music in cities not named New York or LA

I'm having a little trouble here. I just moved back home to beautiful/sunny Pittsburgh Pa. The past four years I've been living and gigging in NYC where I also studied at The Collective. For financial reasons I moved home. I'm trying to get into the music scene here in Pittsburgh, but I'm slowly finding there isn't much of one. I mean, I'm sure there is one but I don't know where it's hiding. A simple craigslist search will yield 45 yr old guys looking to start a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band or 17 yr old kids with a heading that reads "must be blast beat proficient."
Given I don't know anyone here anymore I don't have any "ins" and I don't know where to get a name for myself. I know this is all really vague and can be a blanket question for all music business but what do you suggest I do? It just doesn't seem like there is a culture of "working musicians" here. I was thinking of maybe trying to find some open jams and sitting in. All I know is the musician classifieds, craigslist and elsewhere, are not doing it for me. I just want to be creative and find like-minded individuals, but it seems creative here means something completely different. Help!
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
I'm having a little trouble here. I just moved back home to beautiful/sunny Pittsburgh Pa. The past four years I've been living and gigging in NYC where I also studied at The Collective. For financial reasons I moved home. I'm trying to get into the music scene here in Pittsburgh, but I'm slowly finding there isn't much of one. I mean, I'm sure there is one but I don't know where it's hiding. A simple craigslist search will yield 45 yr old guys looking to start a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band or 17 yr old kids with a heading that reads "must be blast beat proficient."
Given I don't know anyone here anymore I don't have any "ins" and I don't know where to get a name for myself. I know this is all really vague and can be a blanket question for all music business but what do you suggest I do? It just doesn't seem like there is a culture of "working musicians" here. I was thinking of maybe trying to find some open jams and sitting in. All I know is the musician classifieds, craigslist and elsewhere, are not doing it for me. I just want to be creative and find like-minded individuals, but it seems creative here means something completely different. Help!
Go check out some open mics (try www.openmike.com if you can't find any yourself), and see what's going on out there. Talk to the people there, who are in the scene, and get some recommendations. I have made my way down to Pittsburgh a bunch of times, and there is a very alive and vibrant music scene there. In my few short visits, I have always managed to get on stage at open jazz jam sessions and such. Just keep looking. I had actually thought about moving to Pittsburgh because of the scene there, but given that I am a Ravens fan and hate the Steelers, Pens, and Pirates, I thought that would suck.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I can relate to this man. Just getting back into things after a 5 year hiatus where I got married, had a kid etc etc. I'm also stuck at that stage where the guys I know who are still gigging are well established and have little need for any new group members or they are like me and weighed down with work/family commitments and are content with remaining firmly in the 'hobbyist' category.

Whilst I'm under no illusions of making a career out of music anymore, it would be nice to have something a little more regular than a jam session once every couple of months for the sake of nostalgia.

I guess we gotta just start back at the bottom of the pecking order and do the open jam nights and the like and aim for a bit of exposure from there...who know's, it may lead to something.

I don't envy you, but at the end of the day I'd rather approach this from Pittsburgh Pa. than Melbourne Aust!!! At this stage, I can't blast beat and don't really wanna learn, but if I get offered a Skynyrd cover band...I'm all over it.

All the very best of luck on your quest......cheers.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
PM a member here by the name of ROCKINRIDER. Besides being involved with hundreds of drummers at annual gatherings he owns horses and half of Pennsylvania, I think.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
The past four years I've been living and gigging in NYC where I also studied at The Collective. For financial reasons I moved home. I'm trying to get into the music scene here in Pittsburgh, but I'm slowly finding there isn't much of one.
There are certainly different scenes in different cities, and one big city might be good for playing jazz (such as NYC) while another has virtually no jazz scene at all (such as L.A.) The same applies to any genre and any city.

But your closing statement: "I just want to be creative and find like-minded individuals, but it seems creative here means something completely different." tells me you're looking for more progressive gigs in a city where there's just not much happening. It's the same for most cities: working bands are playing oldies, blues, country, and possibly funk, but there are almost no paying jazz or fusion gigs.

So, there's not much you can do to find gigs that barely exist.

But that doesn't mean you should necessarily resign yourself to genres you don't enjoy... you just need to search harder, or create a band yourself. There are undoubtedly enough other players in Pbgh who don't want to play standard bar fare, and placing ads in music stores, on Craigslist, etc is a good start for finding them.

There's a musician's union there, right? Joining won't help you get gigs, but you will gain access to the members directory, the ability to place ads in the union hall message board, and in their local newspaper (or website.)

Maybe you can host a local jam - propose it to a bar that currently doesn't have one - and start attracting players for the genres you prefer. You'll soon find out how many locals like what you like.

Basically, just network like crazy.

Or, learn to like Mustang Sally, Brown Eyed Girl, Tulsa Time, etc.

Good luck,

Bermuda
 
So, there's not much you can do to find gigs that barely exist.
You're absolutely right, Bermuda. I don't really have a problem with playing bars in a cover band. I will say it's not ideal. I guess I was spoiled in NYC. I got to study with some of the best drummers alive while at the collective, learn every style and technique, play as a sub for a pop star, only to be rewarded with......Mustang Sally.
I've yet to check out the open jazz jams like mrchattr suggested so maybe I'm giving the burgh some undo grief. I'm not looking for any far out avant garde stuff just a little musicality. For right now I suppose I'll take what I can get.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I'm not looking for any far out avant garde stuff just a little musicality. For right now I suppose I'll take what I can get.
That's a healthy perspective, and FWIW, 90% of the gigs out there don't need much more than 2 & 4 from the drummer. That's neither bad or sad, it just is. Actually, about 95% of the gigs are that way. Just kidding... it's more like 99%.

But hang in there, and play because you enjoy sitting behind the drums, not because you feel you need to express yourself more than the next guy. With any luck, you'll get paid to play what you like, but embrace music in any form. It's all good. Just dig the drums and you'll have a good time no matter what the other guys in the band are playing.

With all the styles I get to play, I am often asked what's my favorite style. My answer is "any music that has drums." Basically, I just like playing the drums, so I'm happy regardless of the genre.

Bermuda
 
:::UPDATE:::
So I've been asked to play in three different projects over the course of the week. None of them are cover bands! The one I'm pretty stoked about is going to be a 3 piece consisting of myself, an upright bass, and a guitarist who plays an 8 string baritone guitar. Kind of Wayne Krantz-like funky/jazz action. I'll keep you posted. Thanks for everyone's kind words.
 
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