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Do I have any business playing in bars if I am not a drinker?

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  • Do I have any business playing in bars if I am not a drinker?

    I have been playing in bars since I was just out of High School. I am starting to wonder if part of the reason I don't get rebooked is because I am not spending my guarantee back on drinks and/or accepting drinks from patrons? I treat performing like a business and even if I was a drinker, I wouldn't drink while working at a day job.
    Will work for guitars..

  • #2
    It's not because you don't drink (good for you BTW ). If the bar is doing a good business with you playing there you'll get rebooked. If, for whatever reason, the crowds aren't coming then it could be you or a number of other things. If you're playing in a place and they are doing a brisk business it wouldn't matter if Osama Bin Laden was playing there.

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    • #3
      Bar musicians that drink have better rapport with their audience. I've been the same way for the last 30+ years. I played mostly in bars but rarely had a drink.

      I've seen too many musicians play music 6 nights a week and drink 6 nights a week. The party becomes alcoholism in many cases. Either way you have to deal with drunks - it's part of the job description.
      BD

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      • #4
        My regular gig is in a praise band so I'm a bit out of my depth (plus, I rarely drink in any circumstances) but maybe next time try something like a virgin rum and Coke or seltzer with a lime wedge or an O'Doul's. Have it sitting nearby and take an occasional sip. It will give the impression that you're drinking and help with that rapport Bob Dey mentioned, which in turn will help draw customers, which in turn will help you get rebooked.
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        • daddymack
          daddymack commented
          Editing a comment
          no, not O'Douls...puh-leez!

        • DeepEnd
          DeepEnd commented
          Editing a comment
          Just throwing it out there. FWIW, my ''drink'' of choice for my regular gig is coffee with cream and sweetener. Then again the venue is a church so...

      • #5
        I always accept a drink from a patron, but typically, I will have told the bartender no matter what they order for me, make it ginger ale on the rocks. Kinda looks like a bourbon and 7...so the bar makes out on it. I will wave that glass in their general direction and say 'thanks', grimace on the first swallow, make a rasping comment to the bartender like 'dang it, Frank, there's no seven in this!...Are you trying to ruin my show?'
        Showmanship, my friends...it is all about the show...
        "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

        Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
        "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

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        • #6
          Originally posted by stratmansblues View Post
          I have been playing in bars since I was just out of High School. I am starting to wonder if part of the reason I don't get rebooked is because I am not spending my guarantee back on drinks and/or accepting drinks from patrons? I treat performing like a business and even if I was a drinker, I wouldn't drink while working at a day job.
          I haven't had a drink since April 2, 1978. I have played an awful lot of gigs since then including 3 years on the road full time playing 6 nights a week. I have yet to ever play a gig where drinking would have made it better. I've played some $hitty ones and some boring ones where drinking may have made it more fun, but better? No. Nor have I ever lost a gig because I was too sober for them. LOL
          Last edited by Pat'sStrat; 09-26-2017, 11:10 PM.

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          • #7
            No what it is Pat is that you're getting too old for what the bar managers THINK their clientele will want to relate to. It's agism and I've always seen it once musicians reach around 60ish. This is FLAT out true and I've noticed it since I was a kid. My own uncle who is one of the best solo acoustic performers I have ever seen starting having issues since he turned around 60 as well. It's not your skill or talent believe me.

            And ya know what, who cares man? I know you are in a small market and gigs are hard to come by but I wouldn't worry. If you can't find other venues to play and these ****************************s won't book you then fine, play in your band, ride your motorcycle, work on Originals agin and or just have fun without playing bars. That's the way I see it man. You had a GREAT RUN and a LONG Career as it is! This is no skin off your back and no reflection of your obvious skill and talent. Agism man.

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            • sventvkg
              sventvkg commented
              Editing a comment
              Another thing I'd like to add is the fact that I've noticed that live music just isn't thought of as anything special at all by managers and owners. The patrons still really enjoy it and it seems like that's never changed but the regard that management has for what we do as dropped off a cliff. That's irrespective of one's age I think it's the age we live in today the society and culture and maybe could be the age of the people booking these venues of which many are millennial's.

              All of this taken together and I too have been the most challenging time for getting and keeping bookings for solo acoustic. Just a different world out there and believe me if I could retire from y'all know I would!

            • Pat'sStrat
              Pat'sStrat commented
              Editing a comment
              You are dead on right, which is why I retired from playing in bands in August and now just do restaurant solos. It is a kind of irony that the same millennials who wouldn't stick around two minutes to hear my band will compliment me out the wazoo for my acoustic stuff. Of course, the acoustic stuff is way different than the stuff I played as a band. I play mostly fingerstyle guitar, which I have been doing for 47 years. And I can make all kinds of arrangements of all kinds of classic songs from the 5 60s, 70s, 80s, 90,s, and new stuff, and they don't realize they're listening to a Johnny Cash or a Willie Nelson or an old Beatles song.

              Point is, if you play stuff they like, they'll hang. Simple, no?

              I just had this discussion with a fellow local nearing my age who was lamenting about the band scene and how cheap the club owner are and how only a few bands get booked in all the venues, and the words from long ago of my old buddy Sean came ringing in my head: " if you don't like what you're getting, change it and do something else or continue to fail. Your call." See, your comments on a forum actually did help me, more than you'll know. You just happened to say what needed to be said at the exact moment I needed to hear it.

              Truth is, after playing in bands most of my life (first paycheck was in 1971) NOT being in a band is the most liberating thing I've done in ages, and I doubt I'll go back. I might fill in or sub once in awhile, and play an odd pickup gig if asked, but the solo thing is being very good to me. And I'm good with that.
              Last edited by Pat'sStrat; 09-28-2017, 10:12 AM.

            • sventvkg
              sventvkg commented
              Editing a comment
              I hear ya brother and I'm glad something I said made sense to someone other than me! It's just a different era now and ya know, that's cool. I retired from playing ALL cover gigs for 5 solid years and NEVER ONCE MISSED IT. What I missed was the $$ because I couldn't make any in Nashville as you can imagine. However it was the most fertile 10 year period of my life artistically as far as my own music, 2005-2015.

              I'm still doing primarily solo acoustic and 25-40 acoustic based trio gigs a year over corporate season and truthfully as soon as I can retire I'm going to. It's really just over. Good luck brother!

          • #8
            Originally posted by sventvkg View Post
            No what it is Pat is that you're getting too old for what the bar managers THINK their clientele will want to relate to. It's agism and I've always seen it once musicians reach around 60ish. ...
            This was true when I was 21 and two 21's later it's true now. When I was 21 it worked in my favour.

            It's *MUCH* worse for women.
            Last edited by pogo97; 09-27-2017, 07:07 AM.
            All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

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            • #9
              I'm about to turn 70, although I don't look it. Still, even if I pass for 55, if you don't get rebooked, you never know why. Is it the repertoire? Is it the style of playing? Is it the piano, where everyone plays guitar? All the above? I wish they'd be honest . . . . And yet I've had people from all walks of life tell me they like what I'm doing. I just have to figure out a way to get enough of them to show up at the gig and say nice things to management. Or bag it and start calling nursing homes.

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              • #10
                Originally posted by senorblues View Post
                I'm about to turn 70, although I don't look it. Still, even if I pass for 55, if you don't get rebooked, you never know why. Is it the repertoire? Is it the style of playing? Is it the piano, where everyone plays guitar? All the above? I wish they'd be honest . . . . And yet I've had people from all walks of life tell me they like what I'm doing. I just have to figure out a way to get enough of them to show up at the gig and say nice things to management. Or bag it and start calling nursing homes.

                Funny that you mention nursing homes... Those are the gigs I'm starting to pursue. They are GREAT gigs! The residents are super appreciative, the budget is WAY better, and I'm home in time for dinner!

                As an aside, I like hooch as much as the next guy, but I never drink when I play. I start drinking, I start forgetting. I'm there to entertain the crowd, not indulge. If I'm playing a bar or restaurant and I have a few minutes after loadout, I may treat myself to one drink at that time. These days, even that's rare.
                Last edited by MrHarryReems; 09-27-2017, 10:26 AM.
                http://thekiltlifters.com

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                • #11
                  Originally posted by senorblues View Post
                  I'm about to turn 70, although I don't look it. Still, even if I pass for 55, if you don't get rebooked, you never know why. Is it the repertoire? Is it the style of playing? Is it the piano, where everyone plays guitar? All the above? I wish they'd be honest . . . . And yet I've had people from all walks of life tell me they like what I'm doing. I just have to figure out a way to get enough of them to show up at the gig and say nice things to management. Or bag it and start calling nursing homes.
                  passing for 55 ain't really gonna help, yanowutimean? Passing for 35 might...some Grecian formula and a tight belt an Voila!
                  "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

                  Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
                  "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

                  Comment


                  • senorblues
                    senorblues commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I think there is a difference between the perception of a dad band and a granddad band, but yeah . . . . I have lost some weight for the first time in my life and I'm down to a 36 waist. I don't look too bad . . . . really!

                    Doesn't it seem ironic that there are bands out there playing YOUR songs not as well as you do and they're getting hired!?

                    Harumpf.

                • #12
                  I work with several band leaders that don't drink, but they don't judge either, and they often have a non alcoholic beer so no one notices anyway. Doesn't seem to affect their bookings - it's probably a plus rather than a minus.

                  As a solo entertainer, having a drink after the gig might allow you to get to know the staff a little better and get them on your side, but you can also do that without alcohol. I sometimes have a drink after work, or during, if it's part of the package (a few places comp a couple of beers and a meal).

                  I do find that if the crowd is very drunk, and I've had a couple, I can relate better, but so what! Unless I'm pulling in over a grand, I don't see how I should feel obliged to have a few drinks - even then, it's not worth it unless there are no health or safety dangers.

                  Having said all that, I would rather have a few beers than go through what I experienced a few weeks ago. Played a "pot centric" gig, and for the first time in decades I got very stoned - just from the second hand smoke. I actually contemplated leaving the gig, but it was a band situation. It really wasn't worth the money to be subjected to a substance I hadn't done since my teens.

                  Comment


                  • senorblues
                    senorblues commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I went to a jam/audition recently. They took a smoke break (!?) and I was offered, but like you, it's been a very long time. I was the only one that declined. They seemed OK with it, but you never know.

                • #13
                  I did a '420' birthday party a couple of years ago at a local bar with a pick-up band, and the crowd seemed to ebb and flow out the back door of the bar in groups...as I don't smoka da ganga, bra, it took me a while to figure out that was not the place for me to go on break...
                  "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

                  Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
                  "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

                  Comment


                  • #14
                    Speaking of breaks. We went to go outside with our water bottles, and the bouncer stopped us. He told us we couldn't take the water bottles out of the venue, but if we wanted to smoke a joint outside, we were welcome to! Although I don't indulge, I'm not against the wacky weed, but when water is bad and Mary Jane is okay, I get a little confused.

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                    • #15
                      I don't do hardly any bar gigs or even restaurant gigs anymore. I'm getting more retirement home gigs lately. The only problem is that most of them are 50-60 miles away. Trying to get more in my home town, but there are more opportunities in other cities.

                      After playing solo for nearly 30 years I started playing with other musicians once in a while. Keeping it fun to avoid all that band drama!

                      Daddymack, I like your ginger ale trick!
                      BD

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                      • daddymack
                        daddymack commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Thanks Bob...I've picked up a lot of stuff from 40+ years of gigging












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