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Do we have all the power?


Outkaster

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You I think a lot about what we keyboardists have to go through as musicians. I respect a lot of guys on this board because I feel like I know where we are all coming from. Someone asked me the other day about one of the bands I was playing with about the fact of them needing me more than I need them I thought about it and not to be cocky I think he was right. I am gigging more now than ever and have figured out how valuable it is to play this instrument. I had to turn down 4 gigs this summer already. Usually in most situations we are better educated, better prepared, have more knowledge of music, and are music directors even sometimes. I was talking to another board member here Tucktronix, and we were talking how hard it is to get subs for our gigs because there are about 5 guys in town that could do what we do. It is a good problem to have I guess. We can demand more and pick our spots I think more than any other instrument because there are so few of us. It does not mean we have to be dicks about it or not work/practice at or craft either. Have you guys thought ever of how fortunate we are? I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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I agree with you. To my surprise (since it seemed like everyone and their uncle has taken piano lessons), keyboard players are in demand around here (Binghamton NY, not very far from where you are in Rochester, NY). A lot of bands are looking for good keyboard players and a lot of bands recognize what a keyboard player can add to a band and help separate them from other bands. Most just can't find a key player. I get contacted by lots of bands for that reason, but being a mostly "weekend" player, I can only really commit to one band. From time to time, I may help someone out on a random gig, but otherwise, I'm a one band man.
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Every musician is on their own journey, which I suppose is as much about who they are as a person as their musical role. I'm personally driving away from the neighborhood that focuses on what I bring to the table, and I think driving toward being an equal piece of the collective.

 

I hear where you're coming from, and I agree to a great degree as I'm the MD in a couple of the bands I play in. But because for so long I was frankly an arrogant prick, I'm trying to keep my head in a smaller place nowadays.

 

I've also tried to intentionally place myself in more situations where the other players are way better than me. Nothing like getting my butt kicked regularly to provide a welcome dose of humility.

 

That's just me, not trying to insinuate or impugn anything about you or anyone else, Outkaster.

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No I understand. I go to an open jam sometimes and the kid there is a much better soloist than me in a few styles so I sit in. Putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation makes you grow.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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For a keyboarder, from a performance/gig perspective it's a good thing, but for me as a music consumer it's bad (i.e. if there ain't no keyboard, I ain't really interested, and there ain't many bands with keyboards) :cool:

Regards,

Joe

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Keyboardists are in high demand, but a lot of bands also just decide to make due with out one, or replace them with backing tracks. So part of it depends on the style of music. But for a band that REALLY needs a keyboard player, you hold a lot of the cards. It also often seems that Keyboard players, for whatever reason, often end up bringing more to the table that just playing keys. How many bands have you seen that run sound from stage where it's the keyboard player running the mix. Why? I don't know, but I see it all the time. Not to mention playing other instruments - the KB player is expected to fill all the missing stuff that the other 3 or 4 guys don't cover, by whatever means they can. So I think in those cases, losing one guys can almost be like losing multiple people. But that being said, many bands have opted to replace the keyboardist with a sequence or backing tracks. Lots of other musicians have the ability to do a sequence or plop something down at a home studio. Even more often, they just do a bastardized version of the song. And what's funny, is all the other bands around town will pick up on it and do it the exact same way.

 

So while we can bring a lot to the table, I think it's still important that we recognize that we NEED to bring a lot to the table since we're often viewed to be the most disposable.

 

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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I guess it is different where I live because a lot of the older bands and some of the younger want people with solid skills. I guess the trick is to make yourself valuable.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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I gig as much as I want and could gig a lot more if I wanted. I think the fact that I have great ears, show up on time, have professional well-maintained gear, am easy to get along with, have a lot of band experience and understand my role within the group is just as important as the fact that there is clearly a keyboard player shortage.

 

I think we should also acknowledge that keyboard players come from a different place than most guitarists, bassists, drummers, horn players and vocalists. The very nature of our instrument requires a broader foundation and a more collaborative, diverse background to be successful.

 

You can make keyboard sounds on a guitar synthesizer but they don't sound like a keyboard player and a sequencer doesn't give a shit when the singer gets lost. And they do get lost a lot, don't they?

Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. W. C. Fields
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The pop/rock keyboard had all but vanished from the stage ... at least from center stage. Keyboardists developed additional skills to compensate. Technology has improved their instruments.

 

Now they have more choices of being OMB's and duos (which they often do very well, due to automation, and the range of their instruments) or being a sought after additional flavor in larger, more traditional lineups. There's nothing wrong with these roles.

 

It is still rare to see a keyboardist doing what Tim describes ... being an equal piece of the collective. That role (or even the dominant role) is more likely in jazz than in pop, rock or blues ... in my opinion.

 

Jerry

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Keyboardists are in high demand, but a lot of bands also just decide to make due with out one, or replace them with backing tracks. So part of it depends on the style of music. But for a band that REALLY needs a keyboard player, you hold a lot of the cards. It also often seems that Keyboard players, for whatever reason, often end up bringing more to the table that just playing keys. How many bands have you seen that run sound from stage where it's the keyboard player running the mix. Why? I don't know, but I see it all the time. Not to mention playing other instruments - the KB player is expected to fill all the missing stuff that the other 3 or 4 guys don't cover, by whatever means they can. So I think in those cases, losing one guys can almost be like losing multiple people. But that being said, many bands have opted to replace the keyboardist with a sequence or backing tracks. Lots of other musicians have the ability to do a sequence or plop something down at a home studio. Even more often, they just do a bastardized version of the song. And what's funny, is all the other bands around town will pick up on it and do it the exact same way.

 

So while we can bring a lot to the table, I think it's still important that we recognize that we NEED to bring a lot to the table since we're often viewed to be the most disposable.

 

Interesting thread here - lots of good input. While on one hand I think we are a more limited commodity and therefore in higher demand, 80s-LZ makes a good point. If we don't bring much to the table, we'll be the first to go, while the rest of the band can accommodate and keep going. Harder to do without drums, bass, or guitar - in most situations.

 

Recently we had a new Worship Arts Director come in to the church I play at regularly. He told me he couldn't pay me as much as the 'rhythm players' because they are the most needed - drums, bass, guitar, piano. Keys, sax/horns, percussion, etc., was ear candy. He is definitely a guitar driven guy, so he doesn't leave much room for keys anyway. Although in this case, he still has the piano - usually - so he makes a valid point, especially considering limited finances.

 

I told the band I have been in for 10+ years (not the worship band)that I didn't want to continue any longer, but I would play until they got another player. They decided to not go through the hassle of getting a new kb player- I guess - they didn't tell me everything - so they've been playing some 4-piece w/o keys, and book me on some other gigs as the usual 5-piece. They've made it clear they want me to play, but don't 'force' me to. Actually, I'm cool with it now - playing with them about once a month.

 

I like to keep myself in check and realize there are a lot of good kb players that could take my place, so, I need to keep practicing and be humble.

Yamaha C2, Yamaha MODX7, Hammond SK1, Hammond XK-5 Heritage Pro System, Korg Kronos 2 61, Yamaha CP4, Kurzweil PC4-7, Nord Stage 3 73, Nord Wave 2, QSC 8.2, Motion Sound KP 210S,  Key Largo, etc…yeah I have too much…

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keyboard players are in demand around here (Binghamton NY, not very far from where you are in Rochester, NY).

 

What are the chances... I used to gig around Binghamton!

 

What bands did you work with? I was in Mojo Boogie Band and Cry Wolf.

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I second Outkaster. Keys players are in very high demand here in Rochester. I'm in 3 bands and so far, this year has been the busiest for me. Since May, I've been averaging about 2 - 3 gigs a week(with as many as 6 in the same week), with almost a third of the dates being cover gigs. I've had to turn down offers from several bands due to my heavy schedule. There are a few good players here, but they're tied up as well, with a great deal of them sticking to worship bands. I know of one great keys player who just moved to Las Vegas. Outkaster has been busy with the Dukes and the reggae gigs outside of town.

 

I always try to keep a sense of humility when comes to this. It can be easy to come of as an arrogant prick and act like you're God's gift to bands. It helps me to stay grounded.

Kronos 88 Platinum, Yamaha YC88, Subsequent 37, Korg CX3, Hydrasynth 49-key, Nord Electro 5D 73, QSC K8.2, Lester K

 

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Although I do agree with what's been said here, I also remember reading an article in my brother's Bass Player a few years ago about how bassists make the best producers. If I remember correctly, the general point of the article was that bassists are the rock of the band and that everyone builds off them. The author pointed out that bassists hold the band together and also frequently add melodic lines, counterpoints, etc. He led from these points to say that bassists listen the most in the band (maybe the least truthful statement of the article). Anyways, just because we provide a lot doesn't mean that others don't/can't too.
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... and even in some bands, the keyboardist holds down the bass like Sam Yaheel and Neal Evans in Soulive! But yeah I agree, bass is the skeleton of the music. Just love it. I think I'm a closet bassist~! ;)

 

but I definitely agree with all the sentiments above. I love playing keys, I love being a sideman, and you know I just love the overall versatility of it. It makes lugging a 20kg+ board(s) (or 50kg if you're hauling a rhodes) worthwhile!

 

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I was not talking about bass players and this thread was to pick us up not about bragging rights.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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A good KB player can be of great value to a band. Not sure that it is power especially when the band can function without them.

 

Maybe it is a style/genre issue but I'd like to see more KB players as leaders in order to gauge true power.

 

Being responsible for the truck, PA, stage mix, lights, refreshments and incense is a roadie. :laugh:

 

Otherwise, KB players are in a minority which makes finding work a lot easier. :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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In my area there are really not very many good keyboardists. And you take their different styles, and that narrows down the field immensely. We've got a couple great Jazz players, some really good Pop players, a couple Blues cats, One B3 specialist, and me. :whistle:

 

Then you've got the plethora of key pushers that just play chords so softly they're inaudible.

 

While each could pull off the other's specialty, it wouldn't be as good as within their own genre. I know that the B3 specialist could fill in for me if needed, but he would bring more of a Jazz sensibility, rather than the rock/country/blues sensibility that I employ, and it might not fit as well.

 

After all, I'm sure that 80's LZ and Dave Horne are both excellent players, but they might struggle a bit trying to play the other's gig.

 

So not only are there difficulties just finding a good keyboardist, finding one that it good in that genre is even more difficult. I know that if I really wanted to, I could be playing even more. But considering that I'm strictly weekend due to day job considerations, and this month alone I have 7 gigs, I'm working enough.

"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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In a word, NO.

 

Granted, we're generally the most 'on top of it' in the band.

 

But when it comes right down to it, we're not the ones that people come to see (ok, except for a very few notable exceptions).

 

But we have the ability to jump ship, and jump onboard faster and more frequently than any other musician.

 

Thoughts?

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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I guess my point is that we should recognize our value and the ability to bring a lot to the table. I believe we hold a lot of the cards.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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In a word, NO.

 

Granted, we're generally the most 'on top of it' in the band.

 

But when it comes right down to it, we're not the ones that people come to see (ok, except for a very few notable exceptions).

 

But we have the ability to jump ship, and jump onboard faster and more frequently than any other musician.

 

Thoughts?

Exactly.

 

KB players have freedom moreso than power. I know other musos resent it but as Bruce sang, "that's just the way it is".

 

Being able to pick and choose gigs within your skill set is a beautiful thing. :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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Keyboard players take a lot of shit. Especially from guitar players and I told myself a few years ago I would not let that happen ever again. One band I am in a few of the guys are taking credit for my ability to fit into the band better. He goes around telling musicians in town and I know because it got back to me. I saw it as me that made it happen. I learned all the songs on my own really because some covers they do were not even done right. That is my job being a support system and making music sound better weather covers or not. Playing piano and organ is tough probably the toughtest instruments because if you make mistakes they are vary apparent. And no we are not the ones people come to see. I just think we have a valuable place in a band/gig.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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Keyboard players take a lot of shit.

I don't. That's probably why I see things differently.

 

I love music. I play KBs and do my part as leader or in a support role for that reason.

 

Still, I don't take BS from other musos, booking agents or anybody else.

 

Two of my mottos:

 

If it doesn't feel right, I don't f!@# with it.

 

I can stay at home and be miserable, broke or both.

 

Otherwise, let's bang out this music, have fun and get paid. Rinse and repeat. :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 see a lot of different skill level players here. The real good ones are not common. There is probably a dozen and that might be stretching it. We went to a showcase that a potential agent was giving for clients. They invited us to check out how they do some of the band marketing and so we can see where we are in relation to what we need to work on to get picked up by them. 5 bands, all 5 had keyboard players who were mostly non-existent. All were down in the mix, most played a single board while some had 2, and only 1 used any interesting sounds. The bands were all good- multiple lead singers, horn sections, professional show, etc, but the rhythm sections and in particular the keys were not near what I expected with the exception of one band that was filled with ringers. When you hear a band playing a Maroon 5 song that has 3 unique synth parts in the original, and they are playing it on a 10 year old Ensoniq with the stock piano patch, and the parts are sloppy, well, it's not real good. Yet these were bands that get booked for private events up and down the east coast. I guess these are "key pushers" vs players.

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It's interesting that many of the guys I have played with in the past are now involved in Christian music in some degree or manner, including myself. Some motorcycle-rockers I know have become ordained ministers and some of the guys I used to compete or argue with are now either dear friends or dead. Maybe it's that were all getting older and the ego takes less of a role with age, or something else.

 

I only mention this because I met a minister once who told me how much he envied musicians because they speak directly to the heart in a way he never could, and he believed all musician were angels. And angels sometimes disagree and even fight but they are still angels and they all have a distinctive higher function to serve, sometimes not realizing it until later in life.

 

And that's the first thing I thought of when I read the topic of this thread. The best musicians I know are very selfless people that are respected without question. Those who haven't achieved that level of art are probably still dealing with ego and defensive posturing. Don't let those who haven't yet risen to the level they think they are at bring you down.

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In a word, NO.

 

Granted, we're generally the most 'on top of it' in the band.

 

But when it comes right down to it, we're not the ones that people come to see (ok, except for a very few notable exceptions).

 

But we have the ability to jump ship, and jump onboard faster and more frequently than any other musician.

 

Thoughts?

 

For the most part, around here it seems like keyboard players seem to stick with their band more. I see a lot of moving around of drummers and guitar players. The only exception I can think of is the Church stuff - they'll take anybody they can get on any given Sunday. But most of the more well-known keyboard players in the area have their regular band that they've been with for a long time, and maybe some occasional side gigs.

 

In terms of picking up on another guys rig or another gig on your own rig quickly, that totally depends on the style of music, and the rig in question. Sure, if you're doing something that can be covered with fairly generic sounds - piano, organ, strings - then this can be done. But if you do songs that have a lot of complex parts to cover, with multiple splits and layers, or very unique distinctive sounds that may take a while to program, then it can be a bit more difficult.

 

When we did our 5-yr anniversary gig, we brought back the original members to sit in. So they started the night with the original keyboard player before me. He used my rig. He had played all these songs night after night with the band, but he still had to borrow my keyboards for a week beforehand to re-learn it, because the way I set them up was different than the way he set them up in terms of if the sound was on the upper vs lower keyboard, how I had the splits set up, even how I arrange them and cycle through them during a show. Sure, the parts are the same, but he couldn't just walk up and play them without knowing how it's arranged. Now if it's a piano part and you walk up to an 88-key digital piano, then there's nothing to learn - if you know the part, you're ready.

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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Maybe it's that were all getting older and the ego takes less of a role with age, or something else.

 

And that's the first thing I thought of when I read the topic of this thread. The best musicians I know are very selfless people that are respected without question. Those who haven't achieved that level of art are probably still dealing with ego and defensive posturing. Don't let those who haven't yet risen to the level they think they are at bring you down.

Bingo. :thu:

 

Happy Friday mayne. :wave::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 only meant this thread to big people up. Has nothing to do with ego and now we are talking about things with religious overtones in a couple of posts. Forget I mentioned it.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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Maybe it's that were all getting older and the ego takes less of a role with age, or something else.

 

And that's the first thing I thought of when I read the topic of this thread. The best musicians I know are very selfless people that are respected without question. Those who haven't achieved that level of art are probably still dealing with ego and defensive posturing. Don't let those who haven't yet risen to the level they think they are at bring you down.

Bingo. :thu:

 

Happy Friday mayne. :wave::cool:

 

There's a whole lot of truth to that. The main reason I have as much fun in my current band is we're all old enough to know exactly that. There's no egos, and everyone Listens. We know how good we are, and our limitations, and accept that.

 

There've been many times at a jam or something where I'll talk with someone and they'll be telling me how great they are, how they can play rings around anybody else, etc. Then when it's their turn to play, they can't back it up. OTOH, the guys that are very humble about their playing and just want to have a cool conversation are usually the smokin' players.

 

 

"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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The only exception I can think of is the Church stuff - they'll take anybody they can get on any given Sunday.

 

No offense and I'm not sure about your area, but in places like Detroit, Chicago and Atlanta, the church (specifically the gospel churches) scene is producing some of the most amazing jazz and R&B players on the current scene. Some of the cats that I've played with and heard, who come from gospel are absolute monsters and can stand toe to toe with anyone. The competition is pretty fierce as well, so the "take anybody" thing simply isn't the case. A mediocre piano player will be quickly taken to school at a hot gospel session.

 

As an FYI, I don't play, nor have I ever played in any church, so I have no bias there, but much respect.

 

With respects to the this thread, I think a good keyboardist is a rare commodity in any town, and once you narrow the field by genre, it gets even harder. We're also not well appreciated by the vast majority of working bands doing variety music, who have little idea what front work it takes to cover all the necessary parts, with the correct sounds.

 

We're often times the horn and string section, while playing the foundation keyboard sound, and triggering samples, effects and other things to make covers work. The rare bird is a guitarist who does more than comp and solo.

 

Personally, after having done the "do everything" in variety/cover bands, I'm a much happier guy playing jazz piano.

 

Your mileage may vary.

 

 

 

 

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