Playing gigs you don't inherently enjoy?

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
This is going the same confused route lots of similar 'pro' discussions seem to end up going - sigh.
I will attempt to explain.
I went to music college at 16. Most of the other students were 18 and more advanced in their playing than me. I was lucky enough to end up in a couple of student bands and I learned so much by having to keep up with the better players than me. I mean musically, creatively keep up. I'm not talking about how fast you can play or how complex the material can be.
You think (for example) there is no difference playing a blues gig at a local bar, or finding yourself backing BB King at Monterey jazz festival?
Of course it's a different experience, the expectations are much higher, usually set by the band leader and you don't want to be the one looking lame.
There are incredibly skilled, musical amateurs and incredibly lazy and slack professionals. If I'm playing with whoever, and they don't think it's important to play for the song, or play with dynamics, or listen to each other - in the end I'm just wasting my energy and I would rather play with people who do all those (very musical) things.
I am totally happy to play cover songs in front of five people for $20, but I don't want to waste my time if no one else in the band can be bothered to be 'professional', treat the music with respect.
It is really zero to do with credentials, or pros vs amateurs - it's just about spending your energy playing worthwhile music with good players.
Why that implies I sometimes don't put in 1000% is a mystery to me.
When you are learning you think you are playing to your best ability, until someone more experienced points out what you could do better - that's what I'm talking about. As I'm always learning, I always prefer to play with people better than me. They can be a plumber by day who just happens to know more about funk, or latin music than me.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
theres only two gigs i'd err and umm about doing are a beatles tribute band and an oasis tribute band, as i dont really care for either of them, i'd play a couple songs by them in a covers band but wouldnt want to be in tribute bands to them,


other than that im game for playing pretty much anything :)

same here for me, but it would be The Doors and The Grateful Dead...can't stand either one of those bands.
 

s1212z

Well-known member
This is going the same confused route lots of similar 'pro' discussions seem to end up going - sigh.
I will attempt to explain.
I went to music college at 16. Most of the other students were 18 and more advanced in their playing than me. I was lucky enough to end up in a couple of student bands and I learned so much by having to keep up with the better players than me. I mean musically, creatively keep up. I'm not talking about how fast you can play or how complex the material can be.
You think (for example) there is no difference playing a blues gig at a local bar, or finding yourself backing BB King at Monterey jazz festival?
Of course it's a different experience, the expectations are much higher, usually set by the band leader and you don't want to be the one looking lame.
There are incredibly skilled, musical amateurs and incredibly lazy and slack professionals. If I'm playing with whoever, and they don't think it's important to play for the song, or play with dynamics, or listen to each other - in the end I'm just wasting my energy and I would rather play with people who do all those (very musical) things.
I am totally happy to play cover songs in front of five people for $20, but I don't want to waste my time if no one else in the band can be bothered to be 'professional', treat the music with respect.
It is really zero to do with credentials, or pros vs amateurs - it's just about spending your energy playing worthwhile music with good players.
Why that implies I sometimes don't put in 1000% is a mystery to me.
When you are learning you think you are playing to your best ability, until someone more experienced points out what you could do better - that's what I'm talking about. As I'm always learning, I always prefer to play with people better than me. They can be a plumber by day who just happens to know more about funk, or latin music than me.
Thanks for sharing your experience even if you didn't want to spend the time writing that post. Just for clarity, I'm not comparing Steve Gadd's 1000% to you, myself or anyone for that matter...I just find his perspective inspirational and something to aspire to no matter the context. And with that, a good drummer can make lesser players sounds great, that is a learning experience in itself that is worthy of musical growth that has value in my opinion. But in the end, we all choose what and where to invest our time and energy - had I choose a professional route, I know my choices would have been quite different...I was only alluding this may be a difference in perspective, or not. I've been lucky that most people I have had musical interactions with, music was their primary focus and so very much benefited from the same points you highlighted.

One such personal example of playing w/ inexperience players: I had a musical project with someone that zero music theory knowledge, for simplicity sake, in the vein of Brian Eno "non-musician" but could not play a chord or an interval or even say what a time signature was. I could have easily blown it off into superior/inferior musicianship here but it would have a big miss on a creative opportunity and his work with modular synth and sound sculpting was brilliant. He happened to be a fantastic painter so his approach of form, contrast, space and composition was already on par with any mature artist I've come across...maybe more so. I've also 'jammed' with non percussion friends with percussion, though lacked technique, had great ideas on form and had better listenings skills than some experienced musicians I've played with (!). All I'm saying, personally, I've had some nice surprises w/ lesser experienced musicians that ended being important musical lessons. And no, it wasn't like playing with John McLaughlin but great in it's own way nonetheless. I also remember Matt Wilson saying some of recent drum ideas were coming his young children with their fresh take on hitting resources (at that time, and was dead serious). The examples go on...

Not trying to disrespect in my post, just a trying to have a fruitful discussion even if differing opinions which is perfectly fine. Cheers!
 

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
You are seeng this far too simplistically.
I'm talking about spending years playing in local bands with people who are less serious about growing, happy to make up the numbers on stage, too lazy to try and learn dynamics, don't want to learn songs from different genres. The reality is there are way more of them than fantastic painters and experts in modular synthesis etc, who offer a great learning experience outside of pure technical skill.
My point is not about 'chops' or musical theory, it's about being willing to place yourself in tough situations by taking gigs above your level, or working with people above your level. Which doesn't preclude working with ANYONE you can learn something from.
Of course, someone who can only play one chord on guitar can also be a fantastic songwriter you can learn from, or a great arranger, record producer.
 
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Chris Whitten

Well-known member
My last on this....
In the context of 'playing gigs you don't enjoy', I was trying to make a positive point about accepting demanding gigs, and being prepared to get out of your comfort zone. I have done difficult gigs where the artist or producer kept telling me what I needed to work on. I have done jobs where I didn't particularly like the music and a couple of the other band members were not very nice people.
When I look back on those times I realise how valuable those situations were in getting me to where I am now.
You are trying to turn it into a negative about musical snobbery and implying I look down on people.
That was not my point.
 
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s1212z

Well-known member
You are trying to turn it into a negative about musical snobbery and implying I look down on people.
Hi Chris, I'll say it once again: I meant no disrespect in my posts nor was anything a personal dig...its just about trying to have fruitful discussion that was topical to OP's question (not personal). So when I said Steve Gadd plays 1000% or anti-jazz snob, I meant exactly that....not hurling anything that you are the opposite nor did I ever say so. I'm not sure how much more I can blatantly say it. I've seen some of your videos before and I've enjoyed them and have a musical resume few others do, peace and goodwill w/ no intent to harm here with happy drumming moving forward.

You are seeng this far too simplistically.
Maybe I am seeing too simply...honestly, I don't see much to disagree on. Taking gigs 'above your level' is a great, if not ideal...I want this. But just to clarify what I meant yet again, 'above your level' is not always easy to quantify and can be highly subjective; given the subjectively, it can entirely revolve around the player's perspective rather than the experience itself for musical growth...and musical growth can come from surprising places, even these so-called lower level musical projects, that is all I meant. You are mentioning something highly specific like bar bands that are too lazy to learn dynamics or other genres and I get it...many have been there and not always a great time. Whether this country gig is a great choice or not, I have no idea but I was inspired by the notion that Gadd would take on all challenges and would be surprised if 'above or below my level' is even part of his vocabulary. But I'm not Steve Gadd and would be great to take an mediocre bar band into a better band like he probably can, something to always aspire towards on some of these lack luster gigs and find the challenge within the music. This is all I meant.

I see no need to keep restating the same post over & over again so I'll leave at this for my last comment in this discussion to not clog the thread more than necessary. And just to be preemptive, there is no personal implication on the above, it's just my perspective where others can agree or disagree however they see fit.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
I'm talking about spending years playing in local bands with people who are less serious about growing, happy to make up the numbers on stage, too lazy to try and learn dynamics, don't want to learn songs from different genres.
My last two gigs were with members who did not listen to any rehearsal recordings, did not listen to the original recordings (WTF?), came to rehearsal asking what the key was then asking what the chords were. Then, when I counted off a tune at the tempo of the recording they complained that the tempo was “off”. 🤬

This type of bandmate is not interested in improving their music, nor the music of the band. They are not interested in a better experience for the paying audience either. They are not interested in anything other than themselves. It is a behavior I don’t appreciate and don’t tolerate (my time is better spent elsewhere).
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
My last two gigs were with members who did not listen to any rehearsal recordings, did not listen to the original recordings (WTF?), came to rehearsal asking what the key was then asking what the chords were. Then, when I counted off a tune at the tempo of the recording they complained that the tempo was “off”. 🤬

This type of bandmate is not interested in improving their music, nor the music of the band. They are not interested in a better experience for the paying audience either. They are not interested in anything other than themselves. It is a behavior I don’t appreciate and don’t tolerate (my time is better spent elsewhere).

I have this problem in my originals band. Every week, we have to teach things to the guit player...again...he never listens to the recordings we make of rehearsal. Always wants to do that on the spot at the current rehearsal. When we start a song, it is always "too fast"...even if it is at the speed of the recording we just listened to....
 

Otto

Platinum Member
As many different musicians do what they do for as many reasons.

Pay is primarily to get someone to do something they would likely have not done in the first place.

When talking music, I decided long ago I wanted the most from myself that I could get...so I pay myself in satisfaction and leave money making to something with less ties to what is really important to me.

I spend much of my days, like everyone else, doing things i don't want to do so I can have a place to live and food to eat. Great if you can play drums behind something you do not like and be happy...even better if you can like everything presented for you to play. I cannot...or will not?

I actually see myself as quite fortunate in that I can do as I please musically and say what I really mean instead of having to be concerned that I might offend someone and damage my income source...and I make more per hour than I would playing music(most likely).

I refuse to spend my musical satisfaction for money...not that I denigrate anyone for making money playing anything...but I do recognize that some things in my life are too important to me to sell.

No, I will not work again with projects I don't believe in just to make some money. No, I will not look down on anyone who does!
 
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Paul Blood

Junior Member

Playing gigs you don't inherently enjoy?​

Yes, and it's been that way for close to 45 years and I feel like it's made me a better drummer.

As a youngster I would have loved to be playing Led Zeppelin, Rush, the Police... but I got into the LA casuals circuit. These were manly "pick up" bands that played at private events and nice homes. The cocktail/dinner hour was bosa nova, and swinging standards mostly with brushes, and as the night went on, we do more back beat oriented styles. We normally had to wear tuxes and got paid well.

Later, I played on cruise ship lounge band, that catered to the ballroom dancing crowd. Tangos, waltz, cha-cha-cha, mambo, paso double, samba, swing ....

After moving to Texas, I got gigs with polka based Tejano bands as well as the regional Mexican circuit. Along the way, I've done salsa, cumbia, bachata, merengue,. Fairly recently I worked with an Asian band that does both Chinese and American pop music at both community and private events. I had no idea that theres’s a big market for that here in the states! I did a small tour with playing drums with a DJ/ rap artist. 'I wasn't into all the profanity and misogynistic messages, but the pay and work conditions were good. I've played services at Jewish synagogues and a bunch of musical theater pit work as well. Currently I'm playing drums at a mega evangelical church even though I am a Catholic. None of this stuff was ever under my radar, and often times it's stuff I would never seek out for my own personal listening pleasure. In all most all cases I've gained at least an appreciation for new music and insights into other cultures/life styles. I'd say if you want to work, you have to keep an open mind and be willing to step out of your comfort zone. But whatever the style is, it's all about the groove!
 
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Chris Whitten

Well-known member
I was inspired by the notion that Gadd would take on all challenges and would be surprised if 'above or below my level' is even part of his vocabulary.
And it isn't in mine, but when you find yourself in a situation where you are being pulled down by people who don't care about the music - it's time to extract yourself.
I think the reference to Gadd is confusing. He has virtually ONLY been playing with the world's greatest musicians for 60 years.
I will play with anyone for a short shift. I played n many pop albums in the 80's and often learned something. I don't think Steve Gadd would want to spend a month on the road with people who aren't as passionate as he is about the performance. Once you get to our age it's 1) exhausting and 2) we have limited working years left. You don't want to waste it.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
I've been offered a gig for a modern country band. Never once on the last 20 years have I thought this be a thing for me. I don't listen to it so I don't know it or it's culture.

The band is one of the top 3 modern country acts in the area. Opening up for Toby Keith, Nascar, and seems to have a decent following.

Ran through a few sets and it's not terrible. Most of the songs are the same (the money beat) and at least it is upbeat. I did enjoy most of the songs as they grow on me. I've only done cover bands of classic rock that I grew up on, or original projects for my own enjoyment.

Anyone take a gig that was a complete 180 from what you're used to and either do it for the money or grew to like it?

Yes.. 1984 I was offered a full-time gig in a local very popular country band. Never listened to it in my life until that moment.

I reluctantly took it which turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made musically.

Gigged 4 nights a week for almost 5 years. Was paid well, rarely ever played dives and since I was the youngest in the band, I was truly taught the ropes of what it meant to be a professional musician (enjoy the good and how to handle the bad).

It allowed me to teach during the day/evenings and take almost any side project I was offered and wanted.

It expanded my horizons in almost every way imaginable.

eta: I was JUST graduating high school so I was still under the legal age of drinking. My parents often had to write a waiver for me to get in.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
same here for me, but it would be The Doors and The Grateful Dead...can't stand either one of those bands.

A friend of mine fronts a local Grateful Dead tribute band, and I filled in for about a year. That gig had its easy moments, but there were some surprisingly prog tunes, bordering on fusion at times. The band was good! I enjoyed it way more than I expected to.

The Doors? I’m with you on that!
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
I've been offered a gig for a modern country band. Never once on the last 20 years have I thought this be a thing for me. I don't listen to it so I don't know it or it's culture.

The band is one of the top 3 modern country acts in the area. Opening up for Toby Keith, Nascar, and seems to have a decent following.

Ran through a few sets and it's not terrible. Most of the songs are the same (the money beat) and at least it is upbeat. I did enjoy most of the songs as they grow on me. I've only done cover bands of classic rock that I grew up on, or original projects for my own enjoyment.

Anyone take a gig that was a complete 180 from what you're used to and either do it for the money or grew to like it?
I recall holding my nose to learn "Party in the USA" for a wedding gig, and realizing that it is a vey nicely crafted song. Go figure.
 
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