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  • Worried about this weekend

    So, I joined a cover band last year. This band had been around for 7 years and were getting decent gigs. Mostly festivals and corporate events. They lost their singer and bass player and hired me (singer) and a new bass player. The day I joined was also the bass players first day. The band was excited to have this new bass player as he was highly regarded as one of the better players in the area. The first few practices I really thought this guy was going to be good. He played a 6 string bass, knows tons of theory, and could play unfamiliar songs by just watching the guitar player or keyboard player. That was 10 months ago. We've had some good (and some not so great) gigs - weddings, small parties and such. The problem is...this bass player hasn't improved at all in the last 10 months! He still asks what key the songs are in, never knows where the breaks and punches in the songs are, and can't seem to remember tunes we've worked on from one week to the next. We just recently found that he's been diagnosed as bi-polar.

    So, now we have a big gig this Saturday. We're being paid $4000 to headline a city festival (we play before the fireworks). Big sound, big stage, lots of advertising, over 3000 people expected. In past years, this festival has had "name" national acts. I'm afraid this bass player is going to suck it big time! I know we are not going to be tight because of this guy. There is nothing I can do now, the gig is in 5 days. I just needed to vent and maybe get some positive mojo sent our way... I'm usually not nervous on stage, but this gig has me shakin!

    Suggestions?

  • #2
    Well, it's too late to do anything about Saturday, so all you can really do is muck through it the best you can. Just remember how well you've done with this guy in the past---whether because he's risen to the occasion, because the rest of you have been able to take up the slack in the performance, or people simply just didn't notice---and work on making it the best gig you can.

    But after Saturday, it's sounds like you all need to sit down and decide if the band wants to move forward and if you all think you can do so with this bass player. Seems like it is time for a change.
    _________________________________________________
    band websites:
    http://www.JumpStartYourParty.com
    https://www.gigmasters.com/Rock/Jump-Start
    https://www.facebook.com/JumpStartYourParty
    http://www.weddingwire.com/biz/jumps...587fe5f12.html

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    • #3
      I used to play with a bassist who was the most technically proficient of any I've known - monster chops, technique, creativity, etc. But something became wildly apparent - if he did not write the bass part, he could not remember it. We added a few cover songs to fill out the set, and though he could rip through crazy passages of our originals, he'd much up "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Machinehead."

      Turns out the dude was learning by rote and it made things very difficult as the band moved on. It also fascinates me when you see players like this -- I mean, how did he pass his ear training class at Berklee?

      Anywho, just sharing that story to assuade your fears -- people can pull it together in the right time, but to David's point, it does seem like it is time for a change if you want to progress.
      Music, music, I hear music
      Fitch Drums - The Blog for the Aspiring Non-Professional Drummer

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      • #4
        I suspect that this is a common issue. I can't count the number of times I've run into guys who were truly talented players .... had the theory, had the chops, could pick out and master complex changes/lick faster than anybody else in the band, clearly had the ability ... yet never mastered their role in our band. I've since come to realize that the missing ingredient was desire. While you can never be certain what's going on inside of somebody else's head - I'm of the opinion that quite often, players who are obviously very talented and seem like they should be a huge asset to the band - end up being a huge disappointment seem to approach the band they're part of with an attitude that says "this is so easy - I don't need to work to master it".

        When I encounter these guys - I view the problem as one of attitude and desire - not a shortage of ability. I'll take a weaker (but still competent!) player who wants to be part of our band over a monster player (who doesn't really give a sh!t) any day of the week!!!!
        The SpaceNorman

        www.facebook.com/SuperstarsOfRock
        www.souldoutrocks.com

        Keyboards and Tone Generators: Yamaha CP300, Kronos 88, Roland AX Synth, Motif ES Rack
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        • #5
          That's probably why I'm so busy this summer....there are a few band leaders like Norman in my area. I'm definitely a weaker player, and I know it, so I work my backside off, because my standards are high! Somebody on here (mstreck?) has a signature: "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard". That's my mantra, lol. I work hard!

          Interestingly, I got picked as a sub player for one of the better big bands in the area, even though there are more proficient subs available. I was actually offered the seat last year, but turned it because I was just too busy. I have a gig with them this evening...I showed up at their gig on Friday with my video camera...the band leader didn't seem surprised to see me there. I grabbed the charts after their gig, spent some of Saturday and some of today learning them and listening to the tape. I'm always amazed at sub players who are happy to walk into a gig cold, when there are other options.
          --Hammond: BC, M3, Split L111, L122 / Leslie: 51, 760 / Yamaha: DGX-620, PF-85Follow my new band, Dr. Bombay! We're going to be organasmic!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by wesg View Post
            Somebody on here (mstreck?) has a signature: "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard". That's my mantra, lol. I work hard!

            Yep. That's me with the sig. But I can tell you that working hard doesn't matter if everyone else isn't also working hard - or things just aren't working out for other reasons. I encourage the OP to talk to his band about replacing the bass player if they want to keep getting those kind of gigs.
            * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
            My cover band

            HARD WORK BEATS TALENT WHEN TALENT DOESN'T WORK HARD

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            • #7
              Man... this is a real point of contention for me. The perception of technically proficient vs. good musicianship. So often a guy that can wow them in Guitar Center, and wow himself into believing his charade, they're so under developed in basic musicianship skills. Time, memorization, chord theory. The basic things required to get through a gig and they are completely clueless, and completely convinced they are awesome. No need for improvement cause... have you heard me do the Jaco solo from Donna Lee?!?!?

              I went and saw a very good old friend play this past Friday. Here's a guy, a fantastic musician, nearing 60. I recorded and toured with him in the 80's. He picked up a dance/classic funk R&B gig. Cool horn band with sassy sexy fat singer doing her nasty thing up front. They got it all. A very cool gimmicky and hip concept. And my buddy on guitar as well. Smokin'!

              But... the bass player. He's thumbin' and snappin' and poppin' and completely sinking the ship. This guy does know the tunes. Points there... but he is completely oblivious to his role in the team. Every single song was jeopardized due to his insistence on playing some sort of sloppy thumb thing that lacked pocket and musicality. They covered Honkytonk Woman and did it up like Bitch with horns. Awesome idea. And there he was playing this thumb racket completely destroying the groove.

              My thought was, dump this guy. Get a real bass player. I say the same to the OP.
              __________
              Your god doesn't exist but my god does and he is all loving. If you disagree with me I'll kill you. - Prince Ea

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              • #8
                I think your better off getting him with the team then to just "fire and rehire". Sounds like you need a coach.leader to direct his tealents to what is needed. Another thing, and it does happen, where you forget stuff, grooves etc. A lot of it is attitude, but have you suggested this bass player put the keys by the song title on your lists? Asking that question is one time too many, used to detest players that always asked the key before every song, that is my biggest pet peeve.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by nchangin View Post
                  I think your better off getting him with the team then to just "fire and rehire". Sounds like you need a coach.leader to direct his tealents to what is needed. Another thing, and it does happen, where you forget stuff, grooves etc. A lot of it is attitude, but have you suggested this bass player put the keys by the song title on your lists? Asking that question is one time too many, used to detest players that always asked the key before every song, that is my biggest pet peeve.
                  I totally agree with you. You never know who will respond to certain input. You give it to them, with a very realistic expectation of what is needed. Honesty. But I never hesitate if it isn't right and you have a replacement. A replacement who is right. But like I said, a lot of times a guy will rise to the challenge in ways you've never expected. I've been handed that ultimatum and it was the best thing that ever happened to me as a musician. But some guys, you can't waste time if they don't get it or are unwilling to rise up and make it happen. Life is too short and good music is too scarce to be wimpy about it. See if he is wimpy. And maybe capable. You do owe him that. But if not? And remember, you have to tell him exactly what you need. You can't softball it in this department.
                  __________
                  Your god doesn't exist but my god does and he is all loving. If you disagree with me I'll kill you. - Prince Ea

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lee Knight View Post
                    My thought was, dump this guy. Get a real bass player. I say the same to the OP.
                    So..did he hire you?

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                    • #11
                      :-) well I posted my second to clarify my first. I believe you have to be ready to cut the cord if needed. But I wanted to clarify that, give the guy a chance. And by giving a chance that means the very articulated directive. I'm not contradicting myself as it may seem. I love keeping a good friend in the band. Even if he isn't perfect. I get how the brotherhood can surpass shortcomings. But the OP has a real issue on his hands. Between my two posts. I think there's something there. If my initial post seemed flippant and reactionary, I apologize. I only mean that when it's time it is time.
                      __________
                      Your god doesn't exist but my god does and he is all loving. If you disagree with me I'll kill you. - Prince Ea

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                      • #12
                        Well, it's all about those compromises and balances at the end of the day. We'd probably all love to be playing in a Band of Brothers composed of Julliard graduates, but the real world seldom works out that way.

                        I've gone down the rabbit hole of firing band members in order to replace them with hotter players in hopes of improving the band only to find it actually set things back. You'll often find that the most successful bands --- both in terms of creative and commercial success, not to mention longevity --- are those made up of lesser players but who all get along well enough to make it work.

                        But, of course, nothing can create personal discord quicker than one guy not carrying his musical weight. So obviously there's a floor below which friendship is no longer enough.

                        And it's tough when we're talking bass players (well, any chair really...) because the bass is so crucial to the stability of the sound and the groove. Personally I'd rather work with a bass player who had no "licks" at all, but was rock solid on locking in with the drummer and knowing the changes and the roadmap to the song. Gotta start with the basics. All the flourishes in the world don't make up for not having that basic groove down.

                        But if the guy brings other things to the table? Well, I've certainly seen bands be successful in almost any music conglomeration it seems...
                        _________________________________________________
                        band websites:
                        http://www.JumpStartYourParty.com
                        https://www.gigmasters.com/Rock/Jump-Start
                        https://www.facebook.com/JumpStartYourParty
                        http://www.weddingwire.com/biz/jumps...587fe5f12.html

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yup all bass player has to do is play the beat, the groove, the song, quality is in your foundation not your roof, save that for the geetair player. Same with drummers. Too often not that way, oh look at my 20 shiny cymbals tink clank sizzle, ouch, dude knock it off. Or a bass player that has to do those "runs" or whatever you call it when they hammer the crap out of the strings and they are maxed, well kinda defeats what the drummer is trying to do when your being dynamic and you can't cause the bass player is hammering at maximum or 11. Or simple cover tunes with bass runs all over, ick.

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                          • #14
                            I believe in our band, the sum of the parts are better than the individual pieces. When we are firing on all cylinders, that's when the magic happens. Everyone knows their place, no ones really the star or hotshot. We all just add our piece to the puzzle, and off we go.
                            NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

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