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Tired & Unspired vs WIRED: Now Playing Locally


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One of the biggest obstacles I've come up against here in Montana playing in bands at first glance appears to be financial: if wanting to do the band thing locally - with maybe a 70-mile radius to increase possibilities - the common concensus seems to be that one has to play older stuff in a few genres in order to please audiences and club owners.

 

It's been my observation that this is not strictly true. As long as certain entertainment criteria are met both the club and festival clientele and overseers are content. It's actually been more of a hurdle to find players who haven't closed themselves off. Finding bandmates with open listening and playing and songwriting attitudes has been difficult.

 

For many of these people music is not alive. There is no sense in expanding one's playing style, climbing out of cliches and assumptions, or building one's repetoire, or any interest in writing songs that aren't totally copycat and uninspired. Even when bands that are a good example of commitment to roots authenticity or originality, daring - fun - come around and tear up the joint or move the crowd, once the performance fades, these peeps forget what they heard and saw, and crawl back into their safe little holes.

 

Some of them are musical bigots, some are hollow inside and just like the bar scene they grew up in, and some are actually doing a few things differently but still carry baggage about how to take it to a higher level. It is one hell of a search to find people with some common ground and to build playlists (and arrangements) that aren't tired and uninspired.

 

It's really frustrating after living in Seattle which even when grunge seemed to own most of the clubs and ambitious mindsets (I actually got a lot of rejuve from the grunge scene, but it seemed to dominate many venues for awhile), there were lots of people to work and play with who had the spirit to make something that was their own - whether to aspire to recording contracts or heavy gigging, or to just make music occasionally and get the jolt from it. I am not talking ORIGINALS or COVERS here, but I am talking diversity and a certain spirit of expansiveness.

 

I'm not really complaining because I am finding my way and probably don't need any advice. But I'm sure some of you also have musical ambitions - dreams - that you hope to find others who share them with so you can proceed faster and further, and have more fun.

 

So: what's it like for you to work toward finding and keeping with people you can write or play with, and if you are playing covers, how do you make your playlists reflect your interests and how successful are you at playing stuff that seems fresh and/or timeless?

.
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You know... i picked up this damn bass about a year and a little bit ago, went out and bought a big amp too because i supposedly had a group of people around me who would be deeply devoted to making original music. Since then my playing skill has increased a thousand fold. The drummer in this so called band in this time hasnt bothered to repair his kit. The keyboarist-vocalist hasnt bothered to buy a decent keyboard, much less an amp. On top of that he is extremely shy about his singing. Going into this i was told that singing in public was not a problem...Hell he wont even do it in my living room.

 

What im babbling about is that im an aggravated man.

 

Im ready to play, we have wrote a few songs and they're good. But no one will get their shit together for long enough even to get a decent practice in.

 

And i have a whole list of excuses for why i dont just find another band. Very top of the list is keyboardist is family and the drummer is flat freakin amazing.

 

Any way i write this to say that i may be one of the people greenboy is talking about.

 

----------

findley ---} someone who wants to strangle his bandmates

Double what we got o mr. roboto

 

Double

Double

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I have the same problem here in Virginia. The level of musicianship and openmindedness to other forms of music (ie:jazz, avantgarde, etc) sucks big time here!! And then on top of that, people move so slow in acheiving any sort of musical goal it's a wonder that they actually have a music scene here. Albeit it only country, rock and cover bands! Geez, where are the jazz, funk musicians???? :cry:
www.myspace.com/thefunkfather
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Originally posted by greenboy:

So: what's it like for you to work toward finding and keeping with people you can write or play with, and if you are playing covers, how do you make your playlists reflect your interests and how successful are you at playing stuff that seems fresh and/or timeless?

Well, since I just got a second shift job I can't refuse(would you refuse a $12,000/yr raise?), I had to leave two potentially rewarding bands. But ever the optimist/realist, I started talking to my old guitarist who is also going through the "throes" of balancing younger dreams with older responsibilities and mature dreams. We decided that it would be fun to get together and play, along with our old drummer. Both of these musicians are WAY more talented than myself, and playing with them has only made me better and challenged me in a positive way. I think the reason I am a good fit with them is my "ear" for a good hook and creative song construction. Not to mention, we all get along fairly decent. What was the question again? :freak:

Oh yeah, I met this guitarist in the U.S.M.C. and moved here(Illinois) from Massachusetts to "try and make it" in a band with him. We tried to run things like we were in the Marine Corps I think, and while we were really tight with a good live show "discipline", I think we also killed the "fun factor". We tried to run it

"Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of Congress

... But I repeat myself."

-Mark Twain

http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/63/condition_1.html (my old band)

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I feel the agrivation. My last band was a great outfit with a great bunch of players. The lead guitarist and I are both great prog fans, and while we were not a prog band, he took many things from prog to influences the great songs he wrote (unusual chord shapes and every meter except 4/4). The drummer could fly, and I well, was there. the other guys were several years my junior, fresh out of high school, and wanted to take the music up and out. This ambition got to the point where the drummer actually refused to play shows because the crowd wouldn't be huge. By our last practice, several band members disclosed that they didn't like to play our music, and hadn't in a few months.

 

I was bewildered- if you didn't want to play, then why would you?

 

I've wanted to break out of the prevalent hard rock scene and look toward a jazz and blues rock type of music. I am having a hard time trying to find players who not only want to play this, but actually can. It's discouraging.

 

anyway, enough grumbling...

...think funky thoughts... :freak:
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It's the same everywhere, dudes...

 

What your are witnessing and experiencing is the 'downward spiral of mediocrity', caused by deeper and deeper 'commodicization' of mainstream music. The more the majors rely on the packaged music that is fast-sell-designed and over-produced to the hilt, yet lacking in originality and substance, the more the general listening public will accept contrived trash as music.

 

Eventually, what was once thought of as mildly innovative and progressive, becomes obscure and even avant garde (sp?) in the minds of the general listening public when they buy recordings, or go out to enjoy live music.

 

I think that you have to decide if you are in this game as 'an artist' or as a professional who wants to make a living of it, as your priority. The ideal is obviously a marriage of the two, but realistically, that is not the future musicianship holds for most of us. So the benefits of being an 'artist' as a musician, are that you don't give a shit about anything but being creative and expressing yourself to those who will listen. Even if that's only gonna be 50 to 100 people in a small club, twice per month, and you make no money doing it.

 

Thoughts on that?

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Cool topic, oh green one. I have also been through this, although moreso in the Southwestern town I was in, before I moved to NYC. Lots of players, not a lot of "musical thinkers", for lack of a better term. Bedroom woodshedding to the same 5 records over and over, and fine with that.

Even here, though, that mentality still crops up. I run into the guys who want to be the next "big thing", yet don't seem to know thing 1 about promotion or presentation, and have yet to work out a practice schedule.

More on topic, maybe, is the thing about familiarity, possibly shadowing zujo's "cover bands" thread. Most audiences in drinking establishments seem more than happy with a "live jukebox" sort of set, and that is fine, if that is where your band is at.

It's usually more fun to play in a band that has the ability and mad skilz :) to turn a cover on it's head. Witness Mr. Bungle's covers of Alan Parsons' and Billy Squire tunes(the version of "The Stroke" at about 30 BPM is a highlight), the Chili Peppers' "Subterranean Homesick Blues", the Yes version of "America", just for example. But, IME, those are not usually the kinds of versions that draw the big crowds to the local dive.

There's definitely a delicate balance to tread... I usually tend to pick the more bizarre versions, to play or to hear, but I am not exemplary of the average listener, I don't think.

Stick with the known, the familiar, and you'll likely always work. Then you can save the fun (i.e. weirder) stuff for the late set.

 

peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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sounds like a nationwide epidemic of J.M.S. (jaded musician syndrome).

 

new york is a weird town. wraub is definitely right. it's a town full of people who think they're the next big thing and claim legitamcy via the "my favorite band is more obscure and experimental than your favorite band approach" (call and response recently heard: drummer: "don't you ike any pop music?" guitar player: "of course i like pop music, i love the sea and cake.") yet everyone kind of sits back and plays really sceney shows, and just like high school, the popular kids get the cool gigs. simply put, those with more friends pull bigger crowds and get the plum spots on weekends regardless of how hard they promote. and NOBODY pays attention. they go and plunk down their $8 cover, chatter away while their freinds play their set, oblivious to whats happenning on stage, and head off to another bar before the next band comes on.

 

my mission statement? if i may borrow from shaft (the recent sam jackson variety): "it's my duty to please that booty." i try to hit the sweet spot in the groove and ride it. with the scene in new york the way it is you could imagine that i was recently suffering from J.M.S. as well. the cure was to find a whole bunch of people that weren't trying to be the most experimental and have the obscurest influences, but also wanted to shake some asses. now i'm happy.

 

my suggestion? bass players of the world unite! we will all no longer play ANYTHING but R&B. one nation under groove. to hell with these pretentious artsy-fartsy noodlers and wankers. let's all make some god damn music and make the world laugh/dance/shout/sing/cry/fall in love/bone in the boneyard yeah and it's all right.

Eeeeeehhhhhhhhh.
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Originally posted by Bastid E:

(call and response recently heard: drummer: "don't you ike any pop music?" guitar player: "of course i like pop music, i love the sea and cake.")

 

LMAO

 

"yet everyone kind of sits back and plays really sceney shows, and just like high school, the popular kids get the cool gigs. simply put, those with more friends pull bigger crowds and get the plum spots on weekends regardless of how hard they promote. and NOBODY pays attention. they go and plunk down their $8 cover, chatter away while their freinds play their set, oblivious to whats happenning on stage, and head off to another bar before the next band comes on..."

 

This is also true, but I doubt it's just New York.

 

"my suggestion? bass players of the world unite! we will all no longer play ANYTHING but R&B. one nation under groove. to hell with these pretentious artsy-fartsy noodlers and wankers. let's all make some god damn music and make the world laugh/dance/shout/sing/cry/fall in love/bone in the boneyard yeah and it's all right.

In my book, any political agenda that includes Fishbone lyrics is pretty much as good as it gets.

Just ask Cholly... :)

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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This discussion and variations of this discussion is common between musicians after gigs and during breaks. Versions of this also occur in the other arts also. Often what happens is that a truly talented person discovers an divergent way of presenting and looking at things that then be imitated relatively easily by people who are not grounded in the fundamentals of the art. As an example it takes real talent to paint a portrait that captures the essence of the subject's appearence and personality but almost NO talent is required to put a crucifix in a jar of urine.

 

Coltrane could play hauntingly beautifully, but is more charactized for his screaming "sheets of sound". There are many tenor (sax) players that look to be "hip" are incapable of playing a version of "Mary had a Little Lamb" with any sense of musicality, but devolve into playing screaching "solos" that have nothing at all to do with the tune being played or with the accompaniment that goes along with them. I won't even start on drummers who play entire gigs where they play random fills that also, by the way, seem to be executed to obscure where "one" is in a quest to be "hip". Musicians need to realize these items: 1) Most of your audience are NOT musicians. 2) Most of your audience prefers music that sounds consonant for the most part. If the music is "hip" also that's great---think Sting. Most of the "lay public" hates to listen to a whole night of Ornette Coleman or Nirvana (sp?) Unplugged.

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I think u hit the nail on the head there bastid.

Around here if you can play van morrison's brown eyed girl and a "Smokin" version of mustang sally then youre set.

I for one refuse to learn either of them on the principal of the matter and have no work :)

Wedding bands are reigning supreme around here and if u can mix wedding-country-and zydeco/cajun then you're going to be considered a wildly popular band who can burn the house down.

On the other hand, there is the route of my influences being more obscure than yours, but those guys only get 50 people at the most to their sets around here.

I once ended up at a bands set, coaxed along by non musician friends because the band hangs a sheet all the way around the stage and back lights themselves thru out the set. Upon arrival this same set of friends got upset that the band didnt do that, then same set of friends got excited when the bassist put a cigarette out on his arm.

Point being non musicians are there for the show and or to dance and have a good time.

They havent the first clue what time signature youre playing in.

----------

findley----)cant get no satisfaction

Double what we got o mr. roboto

 

Double

Double

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The brunt of posting this topic was that I've had not so bad response from club owners and audience when playing "moldies" and the like while as a bassist walking a little more on the Wild Side.

 

I think many musicians themselves can often be the biggest impediment to adding a little vitality to people's entertainment.

.
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Edendude, you sound like an economics professor. I think music (like many things in life) is a pendulum swing. I remember the late 70s, when you could hear so many different kinds of music (the mid 60's also). Then somehow things come together and everything (on radio at least) sounds the same.

 

I'm not in the whole thing as deeply as you guys. I've seen it in microcosm in my own band (that hasn't attempted an original despite a few of us trying).

 

The band I was in in the late 70s was the best. Our originals pushed our creative side. That spread into the arrangements for our covers. It was the best group I was ever in, despite having a classic feud between the singer and lead g****r player.

 

I can't say if club owners in places like NYC are looking for the next big thing. My guess is that there are club owners everywhere that are happy to see well done, tight music that people feel good about. The challenge (as gb says) is to get the right group of musicians together. Why are there so few Beatles, Zep, [fill in your favorite inventive and popular band]? The right mix of people free enough to be creative and disciplined enough to make it happen isn't so easy to come by...

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally posted by greenboy:

I think many musicians themselves can often be the biggest impediment to adding a little vitality to people's entertainment.

Ditto.AND,we get so caught up in all the "mickey-mouse" crap, that we often lose sight of our goals and/or reason for playing...

"Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of Congress

... But I repeat myself."

-Mark Twain

http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/63/condition_1.html (my old band)

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Further thoughts: finding audiences that are a little more sophisticated (or venues that have fostered that) seems to allow bands/musicians who "have fun with their music" to play something that keeps them fired up and inspired while (as earlier mentioned) fulfilling the basic entertainment values that audience/venue requires.

 

Sophisticated need not mean upper-crust folk who find toe-tapping an affront to society either; the premise of many genres has been that music could rock (and roll) while still appealing to intellectual and other aesthetic inclinations.

 

It's such a gas to be having fun and watch that helping other people to have fun too. I think I picked up some playfulness from watching bands like NRBQ win people over with some of their off-kilter interpretations {Terry Adams is just delightfully perverse ; }, or hearing bands that brought some humor to some of the darker metal-derived genres.

 

And then there is Spinal Tap ; }

.
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I've said it before. If you want to only play clubs you're gonna be stuck in the juke box role. If you want to have an appreciative audience for musicianship and original writing, you have to find and/or create other venues for yourself. Concerts, festivals, busking, People at bars are mostly there to get laid, drunk or get their fill of cigarette smoke without having to shell out for their own packs. The exception to some of this may be playing jazz. You can't change a million years of bar owner's mentality de-evolution but you can be heard if you find other opportunities for performance. Colleges, grange halls, etc. have dances too and they are often willing to dance to original or "outside" music.

"When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have."

Edgar Watson Howe

"Don't play what's there. Play what's not there" Miles Davis

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IMO...

Life is too frickin short. We wanna play what we wanna play. We don't really worry about playing to please the crowd or "challenging" ourselves. We play what we like. We're exceedingly lucky that there is a small (but growing) audience for it in almost every American town.

 

As writers and teamates, our goal in writing is to create music that makes us happy and moves us. Our logic: if it makes us move, it'll make anyone who listens move as well. We play a lot of "odd" venues on tour -- from fucked-up basement squat parties to super-nice showcase stages, and we always get compliments. If we play at a Knights Of Columbus hall show full of teenagers from a small town, the compliments usually revolve around us "kicking ass," etc. If we play a showcase club sandwiched between a Journey sound-a-like act and an electro-goth act, we get the "Well, I don't usually like that kind of music, but you guys are really good" sort of compliments. My point is, we just do what we do and force people to like it with pure willpower and sincerity. If they still don't like it, fuck em. The clubh owners always like us because we act like pros and behave like rational human beings. So we always get re-booked.

 

I guess the point is that we don't sweat the bullshit. We create what we wanna create and then work hard to find the places and audiences that will pay us to play it for them. To me, it's not worth my time to do anything else.

 

I'm not really sure if this addresses the topic, but whatever. If you don't think so, bite me.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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CMDN, 100% in agreement on the sincerity and willpower bit. The thread's origin was largely built on the premise that a full band that had this kind of belief system was oh so desirable. I hear peeps dumping it on the audience or clubowners all the time when making excuses not to do what they say they'd really like to do.

 

Sure, one can have problems if they play free jazz at a club that has a 20-year history of redneck country. That's only common sense. Beyond that, it seems like prevaricating ; }

.
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This thread speaks volumes to the frustration I have felt in the last year. I think in my old band we mastered the cover thing. I think we may have been one of the best in the area. The frustrating thing was that even within that venue I couldn't get the band motivated to take that to the next level. We may have been the best cover band in the area but only a few bars were ever witness to it. Mention playing something outside the lines and the audience was usually the crutch. Even more frustrating as I circulated the music scene looking for the right situation, is that every band I've played with, I've had to think that my last band overall was better. So many if only's. I know I shouldn't do this so I try not to dwell.

 

I do have a new band and situation that I hope to fit in and hopefully expand on.

 

Ancient Chinese Proverb: From all change will come good things or something like that.

 

Here's hoping that none of us allow our perceptions to become our limitations

Double Posting since March 2002

Random Post Generator #26797

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I sympathize, ibescotty

 

There are two places here in my valley that have been owned by the same housebands forever. I really don't see the people from one of them very much because I don't often check out country scenes, but last time I was there it seemed like they had done a few things since I had done outdoor concert sound for them a few years ago. For them, this is a steady job with good benefits, and they make incremental changes in their material, instumentation, gear - just enough to keep from going braindead, I think.

 

The other band, when talking frankly with someone who is in music too, will admit they mostly hate their job, and that it's been stale for the past couple of years. But they are afraid, simply afraid, to expand much on what they've been doing for so long. They really are resigned to slogging through night after night with only occasional flare-ups of inspired playing.

 

They are very good at what they do, but have convinced themselves that opportunity does not exist, that they are lucky enough and asking or demanding more would just be pushing their luck.

 

Too bad they never have the chance to get out to see any other acts or club scenes. They'd probably feel a bit different about it all.

.
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Originally posted by CMDN:

...If we play a showcase club sandwiched between a Journey sound-a-like act and an electro-goth act, we get the "Well, I don't usually like that kind of music, but you guys are really good" sort of compliments.

This is such a positive approach. Take your compliments where you can, and appreciate them as such. You are doing your thing, and doing it well. People don't have to bow down for you to see that you're music has been enjoyed.

 

Originally posted by CMDN:

I'm not really sure if this addresses the topic, but whatever. If you don't think so, bite me.

You know it addressed the topic - you are fortunate enough to have a band (2 actually) that "are on the move". Sometimes I think you might be the type of guy that goes for "shock value".

 

:P:eek::P:rolleyes::P

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Tom...

Sometimes being positive is all you have. In my experience, it helps overcome adversity. Fpr example, we know we're good at what we do, and we love doing it. We keep this in mind whenever things get weird, rough or we're just tired. When we're playing in some shithole bar 500 miles from home on a Tuesday night for a surly bartender, three local alkies and a bored bouncer, we try to remember that and use it as our inspiration to play our asses off. That's how we usually wind up selling CDs to the bouncer, alkies and bartenders and crashing at their houses. The next time we hit that town, we know there will be five people who were impressed with us in some way, if only because we played as hard as we could for them and ourselves.

 

As far as the "shocking" thing goes... That's never my intention, although I'm kind of outspoken sometimes. This occasionally shocks others because I'm not afraid or ashamed to say what's on my mind. Unfortunately, this stuff isn't always nice or non-confrontational. I'm not always a nice guy, but I prefer to be one when I can. Like said, life is too short to risking being vague and potentially misunderstood. In this particular case, I really wasn't sure if I had adequately addressed the topic at hand, because saw my post as kind of rambling and diffused but somehow still applicable to the topic. The "bite me" part was just a jokey.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Amen.

 

Make music for you and only for you. Be selfish. Play what you like to hear. Be yourself. If you don't know what 'yourself' is, start finding it.

 

Bad musicians are more common than jerk off wanna bes on reality television.

 

Lets face it, when you find someone you gel with, stick it out, but keep the search alive for the next like minded individual. We live in a semi - free society, jam it out with whomever you like.

 

Keep your roots but let the branches grow where they want.

Check out my work in progress.
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