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Recent Stonefly gig

Tom Capasso

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Background: Last year, we played two private parties in the area where the drummer and singer live. The first was for a guy who owns a realty company, and he asked us to play his company Holiday party. We said thanks, but no - we're a big rock band, not a corporate band. This guy was at the second party (probably the best gig/crowd we've played) and begged us to name a price. So we got together, named a big price (for us) and took the gig. It was a disaster, because most of the people didn't want a noisy rock band. We played very quietly during the food time and still got complaints. We all said "never again".


This year, the PTA in that town was working up their annual fundraising Friday nite dinner. One year they had a string quartet, and many people were upset (it's a Friday night with babysitters hired, etc.). They started asking the drummer to have the band play. He said thanks but no - it's like a corporate gig, and we're too loud. They kept after him for 6 weeks before a decent plan came up and he approached us. The plan would be for Barry (lead singer, plays guitar) to do some solo tunes when people came to the dinner room

(cocktail hour would be in a different room where they were doing a silent auction). Then we could play some quiet music. This would be followed by a presentation, dinner, and another auction. At this point, dessert would be done, and we'd rock for an hour and a half.


The band was very concerned about another "corporate gig", and that we'd be just too loud. But ideas started coming up about working up an acoustic set. The drummer would barely play on a few tunes, and help with percussion on others (our percussionist would be in on everything). One guitarist would play his Taylor acoustic for some, his acoustic 12 for others (both with built-in pickups). The other guy borrowed my son's acoustic (with PUP). We had one reheasal to work on these, and it was a lot of fun. Some of the songs were quiet versions of songs we already do in "full band" mode.


So we took the gig. It ended up that they would pay us with the full dinner and $100 each for the band. We have two guys that have kids in that school and didn't take the fee. We were still a bit nervous.


We arrived and set up. The kids working there were very friendly, and we all spent some time through the evening talking with various wait-staff. The PTA woman running the night has printouts of the schedule times for us (slight changes, no problem) and is very pleasant. The owner comes in and starts to give us a hard time. He says he "was" a drummer, and complains about all the equipment. Our guys did a great job of working with him for anything that seemed like safety (moved a PA tripod away from an aisle), and assured him that once we were done and the cases were put away, it'd be fine. He seemed pacified by our "we'll work with you" attitude. We got a bit more nervous. The space we had was reasonable, and we had our own table right next to the PA on one side (smart!). We got everything together pretty well, except one guitarist was late (we knew this). There wasn't really a good place to put his amp. I put my two Berg cabs side by side, and he put his Fender amps (one for rock, one for acoustic) on top. The problem was that the percussion and drum stuff blocked access to the dials, which he wasn't thrilled about. Over the course of the evening, the drummer made adjustments on request - went OK. We also had to provide power to a rolling table that had a projector and laptop for a presentation. I had an extra extension cord and power strip. We had to pull back the mics/monitors so they could set up a projector screen in front of us for the presentation.


People started coming in, and Barry did his 4 songs + 1. People were talking, but as they sat down they started to notice him (they all know him - he lives there). He got applause for the last few songs (helped by the band on the side applauding). He did a good job and received compliments. Many of us said hi to people that remembered us from last year's parties, and said how happy they were to see us.


Then we sat down to play acoustic. We had some minor "oops" on a few songs, but we paid attention, adapted, and it went very well. We did

  • One
  • And It Stoned Me (we also do this "full band")
  • Wonderful Tonight
  • Melissa
  • Hide Your Love Away
  • I've Just Seen Her Face
  • Wish You Were Here

We were short on time and skipped Blue Sky (which we do "full band") and Wild Horses. During Wonderful Tonight, 4 or 5 couples got up to dance, and stayed for a few more. That was great, though we all joked later that playing that song made us feel like we were in a "wedding band". Things had gone well for the more risky part of the evening, and we were looking forward to rocking.


Then was food and auction. All announcements and the auction were done using our PA (I'd run and tweak as needed). The program ran long so we only had an hour to rock.


And rock we did. We started with Domino and Wild Nights - the dance floor filled up and stayed that way for an hour. Some of our more "anthem" songs ("Pink Houses") got cheers, and people were partying! Around 12, we announced "last song", and most of the crowd left. But not all - about 30 people kept calling for one more song (urged on by the bassist, who apparently didn't want to stop playing). We played another 6 songs for the smaller but enthusiastic crowd. It was great! We cleaned up while the stragglers told us how great they were. We found out that one of last year's party-givers is planning another for next October with us.


The truth is that we didn't play our best, messing up a few endings and a beginning. It didn't matter. It was a fun night!!


Then Jack gave us the post-gig assessment from the PTA.


Expected Revenue = $10k

Actual Revenue = $18k


Expected People = 83

Actual People = 120


The extra people came at the last minute because of Stonefly according to exit polls. The PTA thanks us for exceeding expectations by making 8k more than forecast. They already are scouting for a bigger facility next year.


Wow :thu:




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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It sounds great it except that you should have got at least twice that much money.


Auctions always run overtime.


And there are always a hard core few people who stay until the bitter end and then want you to play "one more".


Welcome to the world of "corporate gigs".


If someone has a kid in the school and plays for free, he has just made a $200 donation to the school. I'd rather get paid the $200 and then make the donation. Maybe someone would notice that a musician's time is worth a lot of money.


Notice the amount of money that the school made and that they think that some of the extra money came from people who were attracted by the band.

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Good going Tom & Co. Being able to adapt quickly to different situations is really crucial for a band, seems like it wasn't a problem for you guys. :thu:




PS. Don't go dissing on wedding bands, I just played in one this weekend - great fun (in a slightly masochistic way)! :D

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I can't speak to the money too well. We don't play much, and don't have any feel for the finances stuff. Since we do it more for fun than money, we've taken (and will take) gigs for less - especially bars.


The area we played in has a mix middle and upper middle class folks. I guess it was the upper middle class that spiked up the auction. I wouldn't mind getting more next year :)


Barry has his own band that does mostly originals. He's also tried out for every reality TV show that's auditioned in NY (Rockstar, etc.). We're glad to have him.


Thanks for reading!



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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Great story, Tom!


Jeremy was right (of course) you should have gotten more money, especially after all of the hassle from last year.


But not all - about 30 people kept calling for one more song (urged on by the bassist, who apparently didn't want to stop playing).
Hmmmm... apparently someone was feelin' the luv.
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