Author Topic: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)  (Read 11601 times)

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Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #490 on: October 07, 2017, 12:22:04 AM »
Pretty good gig tonight.  The last time we were there (which was only a couple of posts ago), I could barely be heard.  Well, we solved that problem.  I ran both keyboards through my on-stage amp, and ran a line out to a single direct box and then into the snake.  My amp was basically functioning as a pre-amp to send more signal to the DI box, and I could still use it onstage as a monitor for just me.

During sound check, I was getting a bunch of noise whenever I'd played chords right around middle C.  Too thick and heavy, something was getting overdriven, so I backed it off a bit, but it didn't help.  They asked me what was going on, why did I keep turing down, and I said it was because of all the noise.  Literally everyone else said it sounded fine to them, in fact the keys sounded great in their ears, so apparently it was just mine.  I never did figure it out.

Eventually I just turned my in-ear box way down and listened through the mains.  I stand right next to the drum kit, right behind one of the guitarists' on-stage amp, and I could still hear myself coming through the mains, bouncing off the back wall.  So I was loud.  I could hear me and the vocals through the P.A., and everyone else on stage, so what the hell, I didn't need my IEMs anyway.  We only played about 75 minutes, then tore down quick and were off the stage in about ten minutes.  This only left five minutes for the next band to set up, sorry but that wasn't really our problem.  It was stupid -- there's no way to completely change out in 15 minutes, but that's what the owners wanted.  Morons.  Anyway, it was closer to 25 minutes between bands, but whatever.  Had like three or four people tell me we sounded great, and a few specifically said the keyboards sounded great, so that was cool.

By time the Bowie tribute band started, I was all packed up, sitting with Jerry and David (bass and guitar, respectively), and drinking a bottle of water.  They ordered food and a pitcher of beer, but I still had a 45-minute drive home ahead of me and was tired, so I just drank water and ate some of David's fries.  Checked out the first couple of songs by the Bowie tribute band.  They were good; the singer sounded very much like David Bowie, only a bit fuller and richer, so maybe even better than Bowie himself, although that's obviously sacrilege to say.  His voice was very similar and he had the inflections and quirks down, but while Bowie's voice is rather fragile sounding, has that delicate control, this guy's voice was stronger, but still with the quirky control that Bowie had.  If Bowie's comeback in the 90's had come with a stronger, fuller voice, it would have sounded like this guy.  They sounded great.

I hit the road after three or four songs, obviously well before the third band was anywhere near the stage.  But I was tired (and still am).  I'll try to remember to post pictures when we get them.

Offline Orbert

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Gig Pictures!
« Reply #491 on: December 14, 2017, 09:03:59 PM »
Hurricane Relief - October 2017

We were the first of three bands, big fund-raiser, but we got paid too, which was cool.

David (electric), Angela (vocals), Orbert (keyboards), Jessica (vocals), JT (drums), Jerry (bass), John (acoustic)




Halloween 2017

Silly little bar in a strip mall, but the money was alright and the crowd was good.







I set up my stuff in the corner as always.  Commandeered a table for my Droid and my Coke, and I'm ready to Rock.



« Last Edit: May 18, 2018, 01:38:45 PM by Orbert »

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #492 on: December 14, 2017, 10:15:51 PM »
2017 ended up not too badly.  We played six gigs this year, with the current lineup.  Started with the concert in the park, then the shopping center, then four actual gigs in bars for something like real money, counting the Hurricane Relief Event.  With seven people in the band, all busy with all kinds of other stuff, it's amazing that we can schedule anything at all, and we're nuts for even trying it, but players gotta play.  There are worse things you can do on a Saturday night.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2017, 10:20:54 PM by Orbert »

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #493 on: December 17, 2017, 11:42:33 PM »
 :metal :metal :metal

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #494 on: May 10, 2018, 12:33:12 PM »
Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 90 days.
Unless you're sure you want to reply, please consider starting a new topic.

Yeah, yeah.  So sue me.

Haven't posted an update in a while, because nothing has been happening, while at the same time, a lot has been happening.  That last post was on December 14, 2017.  I believe it was the very next practice, on December 16, that our band leader John told us that he'd been diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer.

Before we had a chance to all start freaking out, he plowed forward.  First of all, throat cancer almost never gets diagnosed until Stage 3 or 4 anyway, because it's one of those that just doesn't have obvious symptoms, and by the time it's diagnosed, it's pretty far along.  But the "good" news (it's all relative) is that cancer stages are all defined by the same criteria, and while Stage 4 sounds really bad, for this type of cancer it is still somehow not too bad.  90% of people with this specific type of throat cancer beat it, and the odds only go up if the person is in otherwise good health and good shape physically.  John is the oldest member of the band (I think he's 58) but easily in the best physical shape of all of us.  He runs every day, works out regularly, and is the band's main roadie.  Anyway, the odds are very, very good that he'll beat this, but it's still cancer and it's still scary.  Radiation and chemotherapy are scary, and even after the physical recovery, the emotional recovery can take up to a year or more.  He was preparing us by basically sharing everything he knew about it.

We didn't have any bookings for the holidays, so between that and John's condition, it was decided that the band take a break for a while, and will resume rehearsals when John feels up to it.

Treatment started within a few weeks.  John's a communicator, with detailed emails sent every couple of weeks, telling us how things were going.  Treatment lasted eight weeks, recovery has been ongoing.  We started band rehearsals again, I think it was in March sometime.  John looks incredible, not much different from how he looked before.  Honestly, if you didn't know, you would never guess that the guy had recently beaten cancer.  No hair loss, lost some weight but he's always been a lean guy, and his voice is kinda funny now but that too was expected.

So we've been learning new songs, and brushing up songs in the bag, with an eye towards getting out there and gigging again.  The temptation was to take an extended break, since it's kinda hard to keep morale up and keep practicing and working hard to learn new songs when there are no gigs on the books.  Actually, we booked a thing in September; John took it because he guessed that he'd be recovered by then, and even if not, the nature of the gig allowed us to back out of it if necessary without it really hurting us.  Other than that, however, John has insisted that we do not book anything until he feels ready to gig again, because booking stuff and then having to cancel is bad and ultimately hurts us more than not gigging at all.

We've learned ten more songs, some of them pretty challenging.  "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas, "Never Been Any Reason" by Head East, other stuff with keyboards, guitars, three-part vocals, killer songs.  We keep getting better and better.

As always, we practice a bit, then take a break, eat lunch/snacks, and chat.  Bonding time.  This last practice, JT brought up something that's been on everybody's minds that no one wanted to bring up.  When is John going to be ready to gig again?  He looks great.  But looks can be deceiving.  He still tires easily, and faces serious fatigue by the end of the day.  Emotionally, he's all messed up, because the chemo and radiation have fucked up his body pretty badly.  The cancer is gone.  Beaten, over with.  Clean bill of health.  That's great, we're all glad, and we've been keeping things positive throughout the past few months, while working on new songs, brushing up older ones, and trying to be ready for when we might gig again.  But finally, JT said that it's getting harder and harder to keep doing this with no real payoff in sight.

When we get together and play, it's amazing.  We really are very good.  And it's great playing these songs, some really hard songs, and kicking ass on them.  But obviously the goal is not to just play with ourselves in the basement, it's to get out there, and when is that going to happen?

John reiterates that he's not ready, and cannot say when he will be ready.  It's different for everyone, and obviously he's never been through this before, so he has no idea.  He will not even guess.  He won't say "probably __ months" or "hopefully __ months" or anything like that.  John is in clinical depression, a result of the enzymes and other chemicals that norally keep us happy and mentally balanced being all fucked up by the radiation and chemo.  He literally is not of sound mind right now, knows that, admits it, but still cannot do anything about it.  It's frustrating for him and everyone else, but it is what it is.  So the band is in perpetual limbo.

David has another band, and they're not as good as us (he admits) but they're gigging and we're not.  JT has been picking up gigs here and there when this other band needs a drummer.  They kinda suck (his words) but they're gigging and we're not.  Jerry has another band which isn't gigging.  Angela and I have plenty of other musical outlets.  Jess is pregnant with her first baby, so she's not looking to take on anything else.  But overall, we're all pretty anxious to get out there.  And John does not know when that will be, and cannot and will not even guess when that will be, so that leaves us... nowhere.


Yesterday I got a call from JT.  This other band he's in does kinda suck, but the singer is actually pretty awesome.  JT is looking to put something together because he's tired of not gigging.  The singer from his other band and Angela from our band have already talked a few times.  They will be our vocalists (one male, one female, ironically the same as the original plan for our band), he will play drums obviously, and he wants me for keyboards if I'm interested.  Guitarists and bassists aren't quite a dime a dozen anymore, not good ones anyway, but he figures they will probably be the easiest spots to fill.  And he needs my in because without it, he's not gonna bother.  Way too hard to find a good keyboard player, and he considers me a great keyboard player.  I thank him for the compliment.

He called it a "super group" with the best of the two bands he's in, plus whoever else he can find.  It may take a while to put anything together, and if FlashDrive starts back up, he'll just drop it.  But between the two bands, we know a lot of songs.  He doesn't think I'll have any trouble learning the songs his other band plays (and he's probably right).  It'll be at least a few months before we have anything, but he wanted to know if I was interested, and sure, I'll check it out.  Players gotta play.

So lots of things, and lots of nothings.  We shall see.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #495 on: May 18, 2018, 07:28:06 PM »
Shit.

Band practice is tomorrow.  John sent out the list earlier this week; no new songs to learn, but 12 to review.  A nice mix of stuff we've learned more recently and stuff we've had "in the bank" for a while, older stuff and newer stuff, simpler stuff and more complex stuff, and I really should run through them all again before tomorrow, because I haven't played some of these songs in months.

But it's Friday night, I worked my ass off this week, I'm already tired right now, sitting here eating leftovers, and I just don't feel like practicing.  It's not like we have any gigs coming up or anything.  Plus, I could show up tomorrow at practice and still not be the least-prepared person there.  It's just my own fucking work ethic that is screaming at me to at least run through each song once or twice.  12 songs.  I honestly like maybe half of them.

Shit.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #496 on: May 19, 2018, 06:03:50 PM »
I went to bed early.  Tired as hell, I figured I was better off sleeping, then get up and play through the songs once this morning.  I did those things.  Still had trouble getting fired up about packing all my stuff into the car and hauling it all to practice, but that's the life of a keyboard player.  The guitarists leave an amp there at John's and just have to take an axe or two, the drummer has a kit there (he was four altogether) but basically I have to haul everything every time because I don't have multiple sets of keyboards and can just leave one set there or anything.  Closest I can come is leaving an amp and stand there, which I've thought about.  That would be two fewer things to haul each time.  I'd have to get another stand and practice amp, but at least that wouldn't break the bank.

Practice itself went well.  As always, once I'm there, once I'm playing, it's a fucking rush.  It's amazing how we can get together and play songs we haven't touched since last October and still kick them out.  This band is just too damned good to be playing in a basement.  We should be out there blowing people's minds.

We have another possible gig, a benefit for Angela's friend who died a few years ago.  Every year, they have an event for her to raise money for her foundation.  They wanted us last year, but the calendar was actually kinda full last year for a while and it didn't work out.  This year, with us trying to nudge John back onto the stage, it seems like a good way to do it.  Low key, informal, we'll practically be background music.  Big thing, the band sets up at one end, people can dance or check us out, but we're not the main event or anything; we're just there playing.  Oh yeah, it's gratis as well, but whatever.  I just want to play.

And then Angela makes her big announcement, she too is pregnant.  Both of our singers are pregnant.  Did I mention that Jessica is?  Well, she is too.  We found that out a few practices ago.  So we've got a gig on the books for September, three weeks before Jess is due, and now this benefit thing in July which it looks like we'll do.  Jess is already showing, Angela is much smaller in stature and she'll be pretty far along by then as well (she and her husband chose to wait until the second trimester to say anything, so Angela will be 5-6 months in at that point).

A decision is made that considering these somewhat well-coordinated pregnancies (which was not planned, but fortunate in the big picture), that this will likely be it for us for 2018.  A benefit, and a $600 gig at a farmer's market two counties away, then we'll take a break so our singers can have their babies.  We will of course continue to rehearse every other Saturday until then.

After practice, I chat with JT a bit about this other project he's putting together.  Angela will not be one of the singers, due to her condition, so he's got someone else lined up, a girl he worked with in a band years ago who "may still have some psychological issues, but she's a lot better now".  So we agreed that FlashDrive should continue to practice, at least until these two gigs are done, but this means that if this other band gets going, practices will have to work around FlashDrive practices.  Or maybe we don't find a guitarist for a few months, and it's only a thing for a few months.  I want to play, but damn, it's bad enough hauling my shit half an hour away every time.  JT lives two counties away.  He's an hour from John's place, an hour farther away the other side from me.  I hadn't really thought about that when I told JT I was interested.  I still am, but man, not if it means every Saturday is taken, and the other band is even farther away.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #497 on: May 30, 2018, 03:33:43 PM »
Angela had said that she'd go out to the venue where this fundraiser thing was going to take place, but she hadn't yet.  I didn't think it was a good idea to take the gig without any idea what the place looked like, but she'd held off on confirming the gig until we could discuss it as a group, and they really needed an answer.  For me, a big part of the discussion was what the venue was like.  But we all want to get out there and play, so we voted to take the gig.  How bad could it be, right?

Then this week she finally went and checked the place out, and it's really small.  There's an outside deck and a space indoors if the weather gets bad.  We'd be very cramped in the outside space and just plain would not fit into the indoor space.  If the weather didn't cooperate, we'd be screwed.  Even if we played outdoors, we be crammed into a tiny space, and since we're a seven-piece band, we'd be way too loud to be "background music" for a low-key get-together.  It just didn't make sense.  So she told them that we couldn't do it.

Best band I've ever played in, hands down.  Amazing three- and four-part vocals, two guitars, keyboards, everything from classic rock to country to 90's dance music... and we will play exactly one gig this year: at the fucking farmer's market in a tiny town two counties away, for $300.  And that's if we even play that gig.  Both girls will be huge by then and dropping that gig is still a possibility.

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #498 on: July 11, 2018, 12:11:19 PM »
We have a gig!

This Saturday, actually.  Let me back up a little bit.  A month or so ago, John sent a very excited, very positive email to the group about how "it's happening!"  He thought about our last practice, and how good the band is, and it made him happy.  He practiced the guitar, and it felt good.  He realized that it had been a long time since he'd actually felt happy and felt good about playing music, and this was a sign that the clinical depression was finally going away and he's getting back to normal, psychologically.  I have no personal experience with clinical depression, other than observing a few people around me, so I probably shouldn't comment, but I just have to say that it must be weird to do something, know that it's good, know that at some point in the past that it would have made you very happy to do, and somehow not feel anything.  These last several practices have been weird.  John knows how good we are, also knows when we fuck things up and what to do about it, continues to schedule rehearsals, etc., yet through it all feels no excitement about any of it.  He's just going through the motions because he knows what needs to be done, but there's no feeling behind any of it.

Anyway, "it's happening!" prompted John to call the local bar where we played a few times last year (the place where all the pictures are either blue or red, because that's how their lights are set up) and book a gig.  That gig is this Saturday.

The gig is the "John Kicked Cancer's Ass" event.  Awesome.

So of course, last Thursday, I switch everything on, prepare to practice a bit, let the (analog) synth warm up a little, and no sound comes out.  Lights are on, they respond appropriately to the switches, but nothing comes out.  Change inputs, change outputs, change cords, nothing.  The same cord plugged into the back of the Yamaha produces sound.  I plug it into the back of the synth, nothing.  Fuck!

It is now in the shop.  I hope to hell that they know what they're doing.  They're the top-rated, top-recommended place in the area for repairing vintage electronics (several reviews specifically mentioned older, analog synthesizers), so they're my best shot.  I do not, however, entertain any delusions that they'll have it diagnosed, fixed, and back to me within a week.

Jerry has an old Roland Fantom for some reason.  He doesn't play keyboards, but it has enough electronics and effects built into it that he's been using it as his bass effects "pedal board" for a while, in his home studio.  He brought it to practice last Saturday, I set it up and played with it.  I've been working with it this week, figuring out how to work it well enough to get through this Saturday's gig.  I'm pretty well prepared.

Jess is no longer pregnant.  :(  At a regularly scheduled check-up, they were not able to detect a heartbeat.  This was a few weeks back.  Since then, they have done all the things necessary to remove a no-longer-living fetus from a womb.

This scares Angela.  They're the same age, and it would've been the first child for each of them.  Angela is still pregnant, but now she's spooked and wants to take it easy, not take any chances between now and when her baby is born.  That means no gigging (after this Saturday's gig).  John has been talking to this girl he knows about being our substitute lead singer.  I pointed out to John that we have to be very careful, because for all we know, the position could become permanent.  At this point, Angela expects the baby to be born, and after an appropriate amount of time off, she'll be ready to practice and gig again.  But we all know that having a baby changes everything.  It definitely changes priorities and lifestyles.

This Saturday's gig is on.  The gig in September is now in jeopardy.  John is back and ready to gig, but now Jess is depressed and Angela is scared, both of them quite justifiably, so everything's up in the air.

No word recently about this other thing JT was trying to put together.  I'm guessing it went on hold when John announced that he was back in the New York Groove, but now that everything's in limbo again, who knows?  Who the fuck knows about anything?

Offline Ben_Jamin

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #499 on: July 13, 2018, 07:14:05 PM »
Damn man, hope all goes well. Thats some interesting band bio there though.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #500 on: July 13, 2018, 10:53:08 PM »
I swear to God, you could not make this shit up.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #501 on: July 23, 2018, 12:06:22 PM »
Gig report, although many details have already been revealed in my recent rant thread in this same subforum.

Two sets, 90 minutes apiece, because it has been observed that most people who leave the bar do so during a break.  John's logic is that fewer breaks means fewer opportunities for people to get bored and leave.

The sound man, Mark, is a moron.  But he is also one of the owners, it's all his sound equipment, and he actually owns a sound & light production company, which he somehow believes qualifies him to be a sound technician.  It does not.  I could go buy a pizza place and own a pizza place, but I still wouldn't know jack shit about making pizzas or running a pizza place, so having a 3-digit IQ, I would hire someone to run my pizza place for me.  Everyone knows that keyboards are optional in a rock and roll band.  Keyboard players stand up there thinking they make a difference and make things sound better, but most people who go to drink shitty beer in shithole bars wouldn't know the difference, therefore Mark clearly doesn't give a shit whether or not the keyboards can be heard.  John is very proud of his keyboard player and has stacked the set lists with tunes that feature keys interacting with guitars, and three-part vocals.  These are two things he considers our greatest strengths and, in all modesty, I agree with him.  We sound fucking fantastic.

Except that neither my playing nor my vocals were audible during the first set, because Mark is a moron.  Oh yeah, we've been over that.

This is where the fact that we played two 90-minute sets comes in.  If we played four sets with three breaks, someone could have talked to Mark during the first break and I only would have been inaudible for 1/4 of the show.  Instead, I was inaudible for 1/2 of the show.  By all accounts, the second set featured much better balance and I could actually be heard (both vocals and keyboards).  Why does it take half the show for him to figure out that there are seven people up there and you can only hear six of them?  Actually, why does it take more than half a song to figure that out?  The answer is: He doesn't figure it out; he doesn't adjust anything until the break when John, backed by several others, point out that there is indeed a seventh person up there that no one can hear.  So all those glorious three-part vocals, and the keyboards (including a number of solos), were only heard for half the show.  After half the people left, because regardless of the mix, it is really fucking loud in there, and people have told us that we sound great, but they just can't stay because it's so damned loud.

I'd post pictures, but because Mark's lights are all the same as before and he's still no better at running lights, they all look the same as the ones I've posted before from this same venue, so fuck it.  And fuck this fucking venue.

We played well.  We sounded great, at least in our in-ear monitors, because we can adjust our own mixes.  I walked out of there psyched up from playing a great gig, and with $100 in my pocket, and felt really good until I saw some of the videos people were sharing.  Well, until I heard them.  Oh well.

So sad.  We really do sound great, and we're only getting better, but this may well have been our last gig, because it's just too hard to keep a seven-piece band together.  Too many people, too many variables, too many things that can and do go wrong.

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #502 on: August 03, 2018, 03:09:16 PM »
So sad.  We really do sound great, and we're only getting better, but this may well have been our last gig, because it's just too hard to keep a seven-piece band together.  Too many people, too many variables, too many things that can and do go wrong.

Sad to hear.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #503 on: August 05, 2018, 05:45:37 PM »
John posted an ad in one of the local online band/musician/vocalist hookup sites looking for a substitute singer.  He thinks we should keep moving forward, with a substitute singer for now, until Angela is ready to gig again.  I can't fault his logic, I suppose.  There is still the slim possibility that we can book some gigs later in the year.  It's the cost/benefit ratio I'm concerned with.  I'm guessing it will take a minimum of two months, possibly more like three, to get a new singer up to speed.  Even if she knows most or all of our songs, we still need to work out vocal harmonies, and we do need to at least run through the songs a few times each, and we have 40 or 50 songs.  But sure, why not keep moving forward?  Honestly, if it's a choice between this and taking six (or more) months off, I vote for getting a substitute up to speed.  But really, spending three months getting a new member up to speed, so that we're "available" for gigs, may not actually score any during that time, and then our regular singer comes back and we've really spent all that time rehearsing for nothing?  Ouch.  That's the rub.  If we knew for sure that we'd be playing gigs, we'd know it's worth it to go with a sub.  If we knew for sure that we won't get any gigs, then I'd vote for just taking some time off.  I do have a number of other musical outlets.  I love to rock and roll, but I do have other outlets.

Also: How many singers that are actually any good are not already in a working band and would be willing to take a temporary gig like this?  Spend two or three months, maybe play a couple of gigs, then our regular singer comes back and it's "Bye, thanks, see-ya!"  I don't think I would.  I might take a gig as a sub if the band had gigs booked and I'd actually be rehearsing with a known payoff on the books.  But all this for a maybe?  Again, if we can find someone willing and able, sure.  So we'll see.

Another thought: Having kids changes things.  It is possible that Angela takes time off, has her baby, loves being a mommy, and decides that being a middle-aged singer in a bar band is kind of dumb and decides not to come back.  Not only do we lose an incredible singer (and total babe), but it would then make sense to offer our substitute singer a permanent position.  So really, we should be looking for a singer who we'd be good with taking on full time.  Interesting, because either way, you want someone with talent, who you can work with in terms of personality and all that, but there's still a difference between lowering your standards to just find someone "good enough" with the idea that in six or eight months, you're back to the original lineup, and finding someone to be a permanent replacement.

Or maybe it's not that different.  Hell, I don't know.  I just want to rock and roll.