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Saw a really bad dad band last night


ski219
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Well, there ya go. You get whatcha pay for. But---it seems to me anyway---that with the market being what it is and it being so over-saturated with bands that everyone is working for $300 a night these days, that clubs wouldn't have to work that hard to find good live music. Even on miniscule budgets.

 

It's that "bunch of friends coming" deal that's probably killing things. Venues need to have their own clientele. Their reputations depend on it. You'd think in the day and age of Yelp and all that no one would want to risk a bad review simply because they let some crappy band play so they could sell some beers to the bands' friends. Wouldn't you rather be the place where people say "well, I don't know who's playing tonight, but they usually have someone pretty good, so let's go check it out...."? But obviously many think otherwise.

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How do you guys answer the question, "how many people can you bring?". I HATE that question. My answer is that we have a few regular followers, and we keep the bar full by retaining arrivals and converting the tail end of the dinner crowd. So far, no bites with that response. But it's true.

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I remember this all starting up in the mid-90s. It was the first time I ever heard the term "weekend warrior" and it was at a local music store who was promoting a program where they'd sell some old guys some gear, maybe give them some lessons, and help them hook up with each other to start bands. Sort of a "School of Rock" for old dudes. Made sense from the store's perspective since these children-of-the-60s were just now reaching 40-50 and had some extra time and spending cash. Instead of spending money on a boat or a sports car, guys were starting to live out their mid-life crises by buying a couple of expensive guitars and amps and learning some old Cream riffs. There were even some gigs to get for the motivated that didn't completely suck since "classic rock" was really starting to take off right at this time as well. (Didn't hurt that every old album ever released was being "remastered" for CD right around then too.) There have always been older musicians. But most, in my experience, were all either former full-time pros or never stopped being working pros. They may or may not have been playing in bands that were relevant to younger audiences (most weren't) but very few sucked and they usually got some respect from younger players, if nothing else. No one ever thought of those older band as "dad bands". They were just older dudes still playing Big Band music or maybe 50s rock or in an Oompa band or something. Most were pretty damn good. At least in the cities I lived in. But I don't recall many who never did much with it when they younger and who just decided to take up being in a band when they got into their 40s or 50s until the 90s. So, yeah...I do think that's where the (usually derisive) term "dad band" comes from.
I first heard "weekend warrior"when I joined my first full time band in 1977. It was to differentiate between full time pros and weekend hobbyists. The problem is, as we've beat to death here a thousand times, is that the full time pro gigs for bands are pretty much gone. Pros used to coexist with hobbyists because hobbyists couldn't work day jobs and raise families and play 5 or6 nights and pros didn't want weekend tavern gigs. Everything was fine. Until the pro gigs dried up and the pros were forced to get day jobs and become hobbyists. And let's face it, that's what pretty much all of us are today. We may approach it with pro attitudes, but it's still mostly a hobbyist environment. Few bars pay today even what they did 30 years ago in dollar amounts, forget inflation. It's awesome that some of you live in areas where having a great show and lights and all the rest of it matter. You could do that here and you wouldn't make any more than the guys in white Court Classics and ball caps with music stands. You might not even get a bigger crowd, since most live music clubs here one are either restaurants or bars with less than 120 seats. If you want to be pro, you do it out of pride in your product. But it won't get you that far around here. Sadly. My horn band used to wear flashy suits and we set up the entire PA and lights when we played. When we regrouped in 2010, we were more casual, the venues were smaller, and half of them either had their own lights or there was really no room to set them up. After awhile, when the crowds aren't any bigger than dad bands get, and the pay isn't any better, it gets too easy to just stop trying. Yet another reason I don't have a band anymore.
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When I was in a regional baby boomer type band part of the problem was still being relevant as the musicians and music aged. It's no one's fault really. Most of the stuff was top 40 that we played when it came out with a few oddball covers thrown in. Also the demographic hardly got out. Now most of our stuff was in Buffalo, NY where the strong middle class came out. That became a problem at a few places we played.

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We may approach it with pro attitudes.

 

And I think this is the major differentiation. Whether you play once a month or 6 days a week or whether you play the corner bar or the concert hall, no one is going to consider you a 'dad band' --- regardless of your age --- if you approach the gig with a pro attitude. The dad bands---at least by my personal definition--- are the ones who not only don't approach things with a pro attitude, but don't even really know HOW to. Because they never learned it when they were younger.

 

Now as far as the guys who stop trying because the money isn't there anymore, so why bother? Well, I think that's the day I'd stop playing. I didn't get into this for the money. I got into this because I wanted to be the best live act I could possibly be. The day I stop doing certain things I know to be 'best' simply because I know I can get away with less and still get paid the same is the day my heart obviously isn't in it anymore and I'm only in it for the money.

 

And, as we all know, the money ain't good enough in this business for it to be the only motivation.

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The dad bands---at least by my personal definition--- are the ones who not only don't approach things with a pro attitude, but don't even really know HOW to. Because they never learned it when they were younger.

 

 

I wonder if ski219 would have been more tolerant of what he heard if the band had consisted of a bunch of kids? How can they learn it now? I bet it's harder to learn at 40 than it is in your teens. Not that that is an excuse, and at 40+ one would hope that a person would have sufficient taste and discernment to know when something isn't good and needs more work.

 

I agree with you 100% that attitude is huge.

 

A couple of years ago I went to an open mic in the back room of a neighborhood pub; it was quite lame, with only a handful of people there. I think I was the only person watching the performances other than the girlfriend of one of the guys who got up to perform. The bar owner actually shut the door of the room we were in so that people in the main part of the bar wouldn't hear it!

 

So I'm sitting there, and the performance level is hovering right around "tolerable." Then this group of guys in their 50's/60's got up to play some original songs they had written. Maybe it was a bit of agism on my part, maybe it was the context, maybe it was because I've heard some poor original songs at open mics, but I had low expectations.

 

However, their performance, and especially the guitarist/singer, impressed the hell out of me. They were playing for an audience of five mostly indifferent people, but this guy was totally committed. Even though the songs themselves as songs were not really to my taste, I was sorry when their three song "set" came to an end. I googled them afterward in the hope that I could find out if they were playing somewhere else and was disappointed to turn up nothing.

 

I hope that guy is still rocking out somewhere.

 

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Their wives probably all tell them they are great.

 

And they tell me their husbands (each of them) are not loud enough in the mix! :)

 

This must be who we're talking about:

 

 

Edited by trevcda
Wayward apostrophy
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That's all I ever see when I leave NAshville because it seems for the most part, all the good musicians of yore have quit playing bars at this point..Or they've aged out of it. I don't know but I was just home in Palm Beach County, FL last week and it was one bad band after the next..Bleak!

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I have a slightly different take on the whole crappy dad band thing. Personally, I say more power to 'em! Even the crappiest Dad bands out there have put in some effort to land their BIG gigs at the corner bar. So what if they're not tight. So what if they're flogging the same old tired, overplayed material that crappy dad bands have been banging out for ages. So what if the only crowd they're trying to entertain is a hand picked collection of friends and family. I certainly don't begrudge them their few minutes of whatever 3-4 sets of playing a crap $$ gig in the dimly lit corner of a local bar is called. They're getting to enjoy a taste of the very thing that drives many of us to play - at whatever level we play at. Who the hell are we to criticize and judge them for it?

 

As a life long participant in sports - I very conscious of the many parallels between being a gigging musician and playing sports. For the past 15 years of so, I've been totally into adult league ice hockey. I play on 3 different adult league teams (which translates to three nights a week) - year round. I played my first game of hockey at age 42. Currently, one of my leagues is a "50 and over league" where I get to play with kids my own age - my other two teams play in "18 and over" leagues. I have no delusions - I suck at it. At 57, I have little to no speed, my stick handling ain't worth a damn, and my shot ain't shi!t. But regardless, I love being out there, I love the camaraderie of the locker room and I love drinking beers with my teammates after the games. I'm planning to play for as long as my body will let me.

 

So where am I going with this? The answer is simple. When it comes to hockey - I'm the equivalent to the really crappy player in that crappy dad band my fellow forumites love to throw rocks at. In the course of the hockey season - I regularly come across my share of guys who want to tell me I don't belong on the same ice. Some rant about how I don't have the physical ability or the hockey skills to be out there. I get a good laugh out of them - just like I'm getting a laugh out of many of the posts in this thread.

 

I'm very aware of my shortcomings as a hockey player. What gives me the real chuckle is that despite the fact that they may have had a few years of "youth hockey / high school / juniors / semi-pro stardom" and the fact that they have superior hockey skills - despite ALL the very real reasons they're better hockey players than I am - the reality is that they're lining up for the face off - across from me - a fat, old 57 year old who never had even a sliver of hope of being a decent "never was". Their comments about how I don't belong are not about me - it's all about trying to make themselves feel good in the face of their own failure. If they were truly better, more qualified than I - they wouldn't be playing in the same crap level adult leagues that I am - trying to make themselves feel good by telling me I don't belong there.

 

I'm a much better musician than I am as a hockey player. Over the years, I've played with bands that have separated themselves from the "crappy dad bands", I've worked my share of rooms a few notches above the "bottom dweller" rooms. I figure that makes me analogous to some of the guys that I skate against. But I also know how it feels to love doing something that I'm not particularly good at.

 

So ... when I go down to the corner bar and see that really crappy band (and yes, I've seen my share of 'em) - I'm pulling for 'em. I'm looking for whatever bright spot I can find in their performance (and when I go in with that mindset - I usually see/hear something that puts a smile on my face. It's also a reality check While I may be a rung or two higher up the "musical food chain" than that crappy band playing at the local bar - it's pretty obvious that I'm a whole lot closer to the bottom than I am to the top. So while we're sitting here ripping on crappy dad bands - just know that there are crappy dad band players out there looking and laughing at us! Why shouldn't they? They know we are at their gig ... instead of playing the local stadium.

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The difference between crappy dad bands and crappy hockey teams is the crappy hockey teams have ZERO effect on pro-level stuff. It doesn't affect the pay, or the quality of available games to play for the pros, or the public perception of what pro hockey is all about.

 

While it's true that the dad bands at the corner bar aren't taking food out of Mick Jagger's still-sizeable mouth, and maybe they aren't even hurting anything you or I are doing, they do have an effect on a lot of pro and semi-pro musicians circling some of the same waters as the dad bands.

 

Like I said---I put a lot of this on the venue owners. If the dad bands were only relegated to playing-for-free-at-the-farmer's-market type gigs, then I'd join you by saying "more power to 'em!" But when some clubowners see them as a viable alternative to good live music simply because the price is right, then it does become a bit hard for me to be quite as magnanimous.

Edited by Vito Corleone
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The difference between crappy dad bands and crappy hockey teams is the crappy hockey teams have ZERO effect on pro-level stuff. It doesn't affect the pay, or the quality of available games to play for the pros, or the public perception of what pro hockey is all about.

 

While it's true that the dad bands at the corner bar aren't taking food out Mick Jagger's mouth, they do have an effect on a lot of much better pro and semi-pro musicians circling some of the same waters as the dad bands.

 

Like I said---I put a lot of this on the venue owners. If the dad bands were only relegated to playing-for-free-at-the-farmer's-market type gigs, then I'd join you by saying "more power to 'em!" But when some clubowners see them as a viable alternative to good live music simply because the price is right, then it does become a bit hard for me to be quite as magnanimous.

 

Sorry Dave - we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

 

I certainly don't believe that the crappy dad bands are changing public perception about what real professional music is all about.

 

Nor are they having an effect on the real pro acts. The only acts they're having an impact on are those that are a half-rung higher on the music food chain. If "Pro / Semi-Pro" musicians that are competing for gigs in rooms that crappy dad bands can book and coming up short - the fact of the matter is, they ain't "pro/semi-pro" musicians in the first place.

Edited by SpaceNorman
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Yes, we'll agree to disagree on this one.

 

Because I DO believe that the public perception of "Live Music" when such a sign is up in a public venue has changed for the worse over the last couple of decades and crappy bands are a big part of the reason why. And also are part of the reason for declining pay at the entry level, and that's probably filtered up the food chain to some degree as well. Sure the "pro/semi-pro" bands can compete for the same gigs and not come up short. They just have to lower their price to do so.

 

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The absolute last thing I can deal with is a {censored}ty band when i'm out and about. I'd much prefer some background music playing from the jukebox or XM, etc than have to deal with that. I can't see how regular people wouldn't prefer that as well. Why club owners think a crappy band is better than nothing at all is beyond me.

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Yes, we'll agree to disagree on this one.

 

Because I DO believe that the public perception of "Live Music" when such a sign is up in a public venue has changed for the worse over the last couple of decades and crappy bands are a big part of the reason why. And also are part of the reason for declining pay at the entry level, and that's probably filtered up the food chain to some degree as well. Sure the "pro/semi-pro" bands can compete for the same gigs and not come up short. They just have to lower their price to do so.

I agree totally.

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I think as long as they bring in some people they don't care. But, in my view anyway, that business model is stepping over dollars to pick up dimes in the long term.

 

 

 

I think the biggest issue is that the percentage of gross sales that actually gets to the bottom line is running around 10 percent or a touch more in places that are good enough at it to not make any mistakes. the second they start letting money slip through their fingers they are losing money. These places hire who they can afford to hire and that leaves out top teir bands and bands with a good deal of members. To make good money you have to pretty well work pvt events that don't depend on sales rings to pay for entertainment

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I've seen that video posted many times, but as near as I can tell, they all appear to be very young. I shudder to think what a video of one of my first band's first gigs would have looked and sounded like when I was 15. We, too, didn't shy away from material that we well over our heads. That was part of the learning process I think. And part of being too young to have any real sense of our limitations and knowing how to work within them. (Which is probably a good thing for young bands. I think you HAVE to over-reach in order to progress sometimes.)

 

But much older 'dad bands' that are just as clueless and sound just as bad? Nah, that's a whole 'nother level of 'suck' IMO.

 

 

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