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Telling off your Lead?


MotiDave

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wonder on thoughts as I think i handled this quite poorly.

 

last night we played a show. this is a tribute band, won't say which as it doesnt matter. our lead/singer constantly was filling any dead air with rambling mutterings and odd attempts at humor that i know he thinks are funny but to me ... not. so every show before we go on i'll remind him "who are you? and if he says his name, i reply no - you're (ARTIST NAME)".

 

well this show really irked me as he got into a total comfort zone and was feeling a high where he completely lost any filter. Before every song he'd tell some lame pun tangentially divulging the song name, or he'd tell unfunny (to me) off-color jokes. which to me aren't entertaining. i don't like announcing every single song even if he just says it, but his attempts at humor were painfullyh not funny to me. if its not the song title pun, his humor attempt spirals into self-deprecation which to me comes off as lame. he's the lead, the face, the front guy - i want to see and hear some front-man swagger, confidence, command of the room - not put-down jokes about himself. i don't want to hear my front guy making lame jokes about himself. at one point he told some unfunny joke that concluded with a punchline basically telling the audience to F off. i know he meant no harm and wasn't really telling the audience to F off, but those actual words came out of his mouth. now, i'm no choir boy, i cuss and don't really mind cussing. but i expect a pretention of professionalism from eveyone I stand on a stage with. we aren't in a garage joking with our 5 good buddies, we're on stage, under the lights, with 100 or 200 people staring at us. i was cringing every time he started talking, embarrassed to be there. that was it for me, it set me off.

 

another thing that irked was if he wasn't telling a lame joke or painful pun divulging the next song title, he'd sing parts of a lyric line of the song we were about to do ... alone, a capella, random. he was so excited and having fun, he couldn't wait to debut this to the audience, it was his way to hint what was to come. that too wasn't cool for me - we all start the song together, don't sing a hook line alone to introduce the song you're about to play. again, not professional. he was just revved up and couldnt hold himself back.

 

I got to the point that the second a song ended i was calling the band to start the next song immediately just to cut out any time he could wander off into his spontaneous humor and fun. if it was a song I start alone, i just started it without waiting, I literally cut him off twice.

 

we get off stage, we're striking gear and two of the band members immediately came over and asked me "what'd you think, or - you ok?" I ask just to confirm "didn't you hear all that?" they said yeah, i know. but these guys don't really want to confront it. one of the guys said i should just talk to him, just talk to him - tell him it bothers me, he's a reasonable guy and means well.

 

so i pulled leadsinger aside outside and said "bro, can we talk. your singing was great but the stage show needs some work ..." ... ... ok, so far so good.

 

but then i went way too far, as while i'm trying to articulate my feelings, i start reliving the emotions i felt as we were on stage. so i lose my own filter (funny how its easier to expect that in others, eh?). I ended up telling him his jokes between every song were way too much, they weren't funny, he shouldn't cut himself down as he's the lead, his puns about the next song title weren't clever and to me it got to where it sounded like a clown show. i said his joke ending in the audience can F off was way out of bounds, even though I know he didn't mean any harrm.

 

ouch. he was stunned, shocked, speechless. all he said was "oh ... ok. uh uh.". he literally had no idea. I circled back around about 15 min later after loading my gear up and I told him listen, i'm sorry - i went too far and i gave a hug. but he still looked dazed, crushed. i felt bad, still feel bad today. I was harsh.

 

but then again, i know i'm right. i don't care if the audience didn't mind it, it was not professional. i'm just a weekend warrior now but when its game on, i'm business. i don't do clown shows. his act was just random, unscripted, unfunny. professional it was not.

 

idunno ... advice? i feel i need to make amends without retracting the point of my message. maybe i leave the harsh vibe for a bit so it sinks in. so here i am, for at times like this i always ask myself "WWKCD"?

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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Takes a big man to own up when he's wrong, and on this forum it's no small thing - we got a lot of members here. So thumbs up.

 

Bottom line to me is you two need to sit down and talk. And you need to listen.

 

Dude's doing things that, in your opinion, are unprofessional. You may be right. Or it may be just one man's opinion that doesn't resonate with his. There's common sense, and there's opinion, and there's law. But there's very few laws on professional behavior...and a lot of opinion, and a little common sense we could all use.

 

Here's the thing though - everyone makes sense to themselves (except people under the influence and sociopaths).

 

So I've got a sneaky suspicion every single one of the habits your lead has that rub you the wrong way...he has a reason for doing it. He may not tell you the reason, he may not consciously be able to articulate the reason, he may not even be able to state it to himself in the mirror. But it makes sense to him.

 

You gotta create an environment where he trusts you enough to share those reasons - and talk them out. I'm betting his reasons are actually, well, reasonable. It's the choices he makes to respond to those reasons which might lead to better choices.

 

One of my best friends is a sax player less than half my age. We came up through the jazz program at Cal State together - when we met, neither one of us could play a lick of actual jazz. Then he played in my band for a few years as we were both growing. He used to make very unwise musical choices - always trying to shoehorn bebop licks into musical sections that didn't fit. Some of the guys in the band thought he was a bone head - non-professional, one might say. I knew he was just learning, growing, and making poor choices in the moment.

 

Time rolls on. He's growing. He's making better choices every tune, every rehearsal, every gig.

 

Then he spends a full weekend with David Sanborn and his band. Sanborn and his band and that weekend changed his life. He's now one of the in-demand players in the Bay Area. And he consistently makes tasty, musical choices on the bandstand. He's still my bud. I don't get to play with him as much cause he's super in demand. One day we'll all look back and say, "I used to know him when..."

 

But patience and helping people grow and listening to their reasons and listening some more bro. I think it's a good way to live.

 

Just my 0.02.

 

Tim

..
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I ended up telling him his jokes between every song were way too much, they weren't funny, he shouldn't cut himself down as he's the lead, his puns about the next song title weren't clever and to me it got to where it sounded like a clown show. i said his joke ending in the audience can F off was way out of bounds, even though I know he didn't mean any harrm....

 

it was not professional. ... when its game on, i'm business. ...

 

... advice? ... i leave the harsh vibe for a bit so it sinks in.

Yes. I've edited out the parts that aren't necessary and left the parts that are true and real and should be kept.

 

Also, talk about it some more with him in a relaxed place, far away from the stage. You're working on your stage show to make it as strong and effective as possible. Have a plan and even a script. You're clearly working from a set list. Decide what the lead is going to say before each song and stick with it. Write out the whole show if you have to and revise it after each show. That's what you're doing putting on a professional stage show, a musical production. There's no room for random or bad puns or self-deprecation unless it's written and part of the show. Frankly, I can't imagine doing a tribute act and still have between-song patter that isn't part of the show and hasn't been planned. Improv comments between songs are a no go. Unless they're meant to sound improv but are really planned in advance. The best front men use the same intros and lines and jokes all the time because they're stage-tested and they're known to work. If you don't have any of those, just say the name of the song or start it with no spoken intro.

These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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Quick question: Do you like or dislike this guy (talking in general). The reason I ask is when we like someone we tend to overlook any shortcomings, conversely when we don't like someone we amplify anything we don't like.

 

So you may be coming at this from a completely objective viewpoint, but the fact the other band members expressed concern tells me *maybe* you may have been a little off the reservation.

 

The big question is: Does the audience enjoy his shtick?

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A couple comments that may not help you now....

 

1) IMO, there should not be enough time between songs for all that banter. Most of the bands I've played in might have 1 or 2 short breaks per set for some talk, but other than that it's pretty much roll song to song without stopping for more than a couple seconds. He probably feels like he has to fill the space.

 

2) Whenever something bothers me at a gig, I wait until Monday to call the person. By then I've had a chance to sleep on it and settle down, and it leaves all week to work it out before the next gig if there's hard feelings.

 

All that said, I'd tell him you were just having a bad night and took it out on him, but that you do think you need to cut down on the in between songs banter and try harder to play the part of the tribute.

Dan

 

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I do think it was good to give the guy feedback. Always be honest and share your feelings otherwise it will only get bigger.

 

But giving feedback can be done in a good way and bad. First you always need to refer to facts. "You were talking 20 seconde before half/most of the songs". Second, describe YOUR feeling with it (not "it is not professional, but "this gives me a unprofessional feeling), third, get commitment (really important), "do you understand that?" (If not, describe further). Fourt step, search for a solution together "how can we make this work?".

 

It seems lik a bit stupid or unnatural thing to do, but in my day job I did this often and it really works.

 

Hope you will find a solution with the singer!

Rudy

 

 

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Tim is right. while my observations are objectively correct in reality its a human judgement and i'm not evem stopping to consider our unique origins journeys and destinations. i started at it wrong because I just talked, its me and my feelings, how do I judge A, B, C. whether in the end i'm right or wrong, who knows and maybe who cares. I didn't stop to even ask much less listen. a one-sided lecture and really, who am I?

 

But Lobo is right, our intent is a production and just as theater actors don't randomly ad-lib script, we need a more planned show. I've played in another tribute of this same artist. Lead in that band is a consumate front man performer - his act is polished, scripted, his minor ad-lib variations are within a controlled envelope, its tried and true. he repeats them every show, and without fail takes complete command of every audience, its a thrill to see and be part of. its a professional production that builds energy and excitement and takes the audience there with him/us. that band does shows 5x-10x as big... correlation?

 

Dulce - good questions, you helped me discover something important. yes I like him just fine, he's a sweet guy, giving and kind, supportive, and works very hard for that band. but at a deeper level i don't (yet) respect his act because of my direct A/B comparison to the "A" act. you helped me realize I'm judging him to be "B" and blaming him harshly for not already being the "A". well, that isn't at all fair to him. heck, i'm at best a B (or C or D?) to every keyboardist here - and you guys are nice to me :). but my low grade is technical limits, not behavioral. I pretend I'm an A on stage, and the audience thinks i am lol.

 

I don't see the audience liking it and to be fair not viscerally disliking it. there isn't positive feedback from it, he's not engaging the audience with it if thats the point of his schtick. my angst is he's just not thinking about refining his schtick to engage the audience, its random stream of consciousness.

 

i did talk to one attendee who was a friend of the bass player and he was like "weeelll, it was sort of close to the line...". it didn't turn him completely off but it did nothing to add to his show experience

 

as to my band mates. i read their concern at the time, i think correctly, as they heard exactly what i heard and they knew before we got off stage it was bad enough that i'm the guy in the band that would react to bad front man performance. but AGAIN you helpfully peel a layer off this old onion to reveal a more important truth. they are predicting in beacause it was bad, I'M the guy they need to check on how I'll react. they are saying something just as important about me as Lead. whoa, great insight! hmmm - i've got some more to think about.

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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A couple comments that may not help you now....

 

1) IMO, there should not be enough time between songs for all that banter. Most of the bands I've played in might have 1 or 2 short breaks per set for some talk, but other than that it's pretty much roll song to song without stopping for more than a couple seconds. He probably feels like he has to fill the space.

 

2) Whenever something bothers me at a gig, I wait until Monday to call the person. By then I've had a chance to sleep on it and settle down, and it leaves all week to work it out before the next gig if there's hard feelings.

 

All that said, I'd tell him you were just having a bad night and took it out on him, but that you do think you need to cut down on the in between songs banter and try harder to play the part of the tribute.

 

you're right on one, and this is an overall band issue in this particular band that irks me. the band overall isn't set to roll song to song non-stop. i'm ready in 3 seconds and I'm looking up at the drummer, or guitarist, or whoever and trying to say "lets go". and everyone is sort of looking unsure at each other, leaving that void that Lead fills.

 

2. 100% great advice. i was going to wait, drummer asked me to talk to him now. that wasnt a good idea, i hadn't formulated an appropriate converstion around my takes on the gig.

 

because in fairness, and now i'm kicking myself - it actually was a good gig aside from those behaviors.

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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The last gig I played, with the band I just quit, the bass player set up and tried playing along with the house music for 45 minutes before the rest of the band took the stage. Maybe your situation could be worse. I applaud you for taking the high road.

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I don't really think "telling off" is the right approach in any band situation.

 

If you're committed to the singer, then perhaps just wait until the next practice or call a band post-mortem meeting, and nudge things gently into better shape. In other words, teach, rather than scold. Your lead is clearly uncomfortable in the role for now, so support and encourage him.

 

Rehearse running from song to song, including patter. Unless you have something really clever or important to add between songs, then definitely plan to run them tight together. It's helpful if you have a close-to-final set-list to work with at rehearsal, so "beginning the next song" starts to become part of "ending this song." As you do this, ideas and approaches for between-song patter will emerge organically.

 

You'll have to decide as a group what your relationship with the "illusion" is going to be; some tributes break character as part of their schtick, some pretend to BE the tributed act. There are pluses and minuses to both, so just decide what fits best for you, and write your tweener patter accordingly.

 

So again, I'd suggest thinking in terms of leading or teaching, rather than scolding or belittling. If you do this, I think you'll find your singer will start to really want to do well for you as much as for the audience.

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I don't really think "telling off" is the right approach in any band situation.

 

If you're committed to the singer, then perhaps just wait until the next practice or call a band post-mortem meeting, and nudge things gently into better shape. In other words, teach, rather than scold. Your lead is clearly uncomfortable in the role for now, so support and encourage him.

 

Rehearse running from song to song, including patter. Unless you have something really clever or important to add between songs, then definitely plan to run them tight together. It's helpful if you have a close-to-final set-list to work with at rehearsal, so "beginning the next song" starts to become part of "ending this song." As you do this, ideas and approaches for between-song patter will emerge organically.

 

You'll have to decide as a group what your relationship with the "illusion" is going to be; some tributes break character as part of their schtick, some pretend to BE the tributed act. There are pluses and minuses to both, so just decide what fits best for you, and write your tweener patter accordingly.

 

So again, I'd suggest thinking in terms of leading or teaching, rather than scolding or belittling. If you do this, I think you'll find your singer will start to really want to do well for you as much as for the audience.

 

Yes, my starting intent wasnt to tell him off, thats just where I ended after I got myself worked up. i've already realized the ideas in your advice. The singer, despite his improvement needs, deserves better than what i offered. He works hard for that band, he's the one chasing down the gigs, coordinating opportunities with other bands, etc.. Sometimes a drop in ice water does focus the mind, however, but i think as a society we're generally leaning to minimizing shock therapy. I should follow the trend :)

 

I don't know if I should call him now, wait until next rehearsal and go early to talk, or ? Its pretty awkward but i have to face it like a man (or woman, no patriarchal offense meant, ladies). Oh, did i mention he devotes his living space for the band to rehearse for free. And he provides the rehearsal PA and backline for everyone including drum kit? Yeah, I'm such a putz sometimes. At least i'm open to accept responsibility for my mistakes, its almost as useful as not making them.

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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I've had a few situations in bands where there was something awkward that various members tried to address low-key tactfully and I've found that having recordings and spending 30 minutes at rehearsal reviewing highlights can work wonders. This has worked for out of tune backing vocals, drums rushing, bass player not in the groove, too much space between songs, etc.

 

I wonder how your lead man would feel about his schtick if he listened to a recording of it?

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Ive been tempted many times to confront, softly or othetwise , band mates about stuff like bad stage habits or volume issues or whatever. In the end i realize that they arent going to change and i probably irritate them in some way as well. I ask myself , does it matter? We are a local band playing bars. Will this unprofessional behavior cost us our 5 album contract with capitol records? So if the audience isnt repulsed and we get re-upped for another gig then let it slide.

FunMachine.

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two of the band members immediately came over and asked me "what'd you think, or - you ok?"

 

i know i'm right. i don't care if the audience didn't mind it, i don't do clown shows.

 

Nothing in your post suggests that anyone but you had a problem.

I don't know, but is it possible that maybe this guy doesn't need to tighten his act as much as you might need to loosen yours a little?

 

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Personally, I'd have a gig videoed, and suggest the whole band watch it together, with the idea being that everyone contribute suggestions to improve the overall act. Musically, visually, stage presence, everything... without any previous bias. Just honest criticism to improve the band. Keep an open mind going in, and see what comes of it.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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Personally, I'd have a gig videoed, and suggest the whole band watch it together, with the idea being that everyone contribute suggestions to improve the overall act. Musically, visually, stage presence, everything... without any previous bias. Just honest criticism to improve the band. Keep an open mind going in, and see what comes of it.

 

This is what I was just about to say. If you can bring it up in a group context while you all watch the video many of these things may become apparent.

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two of the band members immediately came over and asked me "what'd you think, or - you ok?"

 

i know i'm right. i don't care if the audience didn't mind it, i don't do clown shows.

 

Nothing in your post suggests that anyone but you had a problem.

I don't know, but is it possible that maybe this guy doesn't need to tighten his act as much as you might need to loosen yours a little?

Maybe. I've been pondering this possibility... i suspect there's a middle spot where i'm less tight and he's less loose but its a fair challenge to just question everything.

 

I decided to wait yesterday and give him a call today. I'll post the next episode of my drama ... maybe ... lol ...

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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This is dicey if you are not in fact the bandleader. My knee jerk response in this situation would be something along the lines of "hey man, we are equals in this situation. Why not worry about your own performance and let me worry about mine?" Any advice you have probably should come couched in a suggestive and supportive manner
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Based upon your description I'd say you're right on. All that chatter gets in the way of the real reason you're there. You're a band, not a comedy act. And a TRIBUTE band no less.

 

No idea why he's doing what he's doing, could be nerves, could be he thinks he has to talk to the crowd, etc., just don't know.

 

Direct conversation is normally good but timing and tact usually matter.

 

Good luck with it.

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Based upon your description I'd say you're right on. All that chatter gets in the way of the real reason you're there. You're a band, not a comedy act. And a TRIBUTE band no less.

 

Putting side the method of expressing the displeasure of the front man's actions, the above is what rings true.

 

A tribute act is more than just throwing some songs together to cover.

 

For that time that we are on stage, we are performing a play with music, so to speak. We do not want to break that fourth wall.

 

When people come to our show they want to be reminded of Journey.

We are WELL aware we aren't Journey, but our fans and following come to relive the music they grew up with and loved seeing live, and want to suspend disbelief for a bit.

 

As such, our shows are pretty much scripted, with plenty of ad-lib possibilities, and even those are loosely scripted. It keeps the natural feeling of the show together to show we're not a jukebox or robots.

 

Any time you break character, you break that temporary fun and reminiscing illusion for your audience.

 

The best compliment we ever get is when someone comes up to thank us saying, "I could close my eyes, and it was like I was at a true Journey concert."

 

That is why people are spending their money to see us.

 

Now then, the OP's case, I concur with others here who suggest a face to face sit down to express your concerns away from the heat of the moment, and without the rest of the band so he doesn't feel ganged up on.

David

Gig Rig:Depends on the day :thu:

 

 

 

 

 

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I agree with most of the sentiments expressed here so far. In response to Dave's post above. Calling him and asking for a band meeting may make him think he's being fired. A face-to-face is much less threatening but after what has already happened, I would expect him to be somewhat defensive. I would start with praising him for all the things he is doing right and how much you appreciate what he contributes to the band. That will go a long way before talking about the problems. If you decide to record the band (audio or video) he's going to be more aware of his banter in between songs (which could end up being all you need to help correct the behavior). You seem to have had a chance to calm down yourself, and the folks here have given you some great advice. Try to refrain from making comparisons to singer "A" from your last tribute band. Maybe you and him go see another tribute act that you know stays on point like you'd like for him to do and show him what you mean. Just my $.02.

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As always, the cumulative wisdom of KC shines the light. Yes i was wrong, and yes i was right. How we approach this as humans and artists is key. I just gave him a call just to tell him i apologize for my reaction and one-sided lecture. He was really glad i said that, and he's open to talk about improvements to the act. We both noted that despite my quest for more precision in our on stage performance, the audience feedback was that we rocked that shit and sounded great. But i'm like Escape - i've played in and with the top-notch tribs and done festivals to 5000 people all reliving their first Van Halen, Def Leppard, GnR, Heart, Jovi etc. concert when they were young and free of any worry. thats what a trib is supposed to try to recreate. We are not just up there to play covers, if we aren't painting that illusion of they relate back to their youthful years we're just a bar bnd in costume.

 

pondering this for a day I accepted that as of today we are a really good single-artist bar band with costumes, so we're 2/3s the way there to actually creating that illusion. I shouldn't be such a dick and crying its an empty glass when its 2/3 full. Its just something to work on. Thanks guys ...

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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Dave I totally feel for you. While I can give my fair share of good advice, I'm not without error - I've messed up more than a couple times. All of my advice reckoned back to the days of my highly successful tribute when I was the BL. Even then there were difficulties. But I've made my biggest mistakes since then when playing in bands I felt weren't up to par. I don't like that situation at all, always gritting my teeth and biting my tongue. I would much rather feel like I'm the one who needs to improve to match the rest of the band.

 

I'll give 2 examples of my screw ups. The first was with outer drummer, he had a history of tempo issues and just not taking charge to keep the songs going. After a while it got much better after some gentle coaching, I was trying to take us to a level where I had been, and had contacts/relationships, and our agent was trying to help. We landed a decent casino gig and the drummer was a nightmare. Tempos so ridiculous it was so uncomfortable that it practically became a trainwreck. I did my usually not say anything that night though I thought it was obvious. To my discredit, I continued to stew about it a bit rather than follow up. He had the nerve to start texting me about what about these gigs the agent said he'd get us, and trashing the agent who had booked me more gigs than anyone in my life and is well respected around town. I replied back going off on his drumming. Snowflake stopped talking to me and that was the end of the band.

 

2 of us tried to remake the band with a new drummer, singer, and bass (bass player WAS the singer originally, but had heart issues and had to steal down, so we replaced him with 2 people). New bass player just wasn't learning the songs and week after week of him showing up not knowing songs got to me and I sent a lengthy email to the band. Interestingly, the guitar player was the one to get pissed off and our ensuing email battle was the end of the band.

Dan

 

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You were smart to confront him off stage. That's cordial at least.

 

Years ago I substituted on a gig with a trio fronted by a local popular guitar hero. We got along really well and the respect for our skills was mutual. When we finished playing the last song, the bar owner asked him to play an encore. Guitar hero refused, and before our very eyes the two got into a heated argument - RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE CROWD.

 

We played the encores. During teardown guitar hero apologized to us for the tirade, but I held nothing back telling him that was the most unprofessional behavior I had ever seen and that he had performed enough years to know better than to blow up in front of OUR CUSTOMERS.

 

Guitar hero was taken aback by that. I was told later that I had balls of steel in that no one wanted to confront his petulant attitude.

 

I never did get invited to play with him again, and I don't regret it. In fact it earned me new friends as they respected my ability to take zero bullshit. As for guitar hero's career, his attitude ultimately was his downfall.

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I agree with most of the comments here.

 

That being said, when I clicked on the thread, I thought it was about a Nord Lead.

 

:)

And that "Telling" was a typo/autocorrect from "Selling"

"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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It's hard not to want to make a band into something it isn't. Seeing potential for advancement is exciting, but having a realistic take on a situation, and then deciding wether or not you can accept it, can alleviate a lot of personal stress. While you may be able to see problems and solutions, and suggestions and opinions shared in a band can be helpful, they are not always welcome. Some guys are happy the way things are. Those that genuinely want to advance, are already aware of weaknesses, and actively work on improvement. But sometimes things just are what they are, and trying too hard to affect change ends badly.

"I  cried when I wrote this song
Sue me if I play too long"

Walter Becker Donald Fagan 1977 Deacon Blues

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