So when is it time to call it quits?

NashvilleCat

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Thanks for all the comments so far. Everyone of you has given me a lot to think about. It's given my band mates a lot to consider too. If no one minds I may cut and paste some of the comments into an email to send out to the band.

I don't know all the answers and don't claim to. I'm 60 and still learning and growing in this thing we call music. When there's somethng I'm struggling with or a question I have about the playing or the business of playing, here is where I come. It's great to learn from others who share simliar experinces and great to get other's perspectives. Often another's words are what make the spark to head me in the right direction or help me grow in some small way.

y'all rock!!
 

sonar1

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The majority of people who go to see live bands in bars are between 21 - 35ish. They for the most part don't want to go out and listen to the blues.


This is true, and it's been a long time since I played any blues anywhere (except maybe between the lines when nobody was really listening anyways).:naughty:

I stayed out of the club scene for many years because I played in a Showtunes/BigBand aggregation and we played mostly concert halls (the leader was a Musicians Union member for life). I was lucky in that. Also had some fun in demo-studios pretending I was a session player.

However all that dried up 15 years ago and I've been playing everything from drinkside jazz in restaurants as a sideman at large, to clubs with a Funk band: Soul Doubt since that time (which is a lot harder work IMHO).

So I've had a wide and varied musical "career" (always along with a good day job, which bought the house and fed the family).

But as I age I get a lot more tired now, and a lot less energized (though a little still) by live audiences in close quarters (bar&grill places).

And my tolerance has slowly ebbed away. I find it harder and harder to accommodate pissy keyboard players who want to take ANY gig, whether or not they'll actually make the gig themselves that night they've set up for "us," especially after whining about money and venues and then agreeing for the whole band to take less than our usual fee (this is apart from Soul Doubt BTW)!

It's the hassles that grind me down. Performing publicly is still in my blood: it's just being outweighed more and more by the issues that become a PITA, after so many years of the grind (and there are plenty of players here at MLP that have slugged it out in worse places for a lot longer than I).

It becomes a question of motivation, and what the local market seems to want (or NOT want), balanced by what I'm willing to put up with just to stir my live job "blood" anymore.
 

Leendrix

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Start thinking about what you can do to spice up your stage presence. If you just stand there, then how's it different from a normal bar band?

This can even be achieved by unified clothing, a band banner with the logo, and (if not done already) all of you walking around to each other during certain parts of the songs and just obviously having a good time.
 

strat1701

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First, this isn't an "Oh, poor me thread" so I hope it's not taken that way.

A little background.....
I've been playing on and off in bands since high school. A couple years ago, after a break of not playing in any band for a few years, I decided I'd put together a blues band, since blues is my passion. Things went pretty well, found the rest of the players who were on the same page musically that I was, competent, etc. We rehearse regularly, have a set list of 50+ tunes and mix it up a bit with a few old school r&b tunes that are familiar and few blues/rock tunes and few originals I've written, so we're not constantly playing shuffles. We're not great, but we don't suck either and can hold our own musically with most of the other bands in the area. We've gotten many compliments at the venues we've played.

The problem is, after a two years of doing this, we're not getting many gigs at all. There are a plethora of other bands in the area, a limited # of venues that hire live music and out of those a limited # that will even pay decently unless you can pack the venue. We're a blues band, so that limits the desire for us in many venues that want country, indie, metal or classic rock bands.

So, after two years, angst and frustration at a lack of gigs after putting in so much time and hard work is beginning to take it's toll. Complaints about anything and everything are happening. Fingers are being pointed as to reasons for a lack of gigs, small things are getting nit-picked, a couple band members are even questioning why we continue to rehearse and learn songs anymore and have taken a "why bother" attitude. Others have have suggested it's because we're playing music no one wants to hear. All of sudden, it's become all about gigging and much less about playing and creating music we love with others for music's sake.

When all the possible reasons for lack of gigs have been beaten into the ground and solutions argued over, I'm really beginning to think that the one main reason we're not getting gigs is our age. With the exception of one band member we're all 60+ in age. I see the main reason as one of age demographics, i.e. we simply can't build a following or draw a crowd, no matter what style of music or tunes we're playing, because our age doesn't appeal to many or most who venture out for live music. We play well enough, good in fact, but live music isn't only about sounding good, it's about visual appeal too and connecting with your audience in both an auditory and visual way. In short, we have no stage presence and I think our ages work against us.

I know there are plenty of acts around who's band members are older. But the majority of those acts are bands that have been together for a long long time and or "name" acts who can generate interest and draw a crowd on name alone.

Anyway, I'm really considering throwing in the towel and hanging up my guitars, except for those times I just want to amuse myself and pass time. Doing some fishing, wandering around places hunting for antiques and reading a lot more are beginning to look better and better. Dealing with band angst seems like something that occurs in every band I've ever been in and I'm tired of dealing with it anymore.

Since it's friday, I'm sure I'll get lots of replies asking if you can have my guitars..the answer is NO!:D

Wile it may not help you make a decision here's my story fwiw....


Back in 04 I suddenly developed some nerve issues. I had to take 3 months off. Couldn't play a note. I got back to say 75-80% but still soldiered on. Another 2 yrs of the same shit dealing with band personnel and bar owns, crowds indifference I really started to lose interest in my passion. I have been a musician since the age of 4. Coupled with my nerve issues really irking me in 07/08 I decided to take a self imposed hiatus. I didn't play for 2-3yrs. I literally didn't want to. All the BS had made he hate something I did love.

But in that time off my hand issues healed somewhat and one day in 2011 I got the bug again. Bought my first cs lp and haven't looked back since.

Now while im playing I RARELY do gigs. My hiatus only solidified that I'm over and done with dealing with band personnel bs and especially bar owners and crowds thinking they "own" the band. I don't need the gig money and the last few gigs I did I tired to get the others to say let's just play wtf WE want to and have fun.

No they still wanted to cowtown to the asshole bar owners and crowd. The ultimate insult was when the bar owner took stock of a table of asshats who came in at 9:45 and heard us for less than a half set (gig was 7-10pm) and blabbed loudly this band sucks. When paytime came the bar made money as it was hoppin earlier but the bar owner said , " yeah but these guys said you sucked so we won't have you back". Screw them that was the last straw.

Now I only sit in a few songs here and there. I have zero desire to do a full gig or join a band. Plus I have done the late nite thing far too many occasions and I'm really over it. If I could gig from 7-11 I'm cool but not many venues can you do that.

I plyay for myself now, not the crowd and especially not any dictatorial bar owner. I'm an accomplished good musician who can carry their weight just fine. 22yrs doing it have finally taken its toll. Enough BS for me!
 

jonas335

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I have been playing gigs for 50+ years and it's been awhile since playing in bars has been enjoyable. The local scene seems to have been taken over by 20 year old jerks. I still do 2-3 gigs a year but we still have fun at rehearsals; we're not rehearsing for gigs - we just get together for 2-3 hours once a week because we love to play - that's always been the real reason...the music itself...
 

SteveGangi

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What Jonas just said. It seems the best times and the very best music happen on a lazy summer night, over some pizza, burgers and beer, with whoever shows up.
 

Rich

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Sounds like your band should consider reevaluating your goals. This is easy for me to say as my band has the goal of playing out once per month or so and we have yet to hit even close to that.

What I'm saying is that it's tough to get gigs these days, regardless of age or image. I'm 47 years old and the rest of the guys in my band are around the same age but we started playing together simply because we like to play; rehearsals are fun for us. If you still enjoy playing but have had it with trying to book regular gigs, just take them where you can get them; maybe you play out only a few times per year like we do, but as long as it's fun no matter what, that's all that matters.

It sounds like some of the guys in your group aren't satisfied with just playing out every now and then. Perhaps talk to them and see if they want to redefine what the goals are. It's not only tough to find gigs, it's tough to find a like-minded group of players who you get along with and enjoy playing with and that only gets tougher the older you get. You might remind them of that; if some of them don't want to still get together even though gigs are infrequent, maybe it's time for those dudes to move on to something else and for you to find other guys who are willing to play under less gig-oriented conditions.

After the I-want-to-be-a-rock-star years, you need to think about why you're playing; for me and my band, we just want to have fun. Everyone has different goals in mind and we don't have very lofty aspirations, we just like to get together to play and have a few beers and we'll perform at almost any place that will have us - especially if we don't have to drive over an hour and we'll get home before midnight. :laugh2:
 

Roberteaux

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I cannot speak from personal experience-- have never even been in a band, let alone to have gigged before a live audience.

But my instructor has been doing that for around 35-40 years, and recently discontinued his old habit of playing in pickup bands for extra cash. He's really sick of playing the dodgy venues around Daytona Beach, tired of chasing bar owners for his pay, and bored with the drunken audiences who only want to hear foot-stompin' type music that they are already familiar with and can dance to.

These days, his biggest music-derived revenue comes from serving as a crash-test guitarist at a tech university in Winter Park, Florida, that is called Full Sail University. This is the sort of place that trains technicians who will be working in the music recording and film industries, and what he does is to give them something to record and film. He loves it-- he just goes in there and plays whatever he wants, and gets the recordings that the students generated for his own personal use. He really loves doing this.

His other source of revenue is as a guitar instructor, and he is a very good one at that. But he almost flat refuses to play gigs at all, except on behalf of one very good female singer who's currently gigging around here. Even then, he usually only appears as part of a duet in her performances.

The other day, we were sitting together playing The Rain Song, with him on acoustic and me playing electric. For once I didn't deserve the death penalty for my bungling and the piece actually sounded pretty good to both of us. My old teacher kicked back and flashed me with one of his rare smiles, and then thanked me. I had no idea what he was thanking me for, and his reply was, "Well... for actually practicing the things I teach you. "

He smiled again and said, "Also, for giving me an opportunity to play material that I could never get away with playing for the drunken clods who infest the shithole bars of Daytona Beach." And that, I think, just about cuts his attitude to the bone. He's flat sick of it.

Can't say as I blame him, either.

So, NC: I have no advice for you at all, really-- except to suggest that maybe you might take on a few students of your own. According to my instructor, he's always had way more fun teaching than gigging. He says there ain't no glory in it-- but then adds that the kicks he got out of gigging were fleeting and vague to begin with.

Best of luck to you, man.

--R :thumb:
 

freebyrd 69

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I'm 45 and I've been gigging locally for the last 30 years pretty consistently. I've got a few opinions.

First, don't take it personally. A lot has changed in the last 30 yrs....the biggest being the economy. I think this is your #1 problem.

I don't know what your local gigs pay, but we have a pretty steady (once a month) gig at a place, and we get $500 + our tab cut in half, for a Saturday night. 5 pc. classic rock & blues band, BTW. That is more the exception than the rule. We could play other places, but the want to pay $300-$400.

It's not that we are doing it for the money. I could work the corner and make $100 month. LOL. I always say, I don't get paid to play, I get paid to haul equipment and get home at 3 a.m.. But $300 is an insult. Honestly.

The problem is, bars/clubs care about one thing.....bottom line. They can hire a D.J. for $300 anytime. There are bands that will play for free beer! Yeah, they suck, but as long as they bring people in that are drinking and spending money, THEY DON'T CARE.

As a business owner, they would rather have a shitty band pack the place, than Led Zepplin bring in 15 people. It's all about the till at the end of the night.

I have to leave now....I'll finish this thought later, but trust me, that is your biggest issue, I think.
 

SteveC

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Only you can answer that question.

As a late-50's guy, the youngest in my band - I partially understand your plight. We're in the same boat… not a lot of gigs, PITA, other life obligations (wants & needs, too), etc.

The difference, however, is that we love playing together. Even at rehearsals, we have fun.

That's our goal as a band - to have fun! Personally, that is my only goal.

If/when it stops being fun, I will stop doing it. And then, eventually I'll probably start doing it again with other people. But, only if it is fun.
 

SteveC

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I wanted to add this:

If you are still living under the misnomer that the music scene is, as it was years ago - you should stop and recheck that idea. It's not. those days are gone. The glory days, such as they were, are over.

There are pockets in the world, where live music is thriving and musicians are "living the dream". But, other than at the very top of the heap, they are few and far between.

Most musicians are struggling, in one way or another.

The club/bar scene in most places is a tough world, for a lot of different (and similar) reasons.

If you can't cut it, or don't want the hassle - walk away.

Read this:

Open Letter from a bar owner to musicians

That's the reality. Add, to that the drama that sometimes happens in bands and you have it all.

Not being a dick here but, if you don't want to deal with it - don't.
 

strat1701

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I'm 45 and I've been gigging locally for the last 30 years pretty consistently. I've got a few opinions.

First, don't take it personally. A lot has changed in the last 30 yrs....the biggest being the economy. I think this is your #1 problem.

I don't know what your local gigs pay, but we have a pretty steady (once a month) gig at a place, and we get $500 + our tab cut in half, for a Saturday night. 5 pc. classic rock & blues band, BTW. That is more the exception than the rule. We could play other places, but the want to pay $300-$400.

It's not that we are doing it for the money. I could work the corner and make $100 month. LOL. I always say, I don't get paid to play, I get paid to haul equipment and get home at 3 a.m.. But $300 is an insult. Honestly.

The problem is, bars/clubs care about one thing.....bottom line. They can hire a D.J. for $300 anytime. There are bands that will play for free beer! Yeah, they suck, but as long as they bring people in that are drinking and spending money, THEY DON'T CARE.

As a business owner, they would rather have a shitty band pack the place, than Led Zepplin bring in 15 people. It's all about the till at the end of the night.

I have to leave now....I'll finish this thought later, but trust me, that is your biggest issue, I think.
Indeed. Case in point. We could NAIL two Eric Johnson tunes as a 3 piece. Dover and trademark. Filled house no one claps. The next song you play fugging you really got me and the place goes wild. :laugh2:

I agree with your assessments.

I wanted to add this:

If you are still living under the misnomer that the music scene is, as it was years ago - you should stop and recheck that idea. It's not. those days are gone. The glory days, such as they were, are over.

There are pockets in the world, where live music is thriving and musicians are "living the dream". But, other than at the very top of the heap, they are few and far between.

Most musicians are struggling, in one way or another.

The club/bar scene in most places is a tough world, for a lot of different (and similar) reasons.

If you can't cut it, or don't want the hassle - walk away.

Read this:

Open Letter from a bar owner to musicians

That's the reality. Add, to that the drama that sometimes happens in bands and you have it all.

Not being a dick here but, if you don't want to deal with it - don't.
I remember that " letter " and really do not agree with the bar owner side of it and that's a major reason why I say **** the bar owners because I'm not their little bitch. Yes I know that means I don't get to play but they want me to grovel and act like they're doing me a favor? Wtf. You do not see me bitching about gigging or lack thereof. I appreciate ALL you fellow gigging musicians still doin it, I have doing it too. I just had my total fill with it which is why I'm not actively seeking any group!
 

Chicago John

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Can I have your guitars? :thumb::naughty: Just kidding! I think maybe some types of music are more accepting of elder statesmen, such as blues or perhaps jazz. The crowds are older, and the players seem to be appreciated no matter the age. Rock and blues overlaps quite a lot, so you maybe you could get some satisfaction this way...
 

SteveC

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I remember that " letter " and really do not agree with the bar owner side of it and that's a major reason why I say **** the bar owners because I'm not their little bitch. Yes I know that means I don't get to play but they want me to grovel and act like they're doing me a favor? Wtf. You do not see me bitching about gigging or lack thereof. I appreciate ALL you fellow gigging musicians still doin it, I have doing it too. I just had my total fill with it which is why I'm not actively seeking any group!
I don't agree with it, either - on principal. But, I don't walk in his (the bar owner) shoes, so I can't say what prompted him and many other owners, to take that stance.

Greed? Probably - that's what we have become as people. Reality? Probably - wages & costs increase that have to be paid. He's just a dick? Probably - the tone of his letter is "take it or leave it".

But, in the end, it is what it is.

At my last gig we were told by the owner, "If we ring an average night, I'll pay you $600. If we ring in a better than average night, you'll get $700. If we really ring a shitload, I'll give you $800. If we tank, then I'll still pay you $600, but you won't get half-off your bar tab."

I thought it was a pretty weak night, but according to him they rang more than average, so he paid us $700. I didn't think we would get more than $600.

The business side sucks. I hate it. I try not to think about it, though. Because I don't do it for the money. Some nights, while we're hauling all the shit and trying to get the sound right and dealing with all the other crap, I wonder why I do it.

It sounds cliche, but about halfway through set one, I remember why.

Let's play Brown Eyed Girl for the umpteenth time (fvck me). They still pack the dance floor and jump, jive & wale.

That's the gig!
 

hrfdez

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Only you can answer that, but I would say when the fun is gone, adios!

I am the last person on earth to give any guitar advice, I do suck, I just love great gear. To be fair, I am a student, so hopefully one day I will be able to do what you have been doing for such a long time.

I envy you, joking of course.....

I wish you the best on whatever you decide to do!
 

Electroman67

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Brother it sounds like it's not fun for you anymore. Sure fire sign it's time for a short hiatus, put some thought into if playing with them makes you happy, or if playing in general makes you happy.

I personally grew sick of beating a certain 50-65 songs into the ground, even while gigging. What once was fun, turned into a job, and i already had a job. Don't let your situation take the fun out playing music.

The rest is up to you, good luck and i'm sure the answer will become more obvious once you step back and look at things w/out a guitar in your hand.
 


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