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breaking up and coming together


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My weekly 20s to 40s gig has dried up -- guy let me know by facebook messenger, classy. And my acoustic trio has chosen to go electric but not in a direction I want to go. So…

 

I'm looking for a duo partner or maybe a band. I can play piano and guitar very well and sing well also. My best repertoires are jazz-age jazz and classic country. I could do either of those solo but I think a duo partner for the country would enhance the sound enough to be worth splitting the pay.

 

What's your experience looking for duo partners? I don't have anyone in mind yet.

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i prefer working solo. just balancing schedules and gigs is worth the little bit of extra effort to work solo.

 

Agree, twice in a few months I have been approached to team up with other solos and each time fail to see any advantage. Added to working for what would be half pay. Nope not for me.

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I think if you find the right partner, duos can be better as there is someone to have fun with, someone to musically bounce off of, someone who can help with the vocals, and someone who can help pack in and out .

 

I don't know about finding one though. My duo partner came by as a result of other things.

 

I was in a 5 piece band with Leilani, my current duo partner (now my wife). We lost a bass player, and were out of work 2 months finding and breaking a new one in. Then we lost the drummer, which only took about a month out of work.

 

So here we are, our first gig back, we are in a dining room of a country club, it's packed, they open up the accordion pleat door and set us up in the lounge. The new drummer says, "God will not forgive me if I play in a bar" to which I replied "God will have to forgive me for homicide if you don't play in this bar tonight."

 

So we are without a drummer again, looking at another month's unemployment, and Leilani and I decide to go duo. That was in 1985 and we haven't been out of work since.

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I've done duos on and off since 1971. I have found I rarely feel like I'm getting what I need in a duo; that said, I was approached by an old duo partner to hook up again, and I am stalling him....I have not said no, but I am putting a ton of conditions on the relationship. Frankly he needs me a lot more than I do him. I actually cut back my solo work after last year, and am re-focusing on getting my band shaped up. A good 'corporate' band gig is less work for me, and pays the same as a good solo gig.

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Yes, Notes, but we all know you are just her 'sideman'...I could be working regular too if I had a very attractive woman singer/musician as a partner instead of old fat pedal steel players, old bald keyboardists and shriveled up bassists...;)

You are one very lucky guy! :thu:

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My current duo partner found me. I like working with her for the most part. She gets more gigs than I do while I'm the one working on sequences/background tracks. As far as material, we're not completely on the same page, but that's always the case when working with another. You could be like Ted Nugent and have your way or the highway, but it doesn't seem to work that way with regular non-famous musicians.

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I am a very lucky guy. She's a great singer (I'm adequate) and she plays rhythm guitar and synth lines on a Buchla "Thunder". I get to play almost all the improvised solos on sax, wind synth, and guitar and since she is good looking, all eyes are on her and not my ugly mug!!!

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Corporate gigs are nice, and when I was located in Ft. Lauderdale I did a fair share of them. I moved up here to 'almost paradise' when Ft. L got too crowded and that ended the corporate gigs. Ah, but I live on a half acre, one lot away from the east coast of the mainland of Florida and on the other side there is one house between me and a wetlands wildlife preserve.

 

If this place ever grows to corporate gig level, I'd like to get back into it though.

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Agree, twice in a few months I have been approached to team up with other solos and each time fail to see any advantage. Added to working for what would be half pay. Nope not for me.

 

yes, the last duo cohort has made a few inquiries lately but the gong gigs have spoiled me. finding a niche that allows one to explore an insument that can never be fully controlled, let alone mastered, and given carte blanche to improvise and perform basically at will has been a game changer. in reading here, realization sets in that even shaking out the gear, loading in or out, from planning the trip to walking through the door comng home is a meditative process that is comfortably handled solo...

in five years of developing this style im finding the surface has only been scratched, the passion to play still increasing as is the interest being expressed at having me perform at numerous festivals this year... somebody wants to put me on one of the big stages at a rather large temporary artist community out in the desert in nevada if i understand correctly... :).

no matter, im having fun, helping a few along the way and waiting to see whats around the next bend in the river...

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Notes, you have it good though, your partner is your life partner, so there are none of the 'my wife/GF wants me to go to her mother's birthday party ' thing...

plus, we all know she has been carrying you for years ;)

 

The corporates have dried up in the past few years, hence me re-tooling the band. new drummer, back to club work...get the old spark back...because there is still nothing that makes me rise to the occasion than an audience.

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Daddymack, yes she carries me, with a voice and expression like that, I can't compete :D - but then she can't do backing tracks or play sax so I at least have some job security.

 

We both have intense work ethics. When my father died, my mother knew to check my schedule before deciding on the funeral date, because she knew I would reluctantly choose to make the gig.

 

We get along well, seldom disagree, never fight and have tons of fun on stage and with our audience.

 

Life is good.

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How's your sight reading! I know of three or four piano players that do a bunch of gigs with mainly female singers that want to perform, but don't have the time or talent to make charts, rehearse and so on. So these guys do their charts (and charge them the going rate) and play their gigs. One rehearsal a few days before the gig. I see the same piano players' names pop up all over town. Each singer does a few gigs per year, promote the heck out of their gigs, and it seems like every gig is just another advertisement and enticement for other (mainly) female singers to go out and do the same thing.

 

I have done a few of these types of gigs on guitar, but because I sing, I generally want to do the gig all myself and keep all the money :} I have a guitar player friend that does do a bunch of these gigs, and of course he's even more portable than a keyboard. Sometimes in one month, he's doing the same venue with different singers.

 

It's a great way to generate gigs, because somebody else does all the work for you, but like I said, this really only works if you can read well and possibly prepare charts. A few of the guys I know doing these gigs, cross platforms and take the singer into the studio. Then the singer has a CD and wants to promote it by doing a few gigs, then they want to do another CD. Some guys start with the recording, and then the singer wants to play live.All the while you're helping folks realize their dreams albeit on a small scale.

 

BTW I know an instrumental duo that has a Friday and Saturday gig, that just hires the best singers in town each week. The venue is happy because they do nothing in the way of promo or booking - the band and the guest singer do all of that. The band is happy, the singers are happy.

 

Anyway, a bunch of things to consider if the gigs are getting light.

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My sight reading is fair if you mean standard notation. I read much better from a lead sheet. But a few years ago I started playing pipe organ with a choir and it's read-or-die so I'm improving.

 

Gananoque is a bit smaller than Vancouver, so the accompanist pickings are a bit slimmer. Kingston is 20 minutes away and it's a small city, complete with a coterie of established players. I am getting a little rep, though, so an ad in Kijiji might be appropriate.

 

I had a several-year association with an excellent female singer. I supplied the system, packed it all in, gathered repertoire, made charts and accompanied. And she got the gigs. Or she was supposed to get the gigs but didn't. It fell apart around that. Had another attempt with a good singer who thought she was jazz. I mentioned something about Billie Holiday and she had *no* idea who that was. I kind of gave up at that point. Call me a snob…

 

But billing as accompanist, not duo partner, is a good idea.

 

Gigs are light. Mostly because I'm emotionally unable, it seems, to go out and actually hustle for gigs. Hell of a handicap for a musician.

 

I like the weekly host-a-singer idea.

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My perspective as a R&R/R&B bandmate who went solo five years ago because the venues in the part of the country I moved to are too small to draw a regular crowd large enough to support a band. . . .

 

Since you can sing, the question becomes, are you looking for someone to support you, or will you support them? This is a music question but also a marketing question because the face of the group will have to get the gigs, and up here, if you don't have a reputation, you'll play second fiddle to long time locals who have a following.

 

I gather you can play styles outside the 20s/40s repertoire you've been doing. I've tried to add songs from a variety of genres . . . . and I think it's backfired because if they hear a tune from a genre they're not used to, they'll reconsider, even if they like what they heard initially. Be clear about the venues you want to hire you and the genre you will offer them.

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I can see the incentive for some to go solo - the money could be better - and although we would love to be able to do this for less, we have to pay the bills.

 

There is one big advantage to a duo. That is if you both sing. Leilani and I have been a duo since 1985. We rarely get sick, and show up even if we are ill. It rarely happens, but in the past 34 years there have been one or two occasions where one of us had a sore throat and could not sing well. And one time when Leilani could not sing at all. If either partner is capable of doing a single, and you have enough material, the gig is saved.

 

Me? I also like the company on stage, a buddy I can bounce riffs off of, an occasional second opinion as to what to play next, and someone to play either funny or straight man/woman when it's time for some shtick.

 

And it's also nice to have someone to help pack the gear in and out, and to go t breakfast with after the gig.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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I'd much rather play a keys/drums duo gig than solo and you've listed several reasons why. Problem is, most venues don't know what to do with it . . . . .

 

Too true. On piano I'd be best off with either a good lead instrument like sax or with percussion and was courting a drummer. Owner of a local pub said he'd never hire a duo with drums because "it doesn't work here." And that was the end of his thought process.

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Drums are problematic...and it is a matter of space and a matter of volume. I have worked with drummers who can keep their volume totally under control, down to a whisper... rara avis.... and drum kits, unless it is a 'cocktail kit', take up a lot of real estate, far more than a saxophonist.

Drum machines, although not able to help load in/out, are a better alternative for solo/duos.

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My experience with drums is that cajon works well with most things -- its limits are actually strengths. Cymbals, otoh, are completely incompatible with acoustic guitar. Purpose of percussion is threefold: 1) mark the bar (where's one?) 2) keep the groove and 3) mark transitions. Mostly anything else is overplaying.

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I like my own backing tracks, where I play the MIDI drums on the track, and replay the track on the gig.

 

I agree, drums take up too much real estate, and as a drummer I know, sometimes it's impossible to get the right sound out of the drum without playing at a certain volume, which might be too loud for most duo based venues.

 

If I were doing a cool-school jazz gig, I'd love to have a pianist and a drummer who knows how to play well with brushes, but for the amount of work that kind of act could find around here, I could get a 7 night per week job at a newspaper or factory without missing any gigs.

 

By making my own backing tracks, I have complete control of everything, volume, arrangement key, etc. Of course that means I don't get surprised by the ideas other musicians would come up with in the same situation. But I'm perfectly OK with that. It's worth the compromise.

 

Tonight we play for the crazy French Canadians again, and they will hit the dance floor on song #1, still be on the dance floor on the last song, and probably ask for more. They will go back 'up north' in a month or so, and we'll enjoy every gig with them until they go, and look forward to their return next winter.

 

Notes

 

 

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