[thechat] pease porridge hot

Canfield, Joel JCanfield at PacAdvantage.org
Mon Nov 28 17:57:56 CST 2005

Silence on thechat is nine days old, inspiring thoughts of children's
poems which probably have frightening political and religious

So, any of you actively in a band or other musical performance
organization? I'm between bands (and actively looking), and being new to
this whole thing (two years) I'm curious if it's always as disorganized
and painful as my experiences indicate.

I'm not a world-class bass-player by anyone's standards, but I'm not
bad, and I sing. I have the impression I'm pretty easy to get along
with, though I can be a bit of a music Nazi. I'm willing to play all
kinds of stuff, but I can't be in a band where my opinions have no

Thus far, I've been in three bands and almost hooked up with another guy
two months ago. First band played one gig, two weeks after I joined (not
coincidentally, two weeks after I picked up the bass after a five-year
hiatus. Talk about cramming . . . ) and never played again. We practiced
four to six hours every Saturday for a year before I gave up. Learned
lots of tunes and got my technique polished a little, but I wanted to
perform, not just practice.

Second band (my own) I got fired. By the lead guitarist I hired. I had
called to fire him, and he got the jump and fired me instead (after
telling me how impressed he was with my Paul McCartney impression on the
bass, he fired me 'cause I "just wasn't ready for the stage." Hm.
Anyway, it was funny being fired from my own band.) He was a brilliant
musician, but, shall we say, challenging as to personality. The other
members of the band have made it clear they'll play with me any time I
want them, and they're not working with him, so I don't think it was all

Third band, the guy who was apparently the ipso facto leader was never,
ever pleased with anything we did. First time we *ever* tried "Jumping
Jack Flash" I thought we nailed it, hard. Amazed myself how
instinctively I gravitated to Wyman's angry pulsing 'hanging on the B'
bassline, and the rest of the band (including a drummer who was there
for the first time) really did well. Music Nazi's comment was "Well, if
we can't do better than that, I guess we'll drop it from the set list."
No matter what we played, it was never good enough, but he could never
offer a definitive explanation why. And he'd send out setlists with
songs for all of us to learn, and we'd spend hours practicing them to
his dissatisfaction, and then when anyone would suggest playing them at
a gig he'd say it wasn't ready. I finally gave up.

Met some older guys putting together a country band; great twang stuff
which I love to play. We practiced twice and were ready to gig, and then
the drummer called and said they had another bass player who also played
all the other instruments, so they wanted to use him. Found out later
from this guy's son that they'd wanted the other guy all along, but they
wanted a bass player to practice with until he was free. Oh well.

Last guitarist I almost worked with is a great songwriter; I think maybe
he'll make it someday if he ever gets his songs recorded. It felt funny,
though; every time we talked, he told me about yet another business
partner who'd taken him for everything he owned. He kept saying that
every business partner he'd ever had, cheated him. But he kept pushing
me to sign a contract, you know, just to protect us both from
'misunderstandings.' I've never signed a contract just to gig with
someone, and it seemed odd that he was in such a hurry to bind us
together when his business ventures have been so unhappy. To be honest,
if this was a movie I would have recognized him as the 'nice guy who
turns out to be a con artist' character.

So, what's it like where you live? Are bands in a constant state of
churn? I know one band here in Sacramento that's been together for 19
years. Only personnel change was the bass player leaving three years
ago, and the two guitarists just take turns. My favorite local band, the
core trio has been together for 10 years, two of them for another five
years before that. These guys are like family to each other.

I keep thinking that music should be fun, and if I have to hang out with
people I don't get along with, or play music I don't like, or practice
forever without ever actually performing for an audience, there has to
be another way.

So, are you supposed to lower your expectations just to be able to play,
or do you keep refining who and what you are until the magic happens and
you fall into the right tub of butter? Are all the good players with
amenable personalities already committed? Where do I take an online
personality profile to see if, really, it's just me?

semi-bored and semi-dreaming


More information about the thechat mailing list