So Your Band Sounds Like A Train Wreck

Does your live band sound like a train wreck? This post will help you figure out why and how to solve it.

In Stereo Jamming Live At The Canyon Inn
In Stereo Started Out Sounding Like A Train Wreck

   So you’ve searched for musicians, finally found a the perfect band lineup, and you’ve decided what type of music you want to play with your live band. You’ve had a few band practices but your new live band sounds like a train wreck. This is a common problem and believe it or not, can be very simple to solve.

   The first question you have to answer is, what’s causing your band to sound like a train wreck. The most common problems I’ve seen in new bands are centered around the ability to play to a beat and individual player preparation.    Continue reading “So Your Band Sounds Like A Train Wreck”

How To Choose Songs For Your Live Band To Play

Billboard Hottest 100 Hits
Billboard Hottest 100 Hits

One of the biggest challenges of playing in a cover band is the simple act of song selection. This simple task can make or break any band. A well chosen song list can give your band the edge in a very competitive cover band market. So how do you choose a winning setlist for your live band to play?

I’ve learned the hard way over the years not to pick songs from the heart. That’s the biggest mistake that most bands make when choosing songs. They will pick songs that they love and assume that if they love the song, everyone else will too. That’s not necessarily the case because I can tell you that a lot of the songs I love and would like to play in a band have never been huge sellers. I like complicated, progressive rock music that most people that aren’t musicians just can’t grasp.   Continue reading “How To Choose Songs For Your Live Band To Play”

Tips For Playing Live Band Gigs In Cold Weather

Here are some very important tips that will help you when your live band is playing a gig outdoors in cold weather.

In Stereo playing at the 2002 Winter Olympics Medals Plaza
Matt's band "In Stereo" plays outside at the 2002 Winter Olympics

   It’s the time of year when many live bands will have opportunities to play outside in some cold weather. I know I’ve played outdoor New Year’s Eve gigs, gigs on outside decks at ski resorts and some sweet gigs outdoors at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. For a live band, it’s essential stagecraft to know how to deal with cold weather.  I’ve played in temperatures well below freezing and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Here’s a list of things you’ll want to consider when playing outdoor winter gigs. I’ll discuss each in more detail below:

  1. What type of stage will you be playing on?
  2. Will there be any stage heating?
  3. What types of clothes should you wear?
  4. How can you keep your hands warm?
  5. How do you care for your instruments in the cold weather?    Continue reading “Tips For Playing Live Band Gigs In Cold Weather”

Top Content On Live Musician Central For 2009

This is a list of the top content on Live Musician Central for the year of 2009.

   Well we’ve made it through another year and I hope all you live band musicians out there have had a good one. I know it’s been an interesting year for me. I’ve played some great gigs and I’ve had my share of problems in my live bands this year. All in all I can’t say it was the best year of my career as a live musician but it hasn’t been terrible by any means. Probably the greatest thing I did this year was start a live band project with my three oldest sons. Stay tuned and watch for my sons and I to be playing a gig very soon.

   I figured to celebrate the end of 2009 here on Live Musician Central I would post up a list of the most viewed content over the year. It’s no surprise that my custom programmed Fender Cyber-Twin SE preset patches take the top honors. I’ve been programming my own effect racks for almost 20 years and I used that experience while programming my Fender Cyber-Twin SE amplifier. It stands to reason that every post associated with my Cyber-Twin SE amplifier downloads would be in the top viewed categories as well. So I decided to include the Amplifier Preset Downloads page at the top of the list and fill out the rest of the list with other topics that were the most popular but not related directly to the Cyber-Twin SE preset patches.

   The following list is the top viewed content on Live Musician Central for the year of 2009. I’m glad that so many people have visited and I hope that you’ve all found something useful here on Live Musician Central. Here’s to a fantastic and excellent 2010!

Top Content On Live Musician Central For 2009

Lowering Your Live Band Rates To Get A Gig

Lowering your live band rates will help you get a gig, but it could hurt your band and other bands chances of getting paid full value in the future.

The Concert Was Free, But I Bet Jimi Got Paid
The Concert Was Free, But I Bet Jimi Got Paid

   The current economic conditions have been especially tough on live bands. Gigs just seem to be drying up and disappearing altogether. There is very fierce competition between bands to get the gigs that are still available. Sadly, this has led to many bands lowering their gig rates simply to get any bookings at all. So what should you do when it becomes a matter of money that is the final deal breaker between you and another band getting a gig?

   That’s a very tricky question to answer because lowering your rates will not only hurt your band, but it will hurt every band that plays at the club you lower your rates to play in. The biggest problem with lowering your bands going rate is that the new, lower rate will become the accepted pay standard for your band every time you play in that club. The club owner can then use your lower rates as leverage against other bands to get them to drop their prices as well. So as you can see, it hurts all of your local bands if you undercut everyone in pricing just to get a gig.    Continue reading “Lowering Your Live Band Rates To Get A Gig”

Playing Christmas Songs In Your Live Band

Playing holiday songs is a great way to keep your holiday gigs fun and fresh for the band and the audience.

Elvis Rockin' Christmas
Elvis Rockin' Christmas

The season is upon us and it’s time to play those holiday gigs that come to all working live bands. I don’t know if your band is like mine, but it seems like every year we talk about learning a Christmas song or two and we just never seem to get around to it. So the holidays come and we just play the same old stuff at our shows. That’s why I’m going to give you some tips on preparing some holiday songs for your live band so you can be ready for the season.

Obviously the most important thing is timing when to learn the song. It’s better to learn the song well before your holiday shows. So if you’re planning on playing some Christmas songs in December, it’s a good idea to start learning them in October. By learning the songs that far in advance, you’ll be able to iron out the rough spots and really do a good performance of the song when your holiday shows come. Believe me, your audience will be able to tell if you learned the song 3 days before the show.     Continue reading “Playing Christmas Songs In Your Live Band”

Make Your Live Band Gigs Easier By Downsizing Your Rig

Almost all musicians hate hauling equipment, that’s why it makes sense to downsize your live band rig.

Haul Less Equipment With A Small Amplifier
Haul Less Equipment With A Small Amplifier

   One of the least fun things about playing in a live band is hauling your equipment around. Of course, having the right equipment is crucial to being able to put on a live gig. So it seems like the longer you play in a band, the more equipment you acquire and then have to haul to your gigs. It’s a problem that can quickly get out of hand and can leave you feeling overwhelmed when it’s time to load up and haul all your equipment to the gigs.

   When I started playing in bands I had one electric guitar, one distortion pedal and one amplifier. It wasn’t bad to haul that small setup even though my amp was really heavy. Naturally over the years I added more guitars that I used onstage, more effect pedals and multiple amplifiers. When my guitar rig was at it’s biggest I was hauling 3 guitars, two amplifiers, an effects rack, multiple effects pedals, wireless guitar system, microphones to mic the amps and all the necessary audio and power cables to hook everything up. I also had to haul my vocal microphone, mic stand, guitar stands and a couple racks of lights to the gigs. Needless to say, I hated hauling all that gear even though it was necessary to my show.    Continue reading “Make Your Live Band Gigs Easier By Downsizing Your Rig”

What To Do When One Of Your Band Members Won’t Practice

Having a band member that will only practice at band rehearsal is something that you can actually work around.

A Weak Bass Player Is No Problem At All For AC/DC
A Weak Bass Player Is No Problem At All For AC/DC

   What can you do when one member of your band will only play their instrument when the band gets together to practice? I get this question all the time from friends and colleagues that play in live bands. It’s actually a lot more common than you may think to have a band member only practice when the band gets together as a group to practice. It’s something that you may have to deal with in your live band so let’s discuss some of your options.

   It may seem like a no-brainer to just kick the offending member out of the band. That may seem like the easiest solution but let’s face it, this person may have other qualities that make them very hard to replace. For example, I was working with a young band that consisted of 3 brothers and it was a great marketing opportunity having 3 brothers in the same band. The problem is, one of the brothers would never practice his instrument unless it was band practice. It was very obvious that this brother was far behind the other two in terms of being prepared and also in his actual playing ability. But, it was crucial to keep this brother in the band.   Continue reading “What To Do When One Of Your Band Members Won’t Practice”

Is Your Live Band Feeling Stale? Bring In A Guest Musician

If your live band is feeling a little stale, try bringing in a guest musician to liven things up.

The Beatles With Guest Musician Billy Preston
The Beatles With Guest Musician Billy Preston

If you’ve been playing in with the same group of musicians in the same live band for a while it’s pretty common for things to become routine. A problem arises when the doing the same old routine every time you get together starts to get boring and stale. This happens to a lot of bands over the course of their career and it doesn’t matter what your bands routine is.

Your band may be playing the same 3 clubs over and over to the point of boredom. Or you may get together regularly to create music in the studio and make recordings but never play out. The Beatles became a recording studio band and guess what? It still got stale and boring even for The Beatles! So what did The Beatles do to get some fresh ideas and some new life in the band? They brought in guest musicians to play on their recordings.     Continue reading “Is Your Live Band Feeling Stale? Bring In A Guest Musician”

Playing Any Gig Is Better Than Playing No Gig At All

If you’re a musician, then playing any live band gig at all will help you become a better musician.

Matt Rushton Playing A Live Gig
Matt Rushton Playing A Live Gig

I’m a guitarist who has been playing for almost 30 years now and I’ve played in live bands almost that entire time. The reason I play is simple, I love to play in front of live audiences. Some things I love about it are the feedback I get from an excited crowd as well as the joy that comes with really nailing the music when the band is playing well.

I’ve played a lot of different styles of music over the years. I’ve played primarily rock-n-roll but I’ve also played country, jazz, pop, electronic and other styles that don’t really fit into any category at all. I’ve played in original bands playing my own music as well as backing up other artists who write their songs. I’ve played in cover bands with all kinds of lineups from two-piece bands all the way up to full size big bands. I’ve also spent time playing in pit orchestras for live stage plays.                              Continue reading “Playing Any Gig Is Better Than Playing No Gig At All”