Getting Along Is More Important Than Musicianship

In Stereo Gets Along

   That’s right, getting along is more important than musicianship. This is band chemistry 101 for all you live musicians out there. I’ve played with some of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever heard and I’ve also seen them not able to function in a band for more than a year. The musicians I play with now are all excellent. Maybe not the best in the world, but excellent players. My two bands have been together for 18 years and 14 years respectively. Let me tell you why we’ve been together for so long.

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Be Prepared For Your Gig With This Basic List Of Essential Items

Pete Townshend Winds Up To Trash The Stage

   When you’re preparing to play a gig, it’s extremely important to prepare for the unexpected. Murphy’s law seems to always rear it’s ugly head at a gig. Here are a few basic essentials every live musician can do to prepare for equipment problems and breakdowns at a gig.

   Make sure you bring some basic tools. At the very minimum you should have a Leatherman Multi-Tool and a flashlight. It’s a really good idea to have a soldering iron as well. You can fill out your toolkit with the following:

  • Super Glue
  • Electrical Tape
  • Duct Tape
  • Cable Tester or Multi-Meter
  • Battery Tester or Multi-Meter
  • Allen Wrenches
  • Wire Cutters

   You’ll also want to have some extra basic equipment accessories such as: Continue reading “Be Prepared For Your Gig With This Basic List Of Essential Items”

Get A Band Prenup

Guns-N-Roses Before Things Went Horribly Wrong

   Okay there’s not really such a thing as a band prenup so I’ll explain what I’m talking about with a couple stories. One of my good friends was in a band and that band needed a P.A. System. No single person in the band had enough money to pay for the P.A. so everybody in the band decided to chip in some money to pay for the P.A. system. Everyone couldn’t chip in the same amount so a couple of the guys put in more money than the rest of the band. After the P.A. was bought and paid for, the only person in the band that could store, transport and setup the P.A. was the person that had contributed the least amount of money in the band. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, the band eventually broke up and they were left with the dilemma of “who owns the P.A.?” The way it ended up, was the guy that was storing and hauling the P.A. just kept it and moved to a different state, never to be heard from again. So everyone else that had contributed to the P.A. was out everything they had put into it.

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What Is The Typical Band Lineup

The Beatles - 4-piece perfection

   So you’re a musician and you want to become a live performing musician. You want to start a band and you’re not sure what instruments you need to get a functional band together. The beautiful thing about playing in a band is the fact that you’re going to be playing with other people. You won’t be a solo artist anymore when you play in a band. In fact, the definition of band is “An unofficial association of people or groups.” So I guess technically you only need two people to start a band. The first thing you need to decide is what type of music you’re going to be playing. If you decide you want to play hard rock then the lineup requirements will be different than if you are playing bluegrass. How many people you have in your band can really affect your band chemistry as well. Musician’s tend to have large personalities and the more you add, the more interesting and challenging things can become. Let’s take a look at some typical band lineups.

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The Crowd At Your Gigs

Crowd View Of In Stereo Band

   The other day I came across a really funny cartoon which depicts the type of crowds that come out to see a rock show. You can check it out here: The Crowd At A Rock Show. It’s really funny because it’s so accurate in it’s depiction of the makeup of a typical rock show audience. Being a live musician up there onstage, I’ve made a lot of observations about the crowd at our gigs.    Continue reading “The Crowd At Your Gigs”

Choosing A Band Name

Butthole Surfers - Maybe not the best name

   One of the funnest but most difficult things you’ll have to do as a band is decide on a band name. It can be extremely frustrating deciding on a name that everyone in the band agrees on. Instead of agreeing on a name that everyone loves, it almost always comes down to a name that everyone doesn’t hate. So how can you pick a name for your band?

   The first thing you need to do is come up with a list of potential band names. How do you choose band names? There is really no rule as anything could be used as a band name. I would suggest looking at the type of music the band is playing, or the type of people in the band. Is there something that stands out about your band that you want to point out? In my band Shufflin’ Noah we had written a song called 40 Days And 40 Nights so one of the names suggested was Noah. We felt that was too generic so we decided to add the word Shufflin’ to the front of it. That was on a list that included names like Spoon Playin’ Noah, Street Rappin’ Noah as well as a bunch of others. We finally decided on Shufflin’ Noah because we wanted people to dance to our music. Continue reading “Choosing A Band Name”

The Police Tour Wraps Up

The Police - Madison Square Garden August 1, 2007

   Well The Police played the last show on their reunion tour at New York’s Madison Square Garden on August 7th 2008. They played it at the Garden because they played their first U.S. show at CBGB’s in New York. The tour lasted for 15 months, 150 concerts and they played for 3.7 million people. Sting was quoted as saying “The real triumph of this tour is that we haven’t strangled each other. That’s not to say it hasn’t crossed my mind, or Stewart’s, or Andy’s.”

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Standard Practice, Dress Rehearsal and Live Show Setups

Bill Likes Pepsi At Rehearsal

   I’ve been playing in bands for 27 years now and have been to lots of band practices and rehearsals. Today I’m going to talk a bit about how your band sets up for practice and gigs. I want you to think about how your band sets up during a standard band practice. I’ll bet you that you stand in some kind of circle or oval facing each other with all the amplifiers and speakers pointing at you. That’s really the standard setup for a regular band practice.

   Now think of your setup at your gigs and live shows. I’ll bet your backs are to the drummer and all your speakers and amplifiers are pointing forward. Continue reading “Standard Practice, Dress Rehearsal and Live Show Setups”

A Good Show Is A Collective Effort

   I always figured if I practiced long and hard enough that I would become a good enough musician that my skills would guarantee a successful show every time I played. So I practiced and I became a good musician but I found that a good show doesn’t just depend on musical skill. A good show is a collective effort between several different factors.

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Keeping Your Band Together – The Weakest Link

Ringo - The Weak Link?

   One of the biggest challenges you face in any band is keeping the band from falling apart. I’ve already talked about having a band leader but the fact of the matter is, the members are still there by choice. There are a lot of different things that can pull a band apart.

   One thing that’s inevitable in a band is what I call the “Weakest Link” syndrome. I don’t care how good everyone is, someone in the group will be the weakest link. Let me give you a few names and just think about their role as the “weakest link”.

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