How To Deal With An Emergency That Threatens To Cancel A Band Gig

How to deal with having a member of your band unable to play because of an emergency.

In Stereo with Frank Lee
In Stereo with Frank Lee

   A couple weeks ago my live band , In Stereo, was faced with a situation that you hope you never have to deal with. We had an important gig scheduled and one day before the gig our drummer, Ted,  came down with a life threatening staff infection in his ankle. It was very obvious as soon as he was admitted into the hospital that there was no way he would be able to play the gig. That left us with a commitment to fulfill with the club that had us booked and as you know, the show must go on. So what are your options in a live band when one of your core members goes down?     Continue reading “How To Deal With An Emergency That Threatens To Cancel A Band Gig”

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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Improve Your Skills By Playing With Other People

Matt Rushton and Tom Warnick

   I remember when I was starting to learn guitar, I wanted to be in a band so bad but I didn’t think I would ever be good enough to do it. I would practice in my room for hours and I finally got to a point where I was pretty good. The next logical step was to start playing with other people. I was nervous, but when the chance presented itself, I seized the opportunity. When I got together with other people to play music, my skills as a live musician increased more than I ever could have imagined. There’s just nothing like the interaction that you get playing with other musicians.

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How To Approach A Cover Song

Elvis Presley Covers Blue Suede Shoes

   A cover song is a song that has been recorded by another artist and that your band will be playing. Some famous artists that have played cover songs are Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Van Halen, The Rolling Stones. A lot of current artists will play cover songs as well and go on to have big hits playing them. The good thing about playing cover songs is that the song has already been marketed to the masses and has been proven to be a well loved hit. So your chances of having success playing the song is very high. There are a couple ways you can approach playing a cover song.

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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”

Play To Your Strengths With Your Song Selection

Click For Set Lists
Click For Set Lists

   Every band has it’s own unique talent level that comes from each individual band member’s personal skill level. I’ve played with guitarists that are just amazing with Jazz music but couldn’t play even the simplest of Rock-N-Roll music. I’ve played with bass players that could hold down a perfectly steady beat, until they had to play a funk bass line and then they struggled like crazy. I’ve had the same thing happen with bands as whole that I’ve been in. I’ve been in bands that could play classic Rock-N-Roll flawlessly but couldn’t even start to play any heavy metal. I’ve seen bands that play Country like nobody’s business but can’t rock at all.

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A Lot Of The Time Playing In A Band Is Work

   I’ve been playing in bands for 27 years but I still remember how great it was starting out playing in a band. I remember when it put me on top of the world just to make it from the start to the finish of a song together as a band. We’d be stoked and play the song over and over loving every minute of it. We learned the songs just for the joy of playing them together. After we had some songs down then naturally we wanted to play some gigs. So we played a few school assemblies and did a few songs and had some great success. Once you’ve played in front of an audience then everything else becomes a quest to get back onstage in front of a crowd. This is where the whole process of learning songs and preparing for the show starts to become work. Continue reading “A Lot Of The Time Playing In A Band Is Work”