Author: Compton, Cliff

Multiple Bands

I was talking to J.D. Rhynes some time back, and mentioned that a couple of my bandmates played in other bands. J.D. said, ďthatís the death of a band.Ē Iíve had reason to think about that as time has past, and as you might expect thereís a certain wisdom in what that old reprobate had to say. Thought Iíd write a column about it in case you are putting together a band. There might be a few things to consider.

There are pluses and minusís to having band members that also play in other bands. For instance:

Snap Jackson, Dave Rietz, Dave lang, and The lovely Renee play in my band. Three of the four members have musical obligations that go beyond our band. Now, who wouldnít want Snap Jackson to play in their band. Everybody loves him, everybody wants to hear him, heís a great musician with a large following.

However, as with all successful musicians, heís booked continually, which limits his availability. So what do you do when your working musician has a conflict with your bands schedule?

I guess you improvise. In our case we arrange our songs so we can work as a four piece group or bring in a sub. Also we gear our music in a way that compliments as compared to competing with the other bands. Snap is often a Friday or Saturday night headliner, whereas we or more likely to to have a Sunday slot, as we do a large amount of gospel music. Where Snap might be playing a winery we might be playing a church. No conflict there. The same goes for Dave Rietzís other band, The Riverbend folk band. They play different venues than we do. Sometimes the venues overlap, particularly festivals, then the double booked bands get the benefit of an extra paycheck without the travel expenses of two venues.

What happens when one band really takes off and the other lacks bookings? There may come a point when a change in personnel is required. I think it is important that we maintain good recordings of the song lists so that another musician can be plugged into the band if the necessity arises. It is hard to ask someone else to be prepared to fill in or take over anotherís position without having a definitive spot in the band but itís a way of life for musicians.

I donít think itís reasonable to ask for a hundred percent commitment to one band or another without the workload to demand it. If a person is a working musician, than you got to WORK, and if that means working several bands then such is life.

There is a certain magic that takes place within a small group of the right musicians. That magic can radically change with the changing of personnel. Itís important to protect that which makes your band special, to truly guard the soul of your band. I think itís important to be as flexible as possible with talented musicians and as understanding as you can be to the pressures of other jobs and obligations.

There is much that tears at the fabric of any band. The distance involved in practice. The reality of Domestic bliss/ children. The expense of the process of getting musically from here to there,
But when youíve got something that works, it pays to guard it, because lightning canít always to caught in a bottle.

Posted:  11/30/2013

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