Tag Archives: drummers

Band Members II

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working my first theatrical production for the Renaissance Theatre in Lynchburg, Virginia.  The gig was: Always, Patsy Cline.

Now before you think that playing this music was a learning experience let me tell you that I have been listening to all sorts of ‘Country’ music since I was a child.  I really felt at home playing the music and the folks on the stand with me played so well that I was really comfortable.

No, these were not professional musicians with years of performance experience.  Frankly, these guys probably had the least experience either with this music or performing in general compared to other player with whom I have worked.

The drummer had not played in years and acquired a set of drums just for this gig.  The bassist was just getting back into playing after quite a number of years off.  The ‘Rhythm’ guitarist was a student and had probably just played a couple of times in church.

These guys were preparing for what ended up being a six week, three nights per week engagement.  This was after a number of weeks of rehearsal.  We were not playing in between scenes; we were in the scenes and sometimes the focus of the program.  I even had a line myself: ‘How ‘bout a Texas song?’

Wow!  I pulled it off beautifully every night.

Sometimes my timing wasn’t so great though.  I probably had a case of the nerves.

Anyway, these guys did such a wonderful job and with such little experience up to that point that I wanted to mention that one never knows who will do the best work.  It is important no matter how far along you are in your career as a musician, to take the time to find out if someone can do the job.  A dedicated, moderately talented person will usually outshine the ‘I am so good I do not need to practice’ type.  Just like the hare in the ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ story.

Remember to include yourself when you are considering who is capable of doing a gig.  I have given away gigs before that I did not think I was ready to do and I really kicked myself about it later.



Band Members

Over the years I have needed to choose band members for many different gigs.  The first band I was in, I joined after it had been formed for a while.  I was 20 years old and I had been playing guitar for about two years.  It was a southern rock/classic rock band and I hadn’t really played much of that then.  What I learned was that I cannot expect everyone to learn at the same pace.  I also learned that there is a great difference in ability between those who learn an instrument just for fun, and those who are interested in becoming professional musicians.  That difference is time.

With this group, we had to hire new drummers more than any other member.  As a matter of fact, the vocalist, bassist and I left the original group that we were in together and found another guitarist and drummer to join us.  The guitarist stayed for the life of the band, so the drummer saga starts here.

You know how during a song the drummer will roll across a number of drums then come back in at the beginning of a section?  Well, the first drummer would always end up backward: kick, snare, kick, snare, roll, snare, kick, snare…  That used to drive us nuts.

The second drummer was one that I had chosen.  Oops.  I chose him because I thought that he played interesting things when we auditioned him.  One note about auditioning other players; give them a week or two to learn some of the songs your group does.  Then, setup a rehearsal and see how it goes.  What you are looking for is: did this person learn the tunes, or are they just following along poorly?  Did they show up in time to setup all of their stuff to be ready at hit time?  Are they sober?  Did they bring their girlfriend or boyfriend?  Did they bring all their friends?  Did you have to go pick them up?  Do you have to take them home and stop at four different places on the way?

I learned all of the above warning signs from the same person.  Live and learn.

The third drummer I met at a ‘Come be a millionaire selling our air purifier (vacuum cleaner) to people who cannot afford it’ pep rally.  He is a great guy named John who moved away.  I arranged a meeting with John, and I took our bass player to hear him play.  Well, the first scary moment was when we asked him to play he picks up two trimmed tree branches.  He picked up two trimmed tree branches!

Let me tell you, drumsticks, tree branches, chopsticks, whatever; John showed us what we were missing in our group: time, tempo and feel!  Wow!  You’re Hired!

I miss John.

Right now I am getting a group together and I am remembering some of the nonsense that I have dealt with over the years and nothing changes but the faces.  Here is my solution: I will have two sets of each instrument I need played.  Yes, two bassists, two drummers and eventually two sax players.  Maybe I will use some people to play trumpet.  I like trumpet too.  I even thought of finding a sub’ for myself.

This should solve the greatest problem of all: Scheduling.  Scheduling rehearsals and gigs grows exponentially more difficult relative to the number of musicians in a group.  I figure if I have two of everyone, someone can make it to something.  Plus, it will give me a leg up if I need to fire someone.  I will take wagers on who is going first.

I will keep you all up do date on our progress and gig schedule.



P.S.  I am sorry I did not complete an article for last week.  I do have a subject for another article because of that missed week though: Success and Failure.