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Leaving My Band


wardjames

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I always liked the name Southbound and Down, a play on "Eastbound and down". Plus- Jerry Reed was good enough to write you a theme song already! Not really a country guy, but always found that to be a really catchy damn chorus. Plus it's the theme to Smokey and the Bandit! Damn... now that song is stuck in my head for the weekend. I'll spare you all and not post a link. It's your fault if you go looking! Have a great weekend everybody!

 

 

I like that name, too..my band is just named Southbound, like a fair number of other bands in the Southeast- including a successful Allman Bros. tribute). We stand out for vocals and performance, not because of a catchy, unique name (BTW my buds happen to play the dog {censored} out of that Jerry Reed song, too).

 

But at least my band didn't name themselves into what I call the "Smoked Sausage" category. It seems like every other country band around here is called "Southern Pride", "Southern Tradition" etc.

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I like that name, too..my band is just named Southbound, like a fair number of other bands in the Southeast- including a successful Allman Bros. tribute). We stand out for vocals and performance, not because of a catchy, unique name (BTW my buds happen to play the dog {censored} out of that Jerry Reed song, too).


But at least my band didn't name themselves into what I call the "Smoked Sausage" category. It seems like every other country band around here is called "Southern Pride", "Southern Tradition" etc.



I also hate names that include 1 part alcohol and 1 part scenic, i.e. Whiskey Ridge or Tequilla Sunset.

Maybe I'll just go with "Inbred Jed and the Sisterhumpers". That should be high-end friendly!;)

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You are making the correct decision. I am a similar situation with my band but probably won't quit because all of our proceeds go to a worthy charity. It sounds like many of your band members are in it for purely self-indulgent reasons. This is common. They want to play for the "art". If they were that good, they would write and perform their own music and not be playing in bars(like my band). They forgot or don't care that the customer/audience is king. Some assumptions here, but they are performing to hold onto their youth by their fingernails, stick their chest out, and tell their friends they are "in a band". Merle Haggard, George Jones, Don Williams, Conway Twitty, etc., never sold out large venues like Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, B. Paisley, Alan Jackson, etc. You can tell by my references that country music is not my forte, but you get the message. The uncooperative band members need a reality check and you should move on. Good luck!

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This is more of a explanation than a request for guidance, but I thought I'd post anyway. Sorry for the rambing in advance.


So I've made the decision to leave my band and start a new one. We've made incredible strides this year, but we're on incredibly different wavelegnths and it's finally coming to a head. I've come the the conclusion that we're never going to move forward. Here's the issues:


1. Differing opinions about what songs we should be playing. To give a little background, we started as a band that played classic country, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Bob Wills, etc. in 2009. Desipte making good music, we were getting no audience response, leading to low pay, only bar gigs, etc.


At the end of last year I proposed that we play more current country and more audience friendly stuff, because I was sick of playing to empty bars. There was a definite resistance, but I got us to add some stuff "Chattahoochie, Boot Scootin Boogie, etc." that had an immiedate impact, and very shortly were in much higher demand. We did an audio demo this summer, and by the end of summer had some really decent paying gigs, several over the $1000 mark.


The frustrating thing is, a couple of the guys have just talked S$%^ about the more popular songs constantly since we've added them. It's like pulling teeth everytime we discuss new songs to add. I constantly have to discuss why we shouldn't add a B-side from so and so's album that someone thinks is cool. As a corrolary, I constantly have to defend our most popular songs, as our bass player inevitably will want to drop them because "they're lame". The straw that broke the camel's back was an email about "Achy Breaky Heart", which is probably in our top five songs as far as crowd reaction goes. Our bass player informed me that he'd rather not play that except at select gigs like private parties, because a real honky tonk band wouldn't play it. In the email chain, the other members basically agreed.


So long story short, we're on completely different wavelegnths as to direction. I'd like to play in a band that makes great music and great money, they'd like to play in a band that makes "cool" music.


2. Differing levels of effort. My role in the band was to sing 3/4 of the songs, play lead guitar, book gigs, bring the PA, bring lights, and deal with club owners. Everyone else's role was to learn their parts for their instrument. I originally started of playing rhythm guitar and singing...being the frontman. We got rid of our lead guitar player in September. Everytime we audition a new lead player, they're always much better than me, but there's always an excuse as to why we can't at least try them out on an interim basis. Basically everyone's used to a higher pay cut and wants me to play lead and sing, which I don't want to do because (1) I don't have time to do all the other things AND learn guitar parts and (2) my performance as a frontman diminishes significantly when I'm playing lead guitar.


3. No willingness to invest in band. At the beginning of this year, we made a commitment to invest in things like marketing, lights, PA stuff, etc. Well, none of its happened, as everyone would rather just take home all their money. So I've just bought all the stuff myself. I also frequently find myself getting asked to front band members money prior to gigs like I'm a bank. I'm willing to put in a couple grand to get a top notch audio, video, website combination going, but it doesn't make sense if I'm getting an equal cut with everyone else.


4. Taking too long to learn material. I'm the kind of guy who can learn 8 new songs a month and have them ready to go in one shot. No one else in the band is. It's frustrating taking three practices to get a song to a workable condition.


I'm now going to go out and start my own band fresh. I feel like I've made, and learned from, a lot of mistakes over the last couple of years. Hopefully I'll have a much shortened learning curve in getting a new project up and running. I'm interviewing new players, and actually trying to get guys with successful Top 40 band cover experience, rather than cycling through the country band community. The guys I've interviewed thus far seem to be on the same page. I'm excited to try to get things going, and looking forward to the new project.

 

 

It sounds like you have more hired gun types that just want to show up play and get paid. As for the billy ray mullet stuff ,, I can see why they they hate that song. Its a bit like doing a monkey covers. LOL I would give things a chance to simmer down a little before you just {censored} can the guys in your band. It may be harder than you think to replace them. You have a band thats up and working,,, dont be too quick to thow that away.

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It sounds like you have more hired gun types that just want to show up play and get paid. As for the billy ray mullet stuff ,, I can see why they they hate that song. Its a bit like doing a monkey covers. LOL I would give things a chance to simmer down a little before you just {censored} can the guys in your band. It may be harder than you think to replace them. You have a band thats up and working,,, dont be too quick to thow that away.

 

 

Whether their position in not wanting to play some songs is valid or not (I'm sure in their minds it is) the point is that the band has reached a crossroads in where the members want to take it. Ward wants to go down a more populist/commercial road; they'd rather be more about their idea of "good" music. I doubt it's just about one song. It's about the whole direction of the band. That's one of the oldest stories in the book. Should the band continue one side or the other will either have to give or they will end up being miserable. Best to cut it now rather than drag it out, IMO. It would be different if Ward was the odd-man-out in a band where everyone else was doing all the work but, at least according to him, he's the one doing all the background work AND having to deal with guys who aren't on the same page as him.

 

He's doing the right thing, IMO. Maybe a couple of the old guys will want to jump ship with him; maybe not. It's clear to me from his posts here that he understands the business end of things. That's half the battle right there. What he needs are players who are on the same page as him. If he puts forth a decent business model, shows some past history of success, and has things like the lights and PA already---he's gonna have no problem finding all the players he wants.

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Definitely sounds like you are making the correct decision. Definitely make it clear from the start that you are the one driving the bus. I would reinforce this by naming the band "The Ward James Band" or "Ward James and the Moonlighters" (replace Moonlighters with whatever you like). This will make it clear that you are driving the bus. My duo is always "Chip Stewart and Name of other guy". This way there's continuity when I change musical partners. People always know its me when they see our name on the playbill.

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"Ward James and the...."? Yeah, that's a possibility. You have the advantage in that "Ward James" already SOUNDS country. My advice would be that, whatever way you go, to find a name that has a "country party" vibe to it to help sell the band to corporate. Probably nothing as corny as "Ward James and the Twosteppers", but along those lines. Something that says "this isn't just a sit-and-listen band".

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Whether their position in not wanting to play some songs is valid or not (I'm sure in their minds it is) the point is that the band has reached a crossroads in where the members want to take it. Ward wants to go down a more populist/commercial road; they'd rather be more about their idea of "good" music. I doubt it's just about one song. It's about the whole direction of the band. That's one of the oldest stories in the book. Should the band continue one side or the other will either have to give or they will end up being miserable. Best to cut it now rather than drag it out, IMO. It would be different if Ward was the odd-man-out in a band where everyone else was doing all the work but, at least according to him, he's the one doing all the background work AND having to deal with guys who aren't on the same page as him.


He's doing the right thing, IMO. Maybe a couple of the old guys will want to jump ship with him; maybe not. It's clear to me from his posts here that he understands the business end of things. That's half the battle right there. What he needs are players who are on the same page as him. If he puts forth a decent business model, shows some past history of success, and has things like the lights and PA already---he's gonna have no problem finding all the players he wants.

 

 

This is the crux of what's going on. I'm not mad at anyone, and I'm not throwing a temper tantrum, there's just an irreconcilable difference of direction that's grating. It's not just Achy Breaky...that's just the latest example. It's happened with EVERY single song we've added that's popular. This month, it happened with "God Blessed Texas" and "Fishing in the Dark". Two surefire wins.

 

Starting fresh is going to be a step back, but I'll ake a huge leap forward over time by getting guys who share the same outlook.

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This is the crux of what's going on. I'm not mad at anyone, and I'm not throwing a temper tantrum, there's just an irreconcilable difference of direction that's grating. It's not just Achy Breaky...that's just the latest example. It's happened with EVERY single song we've added that's popular. This month, it happened with "God Blessed Texas" and "Fishing in the Dark". Two surefire wins.


Starting fresh is going to be a step back, but I'll ake a huge leap forward over time by getting guys who share the same outlook.



That's basically where I was with my band 2-3 years ago. Difference was I had one guy solidly on my side and when we presented "this is where we want to take the band" to the others, all but one was willing to go along. They don't even complain about song choices anymore. :lol:

The main reason they went along is because once they got a taste of the bigger gigs, they decided that's where they wanted to go and were willing to do what it took to make it happen. The other guy was more content to play different material in the small clubs.

Seems to me you've already given your guys a taste and if they don't want to it, then that's that. No hard feelings; just time to part ways. At least they can't say you didn't present it them or offer it to them.

The only sore point might be if some of them believe that the band could still get the better gigs with the wrong material. In which case, they're just not getting it.

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"Ward James and the...."? Yeah, that's a possibility. You have the advantage in that "Ward James" already SOUNDS country. My advice would be that, whatever way you go, to find a name that has a "country party" vibe to it to help sell the band to corporate. Probably nothing as corny as "Ward James and the Twosteppers", but along those lines. Something that says "this isn't just a sit-and-listen band".

 

 

I've thought about this, because it also allows me to (1) easily book as a solo and (2) I can do a lot of the photo stuff myself now without having to rely on getting other bandmates to the photosession, meaning I can get up and running immediately. Are there any corporate acts that use a guy's name? There's The Wayne Foster Band around here, which is huge, but I'm just wondering if it a possible detriment?

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Seems to me you've already given your guys a taste and if they don't want to it, then that's that. No hard feelings; just time to part ways. At least they can't say you didn't present it them or offer it to them.

 

 

It's weird, because obviously they like the money, they just don't seem to like playing the songs it takes to make the money.

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I'd join your band with a quickness. 8 songs a month? {censored} dude, I'll chew threw 8 songs in 2 days. I could be gig ready with you guys in a week. Wanna play new country? Cool. Play that funky music? Cool.


Where do I sign up?

 

 

Boom! I've got a bassman already!

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I've thought about this, because it also allows me to (1) easily book as a solo and (2) I can do a lot of the photo stuff myself now without having to rely on getting other bandmates to the photosession, meaning I can get up and running immediately. Are there any corporate acts that use a guy's name? There's The Wayne Foster Band around here, which is huge, but I'm just wondering if it a possible detriment?

 

 

I don't see how it's a DETRIMENT. You're not a known quantity, so it isn't going necessarily HELP you get gigs, but I certainly don't see how it would hurt. Actually, I think on one level, it makes some people think "gee, I probably SHOULD have heard of this guy...."

 

I'd be more concerned about how it affects attracting other players: guys who might think "gee, I don't know if I want to be involved in this if I'm gonna have NO say in the band and just be a hired gun." It other musicians who'd be the first ones to call you on a "I've never heard of that dude" basis.

 

FWIW, I would say going by the leaders name is more common among country acts than most other genres.

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"Ward James and the...."? Yeah, that's a possibility. You have the advantage in that "Ward James" already SOUNDS country. My advice would be that, whatever way you go, to find a name that has a "country party" vibe to it to help sell the band to corporate. Probably nothing as corny as "Ward James and the Twosteppers", but along those lines. Something that says "this isn't just a sit-and-listen band".

 

 

how bout --"Ward James:Get Off My Wagon"

seriously,Ward,youve got the right idea.I think whatever band you are in will be a great band.

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Yes.

 

 

 

I think this is a good example of building up a country band into a power house act. These are some guys from michigan that we started following when they were just a duo doing bike nights. They worked hard , built a following by entertaining and being generally just good guys. They built the act into a full band show , wrote some originals and have become the hottest country band in the area. Their secret ,,they are entertainers. I see this as the next step behond where wards band was. Its a big step. This is a country party band.

 

 

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I've thought about this, because it also allows me to (1) easily book as a solo and (2) I can do a lot of the photo stuff myself now without having to rely on getting other bandmates to the photosession, meaning I can get up and running immediately. Are there any corporate acts that use a guy's name? There's The Wayne Foster Band around here, which is huge, but I'm just wondering if it a possible detriment?

 

 

It can and does work. Examples: The Pat Coast Band, The Jeff Healey Band, The Derek Trucks Band, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, etc., etc., etc. I don't think it really matters if it is a corporate act or an indy singer-songwriter. The band is either good or not good.

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Wow... I'm surprised and not surprised Ward... but in the end I think you are making the right decision. You have a great mindset and you understand this business much better than your bandmates. Notice I said 'business'. I'm sure in a year you'll be ten steps ahead of this past project. They key is building it with 'like' minded players. It looks like you're off to a terrific start. :thu:

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