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OT: Band rehab projects?


cphollis

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I now have begun my third band rehab project.

 

Just like people who rehab houses (actually, my wifes thing!) there seems to be a method to the madness. Just curious how many of you get into serious band rehab just to find a good gig.

 

Heres the setup you meet a nice bunch of functional musicians who have something going on. Good gigs. Some native talent. Enthusiasm to be better. They like how you play, and what you bring. Not hard.

 

But you quickly find theres a whole lot holding them back. Band sound. Rehearsal ethic. Not much of a real music theory background. A few personnel issues.

 

So you dig in for a while, and try and make them sound as good as they can. Well, if theres a well-defined band leader you can use to drive change. No way I want to be band leader.

 

So, a bit about my latest rehab project?

 

Nice folks, mostly older. They cater to the wealthy 60+ crowd here in Florida that spends time at club social events. $1000 per gig, plus a solid calendar. After playing for $300, impressive. Band leader knows how to get gigs. Set list ranges from late 1950s to mid 1970s. Yes, we have to play Brown Eyed Girl and Mustang Sally. I can suck it up. BTW, they tip about $200 on top.

 

The band is really about an amazing female vocalist (more about her later), and a singing guitar dude whos grown up on whammer-jammer acoustic guitar. Everyone else is a fill-in, including me.

 

The singer/guitarist plugs into the PA without a DI or hi-Z channel. He sounds like garage grunge. We can fix that. They dont play with monitors. We can fix that. They are weak on starting and endings. Ok, well have a dedicated rehearsal for starts and ending. They play through a crap mixer and PA gear. Easy fix for me.

 

And then we get into deeper issues. Bass player is suffering from hearing loss, so he cranks it. Lead guitarist is a younger guy who wants to be a shredder. Not for a 60+ crowd, dude. Band leader is used to making it up as he goes along (acoustic guitar player) so all sorts of wrong chords, wrong meter, wrong tempo, etc. Intense therapy here. Youre now playing with other people. Umm, thats not how it goes.

 

The female singer is the only reason I showed up. Deeper range, incredible power, inherently musical. She and I interact quite well. You could listen to her all night. And most definitely not a diva. When she locks in, the heavens open up. Male lead singer band leader is uncomfortable with the competition, but is learning to deal with it. Sorry dude.

 

So, my game plan?

 

Show up as this nice keyboard playing dude. Bring game. Turn some heads. Check.

 

Make subtle suggestions in the most polite way. Hey, if bass monster turned down, we could actually hear the vocals, right? If shredding guitar dude tuned his guitar, it might sound better? Have you ever played with monitors?

 

The guitarists are a big project. Zero tone. The lead dude puts his amp on the floor near his ankles, and then turns up so he can hear. None of them tune up much, and I think their intonations are messed up. A sour sound from them. Fixable, though.

 

Drummer dude is workable. He hasnt spent much time on his drum sound, and knows nothing about how to mike it. Fixable.

 

Band leader went out and bought a bunch of bargain-basement PA gear, and wants to use it. A touchy subject, as my gear is about three shelves above his. Ive brought it to rehearsals, and hes starting to hear the difference.

 

Heres what decent monitors sound like, OK? And, yes, at $1000 per gig you really should bring someone to mix. Ive got this guy oh, and lighting? Got you covered.

 

Everyone knows its the female singer who brings the magic, so Im coaching her to make suggestions on material. Tempo, chords, etc. Shes not so sure about that sort of stuff, but if I tell her its a good idea, shell weigh in.

 

And no one wants to mess with her. Shes the payload.

 

Ive convinced BL to scrap his PA and most of the set list. All he wants to do is sing and play and sound good. OK, I can help you do that. And now were rotating some better local talent into the lineup. Good guitarists are easy, so lets go get one?

 

Long post, but how many of you do this? Intentionally or unintentionally?

 

BTW, of course I dont get paid for any of this consulting :)

 

 

 

Want to make your band better?  Check out "A Guide To Starting (Or Improving!) Your Own Local Band"

 

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Been there and I am always proud to make a band sound better in this manner.

 

But, really, Im much happier being the worst musician in the band and trying to hold my own with players who are better musicians than me any day of the week. Just give me a real book and put me in, coach!

Yamaha U1 Upright, Roland Fantom 8, Nord Stage 4 HA73, Nord Wave 2, Korg Nautilus 73, Viscount Legend Live, Lots of Mainstage/VST Libraries

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I am sure your are very talented and maybe you should try to connect with musicians that are compatible with you that are playing already in the circuit that you have connections. Much easier for keyboard player to find work with already gigging musicians than to go thru your situation. Maybe you should be looking for a working band where you are compatible and can showcase your talents. JMO
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Chuck - are you confident none of your bandmates will ever find this forum? I appreciate your candor and suspect you are fairly accurate in your assessments. I also try to live by the maxim that you should never say anything about someone that you wouldnt say to their face; I hope your forum search for a sympathetic ear never comes back to bite you.
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I tried a ly of time with my former Rock Band and did all the steps you described to have up....Guitakrst was the BL, no way he could open and change his "I'm the leader and the hero so shut up,and play for me" attitude....Well, I was the first to LE, so, no more consulting on anything related to sound, tempo, chords, good timing etc....Drummer left after me, singer who was very good was put in the corner back to bass (he was the bassist years ago...) by the BL who thought he could do better on singing (he was horrible at it...) so, singer left, bassist was fired for no reason ps by BL, so now he's alone....

So, a but OT but just to say that I never had a chance to go very far in a band rehab because everytime the BL was the guitarist...And no great female singer...

Stage 2, C2, NL2X+TC Pedals, P08+Tetra+H9, P12+TC Chorus D50+PG1000, 2 Matrix 1K, Proteus 2K, TX802, Streichfett, Drumbrute. Guitars:G&L Legacy, Asat X2, Ibanez Artstar AS153.Bass: L2000, SR1200&2605.
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By the way Chuck, 1000$ is per capita or for the whole band compared to the 300$ previously with the other Bands?
Stage 2, C2, NL2X+TC Pedals, P08+Tetra+H9, P12+TC Chorus D50+PG1000, 2 Matrix 1K, Proteus 2K, TX802, Streichfett, Drumbrute. Guitars:G&L Legacy, Asat X2, Ibanez Artstar AS153.Bass: L2000, SR1200&2605.
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Chuck - are you confident none of your bandmates will ever find this forum? I appreciate your candor and suspect you are fairly accurate in your assessments. I also try to live by the maxim that you should never say anything about someone that you wouldnt say to their face; I hope your forum search for a sympathetic ear never comes back to bite you.

 

Far kinder than I would have put it.

____________________________________
Rod

Here for the gear.

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I didn't read all the comments but this sounds exactly like something I went through,

 

I played in a band booked every weekend minimum $450/head ($2500 or more per night) booked usually at least a year in advance.

 

I couldn't maintain that schedule and joined a classic rock band that played once in a while. My first mistake was to think I'd bring these guys up to "my standards". They were talented enough, and capable enough, but that's just not what they wanted. A few members left and we started over with a few new members which never got off the ground because I got frustrated after a year of practice and no gigs. Again, not meeting MY expectations,

 

I'll leave it at that.

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 now have begun my third band rehab project.

 

.

 

Long post, but how many of you do this? Intentionally or unintentionally?

 

As a sideman? Change up everything? Can't say that I have. Unless it's my band, I generally accept what's there - perhaps working a bit on the fringes with things like arrangements and sound if asked.

 

How did your previous rehab projects go?

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Different but similar. I play in church every Sunday, and in a smaller religious community every Monday. I'm leader in the latter, and member of the "leading committee" in the former.

 

The community is a lot of acoustic guitars plus me. The players knew like 4-5 guitar chords when we started, and 1-2 strumming patterns. Now, 1-2 years later they can play most of the songbook (around 180 songs, not by heart of course), with appropriate strumming for every song, rhythmic arrangements here and there. Now we're practicing band leading: count-in, eye contact, cue endings etc. Every player leads for a few weeks.

 

The church band has some very good musicians, but there was room for improvement (as always), for example we have entered all our instrumental parts into MuseScore (they used to live in a single handwritten exercise book), worked out some vocal parts instead of everyone improvising them, bought a mixer, mics and PA etc.

Life is subtractive.
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I'd probably try to hold out for a better situation than continue with this.

 

I'm my experience it's better to play for less money with better musicians / people than great money with people that drive you nuts.

Yamaha Montage M6, Nord Stage 4 - 88, Hammond SK-Pro 73, Yamaha YC-73, Mainstage, Yamaha U1 Upright

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I've seen this a few times, and I've occasionally been the guy trying to elevate things from within. It's possible I've been one of the guys being unwittingly "worked on," as well...

 

It's funny to observe when this sort of Band Rehab works and when it doesn't. I've seen substandard material and even a mediocre lead vocalist/songwriter get a huge shot in the arm because that one killer multi-instrumentalist/producer was looking for a gig and saw potential to reshape, and that extra push means people eat it up. But I've also seen (and been involved in) bands that can't seem to get arrested, even when the tunes are great and presented well. Sometimes in those situations, a personnel shift is all it takes, and then the rehab takes care of itself. But sometimes things need a little push. It can be rewarding, or fruitless.

 

I've had to set a few ground rules for myself because there are certain things that drive me up a wall to the point where it's just not worth it. The biggest one is playing with drummers below a certain level. I can only put up with inconsistencies in time and feel for so long before I start foaming at the mouth. I don't know how much street cred I've really earned in my musical "career," but I definitely want to be past the part of my life where I have to put up with drummers who make everyone around them sound worse.

Samuel B. Lupowitz

Musician. Songwriter. Food Enthusiast. Bad Pun Aficionado.

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Mr. CP: This sounds like an awful lot of work. And I have to wonder why you would do so much work for somebody else's band.

 

The great thing about being a sideman/sideperson is I am free of the non-musical and managerial duties: all I need to do is prepare and play the gig.

 

If you can do all the things you talk about: 1) recognize talent; 2) know and can bring in a stable full of needed and talented musos; 3) train a band to play well together; 4) convince problem player to change their behaviors; 5) have a garage full of great PA gear and know how to use it; 6) have an abundance of keyboard "game" to bring..... I have to ask: why are you not doing this for your own band?

 

It seems to me that if you are doing all this work, you should be running your own band, not doing all that work to fix someone else's band.

 

You got great PA stuff: perfect for your own band. You can recognize talent: hire the singer for your own band. You know other great musos: hire them for your own band.

 

The one thing I see lacking for your own successful band is the part about getting gigs. So if the BL in your current situation is able to get a lot of high-paying gigs, spend six months working with him/her, get to know his/her contacts, and make them your contacts. And while those six months are going by, put the pieces in place to have your own band.

 

 

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1)Shes the payload.

...

2) And now were rotating some better local talent into the lineup.

Unless you really enjoy social work, I'd say using these two points as guidelines would probably yield a better result.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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If you can do all the things you talk about: 1) recognize talent; 2) know and can bring in a stable full of needed and talented musos; 3) train a band to play well together; 4) convince problem player to change their behaviors; 5) have a garage full of great PA gear and know how to use it; 6) have an abundance of keyboard "game" to bring..... I have to ask: why are you not doing this for your own band?

 

I'm a little surprised at how frequently this sentiment is coming up on the thread. I don't know what the scene in CP's part of Florida is like, but I know even the relatively robust music scene in my little part of central New York places a lot of demands on the time of part-time musicians (it's a precious few of us making a living based here). There are only so many gigs, for so many players; many of the best musos are booked solid because they play in multiple projects. Starting from scratch can be a tough proposition; the A-list talent isn't often available all at once (the ones that are can be the ones that are... harder to stay in a band with). In Ithaca, when a good drummer or a versatile keyboard player shows up at Cornell or Ithaca College, it isn't long before musicians of all ages are trying to snap them up for their own projects.

 

And sure, if you start your own band, you get to make everything just how you want it, ideally. But that's a lot to put on your own shoulders (I've burned as leader of more than one project where I made all the decisions), and it's also incredibly time consuming. Organizing rehearsals, choosing material, nailing down all the personnel, getting promo materials together, getting out and making a name for yourself, dealing with the inevitable personnel shifts... it can take months or years. If there's a reasonably successful outfit looking for your contribution, and you feel like you could make it more than a sideman gig, but something where you're truly a member, and it becomes more than the sum of its parts, well, I've given in to that temptation more than once. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

 

But that's just me speaking from my experience, which is in a different time and place. I'd love to hear the OP's response!

Samuel B. Lupowitz

Musician. Songwriter. Food Enthusiast. Bad Pun Aficionado.

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Chuck, I could never do what you're doing; I try my hardest to play with people who are better than me. But, it sounds like you enjoy it and are good at it -- so that's great. It sounds like you're a natural Musical Director, which is a very important role. Maybe you can find a better situation (i.e., higher caliber band) in that role. A couple of year's ago I was doing a celebrity jazz gig and some of the musical director's responsibilities were gradually morphing my way (which I didn't care for). I much prefer just being a sideman so I can focus on just playing.
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By the way Chuck, 1000$ is per capita or for the whole band compared to the 300$ previously with the other Bands?

 

Wondering the same!

 

If every gig pays $1,000 a man and they are working all the time I am keeping my mouth shut and not tampering with this formula.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

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The biggest one is playing with drummers below a certain level. I can only put up with inconsistencies in time and feel for so long before I start foaming at the mouth. I don't know how much street cred I've really earned in my musical "career," but I definitely want to be past the part of my life where I have to put up with drummers who make everyone around them sound worse.

I hear you Sam. I feel exactly the same way. I can't enjoy myself, and the band cannot sound good, if the drummer doesn't have a good feel and good time.

 

I see you're in Ithaca. I have close friends who live there and have visited many times. It's such a beautiful place!

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That kind of situation would drain my musical soul really quickly but if you relish the challenge which it sounds like you do, then why not. It seems like a great way to master all the tools of diplomacy and leadership. It also seems exhausting.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

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Seems to me a combination of above advice is wise. If singer is not emotionally obligated to this group the straightest path is put together a band of professionals who have already learned all of this and pull the singer with you.

 

No offense to OP but it seems to me OP is hyper-critical on every aspect of every member of the band (except singer)from stem to stern, which is a different kind of red flag to me. Maybe they are so awful and unprofessional that they deserve this, who knows. But I couldn't figure out why he'd even want to play with this group given his assessment of them.

 

I'm sort of with with MOI - though MOI has the difficulty of being a better keyboardist than I (I know the cat, i've shared gigs with him and heard his chops, he shreds even if he is charmingly condescending here :))!. if I'm the best in the band, its not a top shelf band. Being a rare qualified rock keyboardist, I have the luxury of only signing with bands that have better talent than me. Key to me is lead singer/front person and lead guitar - those two tend to separate bands imo and if the band doesn't have top shelf players there, its a run of the mill band. I don't imagine I can fix either - if they don't have it, they just don't.

 

Not to completely dismiss myself - my obligations are fully and always met. I carry my load 100%, I play my parts spot on, I program all the right tones and as a result of preparation and attention to detail I get more accolades and compliments than I deserve - for I know the varying range in keyboardist qualifications. thats great - what i hear/translate that as is people had a great time and loved the show.

 

fixer projects like described - no thanks. I don't know I even have the broad enough skill to solve it. If the band has that many problems or doesn't play the vibe that gets my juices flowing - I just bow out with grace. I will never become PA man, Light Man, Organizer Man, Guitar tone coach, or any of the other requirements for this situation. I'm the keyboardist - i show up prepared and able and I play keys. period.

 

I will tell that damn deaf bass player to turn down. thats not a knock on ability or knowlege, i have no reluctance there. I do that in one band right now every time we play. He's actually a bass player, vs a frustrated guitarist that bought a bass so he can be in a band. but he must be deaf or something ... his volume is ridiculous. One gig I was next to his over-sized amp/cab and I kept reaching over and turning him down. He'd figure it out after a song and come turn up and I'd repeat it again. FK him - we can be polite or we can be direct - either way he's too loud :).

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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Heres a thought for the OP. You seem highly qualified to be the BL, youve got the chops, the understanding of whats needed, and the motivation. Perhaps the real issue is you dont want it all on your shoulders. Its a whole other job in addition to being the keyboard guy.

 

So, what if you tackled it in an organic way? Sounds like you really get inspired by a good female vocalist. You find someone that is talented and has good instincts, but maybe she is inexperienced with doing gigs, a diamond in the rough. Because youve taken the time to cultivate her natural talent, youve done something totally empowering for her, she feels a bond/loyalty to you, youve given her something that nobody else has or could.

 

So instead of herding cats, which a band scene with 5-6 people can be like sometimes, youve established a culture of learning, listening, taking all aspects of rehearsal and performance seriously. Its easy enough for a good keyboard player and singer to get gigs. And the beauty of that is you can play songs that you really enjoy.

 

So at the point where that works well, you start looking for a rhythym/lead guitar player, which many of us think as the other essential ingredient. This of course is a bit tricky, cause you dont have a bass or drummer on board, but the point would be taking low pressure gigs where you have a chance to establish, in a small core setting, how to do things. Over time you pass on some of the BL jobs to the guitar player. Hes already been schooled by you, youve hand picked him for his professionalism and willingness to take direction, be easy to work with, and of course for his chops.

 

From there it just gets easier and easier. Youve got a solid core of people that work well together and sound fantastic. Its much easier at that point to attract a good bass, drummer, and manager/promoter.

 

Of course its the chicken and egg question, do you develop your initial repertoire based on gigs youre hoping to get, or do you focus primarily on music you want to play? From your many and various posts it sounds like you dont necessarily need the money from these gigs to support yourself, so youve got more latitude there than most of us. But if your core is strong, and youve recruited talented, music reading and theory understanding band mates, the learning curve for the band to get up to speed on different songs is radically sped up.

 

And perhaps you find that youre playing a wider variety of music than just rock and roll, and that you can scale up and down the number of band members depending on the gig.

 

Randy

 

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Things you can easily change that should make an instant noticable difference:

1. Better PA

2. Good sound guy (probably the biggest and doesn't step on anyones toes)

 

Everything else you really have very little power over.

 

You will never get the bass or guitar players to change their tones or play better. NEVER.

 

I used to record every single gig off the board and send it out to the players but even that had limited effect. Some(few) guys respond to it and some guys tune it out...JUST LIKE THEY TUNE IT OUT ON STAGE.

 

At that point you have to ask yourself a question: How long can I continue to play with these guys and am I will to just accept my current lot in life.

 

I recently quit a band for a similar reason.

 

So, my recommended way forward in several steps would be:

1. Change the things you can change (PA and soundguy)

2. In an improved soundscape see if the BL recognizes that the other musicians are holding them back

3. Recommend a sub at one of those positions who might really illustrate to the BL what could be improved

4. Recommend the BL replace the worst of the offending members with someone you think will be better. (Everytime that I've replaced 1 person it's vastly upgraded the entire band as it exposes the next weakest link who probably didn't even know they were a weak link!)

5. None of this works or causes too much internal strife...see if you can get the female singer to join your new band.

You want me to start this song too slow or too fast?

 

Forte7, Nord Stage 3, XK3c, OB-6, Arturia Collection, Mainstage, MotionSound KBR3D. A bunch of MusicMan Guitars, Line6 stuff

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OP here. Some context will help you understand where I'm coming from. Allow me some answers?

 

This is not a large market, music-wise. It's super hard to make a primary living playing music here. I'm not aware of anyone who is doing this. The small number of working musicians I know in town think of this as their second job that pays a few bucks.

 

Many of the bands here are hobby bands, built around the recently retired: both musicians and audiences. The $1000 figure is typically for an early gig, split five or six ways. Better than splitting $300 six ways.

 

Talent-wise, you sort of get what you get. Most of us who are in this scene know most of the other decent musos. It's not a huge list. I'd certainly rather be the low man on the totem pole. It's happened elsewhere, but not here.

 

My motivation is mostly wanting to help people out.

 

These are nice people who would like to sound better, but aren't quite sure what to do. That's where I can help, if they're willing. If they're not willing, well then, we move on.

 

I was asked by the BL to offer up some thoughts after two rehearsals. He really wants the band to sound better. I basically told him everything I said above. It was tough love, but he took it.

 

I do not want to be BL. I want to have fun and sound good with other people who are having fun and sounding good as well. That's about it these days.

 

As I mentioned before, this is the third time I've attempted this. The last two were modest successes. We fixed enough that people began to enjoy sounding good, and then it wasn't a solo effort on my part anymore. Both previous bands had a good long run.

 

I know that everyone looks at this band dynamic stuff differently. If I had other options, I'd consider them. But -- right now -- this is the best option in front of me.

 

 

 

 

Want to make your band better?  Check out "A Guide To Starting (Or Improving!) Your Own Local Band"

 

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I was asked by the BL to offer up some thoughts after two rehearsals. He really wants the band to sound better. I basically told him everything I said above. It was tough love, but he took it.

Ok this sounds a lot better. Honestly you came across as a bit of an arrogant ass in your first post. If they came to you asking for help beyond just playing keys, maybe it will work. But be warned: there can be a lot of anger and resentment if a new guy starts throwing his weight around - especially to the extent that you are.

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I attempted rehab with a band only to discover halfway through that it was the BL who was the real bottleneck, both musically and attitudinally. He had lead the band for over 30 years.

 

I was able to get them to accept my vastly superior sound system for free. I was able to change absolutely nothing else. It took 2 years for me to truly see the light...

 

I left the band. Most of the band was upset. I think the BL may have been relieved. I soon felt like a huge weight was removed from my shoulders.

Barry

 

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

 

Gigs: Yamaha CP88, Crumar Mojo 61, A&H SQ5 mixer, ME1 IEM, MiPro 909 IEMs

 

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I was asked by the BL to offer up some thoughts after two rehearsals. He really wants the band to sound better. I basically told him everything I said above. It was tough love, but he took it.

Ok this sounds a lot better. Honestly you came across as a bit of an arrogant ass in your first post. If they came to you asking for help beyond just playing keys, maybe it will work. But be warned: there can be a lot of anger and resentment if a new guy starts throwing his weight around - especially to the extent that you are.

 

Yeah, and 15 years ago, I would be one of the musos that needed a bit of fixin'. At the time, I would have welcomed it, as I was just starting to play out live and had no idea what to do. Just a dude who played decent APs at home. A bit of band experience in HS and university. Doesn't count, as that was a very long time ago.

 

I was scared, but willing to try.

 

Any and all suggestions welcome on how to improve. No one had any at the time. Not a lot of keys lore in that situation, like there are with other instruments.

 

So I figured it out the hard way. Geez, did I burn through a lot of gear. You all would be horrified. But that was my learning curve. BTW, on the forums, I have HUGE empathy for people with passion who are facing the same learning curve. I do what I can, especially over at the Nord forum.

 

I'm offering this relationship to a bunch of people who are basically in the same situation I was 15 years ago. Passionate, well-meaning, don't know what the heck to do.

 

Maybe I can help you all out?

 

Sorry if I came across as an @sshole. Really, just trying to help a bunch of nice folks out. Yes, I'll get a certain amount of personal gratification out of it, but not my primary motivation.

Want to make your band better?  Check out "A Guide To Starting (Or Improving!) Your Own Local Band"

 

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