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Thread: First gig audition!

  1. #1


    Our town has an upscale privately owned Italian restaurant, and I've got an audition tomorrow night.

    Has anyone done something similar to this? If they want to hire me what should I ask about? What playing arrangements are typical - set length, etc.? What is reasonable to charge?

  2. #2


    You may think "Italian" but what they will want is melody based songs and tunes that are familiar. That will change with the audience, but mostly think old songs. They won't be impressed by hot-licks or obscure instrumentals. Get one of those 1001 worlds greatest song fakebooks and learn them all and you will be halfway there. These are not very musically satisfying gigs, but they help pay the bills. I would ask for $20 an hour and settle for $10 plus tips. Tips can be very good. The old ladies will love you.
    Clyde Clevenger
    Salem, Oregon
    Just my opinion, but it's right.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Nashville Indiana


    How many hours/sets
    break times...The norm around here is in a three or four hour night you play three 45.min. sets and an hour or an hour set and then three 45's
    If I play a three hour gig I do an hour and a half take a break long enough to hit the can, get a refill and take a smoke and then I am back at it...but then again part on my pay it tips so I like to keep myself in front of the people as much as I can.
    Almost everywhere will give you free drinks (sodas)
    Some places will also feed you.
    Depending on how much equipment you have to set up, some places would rather you set up early rather than disturbe people while they are eatting.
    As for the question of pay...this is a big one. Pay is different form town to town, and even different within the town.

    I have one place I do a two hour gig at(Italian restaurant) where the owner primes the tip jar with $20.00 and I play for tips. The least I have made there is $86.00 I have another place in the same town where I get a % of the sales that night plus tips. I walk away with anywhere from $150.00 to $225.00
    WARNING...unless you can put out a tip jag never play for the door. The reason being. If they offer you the door and can not pay you anything but that, they are not doing very good business and not many people come there so the money you make at the door will normaly suck.

    Just ask them what they pay. If it's something you can live with go for it. Or say something like I will play here the first time for that and if things go well I would like to see a little more.
    To quote from the song bird on a wire
    "I saw a man leaning on a wooden crutch
    he said man don't ask for so much
    I saw a pretty woman leaning in a darkened door
    She cried out man why not ask for more."

    Hope this helps and good luck

    Don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

  4. #4
    Registered User kudzugypsy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Fayetteville, NC


    depends on the clients the restaurant has - are they older & educated or is it a chain restaurant like Olive Garden with a mix of incomes and culture awareness?

    you can get A LOT of mileage out of the old standards from the 30-50's - stuff not so hard and people will remember, esp. the romantic pieces - a good standards jazz fakebook will have most you will need.

    i would think people want to hear familiar tunes, not you doing a grisman cover.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Odessa, TX


    We used to play three weekends a month for about 50-60 per person per night. There were 4 or 5 of us each night. So the typical place paid $200-250 per night. We also played places where we all ate, had soft drinks, and paid for our gas if we were lucky. We played for the door a couple of times and never made anything. We determined not to do that again. Typically we received $20-25 per hour and we played old familiar songs. Some people complained because we didn't play alot of new stuff...but we were always working while others were at home...and in all honesty, we weren't as good as some of the others, we just didn't cost as much and we played what the older customers wanted.

    We also played some freebees and didn't mind doing it for special occasions, or for practice, but most of the time, we at least got a meal out of it and a little bit of cash. I received enough over the year or so that I bought a couple of new instruments. That is probably the thing I miss the most about being in a group, I spent my portion of the pay on upgrading my equipment.

    We always set up an hour or two before the gig and checked the sound as well as you can in an empty room.

    Just my two cents...that'll be $25 please.

  6. #6


    Hey - I passed the audition!

    They have an accordion player Wed and Fri, and they said Saturday is too busy and loud, so they want me Thursday nights. $25 per hour, playing for about 3-4 hours - no tips, which is fine with me as it makes people more approachable and open to appreciating the music.

    This is a very fancy place - several notches up from a place like Olive Garden. My antique bowlback and classical Italian folk repertoire fit the place perfectly. This is going to be a blast!

    Thanks for all the advice everyone.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Gloucestershire, UK


    Do tell us how it goes.

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