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Thread: Gig stories...

  1. #1
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Gig stories...

    Just got home from my 3rd gig in 24+hr. We played a gig at a bar on Friday, a weekend spring event on Sat and another gig at a bar on Sat night...

    Looking to be a good summer full of music. I was a little disappointed in the sound situation for the "spring event," a huge PA system but the guy running the sound wasn't as familiar with his system for an acoustic band. One of those "growing as a band" moments where we realized we should have done it differently. The sound was best when we ran it ourselves for the Sat night bar gig, but I should stop being surprised about that.

    My bass player pointed out, "we've been actively playing on stage for 11 hours out of the last 26" - and I must say, it was pretty fun! So many things went wrong we could only laugh about it! That must be what they call experience...


    A story I wanted to share, I was at a concert for a national touring funk band that was in town last week and I was recognized. Not by someone I knew, but someone said to me, "hey, you're the mandolin player in that band!" A rather dubios recognition story but it was a momentous moment in my mind!!!

    And hey, I hope you are "that mandolin player" too sometime!
    Share a gig story!
    Dan
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  3. #2
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    I was once in the same type of hectic situation - we did 4 gigs in 36 hours (we had originally booked a 5th gig, but it got cancelled at the last minute). By the time we got to the 4th gig, we were burned out and punchy.

    We were a three piece acoustic band that did mostly original material - but the last gig that weekend was on a Sunday morning at a local coffee house . . . and nobody came to the show. Half way through our set somebody turned around and saw the house drum set that was at the back of the stage and said: 'Hey Mike, why don't you go play the drums' . . . after that, we went completely off the beam. The lead guitarist found a distortion box and wah-wah pedal is his bag of tricks and we spent the rest of he gig jamming on rock songs we had never played before; The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, etc. The only person in the coffee house was the owner, and even though I am sure that we were terrible, she thought it was great fun.

    Unlike Dan's situation - I guess because nobody was there that morning, nobody said to me; 'Hey, you're the drummer in that band!'
    I recently finished a new homemade 4-song EP of original solo acoustic songs; (sorry, no mandolin content this time). If you are interested in a FREE copy, feel free to send me your address via Private Message, and I will be glad to send you one. Trust me, it will be worth the price!


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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    In March I had 3 gigs within 48 hours. First two with my regular band. Senior living center on Thursday afternoon. Then Friday driving 200 miles to a gig in a high school gym. Really cool part was we had arranged for the band to stay in a nice b&b nearby.

    Saturday morning had me driving back 200 miles to play an early St. Patrick's day gig with a friend in St. Paul, MN.

    As an added bonus. Sometime during the drive up and back got a large screw embedded into a tire. There went any profit from the weekend. Of course it was far enough to the edge that it couldn't get plugged.
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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    My bands biggest was three gigs in one day. Noon -3 in a ski lodge for the lunch crowd, 5-8 outside at the resort for a spring break party, then tear down and drive 10 miles to a wine bar to play 10-1am, then drive back to the resort to stay in our condo. No one was keen to wake up early to go skiing the next day. All the shows were fun, but it was a lot of work! We setup and ran all our sound, and that was a huge part of the day...approximately 4 hrs of being a roadie.
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    Our all originals trio played once or twice a week and maxed out at three one week, and that felt busy. My only feat of endurance was at a kayaking festival where the leader refused to take a break so that we played two hours straight through. I couldn't take the busy schedules described above. It would be too much like work and I'm retired.

    Festivals can be terrible because whatever we would do to fix the mix would be countered by the guy at the board fifty feet away.
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    At a long-defunct ski area (Storm King, maybe?) south of Poughkeepsie, NY, my college rock band played 3 weekend gigs in the base lodge, I think 5 hoours each. 15 hours out of 48 or so. And that was long enough ago that most electric guitar strings were as heavy as acoustic's. Yes, I remember shreaded fingertips!
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    I used to have a gig twice a year, Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night. All 4 hours and all solo. At the time I played a lot and it was easy enough to do. Now I try to keep gigs at 3 hours and only take one break, tho we did a 4 hour gig as a duo with one 15 min. break a few weeks ago. Just how it works out sometimes.
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    Our trio had booked a gig at a club on a local military base. We showed up a little early as it was our first time there and as we walked in the door with our instrument cases the club manager came over to us and said there was a problem. We could hear a band playing in the ballroom. The fellow explained that they had made a mistake with the booking arrangements and scheduled another group for the same evening as us. He asked us to wait while he cut us a check (full agreed upon value) and after about ten minutes we were on our way home with the money. All smiles and laughter on the ride home. Best gig ever.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Gig stories...

    Used to gig 4.5 hours nightly, 5-7 nights a week. Did 21 straight days several times. Was always ready to hang myself by the last nights of those three week stretches. Too much of a good thing I guess. That's a young man's game. I try to keep my gig days to 1-3 times a month now. It's also nice not to have to hump around heavy PA gear, amplifiers, lights, etc.

  11. #10
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    My main band is a Gospel band and we frequently play the typical Sunday Morning Gospel show for various festivals... Which is usually for sometime between 9am and 11am on a Sunday morning.

    A few years ago we were due to play at 9:30am, and as we were setting up on stage and the time to start got closer and closer it became obvious that the sound people were not going to make it (it turned out that they had a scheduling problem).

    So we stepped down from the stage to play in the audience area under a nice tree. It was one of our best, most favorite performing experiences, in fact it made us want to play off-stage all the time.
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  12. #11
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    In college and after I played in a Country Rock Band, and always loved (not) getting to a gig in SE Iowa to find out that they expected a Country Band. We played at a little venue in Hills, IA every Thursday and Saturday night for quite a while. My Neuro Anatomy weekly quizzes were at 0800 every Friday, so I'd have to be studied up for the quiz before load-in. Wish I could remember any Neuro Anatomy, but I got Honors that semester.

    Several years later, I was in a Bluegrass band we were doing a Sunday afternoon pig-picking for a current member of Congress's first run for House from North Carolina. I think the crowd expected a Blues band, but we played all the Gospel tunes we knew and both band and audience had a great time.

    Many years later, I was in a Rock Band that tried to raise awareness for Women's Cancers. We would hit the rehearsal space on Wednesday or Thursday and play 4-5 events over a long weekend.

    Gigs are fun, but multiple gigs in a long weekend are a young person's game.

  13. #12
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    My band has had 80-120 gigs per year for 15 years...I still love it, I wish the gear was lighter, better, and more affordable.
    I think I've had most every kind of experience with the exception of a shooting or stabbing, which a friend has experienced at gigs!
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  14. #13
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    I think the most I did was 4 gigs in one weekend in a busy band I was in about 4 years ago. Now I occasionally book on my own and pull in others as I can depending on the pay. And gigs are few and far between. Had one last weekend. Got another next week but nothing on the books after that until August. Its a lot of work learning the material for a 3 hour gig and even more trying to hold a band together long enough to book months ahead. Getting tougher to get paid decent too. No one really wants to be in a band anymore in the traditional sense. The good players are in several bands and want 100 dollar min per man per gig and they dont want to practice ahead of time. They wing it and are good enough to do it. The good musicians here are booked a lot and either dont have regular jobs or have flexible hours allowing them to spend the face time needed getting gigs. emailes and PM's to venues dont work. Booking becomes a job on its on and I have a day job so its tough to spend the ground time to land one. But I am lucky to have a really good and really fun weekly jam to fall back on when I can. And I am an amateur for sure so I guess its expected.

    One of the weirdest gigs I did was when I first started gigging probably 6 or 7 years ago-- We played and got paid as a duo for playing for ... no one. Narry a customer came in that wine bar for 2-3 hours and we just kept playing because we didnt know what else to do. Even the bar keeper "went out back". Occasionally we got an invisible pity clap from him passing through the back kitchen. Mostly dead silence and all alone.
    Last edited by Astro; May-05-2019 at 10:24pm.
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  16. #14
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    Great stories! It sometimes seems ridiculous what we go through to play... glad you all go through it too!


    So back in November we were playing at this bar, pretty packed show, people dancing... and all the sudden three firemen in full gear walk through the bar. The owner of the bar is to my left and he lights up and runs through the crowd as soon as he sees them. Apparently a woman accessed an old rarely used elevator in the back in a storage area (when she was intoxicated) and when she got stuck without her cell phone she pushed the help button and it called the local fire department.

    I thought, "that's crazy" but - within 30 mins (2am bar close) the police were lined up on the street outside with four cars, lights on, and they even fired out tear gas! There is a problem club that is right next door to where we play and the police show up every night - it had nothing to do with our gig, but teargas was a new and crazy twist! Fire and police departments are only supposed to be spectators.
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  17. #15
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    One extra benefit of gigging is that it makes you know the material in a way nothing else can. I mean you've played it a thousand times and think you know it but get to a gig in front of a crowd and the adrenaline/anxiety hits and/or the place is full of all kinds of crazy distractions and poof--can't remember where you are in the song--forgot to capo up and playing 2 octaves too low and you've already started---cant quite remember the first line in a song and play the intro around and around until a bandmate yells it out for you---start off in the wrong beat and/or strum pattern for the song and have to cripple thru it with that look on your face and your bandmates face like what the He!! ? --or my worst nightmare of all you start the chord progression for one song thinking you are doing it only to realize you're singing a similar but different song after you've started. I've made every mistake in the book yet I'm still alive and strumming. In fact only after you've made the mistakes and survived and able to laugh it off do you get relaxed enough to perform your best. Don't mean to say I've mastered it. Still getting nervous, distracted, and making the same mistakes but I think less frequently and better able to adapt and roll with it than a few years ago.
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    Celtic Bard michaelpthompson's Avatar
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    Exclamation Re: Gig stories...

    Wow, I can identify with so many of these things. Overbooked St. Patrick's Day weekends (I have an Irish band, so it's our time of year.), forgetting the lyrics to a song you've done a thousand times, or singing the same verse two or three times because you forgot you had already done it, starting off too high, too fast, or both, so you're completely straining and out of breath by the end.

    Worst sound system nightmare I ever had, we played a charity benefit concert in an old theatre. The stage was up in the balcony, and the sound echoed off the concrete back wall. Never even saw the sound man, I don't know where he was, but he had the main volume up incredibly loud, and little, if any monitor, so we virtually had no idea what we sounded like. Trying to stay in sync with the ultraloud echo coming back at us. Like a lot of you, I prefer to tune my own system, but carrying it in and out and never having enough time for the sound check can get quite old.

    Never had the fire department arrive at a gig, though we did get the cops called on us a couple of times for playing bagpipes too loud for the neighborhood.

    Quit all this you say? And give up music?

  20. #17
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    This last summer I diagnosed myself with multiple symptoms of heat stroke while on stage, which was a new experience for me.

    We got a gig to play in a treehouse balcony for the folks on the ground in a sort of reverse Juliet situation [treehouse built by Treehouse Masters if you watch that show]. Amazing location, nice crowd, good pay ... what's not to like?

    Well, being in the tree canopy on a near 90 degree day meant full sun plus zero air movement. Within a few songs I was pouring sweat, after 45 minutes of our 2 hour gig I was feeling dizzy, confused, and was watching for one additional symptom of heat stroke before I left stage, poured cold water over myself and sought help from the host.

    As I was thinking all this, we started the Bob Wills tune Right or Wrong - constant shifting chords partly doing circle of 5ths and partly not. I took perhaps the worst solo I ever had - tried to play the changes and got lost, then realized I was one fret off as well as having my timing off ... I was thankful the folks on the ground likely could barely hear it as it was a complete and utter train wreck like I've never had on stage.

    Thankfully, the guitarist broke a string so we got a minute off stage, I poured icewater over myself, removed hat/shoes, left a cool wet washcloth behind my neck the next song and somehow cooled off enough to play a decent show.

    I've had bandmates argue, had to stop the show because of shots fired in the parking lot, and had someone who tipped me $20 into my pocket mid-solo onstage - repeatedly ... but the near heat stroke gig will always be one of the most scary ones and as it includes my worst solo ever I don't think I could forget it.
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    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    As for busking on the street, 10 years ago we got our band to go play a Friday night on the student mall at the University here - really fun location but lots of drunks.

    We made it to 10:30, when some heavily intoxicated guy came over and started `singing' along like a wounded, tone-deaf, rhinoscerous. He loved us so much, he decided to tip us ... by trying to throw quarters into the soundhole of our guitarists one week old HD28 as we were playing. He looked in shock as a couple actually went in the soundhole - then one banged off the top and I swear our calm, cool, collected guitarist was going to smash that guitar over the drunk idiots head.

    That guitarist never played another farmers market or anything off a formal stage with us again. So heartbreaking to have the audience completely disrespect not only musician but instrument.
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  22. #19
    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    My band used to have a weekly Sunday night gig at a local bar. Since it was Sunday, we usually player 7-11pm. One weekend, we played a Friday bar gig in a town about 5 hours away, then a wedding in Glacier Park that Saturday. We camped out that night, then drove home in time to play a beer festival in a park downtown. After that, we rushed over to the bar for our weekly gig. We were running a little late, and feeling pretty frazzled. As we were setting up, a woman was already fairly drunk, came up and started giving us a hard time. "It said in the paper that the music starts at 7. It's 7:15 and you aren't playing yet!" I was in no mood, and said to her: "We're musicians, not accountants."
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  23. #20
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    Well, I play about 200 gigs annually, mostly but not exclusively solo, emphasis on playing for "seniors," by which I mean people even older than me (I'm 75). I have 24 scheduled between today and June 5; on two days I have two jobs, on two other days I have three. Since I have a pretty established formula for the seniors' performances, I don't feel particularly stressed. Done my share of over-extensions in the past, and many of the "$5,000 worth of gear in a $500 car, driving five hours to play for $50" gigs, but have wised up somewhat in my old age. The days of the four-hour bar gigs, getting home and putting away the PA at 3 a.m. on a "work night," are behind me. No drunks, no club owners stiffing me on the supposedly-agreed-upon pay because "you didn't draw," no competing with the big-screen TV showing closed-caption hockey, just one-hour mid-afternoon sing-alongs, a few host gigs where I do a song and then MC for the rest of the evening, some local libraries, historical societies, museums etc.

    Some of it was fun, and made for good stories, but getting things manageable was overall a wise move. My old bluegrass band did play for a guinea pig race in a shopping mall once, but that's another story...
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  24. #21
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    I think the most we've done in one day is 3, and that would be a senior center, a school and then a library, or a school, a nursing home and a bar gig, but that's mostly just in March (we're also an ITM band). We've had all sorts of stuff go wrong, of course, including at one assisted living facility where one of the residents decided we weren't playing anything Irish and walked out and then back in with a bunch of sheets of paper he passed out and wanted us to lead a sing-along-of old Broadway tunes with some semblance of Irish in them (we're all about traditional Irish, not Green Alligators). We weren't invited back the next year ... the year after that, the venue wanted a list of what songs we were playing. I said we could tell them anything and just play what we usually do since they wouldn't know the difference but they never got back to us to talk money ... I remember one school gig where the musicians (we're a community band so we'd sign up for whatever was needed during march and try to balance who showed up; sometimes people would appear without signing up, sometimes people who signed up wouldn't show...) so i arrive with my mandolin and set up some chairs and who showed up? four whistles. me and four whistles. And two of them were beginners who couldn't actually play, with or without music (which they brought). The only saving grace was one of the whistlers had his low whistle (and his bagpipes, but that was just for piping the kids in as they took their seats in the cafeteria -- and then went to get food and proceeded to talk the entire time) and the other had brought the old box he had inherited from a neighbor and could play 3 tunes on it. And we played the entire lunch hours for the entire school in 20 minute increments, probably eight separate offerings. One of the more memorable gigs!
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  25. #22
    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    My acoustic group worked up a dozen or so holiday tunes one year and got booked at several Christmas parties and business open house events. One booking was at a local furniture store. It was pretty dead but we we each made $50 and had a good time just playing with each other. The last half hour, one of our band members wife shows up to hear us and starts looking around. His $50 gig ended up costing him about $2,000 once she stopped shopping. On the bright side, it was a very nice couch...
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  26. #23

    Default Re: Gig stories...

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    [snip] My old bluegrass band did play for a guinea pig race in a shopping mall once, but that's another story...



    Best gig story evar!!!

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  28. #24

    Default Re: Gig stories...

    Having played somewhere between 1,000-2,000 gigs in my lifetime... I've got a lot of doozies in my gig storybook. Most of the most interesting ones were weddings. I've been saying, "weddings are like a box of chocolates" for many years. Some amazing nights, playing for amazing families.

    And some hellish weddings.

    Showing-up, setting-up, and finding-out the bride and groom each booked a different band for the reception... so one had to go (US! Because the bride always wins).

    Bride and groom being arrested during the gig and spending their wedding night in jail.

    Bride and groom's families sitting on opposite sides of the hall... staring daggers at each other (think Hatfields and McCoys).

    Getting rained-out and having gear soaked in a freak bad thunderstorm... followed by the bride's father (a very rich doctor) refusing to pay us, since we were unable to finish the gig. The bride... also a doctor, ended-up paying us, but we didn't get paid for a few weeks. One of the big main PA cabs fell on my big toe as we loaded-out after that mess, and I lost my toe nail.

    Having to have a tractor load all of our gear up to the second floor in a barn loft, because there was only a ladder to get up there. But that particular wedding ended-up being a very fun gig. That loft was FULL of partying "country folk" and we had a blast.

    Still... every wedding was always like opening up a white elephant gift. Just never knew what you were getting into. I could write a book on it... if I could remember most of it. I've never been a drinker, but there were so many that it's all just a blur at this point.

  29. #25
    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gig stories...

    My "worst gig" story:
    We were booked one year to play for the last day of the season party at a popular local ski hill. It's a long drive up a steep, icy road, then the gear gets ferried up, little by little, in a snowmobile with a large box on the back.
    Towards the end of the first set, I started having bad pain in my gut. Halfway through the second set, it hurt so bad that I couldn't stand. It was horrible, and I had no idea what was wrong. I basically laid in a corner while the band finished the night, occasionally being teased by drunks for not being able to hold my liquor, then the load out, and the creep down the mountain. So it was about 4 hours from the time I started feeling bad to the time they got me to the hospital. It turned out to be a kidney stone-absolutely the worst pain that I've ever felt.
    The good part is that I got paid the same as everybody else, even though I only played half the gig.
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