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You be the judge


Richard W

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So my band has a gig coming up in two weeks. For the last few gigs, we've had two horn players (sax and trumpet)--two younger guys (in their 20s, the rest of the band is in our 50s). Both are talented players and fun to perform with. The band has selected a lot of songs that feature horns.

 

Two days ago, we get an email from the sax player telling us that both he and the trumpet player can no longer play our gig because they've been asked to join a wedding band that has a gig on the same night, and that this wedding band wants to hire them "for thousands of dollars a year" to play a bunch of gigs and that basically neither of them will play with us again.

 

So here we are, two weeks out from the gig, and our horn section disappears. We will scramble and have to replace a bunch of songs, and "the show must go on."

 

Still, I think this is a real dick move. As we said to these guys: you should have told your new employer that you made this commitment to our band and that you could join the wedding band on subsequent gigs. If they had played our gig and then said "hey, fellas, it's been fun but we can't play with you any more" we would have wished them well.

 

On the other hand, my wife says these are two young guys who are following the money and you can hardly blame them for that.

 

So what do you think: justified behavior, or unacceptable behavior?

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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That's true, there's always more to the story. But in this case, if the horn section had other issues with our band, they never said so. We made minimal demands on their time--usually just one rehearsal before a gig--and we've been giving them each $100 per gig (and, in fact, we all took less so we could pay them more, figuring that they were young and needed the money and we're just playing mostly for the fun).

 

I guess we are annoyed at the other band, which might have recognized the importance of living up to commitments and let the horn section play with us for one final show. But, according to the horn players, this new band is "insisting" that they play with them immediately.

 

The whole situation has just left a bad taste in our mouths.

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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...For the last few gigs, we've had two horn players (sax and trumpet)--two younger guys (in their 20s, the rest of the band is in our 50s)

... two young "hired guns" that are technically not part of the band ...

Two days ago, we get an email from the sax player telling us that both he and the trumpet player can no longer play our gig because they've been asked to join a wedding band that has a gig on the same night, and that this wedding band wants to hire them "for thousands of dollars a year" to play a bunch of gigs

... presented with an opportunity to make more money with their talent ...

So here we are, two weeks out from the gig, and our horn section disappears. We will scramble and have to replace a bunch of songs, and "the show must go on."

... as it must ...

We made minimal demands on their time--usually just one rehearsal before a gig ...

... again, hired guns with not interest or fellowship in the band ...

... dick move ...

 

Ok. In it's essence, yes, but you've just described two young, talented guys with minimal experience in live music (I'm assuming) who were not actually part of your band or under a contract split for a better paying gig and leaving you in a lurch.

 

Unprofessional? Yep. Inconvenient? Yep. "Dick"? Nah. Part of doing business. The warning signs were already there and this was going to happen sooner or later. Based on the "last couple of gigs remarks" you must have the sets without a horn section. Now you have to call the venue and let them know there's no horn section if you were hired based on that.

 

Tis the bane of the weekend warrior band ... lots of verbal agreements, very little recourse or redress, lot is energy and imagination in fixing broken things with very little warning.

 

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

 

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Ok. In it's essence, yes, but you've just described two young, talented guys with minimal experience in live music (I'm assuming) who were not actually part of your band or under a contract split for a better paying gig and leaving you in a lurch.

 

Unprofessional? Yep. Inconvenient? Yep. "Dick"? Nah. Part of doing business. The warning signs were already there and this was going to happen sooner or later. Based on the "last couple of gigs remarks" you must have the sets without a horn section. Now you have to call the venue and let them know there's no horn section if you were hired based on that.

 

Tis the bane of the weekend warrior band ... lots of verbal agreements, very little recourse or redress, lot is energy and imagination in fixing broken things with very little warning.

 

Yes, I think this sums it up pretty well. I hold no grudge and am mostly disappointed because they were a lot of fun to play with and added a lot to the band. But as you say, we are weekend warriors, and sh-t happens. That's rock n roll. Time to move on.

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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By the fact that you were already paying them more than a share each to play your gigs tells me they are in it for the cash. Also given that they are young and inexperienced it doesn't surprise me they would jump ship like that. Pretty unprofessional but someday they will learn. As for the rest of you, you are doing what you have to do. Is it too late to find subs?

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I'm a freelance player and I don't back out of gigs, even if I get a better offer for the same night.

 

I agree and have been on that boat as well.

 

These guys are young and probably don't realize that this "Karma" may follow them - Professional is as Professional does.

 

I'd like to see the look on their faces when the wedding band tells them "We decided to change line-ups" (as wedding bands can often do)...

 

Money talks, but reputation follows closely.

 

Reminds me of Nancy's former avatar:

 

http://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll253/JBFLA/odds%20and%20ends/Karma_zps97714b3a.jpg

Jim

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I'm a freelance player and I don't back out of gigs, even if I get a better offer for the same night.

 

Agree. Sounds like you treated them well enough so that they should have every reason to fulfill the commitment. They did know about the the commitment... right?

 

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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Does the wedding band know about the gig they were already committed to playing?

 

These guys are young. If I'd been in a position where I was offered "thousands of dollars" (well, euro's) but it would mean quitting a band and leaving them high and dry for a gig, I would not do it. If I had been in that position when I was in my (early) 20's, there's a very good chance that I would have done it.

 

 

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

 

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But still ...

 

That Siren's song. Damn her and her song! She appears as if in a dream, hovering over top of you, wearing white linens and gold leaf that barely cover the rated "R" parts. Her voice is sweet and seductive. Her scent, that of musk and flowers. She beckons you with ruby red nails. As you draw closer, her lips purse as she implies to you promises of inebriated bridesmaids, bitter and lonely hangers-on, and recently divorced middle-aged women looking to put a cougar on.

 

And then, she sings a song of dozens of gigs, all weddings. Thousands of dollars. Fame. Fortune. Notoriety. Solos. A crowd of people imploring you for a business card. Vague questions as to regards of your availability in two months. Complements heaped upon you.

 

Everything swirls; goes dark. Vertigo strikes for a moment. Then you awaken in your bed, sweaty, panting, nervous, unable to go back to sleep as the last of the song reverberates in your room. Was it real? A dream? Did you just simply imagine it?

 

Seems hard to resist if you are a 20-something just staring out on the part-time to nearly full time music gig.

 

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

 

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I would say it wasn't professional. I also wouldn't place too much blame on the band they were moving to either but if they were aware of the circumstances, they should be prepared for a similar situation to happen to them.

 

Do your best to part ways in a friendly manner with no ill feelings of your own, that will serve you best, if only for selfish reasons. Yes it's a loss and certainly an inconvenience but I wouldn't be surprised if you crossed paths again. Their dream gig may not be what was sold to them and their inexperience in being sold on something may bite them in the ass.

 

Remember, in your case, you are in this for fun so have fun. You'll work things out and continue on because that's what we do.

If you think my playing is bad, you should hear me sing!
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In my experience, horn players are for lack of a better term, whores. They go from gig to gig and rarely have much loyalty to any project. But most horn players can sight read and are generally easy to plug into most projects. You'l probably be able to replace these guys, but not necessarily for this gig.

 

Should these guys have honored their prior commitment? Yes. That would be the standup thing to do.

 

They probably looked at this decision as an exercise in what was the lesser of the evils. What kind of position did the wedding band put them in when they negotiated their deal? Was that gig conditional on whether or not they could play the date they had agreed to for your band? And did they see a potential downside to leaving you guys hanging?

 

A wedding gig can be pretty lucrative. Especially in the Northeast, where weddings are big business. A good, established 7-piece wedding band can command $10K plus per gig with the right clients. With a full enough calendar each member of that wedding band might make as much as $50K / year just on the wedding gigs alone, if not more. So a move like this can be a major career move for guys like these.

 

None of this is meant to excuse these guys for what they did. They should have lived up to their commitment. But as time marches on it becomes apparent that we don't live in a vacuum, and some circumstances are complicated.

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My experience with horn players is limited, though the adjective above seems a tad harsh. The first sax player we used was a guy our age, but he really didn't have the chops and he rubbed a few of us the wrong way and we asked him to leave. These two young guys had great chops and were fun to play with. Again, I have no problem with them leaving our band for greener pastures. But walking out on a gig with two weeks notice just isn't cool.
"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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Again, I have no problem with them leaving our band for greener pastures. But walking out on a gig with two weeks notice just isn't cool.

 

True that. Even when I walked out of my pop band for the second time, I told them I'd at least play the two gigs which were on the books.

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

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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All they saw were dollar signs. At that age, they have little, if any, concept about anything outside themselves.

 

They will learn the price of un-professionalism the hard way. They'll stiff the wrong well-connected guy and it will bite them.

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind"- George Orwell
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A quick update: the band is following two paths. On the one hand, we will pull some songs from the repertoire that don't require horns and that we know cold and can play without much rehearsal. The second path is that we might find last minute replacements. Our guitarist was in church on Easter Sunday, which featured a trumpeter. They fell to talking after the service and it turns out the trumpeter plays in a classic rock cover band and is available the night of our gig. We might also scare up a sax player, based on some recommendations from the sax player who bailed on us.

 

I think the sense of the band is that this is a mere pot hole on the road of life and that we are actually excited about the gig, whether we have horns or not. In some ways, it will be a test for us to see how well we can scramble a new set list and how well we can play without the extensive rehearsing we normally enjoy. If we do manage to get two new players, then it will be exciting to see how well we play with them without much, if any rehearsal.

 

And, as proposed above, some of the tunes we will keep and just play without horns.

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, just to close the loop on this one: we did the gig last night with the two new horn players referenced above. We had exactly one rehearsal with them prior to the show, but the bottom line is they filled in nicely, if not exactly, like the two earlier guys. I was happy too because the fact that the band could bring in two new guys virtually site unseen and pull off the show demonstrates a new level of competence for the band--I'm not sure we could have done it a year or two ago.

 

Live and learn.

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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I was raised to be honest and ethical and if I gave my word I should always honor it. I've often complained to my parents about this since it hasn't always served me well in business.
Push the button Frank.
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