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The House Band: Keeping It Fresh


Leftcoast123

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I've been playing with pros for the last 12 years and while an amazing project and great, great money, it has been an immense challenge for scheduling and logistics. 5-piece with vocalist and guitarist living in Vancouver and bassist and keyboardist living here on Vancouver Island but about 90 minutes south of me. Both bass and keys are with a national classic rock act that does about 150 shows per year across Canada. So, time to add an additonal project to my world and based on a conversation last April with my good friend who is the manager/booker for the sublime live room at our ski resort I prepared a multi-page proposal outlining the advantages of a house band idea as well as the solution.

 

I presented the proposal in mid-July after confirming 3 pros to be part of the project. The resort bought the idea lock, stock and barrel and we're commited to a 13-week run as the house band beginning Christmas week and continuing with Friday/Saturday nights to the end of March with the option of the first two weeks of April. Female vocals, gtr/bv and bass/bv along with yours truly on drums/bv. Venue is a destination resort and has a new audience, for the most part, each weekend. Demo is about 30 with a female skew. Our gear, or as much of it we don't need mid-week, stays on stage. Backing track for much of what we'll do and song lists are being put together as I type this. We'll be heading into rehearsals in the next couple of weeks and some warm-up gigs through late fall. If there is interest I'll post some updates as we progress. Name of the unit is Haus Banned , sort of a twist on Lady Gaga's backing band. ;)

 

We discuss thinking outside the box and non-traditional gigs here on the forum so I've posted this in that vein but many of you have played and put together house bands in the past. I'd really like your advice on keeping it fresh, fun and how you handled new songs during the run...

Cheers,

 

Dave

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I've done 2 house band gigs in the past. They have the potential to destroy. Be careful.

 

My suggestions:

 

Keep it pro. Don't sweat the small stuff and don't get too personal with the bandies....the same faces on a regular basis will get sticky, cuz folks is folks, so just keep it pro. Speshilly if your vox chick is a hawtie and some one in the band wants to grind it....things can go south quick.

 

Make a requirement that you can all agree on regarding adding tunes. Once you get your core, commit as a group to add a few every week or two. Keeps it fresh.

 

Clearly define roles, verbally and on paper. Musically, and business wise.

 

Have an open communication at meetings policy. Seeing the same faces on a weekly basis can make folks who internalize pressure and frustration, eventually explode. Watched a bassist loose it once inbetween sets. And no one saw it coming. He just freaked. Over nothing really. He just let it build up cuz he felt he could never get a word in edgwise (the band leader was kinda harsh....)

 

I had a blast in the house gigs that I did. I enjoyed the convenience of getting there 5 minutes before the gig, pulling the tar tars out of the case and hitting the stage, tuning up, and BOOM it's downbeat! FUK YA! I also enjoyed one of the venues and the staff there. Really like family. But it got sticky for some, so there's that....the other place was all business and it was great in it's own way too....no drama and all business....

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I'm a little confused with your post. It's 26 gigs over 3 plus months. I'm not sure how seeing your band mates on a weekly basis is a recipe for disaster. I could have easily misread something- it is late on the East coast ;)

 

 

I've done 2 house band gigs in the past. They have the potential to destroy. Be careful.


My suggestions:


Keep it pro. Don't sweat the small stuff and don't get too personal with the bandies....the same faces on a regular basis will get sticky, cuz folks is folks, so just keep it pro. Speshilly if your vox chick is a hawtie and some one in the band wants to grind it....things can go south quick.


Make a requirement that you can all agree on regarding adding tunes. Once you get your core, commit as a group to add a few every week or two. Keeps it fresh.


Clearly define roles, verbally and on paper. Musically, and business wise.


Have an open communication at meetings policy. Seeing the same faces on a weekly basis can make folks who internalize pressure and frustration, eventually explode. Watched a bassist loose it once inbetween sets. And no one saw it coming. He just freaked. Over nothing really. He just let it build up cuz he felt he could never get a word in edgwise (the band leader was kinda harsh....)


I had a blast in the house gigs that I did. I enjoyed the convenience of getting there 5 minutes before the gig, pulling the tar tars out of the case and hitting the stage, tuning up, and BOOM it's downbeat! FUK YA! I also enjoyed one of the venues and the staff there. Really like family. But it got sticky for some, so there's that....the other place was all business and it was great in it's own way too....no drama and all business....

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I'm a little confused with your post. It's 26 gigs over 3 plus months. I'm not sure how seeing your band mates on a weekly basis is a recipe for disaster. I could have easily misread something- it is late on the East coast
;)

 

Yeah, I missed it too. If you think seeing bandmates on a weekly basis in a house band gig is a recipe for disaster, just wait until you go on the road and live with the same bunch of guys sharing the same hotel rooms and van-rides for years at a time!

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I'm a little confused with your post. It's 26 gigs over 3 plus months. I'm not sure how seeing your band mates on a weekly basis is a recipe for disaster. I could have easily misread something- it is late on the East coast
;)

 

You'll probably be ok, but you asked for suggestions so I gave em.

 

When you gig a couple nights a week and see the same people and work with the same people, things can get personal. And that is basically it. Pretty simple.

 

Starts out all cool, everybody's into it. Then someone starts {censored}ing a waitress and drama ensues. In a regular gig that could spell "over" pretty quick. Happens in regular gig, and it's no biggie, on to the next gig, bar, and your high five-ing his victory cuz the chick has grand hooters. Happens at a house band gig, and 3 months worth of bookings are flushed cuz drummer couldn't keep his rock star bull{censored} zipped up.

 

A gigging band that does a one nighter or two and a weekend or two every month or two....well it is a diversion....no matter how serious you take it....from REAL LIFE. When you are in a house band, it is more like a job. Post didn't say how many gigs per week....3? 4? plus rehearsal? That's a lot of contact with more chances to let personal stuff creep into the business.

 

Plus there's more pressure. You have a bad weekend and don't fix it by the following week....well....things will change in a hurry. Again the pressure of not just that venue, but 3 months worth of bookings, GONE can create some drama...folks might be willing to fight harder for their point of view in discussions cuz more is at stake.

 

But whether you believe me that a house band is a stickier situation or not, cool. The solution is simple: keep it pro. Hell, ALWAYS keep it pro right?

 

Unless of course you wear shorts and use a music stand!:lol: (sorry, had to!)

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Yeah, I missed it too. If you think seeing bandmates on a weekly basis in a house band gig is a recipe for disaster, just wait until you go on the road and live with the same bunch of guys sharing the same hotel rooms and van-rides for years at a time!

 

Try a stratified comparison:

 

Club band: Not much pressure

House band: More pressure

Road band in a van: Even more pressure

 

No wait! Club bands have plenty of pressure and it's all realative cuz of it's context right?:p:lol: (Maaaaaan, I am on a roll!)

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You'll probably be ok, but you asked for suggestions so I gave em.


When you gig a couple nights a week and see the same people and work with the same people, things can get personal. And that is basically it. Pretty simple.


Starts out all cool, everybody's into it. Then someone starts {censored}ing a waitress and drama ensues. In a regular gig that could spell "over" pretty quick. Happens in regular gig, and it's no biggie, on to the next gig, bar, and your high five-ing his victory cuz the chick has grand hooters. Happens at a house band gig, and 3 months worth of bookings are flushed cuz drummer couldn't keep his rock star bull{censored} zipped up.


A gigging band that does a one nighter or two and a weekend or two every month or two....well it is a diversion....no matter how serious you take it....from REAL LIFE. When you are in a house band, it is more like a job. Post didn't say how many gigs per week....3? 4? plus rehearsal? That's a lot of contact with more chances to let personal stuff creep into the business.


Plus there's more pressure. You have a bad weekend and don't fix it by the following week....well....things will change in a hurry. Again the pressure of not just that venue, but 3 months worth of bookings, GONE can create some drama...folks might be willing to fight harder for their point of view in discussions cuz more is at stake.


But whether you believe me that a house band is a stickier situation or not, cool. The solution is simple: keep it pro. Hell, ALWAYS keep it pro right?


Unless of course you wear shorts and use a music stand!
:lol:
(sorry, had to!)

 

I totally get what you're saying here. Familiarity breeds contempt. And let's face it, musicians can be a contemptible bunch. Club and event bands pack up and leave. But the house band? I did it for a year and a half at the start of my career and it ended badly. People just get tired of people. I was discovered to be underage after playing there a year and a half. They were furious. We were pissed for being docked money. Our singer screwed too many of the waitresses. We all did. You just start wearing on nerves after a while.

 

It's all free drinks and love at the start and ends in angry glances. At least it can... and did for me.

 

On the other hand, it ws a HUGELY invaluable classroom for a career in music.

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I've been playing with pros for the last 12 years and while an amazing project and great, great money, it has been an immense challenge for scheduling and logistics. 5-piece with vocalist and guitarist living in Vancouver and bassist and keyboardist living here on Vancouver Island but about 90 minutes south of me. Both bass and keys are with a national classic rock act that does about 150 shows per year across Canada. So, time to add an additonal project to my world and based on a conversation last April with my good friend who is the manager/booker for the sublime live room at our ski resort I prepared a multi-page proposal outlining the advantages of a house band idea as well as the solution.


I presented the proposal in mid-July after confirming 3 pros to be part of the project. The resort bought the idea lock, stock and barrel and we're commited to a 13-week run as the house band beginning Christmas week and continuing with Friday/Saturday nights to the end of March with the option of the first two weeks of April. Female vocals, gtr/bv and bass/bv along with yours truly on drums/bv. Venue is a destination resort and has a new audience, for the most part, each weekend. Demo is about 30 with a female skew. Our gear, or as much of it we don't need mid-week, stays on stage. Backing track for much of what we'll do and song lists are being put together as I type this. We'll be heading into rehearsals in the next couple of weeks and some warm-up gigs through late fall. If there is interest I'll post some updates as we progress. Name of the unit is
Haus Banned
, sort of a twist on Lady Gaga's backing band.
;)

We discuss thinking outside the box and non-traditional gigs here on the forum so I've posted this in that vein but many of you have played and put together house bands in the past. I'd really like your advice on keeping it fresh, fun and how you handled new songs during the run...

Cheers,


Dave

 

I have been playing in a house band 5 and 6 nights a week for the last two years. I have also worked full time in the ski resort business running the ski shop at the area. Here is what I think you will be dealing with.

 

From sounds of your location, your crowd is going to be a combo of season pass regulars and ski weekers. You will need two shows , one for fri and another for sat night. You will have a few real crowd pleasers that you can repeat. Typically these kind of deals dont turn into the big dance parties because your patrons have been out on the slopes, so they may end up as sit down cocktail shows for your guests. This isnt any hard fast rule , but generally you will find the after the lifts close crowd just wanting to kick back have some drinks and have a good time. You will get requests from this kind of crowd. If all else fails ,, play this song.

 

[video=youtube;OsvMY2BGjVY]

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I had a blast in the house gigs that I did. I enjoyed the convenience of getting there 5 minutes before the gig, pulling the tar tars out of the case and hitting the stage, tuning up, and BOOM it's downbeat! FUK YA! I also enjoyed one of the venues and the staff there. Really like family. But it got sticky for some, so there's that....the other place was all business and it was great in it's own way too....no drama and all business....

 

 

I played in the same club band '99, '02, '04-'06, and now I'm back there again. I love house bands for the reasons you mention. Given "x" number of hours expended in music-related activity, I would rather spend as much as possible of that time playing vs driving, load-in/out, setting up PA. Now we are doing 5 45-minute sets a night, long night by this board's standards but I'll take it over 3/2/3 (drive/set-up/playing time) any day, thank you. We have always done well at adding new songs and staying current. Have a new chickie singer too, she's young and green but cool as Hell and a natural on stage, was one of the "boys" from the beginning. There seems to be no unbearable suspense about who will be the first to violate her, I agree that's a good thing.

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Some prudent advice here, thanks for the comments. Here is a picture of the venue with my current band on stage:

MegaliciousMOMARAfterPartyMtWashington20

 

Same show with a corporate client on stage with us.

MegaliciouswithTamaraRhodesMOMARAfterPar

 

The room is definetly not a dinner or cocktail crowd when the band hits and with 8 x 15" subs per side and a pair of TX4's per side, the production is pretty spectacular to about 100 feet. To reiterate it's scheduled for the night of Dec 26, another band for NYE as everyone is booked already and 13 x weekends so a minimum of 27 nights. Friday's will be Live Karaoke (first set just us to warm up the room) and Saturday nights will be whatever we figure will work the floor. In the last 12 years I'd estimate I've played the venue...likely north of 30 weekends. It's definetly a destination resort with lots and lots of on-mountain accommodation. Picture a tiny version of Whistler.

 

Rehersals and learning new songs thru the run will be a challenge..I'll throw the first songlist here as an update in the next couple of weeks. Yeah, it's not a tour with a cube van or 5 ton but we do have accommodations to share (guys in one, girl has her own of course) but it's only Friday and Saturday nights and we get tons of perks like ski or snowboard gear, lift tickets, meals and bevies. I'm really looking forward to the playing, the new band and of course the lack of load in, load out each weekend.

 

Tim, that video was a hoot! Thanks for sharing that...and Andrew congratulations on your house gig...awesome! Lee, you're right it can be love and free booze to smooth the way at the beginning. We'll do our best to keep it real and it's only for the winter. How bad can it be? Ha, famous last words I know. Had to say it! 3sfiftgtr, good points and thanks for sharing your experiences. Zipper....check!

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Some prudent advice here, thanks for the comments. Here is a picture of the venue with my current band on stage:

MegaliciousMOMARAfterPartyMtWashington20

Same show with a corporate client on stage with us.

MegaliciouswithTamaraRhodesMOMARAfterPar

The room is definetly not a dinner or cocktail crowd when the band hits and with 8 x 15" subs
per side
and a pair of TX4's per side, the production is pretty spectacular to about 100 feet. To reiterate it's scheduled for the night of Dec 26, another band for NYE as everyone is booked already and 13 x weekends so a minimum of 27 nights. Friday's will be Live Karaoke (first set just us to warm up the room) and Saturday nights will be whatever we figure will work the floor. In the last 12 years I'd estimate I've played the venue...likely north of 30 weekends. It's definetly a destination resort with lots and lots of on-mountain accommodation. Picture a tiny version of Whistler.




Rehersals and learning new songs thru the run will be a challenge..I'll throw the first songlist here as an update in the next couple of weeks. Yeah, it's not a tour with a cube van or 5 ton but we do have accommodations to share (guys in one, girl has her own of course) but it's only Friday and Saturday nights and we get tons of perks like ski or snowboard gear, lift tickets, meals and bevies. I'm really looking forward to the playing, the new band and of course the lack of load in, load out each weekend.


Tim, that video was a hoot! Thanks for sharing that...and Andrew congratulations on your house gig...awesome! Lee, you're right it can be love and free booze to smooth the way at the beginning. We'll do our best to keep it real and it's only for the winter. How bad can it be? Ha, famous last words I know. Had to say it! 3sfiftgtr, good points and thanks for sharing your experiences. Zipper....check!

 

I am surprised that they get a hard core dance and party crowd. Most skiers are more interested in being there ready to roll when the lifts start turning than trying to drag their ass out of bed with a hang over. You must get a bunch of locals that are not hard core skiers. How in the hell did you get that guy to jump off that 50 foot cliff into all that fresh powder. Mr miller replied, " We gave him a free lift ticket"

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I am surprised that they get a hard core dance and party crowd. Most skiers are more interested in being there ready to roll when the lifts start turning than trying to drag their ass out of bed with a hang over. You must get a bunch of locals that are not hard core skiers. How in the hell did you get that guy to jump off that 50 foot cliff into all that fresh powder. Mr miller replied, " We gave him a free lift ticket"

 

 

It's Canada man! Even where I live near the border it's all about ski until 8 or 9 and party until close at 4am.

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It's Canada man! Even where I live near the border it's all about ski until 8 or 9 and party until close at 4am.

 

 

I know all about canadians. we get a ton of them down here on spi for the winter. 10 old canadians can out drink a whole bar full of kids. Their motto is you cant stay drunk all day if you dont start first thing in the morning. I used to do a real good job of drinking when i was workin full time in the ski biz. When our season ended and we headed out west,, it was more about skiing. arc em or park em. comming from 700 msl,, having the parking lot at 8000 feet kinda took the party all out of you by the time you put in a full day on the mountain. I never thought i would give up the sport , but one day I just looked at the folly of teaching skiing all day, and spending time in the recliner with ice on my knee so I could go beat myself up again. It wasnt the skiing as much as it was all the walking around you do in ski boots as a full time ski instructor.

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Look at the Texas boy breaking down the ski lingo! :)

 

I know all about canadians. we get a ton of them down here on spi for the winter. 10 old canadians can out drink a whole bar full of kids. Their motto is you cant stay drunk all day if you dont start first thing in the morning. I used to do a real good job of drinking when i was workin full time in the ski biz. When our season ended and we headed out west,, it was more about skiing. arc em or park em. comming from 700 msl,, having the parking lot at 8000 feet kinda took the party all out of you by the time you put in a full day on the mountain. I never thought i would give up the sport , but one day I just looked at the folly of teaching skiing all day, and spending time in the recliner with ice on my knee so I could go beat myself up again. It wasnt the skiing as much as it was all the walking around you do in ski boots as a full time ski instructor.

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Look at the Texas boy breaking down the ski lingo!
:)

 

Actually i am a michigan boy , who started skiing in the fifth grade and skied pretty well my whole life. We knew how to ski ice and that takes solid skills. We had small vertical drops in relation to the moutains , but we had steeps, so you could get good at it. We in michigan were not good powder skiers. We did know ice, breakable crust, crud, corn snow, and fast grass. When i was workin in the biz , i was an area pro rep for fisher, been full time paid patroller, a ski instructor, ran the ski shop and was certified to work on bindings and mount skis and tune them as well as be sales floor super. I unplugged a more than a few {censored}ters and could run a mop too. the full timers pretty well did it all. The only time i was out of the biz was when i went to full time corp/ charter flying.

 

If a flight dept shut down ,, one phone call pretty well always put me back on the payroll at the ski area, till i rounded up another pilot gig.

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Tim, you mountain man! We'll have to compare notes when the snow flies up here. The mountain we're at gets 18 meters of snow per season. That's about 35 feet. Snowmaking? Who needs it!

 

 

Yup you get a lot of snow. Most of what we skied on in the midwest was machine snow. It was like concrete. You could not stick a ski pole in it. We kept our skis like razors. Most areas ran 16 hours a day and had night skiing. The bread and butter was high school ski clubs and ski field trips, and of course the season pass people that gave you the money for start up to lay down a base. Weekends were quite profitable because of the SPOREs. In the ski biz its not how big the mountain is , its how many spores you could put on the hill. SPOREs = Stupid People on Rental equipment. Midwest ski areas dont have rocks.. so you could ski them right down to the grass , hence the term fast grass. Pump up a 50 to 60 inch base and you were good to go. We could lay down an inch an hour over the whole area. Snowmaking is an art. boyne mt in michigan was one of the first to really master snowmaking.

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Since last post we've had one band meeting (Sept 12th) where we all met for the first time. The singer, guitarist and bassist live in a city that is about 90 min south of me so it is a logistical challenge that we're meeting with Facebook messanger, Dropbox and good ole' e-mail. We're about 90% on our Friday night live karaoke list and prolly 60% on Saturday regular band list which will be a work in progress as we proceed into the gigs. In the last couple of weeks our logo has been finalized, details at the resort shored up and a Facebook page for Haus Banned is up and running. Kick head from DrumArt is scheduled for delivery this week. Jim is fast! Our designer has uploaded our logo to CafePress for merchandise ordering so we'll see what the quality is like in the next couple of weeks. We're definetly doing a run of spaghetti tanks to sell to the girls in the venue when we're up and running in the winter.

 

I'll post logo etc...next time.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

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A band that was big back in the late 80's early 90's here was the house band for basically a decade at one of the best venue's in town.

 

They kept it fresh by learning 3-5 new songs every single week from the top 40 charts. They just churned through songs like crazy to keep themselves as current as possible.

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