Playing in a Wedding Band
Published by Dave Helman on June 7th, 2018 in Uncategorized
From my long experience spending time making music and working with other musicians, we get the “bug,” and no setback or side road stops us thinking about practicing and performing music.
While others are relaxing at a function gig or event, we are driving , loading, and at last playing music; for the most part, for small amounts of money in the hope of landing the dream gig (see Ringo in “A HARD DAYS NIGHT”).
This band fell apart when the leader left, but as fate would have it (50% fate + 50% being ready to play an instrument at a professional level), 10 years ago, I got a call to play drums in a lounge band as a sideman.
So, I made a decision to keep the band alive. At the age of 45 years old, I’m finally calling the shots, booking, and playing in what would become a wedding/ club band.
Which was probably what a lot of my musical friends thought, as they battled club management to allow the band refreshments and a meal (similar to their onsite contract staff). Remember guys / girls, you are not liaising with a person who has the complete collection of Coltrane on vinyl. This guy is looking at a balance sheet and talking to his/her boss about profits.
I REST MY CASE (the big picture) OR “I’m Married to my Wedding Band” from a DRUMMERS PERSPECTIVE
- I don’t do as much “door knocking cold calling.” The business comes to me • wedding bookings are in advance, you can plan your year and pick up other sideman gigs • I am taking booking deposits in advance, so the bank balance stays in credit.
- look at how much is spent on catering, flowers, photography? The musicians I have chosen to work with are gifted and professional just as these other people involved in the wedding are. And, I pay these musicians in accordance with those outgoings, if you get my drift?
Booking and running a band can be hard work. However, you are in control of your own path rather than hope the phone will ring.
- You get to play lots of brushes. Drummers I admire and of course emulate are brush players: Mel Lewis Jeff Hamilton even Gadd hits the brushes with a beautiful style.There is much to learn at low volumes.
- You can hear your cymbals!! from a whisper shimmer to a crash later in the evening.
- bossa nova … swing …. funk…. rock (it’s like Mr. Tommy Igoes “groove essentials book …I’m honing skills and working at the same time!)
- part of my sales pitch is to learn a special song for the bride and groom…which sometimes translates into me transcribing a new song I am not familiar with.
- This song then ends up in my teaching studio the following week as a lesson.
- Another great thing to remember is, this is an important event in someone’s life and music plays a big part of if. This is very TANGIBLE to all who attend the ceremony and reception….SO
- be on time
- dress professionally
- smile greet guests and strike up a conversation if there is time…this could be your next client
- do not “over indulge” drinking and eating in general “it’s a very bad look”
- You may not see the bride and groom again, however chances are you will be working with the caterers and the venue owners. They notice, they talk and they do meet!!
- any “de-brief” will involve “and the band was ….”
- competition is all around you
This represents my last 10 years on the road, and these are just a few points that come to mind and I hope this gives heart to other drummers who don a bowtie and get to play the drums in an environment that I have found both financially rewarding and some nights, musical bliss. Here’s hoping the next 10 years are just as good!
Have a great gig whatever you do, self-respect and pay your rent too!!
by Dave Helman