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One-off sub gigs


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Do you get calls for sub gigs? What are the band leader's expectations regarding shedding, rehearsals, etc? Here are some clips of a recent gig where I decided to ask a drummer to play with me rather than do it as a solo. Mostly it was meant to be preparation for a trio gig where a guitar player would fill the third chair that the venue insisted on.

 

So this really isn't a sub gig. More of a paid jam where you get the best player(s) you can who you trust can make the rhythms and changes and not make a hash of the ending too much.

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I do subs almost as much as solo and band gigs...and in some cases yes, there are expectations, and in some they really just want someone to fill a slot...who can get it done right. I've done with and [on occassion] without rehearsal, just chord lyric charts emailed over, and a phone call. Sometimes just a phone call....blues gigs.

 

My worst sub gig was with a very well known and high end wedding band, back in the early 90s. This guitarist called me, said he was going out of town on short notice, would I fill in?...he had seen me play recently and thought that I could handle the gig...and, as he said 'kick them in the ass'. He brought me over a copy of the 'band book', I looked it over asked him a couple of questions about the arrangements...and he called the leader and said' I have to go to Seattle, but I have a guy here who can fill my seat...' and he gave the leader my number.and told him to call me. Why? Because I had to go for a tuxedo fitting...the next day...oh, yeah.

Any way, I was probably 25 years younger than the rest of the band, and when I showed up at the gig and unpacked my black 'tuxedo' Stratocaster...I got looks from the entire band...

 

But as soon as we started, I played 'the book'.

Second set, they get a list on a napkin from the main dais...the leader looks at it...and walks over to me, hands me the napkin and says...'do you know ANY of these songs?'

Yes I did, and was able to knock out a rough chord chart for about half the songs in about ten minutes while the band did some standards.

Subbed for them on and off for about five years after that.

Edited by daddymack
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I don't mean to hijack the thread, but, speaking of expectations, 1)do you think it's the responsibility of the band leader to provide charts for music that are arranged and beyond the scope of irealb charts? 2)In what situations is it ok to ask subs learn full arrangements of your setlist instead of asking them to jam on a song?

 

Personally, if I am doing my own music, then I am taught that it's mandatory to provide a chart with all the information present. Basically, the chart needs to be at a quality that a musician who is proficient enough can sight-read the gig with no problem. If I am covering a song, I'll make a chart/lead sheet for myself, and make a separate chart with all the unison parts/hits and chords in them. Other musicians are still responsible for learning their parts, but all other info should be present in my charts.

 

I prefer doing things this way, because I find that having people learn on their own by ear usually results in discrepancy, which ultimately results in inefficient rehearsal. Bottom line is, there is no excuse to not have their part down if they were given a proper recording and charts in advance. Also, unless you are paying them a lot of money, I can't expect the sub to learn a lot of songs just for a one-ff gig, so charts makes things easier for the sub in that respect.

 

I also understand that not everyone can write a full on charts, in which case they do what they can, which is also understandable. On the flip side, I've also met people who thinks it's the responsibility of the musicians to learn the music on their own by ear.

 

As far as question 2 is concerned, I only feel comfortable asking others to learn full 2 sets of arrangements unless the gig pays well, the arrangements are easy to pickup, and/or you let them know that this is a regular gig and you intent on using them regularly whenever subs are needed. Even then, I'll try to meet half way. I'll ask what they can already do and add few songs that they may need to learn, but I make sure the workload is reasonable for the gig I am asking to do. I know I've talked in depths about state of music scene where Iive, but I've noticed that people seem to have rather unrealistic expectations with regards to this issue. It usually happens in the form of people pressuring subs to play something they are not familiar with on short notice. I've witnessed plenty of train wrecks when the singer insisted on doings songs like "A man and a woman" or "Waters of March" with irealb chart, even though the sub isn't familiar with the song or have never heard it at all

 

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" I've witnessed plenty of train wrecks when the singer insisted on doings songs like "A man and a woman" or "Waters of March" with irealb chart, even though the sub isn't familiar with the song or have never heard it at all."

 

First, you have to figure out what genre(s) the musicians on a gig, or for a proposed band, have in common. A guy recently tried to form a band where the focus was on a genre he'd never played and didn't understand. You call a tune, you'd better know what guys can handle.

 

I could have put together a band who would have been available to rehearse for the gig yesterday. I chose instead to pick two guys who are first call for several groups each and who were willing to do some homework. The gig was rough in places, but we all enjoyed it, as did the full house. We're hoping this video will generate future bookings; we'll see what happens.

 

 

 

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Relative to the topic of the thread . . . . If we'd had rehearsals, yes, the Hey Pocky tempo, which the drummer just started spontaneously, would more likely have been closer to what it should have been . . . not that anyone listening would have known.

 

Maybe the vocals were affected negatively by lack of rehearsals. . . . Or maybe they wouldn't have been as good if the musical support was less inspiring.

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My feeling is when you sub you always get the worst end of the deal.

 

Here's why for the band/club owner it's hard:

 

1. First of all if the music is specialized or the arrangements are a certain way you can't just walk in and read charts

2. The bar owner doesn't get a good product and is inconsistent. I had a club owner not pay us in 2008 because he got a different band than he hired.

 

For the musician:

1. You learn a ton of stuff the band never plays and you are paid way below your time invested

2. You have to deal with bandleaders that are don't know anything about music

 

 

There are other reasons and I know some stuff in unavoidable but the videos you posted is just one gig situation. No one could come into my group unless they new the music well and arrangements. Reading charts or winging it is what happens. The pick up band culture has ruined groups around here because of commitment ideas but that's another thread.

 

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I like doing sub/one-off type gigs where I've filled in on keys and/or guitar but I've always done at least a couple rehearsals so I could determine if it was something I felt capable for or if I even thought it was worth my time. Music currently remains a hobby for me and I don't want to get bogged down in projects anymore, in fact, Saturday is finally my last gig with a band I've been in for nearly four years and I'm ready to take a break and clear up my calendar a bit.

 

My wife and I will do a lot of rehearsing together and probably do some gigs in the future that may include other players but otherwise I'll be open to more sub or fill in gigs on a case by case basis.

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That's fine also but at high levels and bands with complicated arrangements no one can just walk in. More often than not you can tell when someone is subbing, regardless of the instrument, when a band is dependent on certain member for the over all sound. The danger with it of course is that if someone happens and you can't get a sub the gig is kind of lost. I just think the sub thing is really overrated and doesn't leave bands with a good product but I understand the necessity or if it's pick up band type of stuff.

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That's fine also but at high levels and bands with complicated arrangements no one can just walk in.

 

For me it's got to be familiar and/or reasonably simple and easy to follow (think classic rock/pop or country styles) and I'd typically still require to get with the group for a once over. I've found it's better for me to create my own charts should I need some.

 

The best one-off gig I ever did was a classic rock show featuring the symphony orchestra over in Dubuque. They had trouble finding a keyboard player and called me in somewhat late but I fortunately still had a fair amount of time to rehearse and prepare.

 

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I'm subbing for a group for a gig in a couple weeks. We've sloshed together 40 songs from basically all our previous set lists with our respective cover bands. Had to actually learn 15-20 songs myself. 3 rehearsals prior (I usually only agree to one or two). I like subbing. No commitments, easy pay usually. Occasional trainwrecks, but over the years, I've minimized those just by telling them up front if I get to a rehearsal and everyone doesn't know their {censored}, then I'm out. I won't do a gig with lazy hacks and embarrass myself. Been there done that.

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I'm subbing for a group for a gig in a couple weeks. We've sloshed together 40 songs from basically all our previous set lists with our respective cover bands. Had to actually learn 15-20 songs myself. 3 rehearsals prior (I usually only agree to one or two). I like subbing. No commitments' date=' easy pay usually. Occasional trainwrecks, but over the years, I've minimized those just by telling them up front if I get to a rehearsal and everyone doesn't know their ****************, then I'm out. I won't do a gig with lazy hacks and embarrass myself. Been there done that.[/quote']

 

I’m ok with subbing. Just give me the set list, the key we are playing in and let me know of any serious deviations from the standard version and I’m usually ready to go.

 

Send me recordings if you have them. I don’t want to rehearse with you guys.

 

If it is the type of material that requires much more effort than that? The pay better be really good.

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I’m ok with subbing. Just give me the set list, the key we are playing in and let me know of any serious deviations from the standard version and I’m usually ready to go.

 

Send me recordings if you have them. I don’t want to rehearse with you guys.

 

If it is the type of material that requires much more effort than that? The pay better be really good.

 

If you're dealing with professionals, this approach should make sense, but I've learned that in the current musical environment, you're wise not to make that assumption. Hobby bands can't imagine that you can play a gig without a rehearsal. They are also more likely to have made changes to the original version for a a variety of reasons. And their very existence is based on the premise that rehearsing is the main reason they're doing this. It's fun, right!? Recordings? Since sounding good isn't the point, why would you have any? Most bands up here have nothing on line and nothing in the vault to send you.

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That's crazy. I don't put up with that stuff. Life's too short to play with guys that want to wing everything. You can be a hobby band and still sound professional.

 

You lost me . . . I've cast my lot with guys that have musical training. I've seen way too many hobby bands that are "well rehearsed", but their rhythms, changes, signatures lines and lead vocals are boring or flat out wrong. That's the best they can do and it isn't going to change.

 

Reading charts isn't "winging it" . . . or maybe I've misunderstood you.

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No not charts necessarily. I mean guys that go up there doing things just enough to get by. That get's old real quick. There is an in-between. You can read charts, be a hobby band and rehearsed and still sound professional. It's just that a lot of people are lazy and then can't figure out why they can't get ahead. If you want to do something or be something better just do it better than others around you. It's pretty simple.

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No not charts necessarily. I mean guys that go up there doing things just enough to get by. That get's old real quick. There is an in-between. You can read charts' date=' be a hobby band and rehearsed and still sound professional. It's just that a lot of people are lazy and then can't figure out why they can't get ahead. If you want to do something or be something better just do it better than others around you. It's pretty simple.[/quote']

 

Short story..... a start up a couple of years ago. Band leader / guitar player gives us a list of fourteen songs for the first session and was astounded when I brought in fourteen printed charts I'd put together. Bass player knew one song and had no clue about most of the others. I went to one more session, then quit.

 

I wish it was easier to assess the work ethic of musicians you're considering bringing to your project or joining. . . .

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I do a lot of sub gigs - sometimes with no rehearsal. The key for me is to 'play with my ears' and fit in.

 

A couple of weeks ago, along with a bass player I had previously jammed with, I filled in at a bar gig. It was actually quite exciting to play songs we didn't know because we really had to listen carefully to everything in order to be able to find a pocket to put it in.

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I’m ok with subbing. Just give me the set list, the key we are playing in and let me know of any serious deviations from the standard version and I’m usually ready to go.

 

Send me recordings if you have them. I don’t want to rehearse with you guys.

 

If it is the type of material that requires much more effort than that? The pay better be really good.

 

In this particular case, a band booked a gig, but then split. The drummer who booked the gig had a relationship with the club and didn't want to bail, so he put together this group. We all put all the songs we knew into email and settled on 40some songs. We did three rehearsals, which was a good thing.. there was a lot of arrangements and versioning to work out, we mashed up a lot of songs as well.

 

We dropped a few songs that didn't come together so well, added others...

 

In the end, we killed it at the gig. The club even gave us a bonus. It was a good experience and I had fun. I'm not in this for the money anymore, so I could give a crap about that as much as having fun and playing music.

Edited by Kramerguy
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In this particular case, a band booked a gig, but then split. The drummer who booked the gig had a relationship with the club and didn't want to bail, so he put together this group. We all put all the songs we knew into email and settled on 40some songs. We did three rehearsals, which was a good thing.. there was a lot of arrangements and versioning to work out, we mashed up a lot of songs as well.

 

We dropped a few songs that didn't come together so well, added others...

 

In the end, we killed it at the gig. The club even gave us a bonus. It was a good experience and I had fun. I'm not in this for the money anymore, so I could give a crap about that as much as having fun and playing music.

 

I have done this type of 'pick-up' gig before, and sometimes it works great [if all involved are competent and diligent], sometimes without even a rehearsal, or just one. Fortunately around here there are enough competent and diligent musicians...

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