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 Back to the Tempo Dispatch Archives  

Issue #6___\__\__\__\__\__________/__/__/__/__/ June 97


                    TABLE OF CONTENTS
                 What is in this issue?
           1. Feature Article: Getting That First Gig
           2. Bar Joke of the Month


               *** FEATURE ARTICLE ***
                     For June 97

 How to Snag That First Gig

      Let's assume that you have been playing drums for
 some time now.  You have a decent drumset and are at the
 point where playing along with nearly any recording on
 your sound system is easy.  You are a drummer and you can
 feel and love it!

      What is next?  Where do we go from here?

 This is a very critical point in your development and it
 is time to make a bold move.  We need to get you into a band
 and . . .  not just any band.  It must be exactly the right

      Maybe you are the shy type.  I know I was.  Too shy to
 play for even a small group of friends.  I remember those days.
 It took me four years to move from the back room of our house out
 into the public eye.  I had been ready for nearly three years but
 didn't have the courage to consider it.  I had even begun to lose
 interest in drumming because I didn't think I would ever be brave
 enough to get on stage and play with a live band.

         Finally, one day when I was about fourteen, my mom set me
 up.  She knew about my shyness so she planned the whole thing and
 set it up for me (What a mom!).  She made me put the drums in the
 car, then drove me over to the home of two kids (brothers) my own
 age.   I had previously fought with these two guys in school a year
 or so earlier and for all I knew, we were mortal enemies.  If they
 had mentioned their interest in music, we would have been friends
 all along.  As it turned out, we hit it off and began practicing
 regularly.  The first few times we played in public were very anxious
 moments for me.  However, I soon noticed that as the music began,
 all the nervousness and stage fright disappeared.   Once my hands
 stopped trembling, I had a ball.  Before long I discovered that I
 was eager to play the live gigs in public.  Playing before an
 audience actually turned out to be much more fun than banging away
 in my back bedroom. So, if you are worried about all that stage
 fright stuff, don't.  You will probably experience it about the same
 way I did.  Once you are over the initial fear, it's an indescribable

      The point of this story is that you must start somewhere,
 make your own breaks (or get your mom to make them for you) and
 put that first band together on your own.  Otherwise, the interest
 will die and the drums will go into the closet, only to be sold
 at a garage sale sometime later.


         The trick is finding the right people.  Starting with
 people who are on your same level is important.  Look for people
 who are just starting and with whom you will be comfortable.
 This is important!  It is important because rejection at this
 point can be devastating.  You don't need rejection. What you
 need is a big score.


         So . . . start racking your brain, right this minute!
 Think of all your friends (and enemies) who can play an instrument.
 Piano?  Guitar?  Bass? Brass?  Think until you can write down a
 name or two.  Don't even worry so much about whether you like these
 people or not.  You will learn to like them if the music clicks.
 When you come up with a name or two, get on the phone and give them
 a call. Invite them over for tacos and a good old fashion Jam session.
 Just do it!

         OK!  After racking your brain for twenty minutes, if you
 cannot think of even one person who fits the criteria then you
 must search them out.   Go to plan B and try this!


         Get out the local phone book and turn to the ‘Yellow Pages'.
 Call the local guitar instruction studios.  Talking with the actual
 teachers if possible is best.  The receptionist at the store or shop
 may not respond like a teacher will.  Most teachers will not only
 have a student or two that will meet the criteria but the teacher
 has a professional interest in seeing the students succeed.  They
 want to help their own students get into the business.   They will
 usually take the time to find the names and phone numbers you need.
 My bet is you will have a list of several names by the time you get
 off the phone.  If this has failed to produce prospects for your band,
 call all the local piano teachers, voice teachers and any other music
 teachers who may advertise in the phone book.  You will eventually
 succeed if you are persistent.


         OK!  So, now you have a couple of names with phone numbers.
 What is next?
         Hold that thought for a minute . . .

      Don't you wish someone would go to all this trouble just to give
 you a starting place in the music business?  So do they!  They have
 probably been waiting for this phone call for months.  We are all
 alike!  We wait for someone else to make the first move.  We want
 success to bang on the front door and drag us out of the house and
 into the ‘big time'.  These people are probably no different.
 So  . . . you make that first move . . .  and make it as often as
 necessary until you get the right people together.  The odds are
 very high that this ‘name on a list' will probably try to climb
 through the phone line getting to your house.  So don't be afraid
 to make the call.  Simply entice them in a very informal way.  Ask
 them over to visit and jam. No big deal.  Don't say anything about
 forming a band or any of that stuff.  Invite them over to jam for
 fun and say no more. If they want to do it, they will find a way.
 Then, If the jam comes off ok, you might make a few plans.  For the
 moment, leave yourself a back door, and a way out . . . just in case.
 The truth is, you may be musically above them or they may turn out to
 be jerks or something. Who knows, they may have one big green eye in
 the middle of their forehead.  This way, it won't be a devastating
 experience for either of you if the music just doesn't click.  Getting
 a good band together can be difficult but persistence and determination
 will eventually pay off.

         Try to assemble at least a three-piece group.  You will need
 at least one lead instrument (guitar, keyboard, etc.), one bass
 guitarist and of course you will be the drummer.  Bass guitarists
 are often hard to find so remember also that any guitarist is
 potentially a bass guitarist.  Both instruments are nearly the same.
 You may be forced into calling two guitarists then talk them into
 taking turns on the bass.

         From this point on, the rest is up to you and the new band.
 Practice in the garage until the music starts sounding ok then
 begin volunteering to play anywhere you will be appreciated.  Enter the
 band in local talent shows, play for family picnics, pool parties
 and so on.  You will find plenty of places to play if you will use
 your collective imaginations.

         After you have a few free appearances under your belt and
 enough material to fill a four or five-hour gig without repeating
 any songs, put a price tag on your services.  Before you know it,
 you will be playing every weekend for major money.  Ninety percent
 of the professional musicians I know will tell you they started
 this way.

 Go for it and good luck!


                   BAR JOKE OF THE MONTH
 Hot Duck
      A circus owner walks into a bar to see everyone crowded
 about a table watching a little show. On the table was an
 upside down pot and a duck tap-dancing on it. The circus
 owner was so impressed that he offered to buy the duck
 from its owner. After some wheelin' and dealin' they
 settled for $10000 for the duck and the pot.

      Three days later the circus owner runs back to the bar
 in anger, "Your duck is a ripoff! I put him on the pot before
 a whole audience and he didn't dance a single step!"

      "So?" . . .  asked the ducks former owner, "did you
 remember to light the candle under the pot?"



 This topic could save you YEARS and give you renewed ambition.


Copyright Bill Powelson 1994 all rights reserved.