Preparing as a Substitute Musician

I have a band called, Rock & Roll Fantasy. It is a five-member Hard Rock outfit and we have a gig at an event called Day In the Park. Day In the Park is an annual event that is held in a local park (hence the name) with many vendors and organizations having displays. I have played that last two or three years as a solo performer; this is the first time with a group.

Our bassist is unavailable for the date because he has requested the day off for a gig we have September 29. So, we needed a substitute bassist. Luckily, I know a great guy and bassist, Ken Harris who was gracious enough to agree to play with us for this one date.

We had our first rehearsal with Ken on Tuesday, August 28 and he did a splendid job; especially since we just called him a week or so ago.

This week, I was asked to sub for a guitarist in an oldies rock band called, the Olde Stuff Band.

Here is a video:

The gig is this Saturday and the setlist was just confirmed today. The songs are not difficult, but I will certainly be taking a good bit of time to get comfortable with them. One thing that I find to be a bit of a challenge is playing tunes in keys other than what is in my head. Also, sometimes the key changes are extreme enough to make big changes in how things sit on the guitar.

One example of an extreme key change would be Old Time Rock and Roll, which is originally in F#. This group plays the tune in the key of D. In the key of F#, the first chord is on strings six and five, with the second and third chords on strings five and four. To play in the key of D, all of this is in reverse.

This is where knowing your entire instrument and having a solid understanding of keys is imperative. Eventually, I take all my students through the process of developing the ability to play any tune in any key. It is very important if your desire is to play either a wide range of music, or if you will be playing with vocalists to be able to play in any key.

Short charts are also very important; having everything charted in some way definitely keeps one’s head from exploding trying to remember all the tunes and the new keys.

I will write a post-gig entry to let you know how I think I fared,

…off we go!



4 thoughts on “Preparing as a Substitute Musician”

  1. I appreciate your sharing…I was having a tough time remembering the A7sus today…almost emailed you, but think I found it. I am glad to know that even the pros get discombobulated sometimes. Maybe it is not dementia for me after all. Here’s to hope…! Good luck and have fun!

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