Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Young bands, and watch out for music vampire suckers

SUNDAY AFTERNOON AT a sun-splashed Vancil Performing Arts parking lot, a young band played in public for what I think was the first time.

They are Vancil students and under the tutelage of Lenny Alderton. They decided to put on a free Mother's Day concert for family and friends, and wow, they were pretty good for kids age 14 or so. They played some classic rock covers, new country, blues, a variety of songs.

Playing in public is not an easy thing to do, and it's a lot like playing an instrument - you have to want to do it, and the more you do it, the better you get. I think these young people have tremendous potential, and I wish them all the luck in the world.

They will need it. And talent has nothing to do with it.

I wish I could tell them playing music is nothing but fun and games. Well, the games part is right. Just wait until you call a venue and the owner laughs in your face, or refuses to pay you, or changes the deal.

Just wait until a gal calls you to play a benefit for free, and you can't do it, and she gets mad and calls you two-faced. "Well, you did so and so's benefit, but not ours?"

The best places to play are the ones run by people who operate by the handshake rule. You do this, we'll do that, and our word is good.

Lesson No. 1 - in the music business, that rarely happens. Lesson No. 2 - get a contract.

The Cheeseburgers had a gig lined up this Saturday. It was set up by a guy who is starting a foundation for a worthy cause. I do not know why things went south, but he emailed me Monday and said the gig was off.

It might have had something to do with the fact he was charging too much for tickets, but that's just speculation and a dangerous path to travel.

So we are out from playing a good-paying gig, and we don't get a dime even though it's on a prime late spring weekend. We won't have anything to do with him again unless we have a signed contract, and even that is doubtful.

Word gets around in music and band circles. You learn who to trust, who will be good on his or her word. But you only learn the hard way.

Same with getting to the gig and playing in front of three people, or the bass player refusing to do certain songs, or the guitar player throwing a fit because the band won't play the song in E instead of B flat, or the drummer's wife making him quit, or the singer getting too drunk before practice. 

This is the stuff I wish I could tell these young people, but they'll figure it out.

This Friday, May 18th, Devonte Clark, Unknown Faces, Somewhere In Between and Covet's Avail play at Turner Hall for "Rock Back to Summer."  Come out and support our NEW local bands and musicians.  They are good guys, good players, with all kinds of dreams waiting to happen.

Go get 'em, kids.

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