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Factors for a band being more successful.


I-missRichardTee

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All things being equal - danceable, good singer, front person...

To me, versatility is important, unless you have a niche demographic that you can easily target; that provides enough work!

A wide ranging song list has always been IMO a highly valuable characteristic of a new band looking to work.

How many groups can you name, that an ultra versatile band might wish to cater to?

In other words, I want to make a song list that covers many possible crowds that I might find in a club, or restaurant, or bar, on any given night.

Obviously some places have a built in crowd, but the converse is also true depending on the venue.

If being able to meet the needs of a wide ranging clientele is of interest to you, would you tell us how you make a set list for your band?

 

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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These are hard times, agree? I knew an executive type who photo made it to Time magazine... he told me he would make an offer to a corporation ( this was ages ago ) to work for free for x amount of time, to show what he could do for them.

I want to start a very small group. So I would not need too many people to cooperate with the idea repertoire first, then get work. It is tough out here!

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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I think, when it really comes down to it, you have to follow models like The Beatles and The Roots.

 

Play, play, play.

 

Practice as much as human possible and get out and do as many shows as you can. I think every good "band" has to start with that basic tennant. You need to spend a good amount of time just locking yourselves in a room with one another and shedding notes, developing your style and show. Spend time together, become a family, etc.

 

And then go out everywhere you can and see if the audience will catch that lightning and spread the word. Obviously, a lot of this can be done online now as well. But I think it's crucial to start in your local market and build that core following. And then just keep building your tribe.

 

As far as your question for a good cover set? Most of my requests lately have been (and yes, there are some groaners in here, but sometimes you gotta play that turkey of a song to please the crowd)...

 

Brown Eyed Girl

Hotel California

 

My cover show it pretty diverse, although I usually gravitate to Classic Soul and Classic Rock. Here's summary of most of the artists I cover. There are some huge gaps in here as well.

 

Aerosmith

Al Green

Atlanta Rhythm Section

Average White Band

B B King

Beatles

Beatles

Bill Withers

Blues

Bob Seeger

Cannonball Adderly

Chuck Berry

Commodores

Cream

Cutting Crew

Deep Purple

Donny Hathaway

Doobie Brothers

Doors

Eagles

Eddie Floyd

Elton John

Elvis

Eric Clapton

Etta James

George Benson

Georgia Sattelites

Gloria Gaynor

Greyboy

Hall & Oates

Herbie Hancock

James Brown

James Taylor

Jimi Hendrix

John Coltrane

John Mayer

Jude Cole

Junior Walker

Kool and the Gang

Led Zeppelin

Lynard Skynard

Marvin Gaye

Maxwell

Miles Davis

Norah Jones

Otis Redding

Police

Pretenders

Prince

Rolling Stones

Santana

Spencer Davis Group

Stevie Ray Vaughn

Stevie Wonder

Tab Benoit

Tom Petty

Toto

William DeVaughn

Wilson Pickett

Soul, R&B, Pop from Los Angeles

http://philipclark.com

 

King Super 20 Alto, Yamaha MX61, Roland VR-09, MicroKorg XL, Maschine Mikro, M-Audio ProKeys88sx, Roland MKS-50

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All of the above has a bunch of unstated presuppositions built in:

 

1) popular music cover band

2) target market clubs, restaurants, bars

3) not targeting one genre, one time period - an "all things to all men" band

 

At which point I would ask how will your act be differentiated from the many other similar bands (with similar EPKs, similar photos, similar set lists, similar web presence) in your geographic area? At some point to the typical venue owner you are seen as a commoditized, homogenous (and thus easily substituted) good if you do not have some kind of distinguishing characteristic.

 

 

 

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Nail on the proverbial head.

 

Really! Let me be more specific.. I would not have started this thread if all the rooms I play ( I play a dozen or so ) were roaring with business.

When a room is eg at half capacity, you KNOW what the manager is thinking.. so if there is a group of couples or just a small group that roughly can be said to be of a similar mindset as far as what music will keep them in their seats.. I am thinking catering to them a bit, just a bit ( a fine line here, to not alienate the "regulars" ) is a good idea.

When a club is struggling to stay afloat, I boil it down to each night, and each group of people heterogenous group, yes. And my gig is to try and keep them in the room. Reasoning? Nothing is worse than an empty or nearly empty room, where employees equal the customer count.

I get the one pointed Beattles thing, truly I do... but that may not apply.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Without getting to academic in this thread (I teach business strategy for a living, this was the primary role in business for 20 years), I might suggest targeting a primary market of half-full rooms to try and keep those patrons from leaving is not a growth opportunity.

 

Rather, if you can bring an entertainment product that sets you apart in an audience's mind, you may begin drawing folks who aren't part of that group of couples sitting in half-empty rooms right now. This to me is just one small aspect of what our fellow forum member j.Dan has been able to do so well from a business perspective.

 

Losendoskeys' comment about marketing is very, very insightful. It also represents only one half of the equation (although a very important half). The other half is delivering a product that isn't undifferentiated sliced white bread (not intended to be pejorative to any of your musical preferences). Does a half-full room really need to hear yet another rendition of Brown-Eyed Girl (even if excellently played)?

 

Here's where this thread can get really subjective. Again, not trying to go neg on any of your musical selections, I'm just trying to suggest a business strategy perspective for your business project.

 

 

..
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Given that the band you build is of high quality in playing ability and professional decorum, the set list you build will, in large part, dictate the type of and size of the fan base you acquire, and therefore how often and where you will play.

 

For your goals, I would estimate that you'll need a set list consisting of hundreds of songs, so that you can cover all bases. Not impossible, and in fact, highly recommended, from my experience, but takes time to build, and you must ensure that all band members want the exact same goal ... that variety you mentioned.

 

The third ingredient as mentioned above will be the marketing skills of the band. This is an important aspect that I would consider to be a part of the audition process when recruiting members, so that the same page is being read by all concerned. Get to a certain point in having proved your variety band's capability and you can hand over those duties to some form of management/agency/promoter.

 

If you build it right, you should end up with a highly marketable product that can work a lot.

Nobody told me there'd be days like these...
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Nail on the proverbial head.

 

Really! Let me be more specific.. I would not have started this thread if all the rooms I play ( I play a dozen or so ) were roaring with business.

When a room is eg at half capacity, you KNOW what the manager is thinking.. so if there is a group of couples or just a small group that roughly can be said to be of a similar mindset as far as what music will keep them in their seats.. I am thinking catering to them a bit, just a bit ( a fine line here, to not alienate the "regulars" ) is a good idea.

When a club is struggling to stay afloat, I boil it down to each night, and each group of people heterogenous group, yes. And my gig is to try and keep them in the room. Reasoning? Nothing is worse than an empty or nearly empty room, where employees equal the customer count.

I get the one pointed Beattles thing, truly I do... but that may not apply.

 

No, I agree. That first bit I posted was if you were going to try to start a new, original band.

 

I totally get where your coming from. You HAVE TO play to the crowd. One thing I do is "stump the band" where if I get a decent enough request that I think I can fake, I'll try it. Obviously this is easier to do in a one-man situation. But I've thrown this scenario at my band before.

 

The beauty here is: even if you don't necessary nail the whole tune even if you only make it through a verse and a chorus before wrapping it up you've engaged the crowd and gave them the keys to the jukebox, if for only a moment.

 

I think you do have to learn the LCD of bar-band stuff, to an extent. The joy and challenge is to take those played out songs and make them your own. I'll never forget a band I saw a couple months ago that funked up "Freebird" like I'd never heard it before. That was a moment that stuck with me, hooked me, and now I'll never forget that band.

Soul, R&B, Pop from Los Angeles

http://philipclark.com

 

King Super 20 Alto, Yamaha MX61, Roland VR-09, MicroKorg XL, Maschine Mikro, M-Audio ProKeys88sx, Roland MKS-50

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timwat you are a smart guy.. cool.. I am a fool time ( typo, but I left it in ! ) musician. i live with a couple ( guitar and vocalist who plays keys and a drum machine or drummer ) what do I suggest to them to get work.. they are unemployed, they did numerous gigs all their lives, she is one hell of a Blues type singer.. but her tunes are not Blues based per se.

 

And for me, I want to start a tiny group. My thinking is the less the club owner has to lay out, the better. Nothing hurts a band like unemployment.

Where do you suggest I begin?

edit Brown Eyed Girl is absolutely a non issue for an old pro like Tee.. I could care less, if they ask, they get it. I believe this attitude ( anti artiste ?? ) is what makes me as busy as I have been. Though i am always looking for more work.. I have been dubbed "a survivor"!

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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I think you have to package what you do in a what that is immediately recognizable and consistent. Applying the "theme" idea in a way that is marketable and consistent across your "brand" makes it easier to differentiate yourself, even if in reality you're pretty much doing what everybody else is in terms of content.

 

So your band name says what they're going to hear. Without ever hearing or seeing you, they know what you do by the name. The song list is consistent with it. Pictures, logo, the whole look and feel is consistent with that. Next you have to take the show to a level that is at least a notch above what anybody else is doing. This is where you can get creative - it can be comedy, energy, video/lighting/production, whatever - but you have to stand out.

 

Once all that is put together, it comes down to hitting all the marketing channels and working them, as have been discussed on here before.

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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+1 for @timwat's excellent observations about the fundamental idea of marketing. It's not about whether you are willing to take requests or tweak your set list for a specific type of gig.

 

It's about attaining a clear understanding of the source of your value as a creative provider of live music: what are your band's distinctive qualities, and what identifiable segment of the the music-consuming public wants to hear what you're playing?

 

Trying to appeal to every possible customer is not a productive strategy. That's not to say you can't be opportunistic about taking bookings, only that you ought to have a well-defined target in mind when you open fire.

 

Cheers,

 

B.

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JustDan is a brilliant guy, Thank you.

I was not so much meaning "taking requests", as, anticipating what genre needs to be heard from. Requests, if not of the Alabama-- Brown Eyed Girl variety are far too large a target.. but a demographic eg upper class Mexicans... what do they particularly like to hear? I did a gig where that was the crowd. Honestly I still don't know with certainty what music would have done the trick.. been their absolutely perfect choices. I partly "DJ"ed it. I also did a birthday party for the mayor of Tijuana as opener for Julio Inglesias (sp) .. in that case the singer just did HER thing.

 

Late for a gig now.. but quickly... 1. WHO are the various groups that you would target. eg Upper class Mexicans at the beginning of a gig.. (towards the end of the gig, when alcohol flows , I suspect that the upper middle and lower classes kind of meet in a similar place!) Upper class Mexicans, is a case of economic class and ethnicity merging.

2. name different "conflicting groups", style wise. I do not know how to spell this out more clearly.

I know I had the displeasure of playing for very young people once, and I thought my latest CD's would do the trick, it did not. Apparently teens tastes are extremely fleeting and whim driven.

 

I once did a gig with a large majority of upwardly mobile African Americans present- they did not seem like the gangster rap types, (though as it gets later in evening that can change.) I was caught with egg on my face. What does that group REALLY like?

etc etc name the identifiable groups in your world.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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This sort of reminds me of the restaurant that advertises "Chinese and American Food". Would I really go to this joint for Chinese AND American food? No. I would prefer to go to a restaurant that SPECIALIZES in Chinese food or one that SPECIALIZES in some specific "American" food like Burgers, Steaks, etc. that I happen to be looking for.

 

By the same token, the approach here is, "We are a band for all people and we play everything".

 

I do the opposite. The moniker "Jazzwee's Jazz Quintet" pretty much locks me in. When we play we even get more specific by playing jazz only from a certain period (heavily 60's and up). So when we market our band, the people can imagine what we play and word mouth also occurs. Now obviously this is target marketing. We pretty much made a restaurant into the Jazz joint in the area because we are the only ones that play there and the audience just needs to see a date and they show up. I don't have to promote. The place is always packed.

 

I was just thinking about our set list and I realize that although we may add some new tunes once in awhile, it seems to work when we just do the same regular tunes in the set list. Granted, we'd never do it the same way twice but that's what we're selling. We improvise.

 

We just do a very narrow set of styles. If we do Pop/R&B it's for the surprise effect (which we'll do).

 

We rarely take requests. We are not background music. The space is small, and with the volume, you'll be paying attention to the band.

 

Because of the type of jazz we play (a little more modern), we have a little bit of a jam band appeal so the audience can be from 35-75. These are very specific choices I've made. We're not likely to play A-Train or Satin Doll. I've learned that to be a different demographic and getting a little old to show up on gigs.

 

Now because we are the only jazz band regularly playing in the area, we kind of successfully locked in a sufficient audience. I also do things like have guest soloists (constantly changing) so one never knows what to expect. The only constant is the trio (Piano, Bass, Drums).

 

And because what we do is very specific, we get other gigs from people who want the same exact thing.

 

We're not hotshot players but the crowd enjoys what we do and the venue just asked me to double our appearances. I hesitate to do so because it might dilute our audience due to overexposure.

 

All in all, as a business model, it's working out.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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I agree with Jazzwee 100% - you can't be all things to all people, and if you try to be, you just water down the best parts of the show. It's better to focus on something that is marketable, stick with it, and do it well. If you try to do everything, you're just a juke box and you'll get lost amongst the bazillion cover bands out there playing for pennies.

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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The difference between what Tee's goals are and the highly targeted marketing being talked about here, is that it seems he wants to build an "everything for everyone" project. The band that can play a widely varied range of genres can work a lot in my experience.

 

I play with one group that does just that. We've played together for decades and as a result our set list is huge and we can pretty much play any request, and can play for any room no matter the makeup of the audience. Plus, we can rotate musicians when necessary as the group has had many members over the years, all whom have stuck around and become quasi core members.

 

We get so many offers for work that we can't handle them all, mainly because we all have other projects that we consider our main projects. We stand out from all the other groups just because we have such a huge repertoire. If it's on our list, or even if we think we can pull it off, we whip it out and shove it in their faces. It works, not turning down many requests.

 

So, Tee, while I don't discount the "targeted" approach to marketing one iota, I wouldn't discount your goal of huge variety. It can work.

 

Audience member watching band set up: "What kind of music do you guys play?"

Us: "What kind of music do you want to hear?"

 

 

Nobody told me there'd be days like these...
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Does he WANT to do everything for everyone, or just think it's necessary? Seriously, nobody WANTS to play that crap.

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 think you have to package what you do in a what that is immediately recognizable and consistent. Applying the "theme" idea in a way that is marketable and consistent across your "brand" makes it easier to differentiate yourself, even if in reality you're pretty much doing what everybody else is in terms of content.

 

So your band name says what they're going to hear. Without ever hearing or seeing you, they know what you do by the name. The song list is consistent with it. Pictures, logo, the whole look and feel is consistent with that. Next you have to take the show to a level that is at least a notch above what anybody else is doing. This is where you can get creative - it can be comedy, energy, video/lighting/production, whatever - but you have to stand out.

 

Once all that is put together, it comes down to hitting all the marketing channels and working them, as have been discussed on here before.

 

Perfect!

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I think you have to package what you do in a what that is immediately recognizable and consistent. Applying the "theme" idea in a way that is marketable and consistent across your "brand" makes it easier to differentiate yourself, even if in reality you're pretty much doing what everybody else is in terms of content.

 

So your band name says what they're going to hear. Without ever hearing or seeing you, they know what you do by the name. The song list is consistent with it. Pictures, logo, the whole look and feel is consistent with that. Next you have to take the show to a level that is at least a notch above what anybody else is doing. This is where you can get creative - it can be comedy, energy, video/lighting/production, whatever - but you have to stand out.

 

Once all that is put together, it comes down to hitting all the marketing channels and working them, as have been discussed on here before.

 

Perfect!

 

Agreed. This is why I've always admired Dan's marketing savvy, both with the 80's band and his present project.

 

I've never been in a band that was all things to all men, never turn down a request. I don't discount the experience you guys cite at all, I've just never wanted or aspired to do that thing. What I've seen work is what Dan describes.

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When playing pubic venues, there are basically two scenarios: (a) you are playing to entertain whoever is there, or (b) you are expected to have a following and bring in patrons specifically to see you.

 

The OP seems to be focusing on category A. But substantially altering your playlist for the crowd at hand runs counter to establishing a dedicated following, which in the long run, is usually the way to get more gigs at better pay. Outside of maybe casino and cruise gigs, not too many places pay a lot for you to entertain their own clientele.

 

I think you do need to have some popular fallbacks to help get through the night if need be, but if you're trying to build a following, stick mostly with what you do best and what you want to be known for.

 

Now, if you're being hired for private gigs, that's different, because then it's not your job to bring the audience. Then it's all about doing whatever you can to entertain the audience at hand.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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We've played together for decades and as a result our set list is huge and we can pretty much play any request, ... Plus, we can rotate musicians when necessary as the group has had many members over the years....

 

We stand out from all the other groups just because we have such a huge repertoire.

 

That's a very interesting counterpoint. I'm curious--how important is longevity to the success of this type of approach? In other words, did you begin the group with this idea in mind, or did it evolve over time? And how long do you think it would take a group starting from scratch to develop both the repertoire and the reputation needed to make it viable?

 

Kind regards,

 

B.

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We've played together for decades and as a result our set list is huge and we can pretty much play any request, ... Plus, we can rotate musicians when necessary as the group has had many members over the years....

 

We stand out from all the other groups just because we have such a huge repertoire.

 

That's a very interesting counterpoint. I'm curious--how important is longevity to the success of this type of approach? In other words, did you begin the group with this idea in mind, or did it evolve over time? And how long do you think it would take a group starting from scratch to develop both the repertoire and the reputation needed to make it viable?

 

Kind regards,

 

B. [/quote A big thank you Opdigits for articulating better than I could, including having a real example of one of your bands.

 

 

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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When playing pubic venues, there are basically two scenarios: (a) you are playing to entertain whoever is there, or (b) you are expected to have a following and bring in patrons specifically to see you.

 

The OP seems to be focusing on category A. But substantially altering your playlist for the crowd at hand runs counter to establishing a dedicated following, which in the long run, is usually the way to get more gigs at better pay. Outside of maybe casino and cruise gigs, not too many places pay a lot for you to entertain their own clientele.

 

I think you do need to have some popular fallbacks to help get through the night if need be, but if you're trying to build a following, stick mostly with what you do best and what you want to be known for.

 

Now, if you're being hired for private gigs, that's different, because then it's not your job to bring the audience. Then it's all about doing whatever you can to entertain the audience at hand.

 

You are another thoughtful contributor here, I appreciate your words, in general, including the above ;-)

How does one get a following without a job?? What was that old saying, can't get a job without experience, yada yada, can't get experience without a gig!!

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Then this point... whether you are a please all possible people ( actually an impossibility ) or a band with a core of a specific vibe... both are involved with duh pleasing people. A tribute band is no different than a please em band in that sense... may make more money per gig,, but will they?

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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I think, when it really comes down to it, you have to follow models like The Beatles and The Roots.

 

Play, play, play.

 

Practice as much as human possible and get out and do as many shows as you can. I think every good "band" has to start with that basic tennant. You need to spend a good amount of time just locking yourselves in a room with one another and shedding notes, developing your style and show. Spend time together, become a family, etc.

 

And then go out everywhere you can and see if the audience will catch that lightning and spread the word. Obviously, a lot of this can be done online now as well. But I think it's crucial to start in your local market and build that core following. And then just keep building your tribe.

 

As far as your question for a good cover set? Most of my requests lately have been (and yes, there are some groaners in here, but sometimes you gotta play that turkey of a song to please the crowd)...

 

Brown Eyed Girl

Hotel California

 

My cover show it pretty diverse, although I usually gravitate to Classic Soul and Classic Rock. Here's summary of most of the artists I cover. There are some huge gaps in here as well.

 

Aerosmith

Al Green

Atlanta Rhythm Section

Average White Band

B B King

Beatles

Beatles

Bill Withers

Blues

Bob Seeger

Cannonball Adderly

Chuck Berry

Commodores

Cream

Cutting Crew

Deep Purple

Donny Hathaway

Doobie Brothers

Doors

Eagles

Eddie Floyd

Elton John

Elvis

Eric Clapton

Etta James

George Benson

Georgia Sattelites

Gloria Gaynor

Greyboy

Hall & Oates

Herbie Hancock

James Brown

James Taylor

Jimi Hendrix

John Coltrane

John Mayer

Jude Cole

Junior Walker

Kool and the Gang

Led Zeppelin

Lynard Skynard

Marvin Gaye

Maxwell

Miles Davis

Norah Jones

Otis Redding

Police

Pretenders

Prince

Rolling Stones

Santana

Spencer Davis Group

Stevie Ray Vaughn

Stevie Wonder

Tab Benoit

Tom Petty

Toto

William DeVaughn

Wilson Pickett

 

I wanted to thank you for this large list, excellent. i just discovered Tab Benoit, thanks to you.. I need to check out more of the cats here!

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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