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Why's it SO hard?


GeorgeR

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I'm feeling huge withdrawal symptoms now.

 

The band I was in, I played as a substitute bassist. Their music has been a huge influence on me because it speaks volumes to me on a philosophic level as well as on an artistic level.

 

I'm big on songs with philosophical roots, as well as great instrumentals. This band had both!

 

I've been a fan of their music for a couple of years now, and believe me, being able to play with them, live, was such a rush! It's all over now.

 

After doing the best I've ever done, playing with the best I've ever heard, it's tough going cold turkey, and even tougher being faced with the only alternative; looking at offers from bar bands who have absolutely no commitment, no imagination, no creativity and are happy in their own musical ruts, screaming out the same covers every bar band out there plays for the last 20 years.

 

After tasting perfection, can you go to barely adequate, or worse? Or can anyone do it at all?

Beware the lollipop of mediocrity; one lick and you suck forever.
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I say go for the bar bands that play the covers well.

 

At the very least you'll increase your chances of meeting a musician who's doing something interesting on the side.

 

Avoid thinking of bands as the sum of their parts. A terrible band might have one or two good but down on their luck musicians in it who are seething with the same frustration that you are right now.

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It's hard, and it sucks. I'm afraid I've already been in the best band I'm ever going to be in. For me, "the one that got away" wasn't a woman - it was a guitar player.

"I had to have something, and it wasn't there. I couldn't go down the street and buy it, so I built it."

 

Les Paul

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Write them a card, thank them. Let them know just how special the experience has been for you.

 

Wish them luck in future endeavors.

 

Then go out with the increased sense of the possible and make something special happen again. And it will...it always does.

 

Every time I ever got fired, I went to a better job. How ya think I wound up teaching school?

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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I've had a couple bads go that rout. Its always hard sitting around saying "gee, I should be playing the 3rd set right now". I'm doing this too, after moving, my playing became nearly non-existant. Just hang tough, get out there and play. Especially in the music business, you never know who you will meet and how you will find them. My 2 favorite bands, and all the closest friends I have met as a musician have been pure chance. All the auditions, "let me introduce you to..." situations did not do much. I always seem to just stumble into the best situations.

 

Get out there and stumble! :wave::D

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...well, as everyone has pointed out, when one door shuts another one opens.

Our lives as musicians are a continuing evolution; we must continue to grow, to learn and to re-invent ourselves. If you now find yourself without your "dream gig", rather than look back regretfully on having "lost " it (and, if I read right you were a replacement bassist...so you had to know it was a temp job anyway...) look at what you gained and learned from the experience.

Yes, playing in bar bands can be a drag, but playing music never is!

Personally, I have never bought into the "married to the band" kinda thinking where you find that "dream gig" and you are locked into forever (never really happens anyway). Every experience is unique. And in your life as a musicains you are to have hundreds, eeven thousands of these musical experiences which help to form you as a player. Think of this as a growing experience

and take what you have learned to those other bands. If you can offer something which illuminates, educates, and elevates THEIR experience also, perhaps you can lead them away from the complacency and lack of imagination of which you speak.

I am not "in" a band, rather I work as a hired gun, and play with several, a few on a semi-regular basis. In each situation I try to bring something to the table which can, if only in my one opinion, take that group to a new level. Often this is new arrangement ideas, rhythmical concepts etc. In each situation, although I am not "married" to the band, I give 1000% of my attention and focus to the project.

If the musicians are truely uninspired, lazy and not responsive or interested in artistic growth...well, I move on to something else.

It is sometimes difficult to allign yourself with musicians of similar tastes/styles/abilities. Gettting out there and networking is really the only wqay to go. Meet lots of players...-play with whoever you can. This gets your name out there, too.

Several years ago I played bass in 7 different "bar bands" at once. In each there was at least one player who possessed drive, committment, imagination. And, yes, the majority of these bands were made up of lackadasical, lazy players whose vision rarely exceeded beyond the bar tab. When I decided it was time to put together my own band...I enlisted all the good players I had met along the way, who eagerly jumped ship, so to speak. The band, by the way, ended up working all the time playing clubs, private events and opening slots for international tours. I paid all the players a monthly salary plus bonuses...and for two years solid we worked an avg. of four nights a week.

After two years, though, I felt it was time to move on to something else. We disbanded, amiably, and remain friends still. And...all those players are still working, with new bands and with knowledge the experience gave them.

Hope that shines some light some you.

Max

...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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Hi there,

 

I do know what George is feeling...

 

I used to play in metal bands as a guitarist in my teens and early twenties. One of them even had a slight foray into prog/fusion type music, which I love a lot.

 

At first, I was adamant of joining my dad's dance group. The music isn't what I'd consider challenging by any means, but given that I haven't played in a band in several years, I decided to try it. Now a year into this effort, I can say that I enjoy this band a lot. We did go through some pains, like our drummer going through a dry spell of not playing for twenty years(!), and various members not having an understanding what's needed in a dance band (myself included). My dad's the musical director.

 

Even though this isn't the type of music I want to play at all, not playing would have been worse for me. Besides, I'm getting a real education in a different kind of band dynamic here. I haven't played multiple sets like this either; most of my old bands only did two thirty or forty minute sets, while this one does at least three forty five minute sets.

 

I've grown to like this stuff a lot, not to mention the pay; it's much better than what I used to earn doing mostly originals. (My dad says we might compose some tunes soon.)

 

Not only that, I'm really getting off on watching the people do the different dances. It's pretty cool! :thu:

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I absolutely can relate...

Every time we've replaced a bassist (five so far), I feel depressed about losing someone in our circle and "mourn" the loss of that era for the band. It's a real downer.

 

The only thing that makes me feel better has been finding someone new and moving on. We won't stop doing our thing... and we'll keep finding a way to continue until we just don't want to do it anymore. That's the key. You keep going until you don't want it anymore. I'm not even close to that point yet.

 

So... Keep going. Something will come up if you look for it.

\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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Hi George, surely an accident can be arranged involving a blender and the other bassists right hand?!

 

No, I'm being silly (I bet ya thought of it tho' ;) ) What everyone else said. Take this bad news as a chance! Cause that's what it is, go out there and grab that horn by the bulls!

 

CupMcMali...this monkey's gone to heaven :freak:

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Thanks for the advice! I think it's like getting over a lost love or something, though I've never been anywhere near as busted up over some girl as I find I am over this.

 

davebrownbass -

Then go out with the increased sense of the possible and make something special happen again. And it will...it always does. Every time I ever got fired, I went to a better job. How ya think I wound up teaching school?
You must be a very blessed person, or just extremely lucky! Yours must be the exception to the rule!

 

And......yup, I have written them, and even have offered them an open invitation to dinner at my place, just to show no hard feelings.

 

CupMcMali -

HAHA!!! Let's not go THERE, ok? The new bassist is a pretty British girl in her 20s, who bears quite a resemblance to the singer (were the singer 15 years younger), that same singer who just broke up with the guy who heads the band. I certainly do not bear her ANY ill will whatsoever. But I can't help but think that somehow the new bassist is, unwittingly, the seed of the band's self destruction. I can see the green eyed monster already moving into their space.

 

Still, thanks for the humor!

---------------------------------------

I say go for the bar bands that play the covers well.
Fair enough, and I appreciate the suggestion. But there is a but.......I'll not go into TOO much detail about it, because I have given it so much thought and attention as to why, and if I go into MUCH detail I'm quite sure it's liable to make folks angry or something.

 

I'll only give a little bit of detail, below.....

 

Let's just start by saying that time is precious.

 

I don't envision wasting my time, by regurgitating sorry old songs (aka: Mustang Sally) I have never even liked to listen to, let alone end up playing and pretending to like it, just to please drunks (sorry, it's an ethical thing for me.....I don't drink and don't respect drunks at all).

 

After all, there are already too many bands doing the same old thing, week after week, year after year, never getting anywhere but back to more bar scenes? Surely we don't need more of the same?

 

See, that's so much like where I don't want my music to go. Music is my first love, since age 4. I've been playing music since age 7 or 8 on multiple instruments. I love it too seriously for that. I respect and cherish it too much for that. And I'm afraid I've spent too much time doing other things with it, really good things, just to see it go to waste that way now that I'm "older" (mid 30s), and more mature about it all.

 

It may sound like I'm being arrogant.......please understand......I'm not. It's just that I want to see it go somewhere, not become stagnant, not become someone's perpetual acoustic wallpaper in some seedy bar, or a waste of time and commitment.

 

Sigh....ok..........flame away at me!

Beware the lollipop of mediocrity; one lick and you suck forever.
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Nobody wants to flame you...we all understand exactly.

 

So, all things being equal, how do you find the gigs that you treasure, where you can be creative, appreciated, wonderful.

 

I can only answer by telling you my experiences; these involve having myself more or less ready and being at the right place at the right time.

 

Bassist in Trinity Praise Band (professional, one hour per week) My wife was the nursery director there back in the 80's and mentioned to the music minister that I was in college studying orchestral bass. Music minister used me once, liked it, twice; after a while, I was called frequently. Every holiday or "special" Sunday I haul my stuff in...this happens for about 10 years. 5 years ago, when they started the band, I was the first choice. I'd much rather play on Sunday morning in church than Saturday night in a bar (I've NEVER done that; not one time) for the same money.

 

Bassist in Double Portion, Bluegrass/christian country. Have traveled to France and West Coast with this band. I was at a music teacher's convention in San Antonio in 1998, and on the last day I realized I needed to get my wife a gift. There was a guy with a wad of $100's selling wooden necklaces from Costa Rica at half price. Seemed like a great deal. We got to talking...he had this band and had just let his bassist go (drinking, I think) I lived where he did...he and his wife wanted to attend the convention, and he found a way to make it pay rather than having to pay for it...buying a booth at the convention center. I gave him my number. A month later, he called...his band was being called to France for the 1998 World Cup...would I be interested in doing that? Been with him for 6 years now...currently working on a project about Sam Houston.

 

Women's Chorus of Dallas...Several dates at Christmas...just recorded a Christmas album with them. I had a really troublesome student who was using my rep. to get gigs for himself. He called me to sub for him (so he could take a higher paying gig) and I blew him away just sightreading the music. read all about the story here:

 

trashing whippersnappers, reply 5

 

and here: Got the callback from the whippersnapper

 

After playing the Christmas stuff with this conductor, he has referred me to his ex-wife and she has hired me for a run of the musical "Grease" for this week.

 

Bottom line...there is no such thing as luck...there is only preparedness and willingness and faith. I encourage your faith.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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No, GeorgeR, no flaming. It seems you fully recognize that you've given all you want to give to the local bar scenes, and Mustang Sally requests, and are ready to move on musically. That's a way good thing.

 

Personally, I'm content playing the local area, doing Mustang Sally (ONLY upon request!), as it keeps me around my family and friends, and as Max Valentino said, music is music.

 

I just sense frustration from ya, and wish you well in making your future.

Bassplayers aren't paid to play fast, they're paid to listen fast.
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It's 5 something AM as I read these. I've gotta get ready soon, go to work at the day job.

 

Patrick_dont_fret - !!! LOL !!!

-------------------------------------------

davebrownbass -

Bottom line...there is no such thing as luck...there is only preparedness and willingness and faith. I encourage your faith.
Thanks. That's exactly it. I was just reading an article on Carolyn Dawn Johnson in a magazine. She said a very similar thing....that luck is simply preparation meeting opportunity.

 

Well.....technically I'm about as prepared as I've ever been. I'm always thinking , experimenting, listening, searching and trying.

 

I know that I've proven it to myself, without sacrificing too much on the well being of my small family either financially or personally, I'm willing to put forth gigantic time and energy efforts that even startle me, playing a gig after working the day job all day long, after being up for 23 hours straight and still playing it well (all of this, provided I get a sense that the other band members are equally committed and not just out for an excuse to booze it up).

 

That sense leads me to Faith........I think it goes hand in hand with Hope. And lately Hope has had a difficult time keeping her head above the waterline in this storm.

 

I was talking to another musician I know and highly respect. She's a young one, just 20 but WAY mature beyond her years (she plays violin, guitar, piano, all extremelt well, she writes and can sing operatically). She lives about an hour and half from me and she's currently at university, taking among other things, Jazz.

 

Her own feelings about her music mirror my own:

 

It would be like to stop breathing.............I would die without it, it's my life, all my happiness is wrapped up in that.
Thank you for the encouragement!

 

I suppose we all have to prove ourselves to be able to weather these storms. I've never seen one this bad before.

Beware the lollipop of mediocrity; one lick and you suck forever.
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GeorgeR - Sorry to hear that these are sad times for you. You got lots of postive thoughts and encouragement above. I hope it clears for you soon.

 

You may want to think about what you really need, and what you can control. This is different for everyone, so you have to do it yourself. One thing to remember is to recognize all the good experiences you have (now and going forward)....

 

It's possible for me that my best band was the one I was in during the late 70s. When we chat (we're still in contact), we remember that it was the best experience of our lives. At the time, the grief and pain was as real as the musical magic. But listening to tapes we have amazes us - the songwriting, the great playing, etc. Is it really great? Nobody is going to sign us, but we recognize the strength of it and are proud. Someone heard the stuff recently and said that it belonged to that late 70s period and probably wouldn't work today. He didn't mean that in a negative way, and he's right, but so what? We still love it - we're creatures of that time as much as this....

 

When I play with the groups I'm in now, I don't fret over what it isn't. I decide that the current things work for me or don't. If they don't, I leave. Many do, and I'm enjoying it, being thankful to God for every chance to play (even covers in a bar :D ).

 

Hang in - you'll be rockin again in no time !!

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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