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Old 05-07-2017, 10:01 PM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Interesting gig for me...

Last night, I did a very interesting local gig. I say interesting for a few reasons:

This was a group of players I've worked with before, though not regularly, so arrangements and song selections kept me on my toes. Not a big deal, I often sit-in and it can be a trial by fire. But I played a LOT of songs I'd never played before, including venerable hits such as Billie Jean, Conga (Gloria Estefan), I Will Survive, Smooth, YMCA and more. Somehow it all sounded cohesive and rehearsed, even though we didn't. In fact, I didn't even have a song list prior to showing up.

The event was a cotillion, a coming-out/presentation of the best & brightest (& richest) high-schoolers from a nearby upper-class area. Very old-school. When each student was announced, we played a song that they chose. Basically, we played them on, then off again, like an awards presentation. I had a song-book, and the leader - who's done this gig for 20 years - cued the starts and stops. I'm used to a conductor, but I had to really be on my toes. I didn't know a lot of the chosen songs, although given the ages of the students, there were some interesting classics... Beyond The Sea, L.O.V.E., At The Hop, Bumble Boogie, Midnight Hour...

After 10 or 11 students were announced, they did a formal dance to the Blue Danube. The girls waltzed with their fathers, the boys with their mothers. Leading into the dance, we played I Could Have Danced All Night, which I had last played 43 years ago in my high school presentation of My Fair Lady. The exact upbeat part came right back to me as if it was yesterday.

Following the formalities and dinner, they all danced to the band & a DJ. It was interesting to see that during the DJ sets, the parents also danced and knew the words to current hits. Of course, many of the parents were probably in the 40-45 age range, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised that they're closer to their kids' music than I am.

Apart from the new experiences on this gig, one thing struck me, and it's something I've talked about before here. When we got around to playing Brown Eyed Girl, during dinner when everyone was seated, the kids - high-schoolers - were swaying, singing, and eventually waving their arms! They knew and dug a song that was a hit 30 years before they were born. That's not really a shock, but it is a reminder why cover bands have to play such overplayed songs like Brown Eyed Girl, Mustang Sally, Chain Of Fools, Proud Mary, etc. People, old and young, like them!

The singer is a gal I'd worked with a few times over the last 30 years, and she was impressed with me being able to sound good without any prior knowledge of the material. She works a lot in town, and I think I'll be doing work with her this year.

As a formal attire event, the band also had to wear tuxes. I've done precious few formal gigs and have never owned a tux, but a nice black suit, bow tie, and nice shoes did the trick. I don't normally play all bundled=up like that, but I definitely had my mind on the playing. It was a long gig, stretched over 6 hours with just a few breaks, but with all of the songs on my plate, I wasn't thinking about that either.

Oh yeah, and I made good money, which for an L.A. cover gig is the most interesting of all!

Bermuda
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:13 PM
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opentune opentune is offline
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

A great point about the 'overplayed' songs. Many patrons will always be waiting for them to be played....again.
I wonder if classical musicians ever say to one another: "oh man, we're doing Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik again! "?
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:20 PM
60's Drummer 60's Drummer is offline
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

No charts at all? Flying by the seat of your pants? Always at least had reading material - except for country and western shake hands and play.

Ah ... reminds me of the good ol daze ...

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:26 PM
60's Drummer 60's Drummer is offline
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

Quote:
Originally Posted by opentune View Post
I wonder if classical musicians ever say to one another: "oh man, we're doing Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik again! "?
Yep. Called 'em the war horses. 1812 overture probably tops the list - sure leaves your ears ringing too.
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:33 PM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

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Originally Posted by 60's Drummer View Post
No charts at all? Flying by the seat of your pants?
Well, I had a binder of rough charts for the song excerpts to play the kids on & off, but that was of little use to me except for having the titles in order as the kids were introduced.

Also had a set list for the after dinner set & after dinner dancing, but it wasn't followed at all, what a surprise!

Bermuda
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:43 PM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

A few more notes:

We also had a trumpet player, which is rare for me. He played the melody during the introductions, no vocals.

The keyboard player's daughter was in an Al video 25 years ago, and he was on set!

The host/MC of the event was Bobby Burgess, best known for the original Mickey Mouse Club (remember "Bobby!"?) and later the Lawrence Welk Show. His wife is one of Welk show accordion-player Myron Floren's daughters, and my wife is close friends with another of the daughters. I was going to remind Bobby of that when I said hi, but he beat me to the punch - "my sister-in-law is close friends with your wife!" He's also a big Al fan. :)

It was a very rare downtown L.A. gig for me, and the first time I'd ever played or been in the Biltmore Hotel. Parking was $47.50! Although the band got a break: $20 (for which we got cash to pay it.)

Yep, lots of firsts and interesting stuff on that gig. It's already memorable!

Bermuda
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Old 05-08-2017, 03:45 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

Crumbs, six hours is a long gig. I know time flies when you're having fun, but having few breaks over the course of an extended period like that makes for one long session.

Must say, nice digs you guys played at!
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Old 05-08-2017, 05:14 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

Quote:
Originally Posted by opentune View Post
A great point about the 'overplayed' songs. Many patrons will always be waiting for them to be played....again.
I wonder if classical musicians ever say to one another: "oh man, we're doing Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik again! "?
Nope. Not ever. We take the gig. A lot of pieces are played again and again through out a career, it's because they're popular with the audience.
It's the same thing with pop music. I've done pop bar gigs and watched people sing along to all the stuff we covered.
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Old 05-08-2017, 06:02 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

Interesting and memorable gig for sure.

Btw Bermuda, what snare(s) did you decide to use for this "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-gig?"
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Old 05-08-2017, 07:33 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

What an interesting gig - a bit different from your run of the mill pub band.

Back in the day I played some of these kinds of shows filling in as a trombonist in a big band, sight reading charts, playing for the guest singer/comedian/magician without any rehearsals, dressed in a tuxedo in the Hilton Ballroom or similar.

Glad to hear these shows still exist. Thanks for sharing.
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  #11  
Old 05-08-2017, 07:53 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

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Originally Posted by R2112 View Post
Btw Bermuda, what snare(s) did you decide to use for this "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-gig?"
My 8x14 Black Beauty has been on all my gigs in the last month or so. :)
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Old 05-08-2017, 05:45 PM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

Not to be too sycophantic Bermuda, but the ability to handle THAT GIG is pretty much exactly what I would aspire to as a drummer if I hadn't settled for the day job and dropped the sticks for 30 years.

Congratulations on getting the call, nailing it, and enjoying the experience!
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Old 05-08-2017, 06:46 PM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

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Originally Posted by PlayTheSong View Post
Not to be too sycophantic Bermuda, but the ability to handle THAT GIG is pretty much exactly what I would aspire to as a drummer if I hadn't settled for the day job and dropped the sticks for 30 years.
Thanks, but no reason you can't keep playing while doing the 9-5. I did for many years, and neither pursuit slowed the other down. I had my regular paycheck, and I was probably busier with music than at any other time in my life. But balancing music and a career is another story, another thread, and coincidentally, another DRUM! article coming up later in the year. :)

Bermuda
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Old 05-09-2017, 12:23 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

LA gig? Money? In the same sentence? What is this witchcraft of which you speak?

As for those old songs that everyone knows, they are the survivors of their time, while the majority are forgotten. I suspect that those drum parts stick with you in the same way that the songs stick with the audience. Possibly part of the cultural DNA.

Sounds like a great gig. More of them should be like that.
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Old 05-09-2017, 01:43 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

Not sure if this is a good question Bermuda but I'm wondering if there are particular learnings, experiences, know-how, etc., gleaned over the course of your career that contributed to you being able to crush this gig in the way you did?

Thanks!
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:12 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

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Originally Posted by spleeeeen View Post
Not sure if this is a good question Bermuda but I'm wondering if there are particular learnings, experiences, know-how, etc., gleaned over the course of your career that contributed to you being able to crush this gig in the way you did?

Thanks!
Nothing in particular, it's all cumulative knowledge from the experience of 40+ years of gigging, from making mistakes, to learning what consistently works. It all gets logged right here (pointing to my head,) and I'm still learning stuff just about every time I play. For example, on this gig, I got slightly comfy with one of the songs, looked at the bass player, and took my eye off the leader/conductor just long enough to miss his end cue. It brought me right back to the reality that I had to pay strict attention, and I didn't miss another cue all night. What I learned was, never take my eye off the ball. It was the only mistake I made all night, even with a ton of unfamiliar material. But it was a logistical mistake, and I really do know better.

Bermuda
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:26 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
My 8x14 Black Beauty has been on all my gigs in the last month or so. :)
Very nice :)
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Old 05-09-2017, 05:02 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
Nothing in particular, it's all cumulative knowledge from the experience of 40+ years of gigging, from making mistakes, to learning what consistently works. It all gets logged right here (pointing to my head,) and I'm still learning stuff just about every time I play. For example, on this gig, I got slightly comfy with one of the songs, looked at the bass player, and took my eye off the leader/conductor just long enough to miss his end cue. It brought me right back to the reality that I had to pay strict attention, and I didn't miss another cue all night. What I learned was, never take my eye off the ball. It was the only mistake I made all night, even with a ton of unfamiliar material. But it was a logistical mistake, and I really do know better.

Bermuda
Thanks Jon. I enjoyed reading about your experience and I can imagine this gig being a very satisfying piece of work for you.
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Old 05-09-2017, 05:18 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

Re: Flying by the seat of your pants..

Really great story from the cockpit Jon...

You gotta feel good when it's the last song and it all went well.

It's nice when you can do that all night and not get tripped up (noticeably)

It's like...I be the man!
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Old 05-09-2017, 05:48 AM
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Default Re: Interesting gig for me...

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Re: Flying by the seat of your pants..

Really great story from the cockpit Jon...

You gotta feel good when it's the last song and it all went well.

It's nice when you can do that all night and not get tripped up (noticeably)

It's like...I be the man!
Thanks, I was rather chuffed! The thing is, if I do this particular gig again next time, it will be mostly different songs. I'd be starting from scratch, just as I did the other night. I might petition the leader for a list of the walk-on/off songs, that was the hardest part for me!

Bermuda
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