Author: Compton, Cliff

Putting together a band

I’ve been playing in bands since I was fourteen. About every kind of band combination and style of music that came by at the right time. The first one, in Kansas City Missouri, was called the vettes four, and we were named after the Corvette. Don’t ask me why that was our name. We were all too young to drive, and none of us were gear heads. I guess you’ve got to call yourself something.

It was a reasonably active garage band. We played for the boy scouts and the park dept., any place that let us plug in. After that it was a stage band in high school. Playing jazz standards badly for kids who were only interested in R & B and rock & roll. Then it was a folk duo called Compton and Cumberland that lasted until I discovered little white pills. Then it was “Rockabye”, a bar band in Portland, and then a country western band that lasted long enough to break up one guys marriage and send me traveling to Minnesota where I rediscovered God and gospel music. I went from there to Woodlake California where I discovered southern gospel music, and on to Yakima Washington and where I started a large gospel group called “from the heart“, that traveled up and down the coast in various incarnations for a number of years.

And for a long time now, I haven’t had a regular group. I play whenever the opportunity arises with any number of bands. And frankly, I kind of like it that way.

Being in a working band is a lot of work. I never get tired of playing music. Never get tired of performing. Love the people. Love the music, but the commitment…

A few things I’ve learned about putting together a band.

1. People have a life. Sometimes it involves things other than music. Not everyone has the same level of interest in what ever is of most interest to you. Some people expect you to understand that they have a job that pays real money.

2. Some folks have physical limitations. Practicing till 3 in the morning 5 nights a week may not work for them.

3. Sometimes the perfect band mate lives in another city. Four-hour commutes to band practice can be an issue. Thank God for Skype, mp3’s, videos and recording devices. Your band can be with you when they are far away.

4. Some people make their living from music. Some people make their pocket change from it. That might affect their level of commitment.

5. Does your prospective band mate work in multiple bands. Scheduling may be an issue. If your band mate’s other band is backing up Paul McCarthy at the kings wedding celebration, they may not be available for your neighbors sons bar mitzvah.

6. Do you need versatility in your players? If some one is sick or absent is there someone else you can call in to take that vital harmony line or that first instrumental break?

7. Are your musical interests and abilities equitable? If you want to do all Ralph and Bill and your band mate prefers Iggy pop, your instrumental breaks may surprise you.

8. What is most important in the band? Instrumental prowess, angelic harmonies, or entertainment value. Everybody needs to buy in.

9. Where do you plan to take this group? If you’re planning to tour churches, make sure the bass player isn’t only interested in booking dive bars.

This list can go forever. I probably need to read it. Just started another band.

Keep pickin’
Posted:  1/11/2013

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