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Bass Bastard

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I am pondering learning some covers to set in with some bands on paying gigs.

 

Problem: I have not done regular covers since I was 17. When I did do covers, it was more on Piano and Saxophone. It was Bennie Goodman, Count Baise, Dave Brubeck, Chic Corea... and more along those lines.

 

So, what should I look at to get into the cover scene? I ask here because mose players here seem to be in that scene. My gear is solid. I even have a small set up now. I have a nice DI. I can even improvise on chord changes both lead and rhythm. Most importantly, I am laid back and have no ego trouble.

 

Suggestions?

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I'm not sure I understand the question. Are you asking what songs you should learn or are you asking about playing style?

 

If the former, like Geoff said, just go out an listen to some cover bands and see what predominates. (That might make an interesting thread: "The Top 100 songs Every Bass Player Should Know")

 

If the latter, I really don't see much difference between playing covers versus originals. In both cases, you want to play with feeling, grove, sufficient technical skill, etc. The fact that in playing covers you're trying to emulate another bassist's work doesn't seem particularly relevant to me. Classical pianists have been "covering" Beethoven sonatas for 200 years.

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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You both make alot of sense. I have a friend who's wife does alot of cover band sit in work as a singer. I will go out with them a few times.

 

But I think mainly, it is song list ideas. I think hijacking this thread for a 100 songs list is a good idea, or starting a new one.... yeah, I am stealing that idea!

www.burning3.com

Music Man Stingray 5 HH

Peavey T-40

Hartke LH500

Ampeg SVT410HLF

 

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I'd agree for you to go out and hear what the other cover bands are doing. I'm not familiar with your location and that can be a deciding factor. What's on the play list for a southern US band and a Dublin band may vary. If there's one place in the area where you can pull off some harder rock and twelve where you can do "classic" rock, you know where the work is.

 

Keep in mind that there are some iconic songs that you should stay away from (Stairway) unless you are in a tribute band or put a completely different spin on it (Hayseed Dixie - Dread Zeppelin), but you better pull that s#!& off because you have a 90% chance of falling on your face.

 

I wish the search feature worked better here I'd tell you to that. You can check some of the top 100 lists on the web for ideas. Once your band has their stuff together you may be able to throw in an original or two.

If you think my playing is bad, you should hear me sing!
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Well, my all original band just went into indefinite hiatus. While I will still be doing some writing projects with some friends, as well as studio work, I have been invited to sit in so many times in the past with people that I figure it is time to expand my experience.

www.burning3.com

Music Man Stingray 5 HH

Peavey T-40

Hartke LH500

Ampeg SVT410HLF

 

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As far as cover songs, I don't learn them as much as I listen to them and then play them. If I'm familiar with a song in my head, I can play it. I've been on stage plenty of times when some bar patron wants to sing a song and I've heard it before and we play it. Heck, sometimes I haven't even heard it before, but someone else has, and you just play. Granted this is pop music and the changes are almost always pretty predictable.
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I went out & listened to what other cover/pub bands were doing & found, generally, their set lists contained about 60% the same numbers.
I think '80s-LZ had a good post on this subject a while back.

 

Around here, within the rock cover bands, I've only found at most about 5 songs in common (out of 40) between any two bands' published set lists. Sure, nearly every band will play The Beatles, but not every band will play the same exact Beatles' song. (They did have more than one hit after all. ;) )

 

There are a few songs that patrons will request almost every time: Mustang Sally, Brown-Eyed Girl, Play That Funky Music, Sweet Caroline and Sweet Home Alabama. In order to survive most cover bands know these and play them even if they aren't on their set lists.

 

Most bands will give a sub at least a week to learn their 40-song set list. If it's a genre you grew up with, listen to, used to play ... chances are you will be familiar with many songs on their list. You may already know some. But you will still have to learn quite a few.

 

Some may be very easy to learn, like "Pride & Joy" (Stevie Ray Vaughan). It's just a 12-bar blues in E, and keep it simple because it's all about the guitar and vocals. You could probably just "wing it" (play solely by ear) without ever listening to the recording.

 

Some may be a little trickier. You probably wouldn't want to wing it to "My Generation" (The Who). Key changes, breaks ... and those wicked/sweet John Entwistle solos. Most people probably won't notice if you don't get the solos note-for-note as long as you approach them with the same phrasing and ferocity as John. (Don't be surprised if they ask you to help sing the backup vocals, too.)

 

If you sing lead you can sometimes make life easier on yourself by learning a bunch of hit songs you can sing lead while playing bass. If you can get the band to learn four of your songs then that's four less you have to learn of theirs. (Not every band -- especially those with a lead singer who does not play an instrument -- will go for that.)

 

I sub'd for a country/variety band before. (I'm more comfortable with rock.) They gave me their set list and I had only performed 2 of the 40 songs before. I had a week to learn 38 songs, at least half of which I had never heard before. The show went well and I ended up picking up more gigs with them.

 

Point being, it can be done even in the worst case scenario.

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Nickelback.

 

'nuff said, y'all! :cool:

 

Not even kidding, my first ever paid gig (which was my second ever, and first as a sub) had a Nickelback tune in it. Also an Iron Maiden one, and a Dream Theater one, and a Velvet Revolver one. Pretty diverse set list it was :grin:

 

 

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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I also have some experience hiring subs (usually drummers, but also guitarists and singers). There are at least three different kinds.

 

1. Subs who really know your band's songs and make you forget that your regular member isn't there. They are probably in a working cover band and have been for a while. They know the songs and they know the drill. They also tend to be extremely proficient on their instrument. A true joy to work with.

 

2. Subs who know your band's genre and just wing it. They have great feel and may also be extemely proficient. Except if you're in a band that strives to be note-for-note you will notice something is missing. You'll know someone else is filling in that night because you will have to help them through the night. You'll be about 90% because you're constantly worried about giving cues for breaks and stuff. If you're a jam band these subs can be great; otherwise, they can be a bit tiring.

 

3. Subs who should not be subs. They may be decent musicians, but they didn't learn the songs like they said they would. Properly prepared they probably would have made it through the night. Instead you're at 50% because you're trying to avoid train wrecks all night. (This is especially not good if you are tied to a microphone trying to sing lead and play your instrument.)

 

The 1's go to the top of the sub list for next time. The 2's go to the bottom (unless you're a jam band). The 3's you leave on your cell phone with "DO NOT CALL" after their name just in case you forget.

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Out of curiosity, can I ask where/when you get invited to sit in? Checking out other groups, hanging with musician friends, etc?
Well, plain and simple, when a band needs a sub they call whoever is on their radar. You'll never get on their radar sitting at home so, yes, it is a good idea to network within your local music community.

 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a performance is worth a thousand recommendations. Get out and play open mics/jams; you never know who may be there. If you're good you may get a call. I'm #1 on one band's sub list after meeting them at an open jam. The #1 guy I call when I can't make a show? I heard him at an open jam.

 

Sometimes a band will hire a sub based on a recommendation. (I almost did this once, but the recommendation backed out.) Just another reason why networking is so important. If someone does recommend you, be sure to thank him or her! (Otherwise he or she may not recommend you next time.)

 

I once hired a sub I never met in person because I knew she was in a successful working band. While this is a bit unusual you do earn a lot of credibility just by being in a working band.

 

It's not uncommon to see a band looking for a sub on craigslist. This is a total roll of the dice on their part. It almost always involves an audition because they have nothing else to base their decision upon. While I've gone through the agony of sifting through CL for replacement members, I do not use CL to find subs myself. I would rather refer a friend's band to replace us or cancel the gig entirely. That's not to say there aren't capable people on CL; there are. I'm just saying that it's too big a gamble for me to hope that those capable people will answer my ad. ;)

 

 

If you're just looking to sit in with a band for a song or two, that's a different topic. In most cases you're better off going to an open mic/jam.

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Out of curiosity, can I ask where/when you get invited to sit in? Checking out other groups, hanging with musician friends, etc?

 

Usually when they would come see my band, or just hanging out at parties. I am not (oddly enough) a bar hopper. I hang out at parties or occasionally the studio my band recorded at. Outside of gigs, I have probably been to 3 clubs this year. The strangest place I was asked if I wanted to sit in was at a paintball course where one of the other players listened to our CD during a break. I am a promotional maniac and talk about my band everywhere.

 

I am an energetic person especially on stage because I understand my role as a performer is to PERFORM. If people were wanting to just listen, they would have a juke box. I try to be part of a show, not just play my parts calmly.

(Venue of course affects how vigorous a band is lol)

 

 

www.burning3.com

Music Man Stingray 5 HH

Peavey T-40

Hartke LH500

Ampeg SVT410HLF

 

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