYS OFF!!!!

 

 

You are correct, but in my instance there was no expectation stated before hand.

Steinway L, Yamaha Motif XS-8, NE3 73, Casio PX-5S, iPad, EV ZLX 12-P ZZ(x2), bunch of PA stuff.
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Don't bring your girlfriend to gigs (would you bring her to your office job?)

 

I completely dig on everything you said except for this part. when a sideman brings his woman to a gig, I take it as a compliment. He digs the project enough to think his girl will enjoy hearing it, and there's also one more person buying food / drinks or whatever else. Maybe she even brings a friend or two, which is even better. More bodies at a gig is never a bad thing in my opinion.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

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I've seen that "office job" comparison before, and I agree with Bobby, generally. If your S.O. gets in the way, sure, leave him or her at home, but if they're cool, no reason not to have them along. Unlike the office job, this is entertainment. Besides, I do visit my wife at work from time to time.

 

Besides, with all that gear we keyboard players carry, we can always use another roadie. :)

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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I learned 40+ songs one time for a band 3 days before the gig, and while I didn't ace every one, the band was real happy with what I did. Seems their usual player would play a piano type sound on everything, and I was picking out synth lines and things that I thought were important in the songs.

 

 

I have had to do this a number of times over the years and what you say is exactly how it ends up being. Learning a ton of tunes in very few days is always a ridiculously tall order, and the band is going to know that. If you systematically tackle the list and really dig in to as much as you can, showing up with at least a rudimentary programming of your keys, and you can communicate the vibe that you have worked hard on the stuff, and the rest of the stuff will be coming quite naturally very soon given a little more time, then chances are you are going to impress whoever is in the band and get whatever the gig may be. I've found this to be true even in higher musical circles.

 

As Prof said initially, good keyboard players who have their $h%^ together are hard to find, and when one comes along, people are usually very pleased.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

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I prefer the wife to stay at home. I'm working. I don't need my home life at my work. Fortunately, she doesn't like to come out more than once every couple of years, which is about all either of us could handle.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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I had a sweet taste of the solo groove about two weeks ago. A friend of a friend hired me to play solo piano for cocktail hour before a wedding reception. Actually, the guy said he wanted me to play for 1.5 hours, from 5:00-6:30. I dont do a whole lot of these, maybe two per year, which I obtain solely through word-of-mouth referrals. Anyway, I tell him my price ($150) and show up for the gig. I arrived 15 minutes early, and there were already about 50-70 people there, so he asks me to start right away, and I say "no problem." Surprisingly lovely Hamilton grand provided. Then after about 50 minutes, they decide to do the introductions and have dinner. So the guy comes up to me and says "you're done," thanks me, and pays me in full. In conjunction with $20 in tips, it turned out to be a sweet gig. It definitely started me thinking about how to self-promote more of these things.....

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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I wonder whether those of us who pursue music as more of a hobby than a profession find the idea of "bands" (as opposed to "mercenaries," "leaders," or "solos") more palatable. For me (a hobbyist), a band works just fine, provided that (i) the overall objectives for the group are shared among the members (whether those objectives are to gig twice a weekend and never rehearse or to gig once in a blue moon and get together frequently to practice/jam) and (ii) everyone gets along relatively well on a personal level.

 

At the moment, I seem to have slotted my way into just such an arrangement, and, although it might not last, it's working well for me right now.

 

Noah

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I'm in a few projects too, one where I'm a leader, one where I'm a major contributor, and a few hired gun mercenary things where I show up, they call me when they have gigs, and We practice a few times to brush up.

 

I will keep auditioning until I no longer have to work a day job. Which, unfortunately, will be never.

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The band I play in was put together one by one-a vision of what the producer had for the artist. We all came in, various ages but experienced and it has been a nothing but a joy. We are all mercenaries-there is a job, we each know our position/strengths and we know how to do it well.

Yamaha (Motif XS7, Motif 6, TX81Z), Korg (R3, Triton-R), Roland (XP-30, D-50, Juno 6, P-330). Novation A Station, Arturia Analog Experience Factory 32

 

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The band thing has worked out well for me (although I'm currently the leader, but did not start out as such). I'm too busy with this to do anything else, which is fine with me. The PREPARATION for other projects is the hard, time-consuming part. Once I get my crap together to nail a song, I want to reap the rewards of my effort. For me, that's going out and playing it every Friday and Saturday night.

 

Incidentally, on the audition/rehearsal thing... If someone is filling in on short notice, they might have to pull out 45 songs pretty quick - but I'm not going to expect them to be anything better than passable. When I auditioned Bass Players 1-1/2yr ago, I just gave them our song list and said pick 3-4 songs to play. That gave us a feel for if they were already familiar with the genre of music we play or not, and really, we just needed to see how they were to work with and if it felt right. After we made our selection, we were pretty ambitious with about 15 songs per practice about 2 weeks apart. But we had to get him worked in pretty quick to replace the other guy. It was a bit stressful for him at first, but it worked out. I went through the same thing when I joined the band - I had about a month to be ready to play 45 songs out, and that included patch programming, sequencing, rhythm guitar parts, sax parts, and lead vocal parts... so I didn't feel sorry for him learning his bass lines.

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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My wife agrees that this is the best band she's ever heard me play in.

 

Cool Ronnie - I keep trying to find a good excuse to get down there but travel budgets continue to get tighter. One of these days. Have fun! :rawk:

 

As always, the first round's on me.

 

The club we jammed at has a Monday night jam now hosted by the only guy in the area that uses a B3 with twin Leslies. Nice guy, great player, good friend.

 

My avatar's from the night you were in town.

 

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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I do all three - although less solo work now because the market is flooded with laid-off music teachers who will play solo piano really cheap. I personally like playing in bands because the other musicains really challenge and push me. I also enjoy the mercenary scene because I have good ears (so it's relatively easy), I get to play material I normally wouldn't play and the money is very good. However, I wouldn't learn 40 tunes for any gig unless it was a lock and the gig and the money were guaranteed.
Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. W. C. Fields
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Why just one or the other..?

 

Exactly! I have a band and we do regular gigs, and I do some freelancing for several other bands. No rehearsals, I just come-sit-play and take the money after the gig. You just have to find a good balance between those two, otherwise things get out of control and you find yourself skimming either your primary band, or breaking promises to your freelance employers.

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At first I was a bit sceptical about Dave H's denotation of his gigs as 'jobs' but since I've got back into the trenches, it makes increasing sense to have that perspective. All things being equal, if we're good enough to be playing to an audience, then we're good enough to be paid accordingly for it. After all, that's what the deal is in our day jobs, right? You do a particular job well and you're paid for your contribution.
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I do see a lot of not-so-good players with good gigs, but they never last. I'm 32, and I've seen many kb players disappear from the scene already. The only thing that really worries me is the increasing number of gigs with keyboards on backtracks... It's as if the lack of really good keyboard players has lead to an acceptance of keys on backtracks, and it's indeed an easier route - presuming that nothing goes wrong with the track... ;)
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