Jobbers, Hired Guns, Mercs, Your Experiences With Stand-ins?

NotScott

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When I first started gigging in my late teens, stand-ins aka "jobbers", "mercs" were few and far between. Maybe because we were younger and healthier and we didn't have careers outside of music so we just didn't miss gigs. But I have noticed in the market I am in now, that many of the local bands often have interchangeable parts and you never know who will be playing with what band on what night. I have received calls myself to fill in for bands with a guitar player who can't make a gig.

A few weeks ago, my drummer had a stroke 3 days before a gig. A couple of my bandmates asked a friend of ours who is a local, gigging drummer if he was free to fill in. He was and did an admirable job with no rehearsal. Granted, both his band and our band both do classic rock so we all know most of the same songs and to be honest, this stuff ain't hard to play. He filled in again at our last gig last weekend but this time, I am not sure what was up between the drummer and my keyboard player but they were on different pages all night and after the gig, the keyboard player said he wasn't doing any more gigs with that drummer and decided to let him go.

The day after that gig, my keyboard player says he has a new drummer he has played with who is a top guy in our area and he is available. Tonight, he is filling in for us. Assuming he does well, he will probably be permanent, depending upon our original drummer's rehab. Of course, we have had no rehearsals with this guy. Granted my singer and bass player have both played with him before and also vouch for him but I have never heard this guy play. Being the superstitious type that I am, considering it is our first night at this place with a new drummer on a Friday the 13th just after losing my good luck charms that have been with me for every gig since 1983, I am a bit "anxious" about this gig. :eek2:

Regardless of tonight, I have had good and bad experiences hiring jobbers and being one. How many of you have employed jobbers or been one and what were your experiences like?
 

Kamen_Kaiju

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I've done it, a gig is a gig and I charged accordingly for it.

I was usually hired for flash playing if I'm honest. I was known for being able to improvise and do fast metal/rock stuff off the cuff. Give me a root note to play off of and I could just go and go.

It was fun, until it wasn't anymore. But it was usually fun, I just got tired of the lifestyle after 20-25 years of it. I got tired of the highs and lows, feast and famine.

I'd like to think I grew up and grew out of it, but I think when you have metal/rock in your soul you probably never truly grow up. Guitar players don't grow up they just get older.
 

NotScott

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I've done it, a gig is a gig and I charged accordingly for it.

I was usually hired for flash playing if I'm honest. I was known for being able to improvise and do fast metal/rock stuff off the cuff. Give me a root note to play off of and I could just go and go.

It was fun, until it wasn't anymore. But it was usually fun, I just got tired of the lifestyle after 20-25 years of it. I got tired of the highs and lows, feast and famine.

I'd like to think I grew up and grew out of it, but I think when you have metal/rock in your soul you probably never truly grow up. Guitar players don't grow up they just get older.

Sounds like I could have wrote that. Very well said.
 

Neffco

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I fill in as a hired gun on the bass. Have for a while. A decent Bass man always has a job. Upright bass man can definitely find work.

Guitar players can be a dime a dozen.
That’s why I started playing bass. Tired of trying to show noob bass players how to play. My buddy is 10 times the guitar player I am so I gave him my job and started up on bass. That was 20 years ago.
 

NotScott

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I fill in as a hired gun on the bass. Have for a while. A decent Bass man always has a job. Upright bass man can definitely find work.

Guitar players can be a dime a dozen.
That’s why I started playing bass. Tired of trying to show noob bass players how to play. My buddy is 10 times the guitar player I am so I gave him my job and started up on bass. That was 20 years ago.

True. Guitar players are a dime a dozen and great bass players are hard to find.
 

Roberteaux

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The Daytona music scene is-- or was-- mainly composed of pickup bands.

No idea what's cookin' over there these days-- it's been a while since I cared to hang out in bars and such just to hear live music.

But back when I worked in various of the bars in that city that do feature live music, I saw that basically, there were two different cliques of various musicians that were most likely to be seen on a given evening.

The first clique was all pros: guys who had been members of groups such as Molly Hatchet, who performed as part of Johnny Winter's band, and so forth. No matter who showed up in a given lineup, those guys never failed to kick ass.

But of course, they always played stuff that serves as standard fare around here. The instant you saw any of them bringing gear in, you knew more or less precisely what you'd be listening to all night. They were kind of hidebound like that.

The second clique was a bunch of guys who seemed to come more from Orlando than Daytona. Some of their lineups and set lists were really great, but other combinations not so much.

It kind of didn't matter. Everybody was there just looking to score or get laid or something anyway. The live music simply caused more people to show up than usual.

One place I worked in had live music every night, and that was about the only place for n00bs to find a gig. Man, I saw some really terrible acts while working at that place! :laugh2:

Edited to add: I also saw two really, really good groups that were having trouble finding gigs in Orlando. They might have lasted in Daytona, but their set lists were not entirely to the liking of the management. Wrong genres for the people that club tended to cater to.

--R
 
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Chango Malo

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I fill in as a hired gun on the bass. Have for a while. A decent Bass man always has a job. Upright bass man can definitely find work.

Guitar players can be a dime a dozen.
That’s why I started playing bass. Tired of trying to show noob bass players how to play. My buddy is 10 times the guitar player I am so I gave him my job and started up on bass. That was 20 years ago.

true that. I get more calls to fill in on upright and mandolin than guitar. waaaaaaay more. I can't tell you for sure when the last time was I sat in/filled in on guitar.
 

edro

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My late bro did countless hired gun jobs over his years. I was never into doing hired gun playing much outside of slider munky work over the years.

My bro said if they want to pay his rate, he'd play his ass off for the show. (bassist for close to 50 years)

He told me it's not for everybody because you must go do the best job you can do, regardless of the rest on stage, music you were playing, proficiency level of others, but when it was over, take your money and gear and go home and treat it just like a job you were hired to do once. It is what it is....a one time job. Do it, get paid, go home or to the room and watch tv with a beer or four. No drama. Nobody owes you and you owe nobody afterwards.
 

edro

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True. Guitar players are a dime a dozen and great bass players are hard to find.

true that. I get more calls to fill in on upright and mandolin than guitar. waaaaaaay more. I can't tell you for sure when the last time was I sat in/filled in on guitar.

I think that true all over... I could do hired gun jobs if I wanted, bass more than other instruments. I still do find that odd....

I just have no interest in doing it... I have the gear for multiple instr but just have no desire... Besides my regular slider munky job and occasional studio smunky, I do occasional pickup smunky jobs "depending" on some variables, but no desire other than that... I'm getting old and my batteries don't recharge as fast as they once did...

I'm just as happy practicing an instrument at home...or maybe happier...the coffee is damn good there.... ;)
 

defcrew

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It's funny you bring this up today as last night I saw my favorite band on the planet. I have seen them many times and in many places. Not only are they all top drawer players but they have played as a unit for a good many years. You simply cannot microwave a band. The best players may meld faster but it is never instantaneous. The group's bassist is being treated for cancer and has had to bow out until he is better. The guy who took his place was truly excellent. I cannot even imagine trying to get up there and flow with these guys. I give him major props for this and they sounded very good. But they usually sound very great and, as the saying goes, good is the enemy of great.

The fiscal reality of gigging is such that--as the guitar player in the above band told me some months back-- folks are "disincentivized" to spend the time and effort it takes to build and stick with a true band. And this band--even though they are recording artists with serious credentials--have members who play in multiple groups and do multiple things--such as teach lessons--just to survive.

I'm sort of sentimental and/or idealistic about what a band should be but, as the song says, money changes everything. The idea that four or five folks are going to get together and be all in and pull the rope the same way is darn near impossible to bring to life it seems....especially with the best players. But when you hear a real band that plays with dynamics and patience and sensitivity and inhabit the songs they perform and compare it to 98% of everything else you hear the contrast is significant. Unfortunately, I think this is prob lost on 98% of the listeners and, so, why bother? If a guy falls on the ground and rolls around bending one note it will probably impress more people than a guy holding back and comping chords that help highlight the bass/drum groove. Is what it is....
 

Marshall & Moonshine

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It really depends on what kind of music.
12-bar stuff?
Sure. Anyone can do it.
Prog metal??
Might take a few practices to make that work.

I just jam with friends from time to time (less than it used to be), so I don’t get called for anything and couldn’t do it if I did anyway.
I’d love to start a good band, but lives get crazy.
Hence, hired guns.
 

Thumpalumpacus

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I've done fill-ins on guitar and bass for blues stuff, where you can pick up the groove and harmony easily. Got into a couple of bands that way. Those gigs, I got my money and went home. I could do the same thing for 70s/80s metal/hard rock, unless we're talking esoteric stuff.

Don't expect your new drummer to be committed. If guitars are a dime a dozen, and bass players can always find a gig, good drummers have their pick of gigs and yours better pay.
 

brianbzed

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When I first started gigging in my late teens, stand-ins aka "jobbers", "mercs" were few and far between. Maybe because we were younger and healthier and we didn't have careers outside of music so we just didn't miss gigs. But I have noticed in the market I am in now, that many of the local bands often have interchangeable parts and you never know who will be playing with what band on what night. I have received calls myself to fill in for bands with a guitar player who can't make a gig.

A few weeks ago, my drummer had a stroke 3 days before a gig. A couple of my bandmates asked a friend of ours who is a local, gigging drummer if he was free to fill in. He was and did an admirable job with no rehearsal. Granted, both his band and our band both do classic rock so we all know most of the same songs and to be honest, this stuff ain't hard to play. He filled in again at our last gig last weekend but this time, I am not sure what was up between the drummer and my keyboard player but they were on different pages all night and after the gig, the keyboard player said he wasn't doing any more gigs with that drummer and decided to let him go.

The day after that gig, my keyboard player says he has a new drummer he has played with who is a top guy in our area and he is available. Tonight, he is filling in for us. Assuming he does well, he will probably be permanent, depending upon our original drummer's rehab. Of course, we have had no rehearsals with this guy. Granted my singer and bass player have both played with him before and also vouch for him but I have never heard this guy play. Being the superstitious type that I am, considering it is our first night at this place with a new drummer on a Friday the 13th just after losing my good luck charms that have been with me for every gig since 1983, I am a bit "anxious" about this gig. :eek2:

Regardless of tonight, I have had good and bad experiences hiring jobbers and being one. How many of you have employed jobbers or been one and what were your experiences like?
The hired gun thing comes and goes for me. When I stopped playing full time, I got occasional calls to "come and play lead". Even took a gig on bass, but warned the bandleader that I'm a guitar guy and only screw around on bass. I made know that I would probably sound more like Geddy Lee than James Jamerson. The gig went fine, the leader dug my "lead bass guitar stuff". Been a band leader too and called hired guns- with GREAT results.
 

chasenblues

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I could do hired gun jobs if I wanted..


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truckermde

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When my wife was pregnant, I slipped on the deck, and broke my arm. We had gigs on the books, so a stand-in was brought on board. He ended up being my replacement, as I no longer had time for the band, and they were a bit tired of me anyway.

Shortly thereafter, the band fizzled, and I saw an ad for their final gig, and even received an invitation to play some at the farewell gig. I declined.

I'm not sayin' they folded without me, but I could see that it had run it's course by the time I broke my arm.

Anyway, good thing that guy was available, or those gigs wouldn't have happened...
 

NotScott

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I don't like it. I see the orchestra pit musicians do it all the time. And the subs are total pros. Sure they play the right notes....but the feel of the band, the chemistry and the glue is out of whack.

This! It is not as noticeable doing most pop and rock tunes but any music that requires any kind of subtlety and/or attention to fine details just seems to homogenize into Muzak rather than something special.
 

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