Author Topic: The Saga of Orbert's Band  (Read 29761 times)

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Offline Architeuthis

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #560 on: December 02, 2019, 11:37:35 AM »
It's always difficult with line-up changes. It's not easy to keep a band together when everybody has jobs and families.
 I just met some guys that said they wanted to do some originals and wanted me to go play with them. They were excited to know that I have a bunch of originals to work on. When I got there and set up, all they wanted to do was covers.  I didn't even get a chance to present any originals. So typical!
 The guy that invited me owns a music store and had a nice electronic drum kit set up in there after store hours. It was a nice place to play and they are good musicians, but I don't think the original thing will pan out. Therefore, I'm out!   :facepalm:
You can do a lot in a lifetime if you don't burn out too fast, you can make the most of the distance, first you need endurance first you've got to last....... NP

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #561 on: December 02, 2019, 12:21:56 PM »
Bummer.  Not meeting expectations is one thing, but being told one thing and then finding out that that's not how it is would suck.


John said he'd communicate with each of the singers this week.  Jerry told him not to scare them away.  Historically, our band has been able to put material together pretty quickly because we all understand how it works.  Showing up to rehearsal without knowing your parts is amateur shit.  Or at the very least, say something.  There were eight songs on the list, and obviously the plan was to go through each one, hopefully nail most of them down.  We'd start songs, vocals don't come in, or they come in early and cut off part of the solo, or some shit.  "Sorry, I didn't really work on this one"?  What the fuck?  Then we're wasting everyone's time here.  But Jerry's point is important.  That first rehearsal rocked, but those were all songs that everyone already knew, or mostly.  Let's not assume that 15 minutes per song is gonna work as the norm going forward.  Sure, it will get tighter over time, but as before, just running through the song one more time at rehearsal can make a big difference.  Boring, yeah, but necessary.

So hopefully John is tactful and we still have both singers at the end of the week.

Offline Architeuthis

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #562 on: December 02, 2019, 01:42:01 PM »
I can relate. I remember going through different drummers and handing them some original songs on CD.  There was only one of them that actually listened to the CD and memorized the parts. It made our practices so much more productive and much better live shows.  The other drummers would only work on the parts at practice which got really frustrating.
 Our good drummer had a mid-life crisis and moved away.. Curse of the drummers!
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Offline pcs90

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #563 on: December 28, 2019, 05:26:17 PM »
Wow...I've been gone for a while and it appears I missed a pretty decent amount of stuff. Hopefully the next few rehearsals improve.
You already touched on a point I was going to make. Since the band hasn't worked with either of these singers for long at all, it's still potentially very unclear as to how quickly they learn new material, how much free time they actually are willing to take on their own to learn said new material, etc.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #564 on: December 28, 2019, 08:43:37 PM »
I was actually just coming in here to post an update, since we had rehearsal today.  Also, I never followed up on the rehearsal right after Thanksgiving, and we did have a rehearsal two weeks ago.  Also, we another one a week from today because John's going out of town for a while, then David is, and we won't get together again until Feb 15, and we have a gig on Feb 22.  So John wants to nail down enough songs for a full show now, then we'll have Feb 15 to brush up before the gig on Feb 22.  Damn!  During the holidays and everything.  The guy's insane.  But no one has quit yet.  Right now, that's the best I can say.

John contacted each of the singers after the relatively crappy rehearsal Thanksgiving weekend.  People have been busy, the singers are both good but have never been in a band where they've had to coordinate so much with other singers.  Both are used to being the lead singer, doing some harmonies but mostly the backgrounds have been handled by the rest of the band.  Our entire "concept" or whatever you might call it, is that we have two strong lead singers, and therefore have built-in killer harmonies, especially when Jerry or I add parts.  But it takes some coordination and pre-work, just as the two guitarists need to figure out ahead of time who's gonna play what.  Angela and Jess used to communicate a lot between practices.  Lex and Katrina aren't used to having to do that, and are kinda still figuring out that it's not just helpful but required.  We spent a fair amount of rehearsal time today working out vocal parts.  But everyone's busy.  Also, Lex only moved to Illinois a few months ago; this is her first holidays away from family and friends and everything she knew back home.  Thanksgiving weekend, and the week leading up to it, were kinda crappy for her.  Not exactly a shock, I suppose.

Anyway, the practice on Dec 15 was much better than the one on Nov 30.  We mostly nailed down eight more songs; six "legacy" tunes and two brand new to everyone, plus we brushed up the other stuff.  Today was even better, with seven more nailed down and the others refreshed.  I think John is insane, but he wants to do another batch a week from today.  Well, as I said, no one has quit yet.

I know that sounds negative, and I suppose it's not quite that bad, yet.  But I really don't think John realizes that not everybody has the same work ethic as he does.  I mean, we've all done this before, we all know how to do our homework.  That doesn't mean we automatically push all other life obligations aside because we have songs to learn.  We also have holidays, family, shopping, work, and other real-life shit.  He's excited.  With the current lineup, we have the greatest potential to be really, really fucking good that we've ever had before.  There were some killer moments today, and some last time.  We put together hard, challenging songs pretty quickly because we're all good; that's obvious.  That's presumably why we're each willing to bust some ass for this band.  But I still don't think John should just count on that.  I keep expecting to hear from one of the new singers that the band is great, but way too demanding.

Anyway, two more good rehearsals down, to counter the one crappy one.  That one rehearsal we had before the gig, and the gig itself, still blow me away.  I figured we would be okay, perhaps even pretty good.  I mean, the point of the gig wasn't really even to play; it was to get pictures and video.  Which we did.  But we also got a scary-good taste of the potential of this lineup.  If we can hold it together another week, put together this last batch of songs, then we can relax a bit until February.  Songs get tighter when you play them live, so the gig will be good for us.  We have gigs booked in Feb, March, and April already, with more to come.  As always, plenty of potential.  As always with this band, two steps forward, one step back.  I'm just wondering when the backstep is going to come, and what form it will take.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #565 on: January 07, 2020, 08:21:26 PM »
You knew it was too good to be true, and it was.  We had another practice last Saturday, with "only" five new songs to learn in six days.  Fuck.  Katrina texted me and Lex expressing some frustration, we kinda chatted a bit.  Lex is super busy so I didn't think much of it when she didn't jump in.  In the email with the songs for next practice, John mentioned that the vocalists might want to get together separately.  Really, John?  When in the fuck are we supposed to do that?  We learned eight songs when we should have been spending time with our families for Christmas, Hannukah, etc., and eight more the two weeks before that.  Now we have to learn five more in a week?  Not everybody can just push aside work, family, holidays, etc., and put the band first.  Anyway, I tried to calm Katrina down, yeah it's a lot of work right now, but then we have like four weeks to chill.

At practice last Saturday, neither of the vocalists were 100% ready, but no one was.  We got to the last song, and it just wasn't coming together.  Plus we were all getting tired by then, and basically John and JT were pushing things pretty hard.  John wanted so hard to get 42 songs in the bag.  That was the goal, and he was pushing.  After a disastrous first run-through of the song, Lex apologizes and says that she just ran out of time; she never worked on this song.  John wants to run through it again; Lex says No, it would be a waste of time.  Some of the others also want to at least try the song one more time, and Lex kinda snapped.  I honestly don't remember what she said exactly, but she was tired and felt a bit ganged-up on, and she said something and left.  Practice is over.

Everyone has gear to deal with or put away except Katrina, so as the guys start tearing down, Katrina is pretty much on her way out the door.  This leaves the guys, the "core" of the band, to discuss what just happened.  John questions Lex's work ethic.  JT says it's not really that, but has trouble articulating what it really is.  I think they're both out of their fucking minds if they can't see that John has just plain pushed too hard, which I warned him about, and I even sent him an email saying that the singers were getting stressed, and I told him in person when I got to practice on Saturday because I made it a point to be the first one there so I could talk to him.  He didn't listen.  He pushed too hard.

Sunday afternoon Lex sends John a text saying that she's really sorry, but she's leaving the band.  It just is not right for her right now.  I don't blame her at all.  In fact, I'm so not-surprised by this that I'm also not mad, not sad, not even disappointed.  Well okay, I'm disappointed because I'd rather play than not play.  But let's face it, you make music because it's fun.  You play in a band because it's fun.  When you have to literally work your ass off to learn songs you don't even like, because you're (eventually supposedly) going to take home a pocketful of money one Saturday a month, you have to be sure you're doing it for the right reasons.  I'm not sure how much fun the band has actually been lately.  I sure as hell can understand the new girls not finding this shit fun at all.

Offline Vmadera00

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #566 on: January 07, 2020, 08:33:42 PM »
That sucks. Definitively sounds like a lot to learn with not enough time. Hope you find a replacement soon.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #567 on: January 07, 2020, 09:52:00 PM »
Okay now this is just getting silly.  :lol

John sent another email, titled "Update on Lex".  He was going to call her tonight and they would talk, but she "pre-empted" that by sending him a text saying she was sorry about all the fuss, she's changed her mind, and it really is crappy to just quit the band like this, with gigs on the books.  She would like to continue on with the band.

Jerry sends a Reply All saying that "soldiering on isn't good, for anyone."

I said that that depends.  It's not optimal, but I'd still rather play than not play.  We've put in the work, let's at least enjoy the fruits.  Playing music is supposed to be fun; let's not forget that.  These past several weeks have been all work, no fun.  Once we're gigging again, the fun will be back.

I swear, I'm in a band with a bunch of mental cases.  Myself included, yeah, but still.

Offline Stadler

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #568 on: January 08, 2020, 08:41:59 AM »
Do you guys ever just talk?  I mean, sit down, the 5,6,7,8,however many of you, and just talk? 

"John:  I want to learn 8 new songs by Tueday."
"Katrina: I think 8 is unreasonable at this time; can we do, say, half that??"
"Lex:  I can do 5."
The Waves: I can do 6."
"JT:  Let's vote:  everyone write down the number on a piece of paper.  We'll take the average, rounding down."

I mean, some of this doesn't seem that hard if people are talking.  I know that's not the dynamic now, but as for whether it's possible, am I misunderstanding something?

I'm with you; sometimes it's work, but the work has to be in service of the fun.  If it's not fun, then it's not worth it.   

Offline Evermind

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #569 on: January 08, 2020, 10:24:11 AM »
Do you guys ever just talk?  I mean, sit down, the 5,6,7,8,however many of you, and just talk? 

"John:  I want to learn 8 new songs by Tueday."
"Katrina: I think 8 is unreasonable at this time; can we do, say, half that??"
"Lex:  I can do 5."
The Waves: I can do 6."
"JT:  Let's vote:  everyone write down the number on a piece of paper.  We'll take the average, rounding down."

I mean, some of this doesn't seem that hard if people are talking.  I know that's not the dynamic now, but as for whether it's possible, am I misunderstanding something?

I'm with you; sometimes it's work, but the work has to be in service of the fun.  If it's not fun, then it's not worth it.

I agree. Communication is key and it doesn't seem this one point was well-discussed. John may run the band, but he still needs you guys, and you're all there to have fun, so if someone (or, worse, more than just one person) isn't having fun, it's not worth it.
This first band is Soen very cool swingy jazz fusion kinda stuff.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #570 on: January 08, 2020, 11:02:33 AM »
John has decades of experience managing people in business, and his approach from the beginning of this little project has been to adapt what he's learned managing people to managing a band.  He is also a very driven man, with very clear goals and no issues working his ass off to get there.  The problem is that he cannot simply apply business management concepts to running a band.  We're not doing this because we need the money; it's not a job (it's an adventure).  We're doing this for fun.

Last fall, after one singer quit and we (that is, John at the request of JT and Jerry) fired the other, John figured out a new approach.  We spend two months finding two new singers, we spend two months working them up to speed, he goes on vacation to South America for a month (a trip which has been planned for a long time), and then when he gets back, we have a rehearsal to brush things up, and there's a gig the following weekend.  And gigs each of the next three months.  We'll have a full lineup, a full set list of 42 songs, and gigs booked in some of the nicer places around.  Profit!

The thing he forgot is that not everybody is as driven as him.  Not everybody is fine with learning eight songs every two weeks, especially over the holidays.  Or maybe he didn't forget that but instead chose to drive forward anyway.  He sent out "suggested" lists of songs to cover.  He always looks for "suggestions".  But what he's really doing is plowing forward, demanding a hell of a lot from everybody, and basically daring anyone to object.  Anyone who says "Hey, wait a minute, this is insane" has to feel comfortable enough pushing back against him, and the new singers aren't up to that.  I did point out to him how crazy it was, and he just said it's the only way to have everything ready to go by February.  John is insane, so it just makes more sense to quit the band than to continue like this, and Lex apparently came to that conclusion.

Yes, we do talk about things, in a way.  John said that we had a lot of hard work ahead of us, and asked if anyone had issues with that.  No one objected.  He's been pushing hard, and I as I said, has ostensibly been open to feedback and modifying the course, but basically he's leaving it up to us to push back.  Out of each batch of new songs, only two are ever new to all of us; the rest have been "legacy tunes".  So it was just a matter of brushing up six and learning two.  That's doable.  But I did warn John, multiple times, that he's asking the singers to learn eight songs every two weeks, and that's a lot.  I told him point blank at the start of last practice that I'm honestly surprised that neither of them has quit yet.  Then after practice, after pushing and pushing and sending one of them into depression and just plain pissing off the other, one of them did quit.  I don't think anyone realized how hard it was going to be juggling all this during the holidays and stuff, but once I did, I tried to warn him.  We plowed ahead anyway.

So Lex is still with us, conditionally.  Her text indicated that she's stick around until at least November (November?) but she encouraged him to continue looking for an Alternate Vocalist.

Honestly, I just find all of this so amusing that I'm not even mad, or sad, or anything.  The band continues, or doesn't.  Yes, I'd rather play than not play, but I don't seem to have any control over what happens with the band, so I can't get emotionally invested in it.  It is what it is.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2020, 11:15:16 AM by Orbert »

Offline pcs90

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #571 on: January 08, 2020, 05:46:35 PM »
You'd think this whole thing would make John realize he might be pushing just a bit too hard. It seems most of the time he's been pretty open to feedback, but lately a bit less so.
Were the singers part of the discussion when John mentioned the amount of work that would be required going forward? They are the ones dealing with the most strain if the majority of the songs are ones the rest of the band has learned previously to some extent. Particularly when they just recently joined, I'm not sure how good of an impression it is making on them...so far not a very good one considering one was ready to quit (and may still do so.)

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #572 on: January 13, 2020, 10:10:16 PM »
So amidst all of this fun with Lex, someone (I forgot who) asked John if we were still looking for a substitute vocalist.  Funny they should ask, Yvette's band is breaking up, so she'd called John to see if we were still looking for a sub.  John just shakes his head and says "No.  Um... No."  I think that's hilarious, personally.  Fate's cruel irony.  John does see having a substitute vocalist "on call" as a valid working model, due to how well Yvette (mostly) worked out for a year and a half.  We played a lot of gigs that we would have otherwise had to turn down.  But Yvette turned psycho on us, as all of our vocalists seem to do (I wonder if that says more of about us than about them), so the irony is that John won't have her back, even if it meant that the band would play, versus not playing.  She's burned that bridge.  That was a couple of weeks ago.

Last week, Becky, one of the girls who'd contacted us late in the audition process last November (and by "late" I mean after both Lex and Katrina were basically locked in) contacted John again.  The upshot is that she's going to stop by John's this Wednesday for a karaoke audition.  John often does this as a preliminary screening, saving him and everyone else the trouble of putting together a full band audition if John can rule them out sooner than that.  If they show any promise, we set up a full audition.  Anyway, that's this Wednesday, and John will let us know how that goes.  Then he goes on vacation for three weeks, for South America and Antarctica, and will be mostly out of touch with us.  You read that correctly.  Fun times! :hat
« Last Edit: January 13, 2020, 10:26:16 PM by Orbert »

Offline pcs90

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #573 on: January 13, 2020, 10:20:53 PM »
Antarctica! Well that's a unique vacation for sure.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #574 on: January 14, 2020, 11:41:13 AM »
Some more details regarding Becky's situation.  After Lex quit via text to John, John sent her an email basically blasting her for being unprofessional, which I thought was way out of line.  He was pushing the new vocalists insanely hard, during the holidays and during a time when both of them were going through some shit.  Eight songs every two weeks; I mentioned that already.  Anyway, Lex said something like she realized that it was kind of a crappy thing to do, considering the timing, the upcoming gigs, and how hard everyone's been working, but it basically wasn't any fun; it was only causing more stress in her life, and making music is supposed to be fun.  Again, I wasn't surprised by that.  John's email said Yes, it is a crappy thing to do, we've all been working hard, blah blah blah.  But we're past the hard part.  We've been through the songs; all that's left to do is run through them again and polish them up, then we start gigging in February and the songs will only get tighter.  Lex relented and "unquit" the band.

But the damage has been done.  John now considers Lex a short-timer, and would rather just get another vocalist who he's not afraid will up and quit on him.  I guess that's understandable, though I really wish he'd understand that he brought it on himself.  Anyway, he talked to Katrina, and if Becky's karaoke audition goes well, he asked Katrina if she could work with Becky on vocals and stuff during the five weeks before the next rehearsal (no rehearsal this past weekend, then John's gone for three weeks, then David is out of town for a week).  The idea is that if possible, the rehearsal on Feb 15 will be with the new lineup of Katrina and Becky on lead vocals.  Then we do the gig on Feb 22, and so on.  No time lost.

John is adamant about pushing forward.  He doesn't want to have to tell Agent Dude yet again that we're having personnel issues and have to back out of gigs.  We've done that twice now, and frankly I'm amazed that he's still booking us.  But when we do play, we get great reviews from the owners and patrons, so I guess he'll book us gigs because he still makes his money.  And if we do cancel, John always gives him several weeks' notice, so it's not like we've left Agent Dude in a lurch or anything.  I guess that's part of why he's still willing to book us.

So I get a break of several weeks, unless the vocalists want to work on some of the three-part stuff during the hiatus.  I'd be into that, I guess.  I could just take my piano and work with them at one of their houses or something.  John has dubbed Katrina our lead lead vocalist, given her control over putting things together in his absence, and apparently she's good with that.  So we'll see.

Offline Stadler

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #575 on: January 14, 2020, 12:26:56 PM »
I get the agent part of it; he has a commitment and he has to honor that.  I can also understand the fear of a vocalist upping and leaving.  But those don't exist in a vaccuum.  What about the message to the other vocalist and the rest of the band?  "Speak up and you're out!"? 

Online pg1067

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #576 on: January 14, 2020, 01:05:28 PM »
I haven't read this thread carefully or in its entirety, so maybe this is a dumb question:  Since John seems to be a big part of the problems going on, have any of the rest of you given any thought to staging a coup/firing him and getting another guitar player?
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Offline Stadler

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #577 on: January 14, 2020, 03:02:22 PM »
I was having beers with Ritchie Blackmore the other day, and told him this story.  He looked at me and said "that guy John has to treat his band members better!".


:)


Online pg1067

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #578 on: January 14, 2020, 03:04:42 PM »
I was having beers with Ritchie Blackmore the other day, and told him this story.  He looked at me and said "that guy John has to treat his band members better!".


:)

I got the same reaction when Axl Rose was over on Sunday to watch the games.   :biggrin:
"There's a bass solo in a song called Metropolis where I do a bass solo."  John Myung

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #579 on: January 14, 2020, 06:37:18 PM »
I haven't read this thread carefully or in its entirety, so maybe this is a dumb question:  Since John seems to be a big part of the problems going on, have any of the rest of you given any thought to staging a coup/firing him and getting another guitar player?

It's John's band.  He put it together from scratch, hired every one of us, fired every one who is no longer with us.  There is no scenario where the band continues with its current name and him not in it.  Even if we all simultaneously quit the band, then immediately reformed without him, we wouldn't keep the band's name.  That is inextricably linked to John and his vision.  It's not even a legal/ownership issue; we just wouldn't do it.  We all have other musical outlets, some of us have multiple outlets.  We're in this band because all we have to do is learn our parts, show up, and play.  John does everything else.

Anyway, John does listen, and there's usually a compromise.  And sometimes there isn't, at which point your options are to deal with it, or find another band.  With seven people in the band, every one of us is compromising, including John himself.  This is just one of those times when John can't compromise.  Reaching the required number of songs in time to start gigging, factoring in all the time off he and others had on the calendar, required a lot of work in a short amount of time.  It was a logistical constraint.  John's mistake was in underestimating how much he'd have to coddle and schmooze the new vocalists to get them on board.  At this point, we're a machine, and they're the new parts.  John forgot that we're not parts to plug in and expect the same functionality; we're people, different and unique.  He got too caught up in the logistics, pushed too hard.  It's unfortunate, but we all make mistakes.

The band continues to improve with each iteration, and we're getting pretty damned good.  Every gig is a real gas, both for us and for the fans.  We sound great, people drink and dance, the bar makes money so everybody's happy.  It's fun, but man, getting to the fun takes a lot of work.  That's the seeming paradox.  But it's not really; it's the compromise.  We put up with the shit because it's such a gas when we play out.  That's the choice each of us has to make.  The band isn't perfect, but it's good enough.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #580 on: January 30, 2020, 09:07:18 AM »
I get the agent part of it; he has a commitment and he has to honor that.  I can also understand the fear of a vocalist upping and leaving.  But those don't exist in a vaccuum.  What about the message to the other vocalist and the rest of the band?  "Speak up and you're out!"? 

I didn't really respond to this, but I think it's a little off base.  John didn't can Lex, and he didn't can her because she spoke up.  The problem (as he sees it) is that she didn't speak up.  He knew he was pushing everyone hard, because of the aforementioned logistical constraints, and asked if everyone was okay.  No one said anything.  He said at one of the December rehearsals that we was putting a new promo package together and letting Agent Dude know that we'll be ready come February, and asked if anyone could think of any reason why he shouldn't do that.  Again, no one said anything.

Now, realistically, I understand that Lex didn't say anything because she didn't want to be the whiner, the new kid who can't handle the pressure of a big-time band blah blah blah.  I told John that he needed to make sure the new singers were cool with it.  I expected (and actually wanted) him to contact each of them separately, and let them know that he's aware, all that.  I think it would've gone a long way towards them not feeling like they're just the new parts in a machine, but actual people with feelings he respects.  I'm guessing he never did any of that, because he keeps saying that he asked if anyone had any objections and no one did.  No one spoke up because there are seven of us and no one wants to be the whiner in front of the other six.

But after riding everyone hard that last practice, Lex finally lost it and left, then texted John saying she couldn't deal with it.  John's response was to blast her, telling her he just spent $500 on promo packets after asking if he should and no one saying anything.  He asked if everyone was okay and no one said anything.  I still absolutely blame John for the fact that we're apparently moving forward, but with both eyes open for a new singer if one falls into our lap.  Yeah, right.  The result, as far as I'm concerned, is that everything feels tentative right now.  I keep expecting someone to finally quit, really quit, and while I'd be disappointed, I wouldn't be surprised at all, and part of me would actually be relieved.  Yeah, I love to play, and I'd rather play than not play, but doing all this work just to get to the fun is tough.  I know, I'm repeating myself again.

So I put together the Facebook Events for the March, April, and May gigs, which are all confirmed.  I'm gonna keep on keeping on, because it's what I do.  Same as anything else; I'm gonna do my job, and try to help others do theirs, but I'm not gonna take on the weight of the world.

We have that supposedly confirmed gig in February, the timing of which is what caused all of this pressure to get so many new songs together, but there's still no contract.  When I was putting together the Events, I double-checked with John that those three were confirmed, and John said February is also confirmed.  He hadn't said anything to the band via email or text, which he usually does, so I was surprised (and also doubtful).  I asked him to clarify, since he hadn't said anything before, and he said that Agent Dude would be sending a contract.  We're supposed to open for (aka be the "special guests of") one of the top cover bands in the area.  An hour set, easy enough for us, and gets us exposed to some new people.  Yay.  But the gig is not on their Facebook page, and it's not on the venue's page either.  Two weeks later, it's still not.  Katrina asked John last week if it was confirmed, in the band text thread, and John said Agent Dude was going to send a contract.  I fucking hate that.  It was a Yes or No question, and John's response did not answer it.  Is it confirmed?  Saying we'll supposedly be getting a contract is not a Yes.  It's a "we think so, supposedly".

That was a week ago.  Still no contract.  Still nothing on the other band's site or the venue's, and still no word from John on it.  John has finished his time in South America and sent some pictures of Antarctica the other day.  I finally got some idea why he's doing this, and it's what I thought but weird that he wouldn't just come out and say it.  It's on his bucket list.  He wants to set foot on all seven continents, and Antarctica is number seven.  That's cool and all, but wrecking the band over it is dumb.  Priorities, man.

But... he is still connected.  The County Fair contacted him, and they want us to open this year's fair.  Opening night (a Wednesday), main stage, no other bands.  All us.  Fee will probably be $2000 or more, our biggest take yet.  Everyone's in.  So John's still wheeling and dealing, which is why the fact that we don't have a contract for the damned February gig is so frustrating, and honestly discouraging.  It's a Friday night, us playing for an hour then the headliners playing the rest of the night.  The other band does have a gig the next night, Saturday, and they also have a "special guest" that night.  A different venue.  We've seen the special guests before; they played right after us at a big multi-band thing a few years ago.  They're good.  But what are the odds that the big-name band would have gigs two nights in a row?  Maybe they're okay with it because both nights have opening acts so they don't have to play the whole night, but that's still playing, tearing down late, then playing the next night somewhere else.  All gigs are one-night stands these days.

So we continue.  If/when gigs are confirmed, I set up Events for them.  We play.  The band goes on.  If/when something happens and the band does not go on, bummer, but that's life.  I've been involved in this project for six years now, which is easily the longest I've ever been in a band.  I've seen many come and go, and waited out multiple hiatuses as the band retools and/or finds new members.  It has become almost a non-event when someone quits or is fired, which I find interesting.  It should mean something.  I'm not going to cry about it, but I feel kinda bad that I don't feel bad about it, if that makes any sense.

But hey, County Fair, opening night, this July.  That will be a hell of a gig, pretty much as big as a cover band gets these days.  Incredibly, we continue to get better, and get better gigs.  So I continue, and we continue.

Offline Stadler

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #581 on: January 30, 2020, 11:08:32 AM »
Congrats on that fair gig.  I don't know about where you are, but in the south where I lived, county fairs get tens of thousands of people (obviously not all at once).   Here in New England, there's what's called "The Big E", a two-week county fair type event that brings in about 75,000 a weekday and over 100,000 for the average weekend days for the two weeks of the event (last year, over 1,500,000 people went to the Big E).   Bands like Night Ranger, Foreigner, Ace Frehley regularly play at these events.  For your band to get a gig like that, even if it's not as big as what I'm saying, is a great coup, and I hope it opens doors for you.

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #582 on: January 30, 2020, 01:46:34 PM »
Thanks!  Yeah, it's a pretty big deal.  We get some pretty big-name acts around here, too.  The bands you named and others in a similar place.  Used to be bigger, but still playing and drawing crowds, so what the hell.  We're just a local cover band, so this is very big for us.  I'm of two minds about the whole "opening night" thing.  Since it's on a Wednesday night, it won't have the same pull as on a Friday or Saturday, but it is opening night of the county fair, which a lot of people look forward to, and there's a certain prestige to be the first band playing at the 2020 fair, so that's cool.

They actually wanted us last year, but John was out of town that week, something that had been set up for a while, so there was no way.  This time we'll do it, if we have a working band.  I find myself constantly thinking in those terms these days.  We have gigs, as long as the band doesn't self-destruct by then.  We'll even make plans for bigger things, and as long as the band doesn't self-destruct by then, they will come to fruition.  We shall see.

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #583 on: February 21, 2020, 10:27:36 PM »
Gig tonight.  Opening band for one of the really big pro bands around here.  They have a huge following.  Fully produced lights, sound, video screens, smoke, other effects, the whole nine yards.  State of the art professional rock cover band.  The place was packed, and they weren't there to see us, but they got us for 50 minutes, and we smoked.  This was the mysterious February gig I mentioned earlier.  It wasn't on the other band's Events page, even though numerous other gigs were.  It wasn't on the Events page of the venue, either, even though again there were numerous other gigs.  Everything felt weird.  The delay in getting a contract for it.  The weirdness in being an opening act (which, let's face it, kinda sucks).  Wondering if both singers are going to show up.  Just a lot of weirdness.  Both girls were late, actually, one of them very late.  Well, "late" just means 7:45 when John wanted everyone there by 7:00, but it turned out that the main band's crew weren't going to be done until 7:00 anyway (actually 7:15), then they were doing their "line check", then we could set up.  So there was really no point in all getting there by 7:00.  We didn't start setting up until after 8:00, then we started at 8:30.

We played, and then got the hell off of the stage.  While we were up there, though, we had their P.A. to crank through, their lights, and our logo was up on the video screens, so that was cool.  Apparently we sounded pretty good, and the crowd seemed rather appreciative, considering that we weren't the main event.  I'll post some pictures when we get them.

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #584 on: February 22, 2020, 01:57:48 PM »
Glad that things went well and you had a crowd to play to!

I had to look and see who the headlining band was based on your comments.  I liked them about 20 years ago...they put out an original record that had this heavy, industrial tinged sound.  After that, they changed singers (which is very l, very, common for them) and went into this pop/rock style which I've hated since.  The guitarist and band leader comes across like a total douche....I saw a killer Maiden tribute open for them years ago and that guitarist of the headlining band was walking past with a bunch of tour laminates dangling from his belt like a full time rock star.  Dude, you're only playing a sports bar in the suburbs, not on a European tour.

But you are right in that they have a huge following.  Hopefully some of their fans start to follow you guys!

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #585 on: February 22, 2020, 03:33:34 PM »
Yeah, we've picked up five new likes since last night, so that's something.

John had contacted their guy over a week ago to work out sound and tech issues.  We have IEMs and a snake splitter, so is it okay if we just plug into your system?  Lineup, stage plot, channel maps, all that good stuff.  He was really cool and told John that all was good, they've done this so much that they've seen pretty much any combination of variables, and it sounds like we have our shit together, so all is good.  Also, don't worry about songs.  If there are any songs we do that they also do, not a problem.  Different band playing the same song a few hours later, who cares?

Then yesterday afternoon, John forwarded everyone another email from the guy, which just added to the weirdness.  The email started off by apologizing for never getting back to him (John), and the late reply, but he just now got our contact info from Agent Dude.  He wanted to go over our song list, tech requirements, etc.  In other words, he completely forgot an entire conversation he'd already had with John regarding all of that shit, and that they'd (supposedly) worked it all out already.  An hour later, John sends email (and text telling us to check our email) with the "revised final" set list.  Apparently there were some requested changes after all.  Yay.

The email also mentioned that the biggest concern is turnaround time between bands.  They like to keep it to 30 minutes or less.  That makes sense.  We have five musicians plus two singers, they have five total (and of course it's their show) so getting our stuff off the stage as quickly as possible is the priority.  Things can get taken apart and/or stashed into cases once they're off the stage.  They have a crew of people ready to help move stuff, if we need it.  Jerry's other band opened for them at a thing last year, and he said their "crew of people ready to help" is a fucking joke.  A bunch of 21-year-olds who usually man their merchandise tables standing around going "what can I do to help?" and the answer nine out of 10 times is "you can get the fuck out of the way".  Anyway, it turned out that the changeover wasn't an issue.

Last Saturday at rehearsal, Lex had a pretty good meltdown.  There's a weird timing in one of the songs, and she kept messing it up.  Not a big deal, we can just play it straight (which would actually make more sense, musically, and is what she was doing) instead of doing the weirdass timing thing, but she got all upset, and really started freaking out.  It was genuinely kinda scary.  Remember that this is the first rehearsal we've had since the insane one back in January, after which she texted John and said she couldn't handle it and she was sorry but she was quitting the band.  John talked her down from that ledge, but the damage was done.  Then came Saturday's outburst, and I'm honestly questioning her mental stability.  I still give her the benefit of the doubt.  I have to guess that we play on a level she's not really used to, feeling intimidated and insecure, still dealing with personal shit, lots of stuff.  And as much as I hate the drama, I'd still rather play than not play, so I honestly don't care that much.  So both our singers are nuts.  Nothing new there.

But when 7:30 came around and she wasn't there, after John had asked everyone to make sure to be there by 7:00, I did get a little concerned.  I half-jokingly asked Katrina if she's been in contact with Lex recently.  She smiled, understanding what I was getting at, and said they'd texted that afternoon a bit, she's excited about the gig, don't worry, she's planning on being there.  That was good enough for me, and as it turned out, she got there around 7:45, still a good 15 or 20 minutes before we were allowed to set up, so no problem.

Afterwards, after we got packed up and before the headliners started, I was ready to get the hell out of there.  I honestly don't care that this is one of Chicago's top cover bands; I don't do the bar scene.  I'll play in one, but I have no interest in being there as a participant.  Anyway, I'm going around saying Bye to everybody, and there's Lex with a glass of wine and she's just about in tears.  Tears of joy.  "Thank you so much, this was so great, so much fun, I needed this so much."  Big hugs.  I still think she's going through some shit that we're not fully aware of, but the other guys don't really care.  They think it's just a matter of time before she flakes out and melts down on stage or something, and they don't want to deal with that.  Damn, guys, it's Rock and Roll.  Lighten the fuck up and have some fun.  It did get pretty uncomfortable during her freak-out at rehearsal.  John and JT trying to calm her down (by yelling at her that everything's fine, yeah that'll help), Katrina somewhat more calmly trying to reassure her, David gave her a hug, Jerry and I shared a glance and a shrug, and he started messing with his amp or something.  I pulled out my phone and check Facebook or something.  I don't really remember.

We have rehearsal again this Saturday, then our first full gig in March.  Last night and the thing back in November were only one set.  We need to have 40 songs polished up and ready to go, so the pressure will be back on for a little bit.  We shall see...

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #586 on: February 26, 2020, 12:36:24 PM »
Can you share the headliner (PM if need be)?

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #587 on: February 26, 2020, 01:16:30 PM »
PM sent. :tup

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #588 on: March 01, 2020, 05:55:56 PM »
Friday night, I'm practicing the tunes for Saturday one last time, and Jerry sends a text to just us guys.  He has a slightly demented sense of humor.  "SportsBook has 3:1 odds that Kat won't show at all & 5:1 she shows but bolts early. 8:1 she quits tomorrow. Anyone want any of that action?"

What the fuck?

I reply, basically asking WTF because this is out of nowhere.  We knew Lex was kinda shaky there for a while, probably still is, but this is new.  My phone rings; it's John.  I suddenly remember that he'd called Thursday night, but we were eating dinner, and he didn't leave voicemail, so I didn't call him back. This time I take the call.

Okay, I'll try keep this short.  A couple months ago, after we'd nailed down the entire list, Lex freaked out, John went off to the South Pole, and the rest of us had a five-week break from the band, one of the things John told us was that he was letting Agent Dude know that we have a working band and we are ready for him to book us.  He wants to book us.  So John blocked out ten dates on the shared online calendar for gigs.  Personally, I thought that that was pretty bold, but his rationale was sound.  We're all busy.  Out of 104 Friday and Saturday nights during the year, over half have at least one of us unavailable now, and more things will come up as time goes on.  The only way John can even hope to get some gigs booked is to reserve the date with the band first, then tell Agent Dude we are available on these dates.  That's what they (John and Agent Dude) have worked out.  And we've already filled three of those ten dates.  That actually makes perfect sense to me.  Everyone's family vacations and business trips and whatever were there, confirmed; everbody just avoid those dates when you add things in the future (if reasonably possible).

Katrina called John last Tuesday, saying that her other band was offerred a gig on one of our "reserved for gig" days.  She wants to take the gig and was asking John if that was okay.  They kinda got into it, and John says it got pretty heated at one point.  No, there's nothing booked for us right now, but that date will be filled.  It will be.  She kept coming back to the fact that we don't have a gig booked now and her other band has an offer now.  In her mind, that date is a "maybe" for us and a "definitely" for the other band.  I honestly don't remember what they finally agreed on, if they even reached an agreement.

She's the one who had auditioned to be our "part time" singer, since she already had another gig, but at the audition was so blown away by us that she told us she wanted to be considered for a full time position, and eventually she got it.  What, John asked her, did she think that meant?  If she's full-time with us, that means that he can reserve a date, some Friday or Saturday, for gigs.  Just because the who, what, and where aren't solid right now isn't relevant.  Her playing with another band doesn't matter at all to us; she chose to go full-time with two bands; it's up to her to make it work.

104 Friday and Saturday nights in a year.  He's asked us for 10 dates.  Less than 10%.  Keep these dates open.  He actually still has the text conversation on his phone, and in an amazing display of testicular fortitude, he sends her an email with the screenprints.  Him asking her to keep these 10 dates open, and her agreeing to.

So John shares all this with me, and some other stuff about the ongoing efforts to find a part timer to help us when there are ultimately scheduling conflicts.  We joke a bit about how only a week ago, it was Lex that we were worried about, and now Lex seems to be solid, but Kat is shaky.

Oh yeah, the Lex thing.  Next time.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #589 on: March 01, 2020, 08:10:28 PM »
But first... gig photos!



Orbert: Keyboards; David: Guitar; Katrina and Lex: Vocals; Jerry: Bass; JT: Drums; John: Guitar



From the other end of the stage.

The headliners travel with all this gear and more, and a crew to move it, set it up, tear it down, and move it again.  They show up about a half an hour before their sound check, maybe more like 15 if they feel like it, and leave as soon or later after the show as they want.  Their show is impeccable, and they don't have day jobs.  If there is such a thing as a professional cover band, this is it.  We got to use their gear for one set, hopefully hook some of their fans as well (about a dozen new Likes altogether in the days following the gig), and even got paid for it.  I guess we're doing it again (opening for these guys) in April.

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #590 on: March 18, 2020, 11:17:13 AM »
Suddenly remembered this thread, so I suppose you guys aren't playing the next gig in April? How's your band going with the CoVID-situation? I'm honestly curious.
This first band is Soen very cool swingy jazz fusion kinda stuff.

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #591 on: March 18, 2020, 12:46:53 PM »
Ah yes, this thread.  I still owe you guys an update on the vocalist situation, which has become even more ridiculous in the past few weeks.  I'm gonna have to postpone that yet again, as I'm at work right now.  I can do little updates, but this one will take some time.

COVID-19 is a pain in the ass.  Our gig on March 28 is cancelled, since all bars and restaurants in Illinois are closed until at least March 30 by order of the governor.  The April 18 gig is still on for now. but I expect the ban to be extended at some point.  Or not.  No one really knows how this will play out.  These next few weeks will be interesting.

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #592 on: March 18, 2020, 10:23:03 PM »
The Ever-Evolving Vocalist Crisis Situation


Three weeks ago, as far as I knew, Lex was still having serious doubts about the band, and us about her.  Of the six rehearsals we've had since she joined the band, she had genuine freak-out breakdowns at two, and two others featured her leaving the minute we were done, obviously upset but at least keeping it together long enough to leave the house.  Possibly broke down in the car as soon as she reached it.  We don't know.  After one of the freak-outs came a text to John saying she was quitting the band, couldn't handle it, she's sorry, etc.  John talked her back from that.

Katrina meanwhile has been impressing the hell out of us by clearly preparing as well as she can for every rehearsal, and impressing us with how great she sings.  She knows that working full-time in two different bands, besides her day job, is crazy, but she is very serious about staying on top of everything.  She gets frustrated during rehearsals at (in our opinion) the slightest fuck-up.  Any missed lyric, coming in early or late, is a complete disaster for her.  The basic idea is that everyone works out their parts separately and we put it all together at rehearsal, but it's also understood that the first one or two times through the song will not be perfect.  Katrina pushes herself hard, and wants even the first run-through to be spotless.  She has the highest work ethic of any singer we've ever had in this band, to the point where it's actually a bit annoying.  She's constantly down on herself and wanting to try it again, get everything perfect.  That's great, and that is actually the goal, but wow, taking a couple of run-throughs to get the feel is fine.  Playing a song live is not the same as practicing along with the mp3 or YouTube video.

So a couple of posts ago (March 1) right before the final practice prior to the gig, I mentioned Jerry's odd joke about the odds of Katrina quitting and how John called me to explain a few issues.  He also shared at that time some things that have evolved regarding Lex.

Let me back up just a little bit.  I manage the band's Facebook page, and every gig is an Event on Facebook.  I can only send Invites to people who are Friends of mine (as opposed to, say, everyone who Likes the band page), but I can see all responses.  If I wave my cursor over them, it shows the regular thing you see if someone posts on a Friend's wall.  You see if you have Friends in common and who they are.  The vocalist who'd worked with us for a year and a half as an alternate, Yvette, is still apparently a fan of the band.  She loved gigging with us, but she's as crazy as every other singer we've had, she burned some bridges, and John swore she'd never work with us again.  Anyway, Yvette responded Going to the gig event on Facebook.  I see her name and the tiny picture and it lists Friends we have in common, and that list includes Lex.

Interesting.  Lex only joined the band last fall, several months after our last gig with Yvette.  They've never been in the band at the same time, and never met as far as I knew.  But when Lex joined the band, Yvette contacted her.  Lex, new to the area and without a whole lot of friends, struck up a friendship with Yvette, a friendship based on Yvette having worked with us for a year and a half and having lots of advice to give Lex about the band.  Insight into each of us, notes, warnings, etc.  When Lex told Yvette that she (Lex) was thinking of quitting, Yvette told her in no uncertain terms that that's crazy.  This is best band she'd ever worked with, and one of the best bands in the area, period.  People audition to be in our band, and she (Yvette) isn't good enough.  If Lex is in, she absolutely needs to stick with it.  John relates all of this to me on the phone.  He knows all of this because he's talked to Lex, trying to keep her in the band, and Yvette, who has called him more than once to see if she can audition with us again.  Whoa.

At the gig, Lex was amazing.  Fan-fucking-tastic.  Hot as hell.  It was a great gig for her; she was in tears afterwards, saying how great it was and how much she'd needed this to happen.  Yvette was at the gig and had brought a bunch of friends, and they were all drinking wine together, with Lex.  So Lex apparently is no longer in danger of quitting the band.  She's now 100% on board (as far as we know).

Meanwhile, Katrina... I have no idea.  No update on whether she's still pissed about having to turn down gigs with her other band on days we've reserved for our band.  But on the phone that evening, John and I mused that only a week ago, it was Lex we were worried about, and now it's Katrina.  The gig didn't go well for Katrina.  She has a number of chronic health issues, and that night was bad for her.  Also, the house sound guy was pretty bad, and Katrina couldn't hear herself all night.  Actually, I wonder how much of that was really his fault, since we each have in-ear monitors and control our own mixes via apps on our phones, but if there's no signal making it to the monitor submix, then she can't compensate using the app.  And we do know that the house sound guy sucks because we've played there before, and I've heard the recordings.  Anyway, Katrina had a shitty gig, and the one rehearsal we've had since then, she was the one who was upset and left the minute it was over.  Lex hung around a bit afterwards, like we usually do.  Joke around, talk about stuff, eat some snacks, basically bond a bit as a band.  Anyway, a complete role reversal between the two of them.  Very odd.

Oh yeah, John shared with me that if Katrina did quit, he'd be willing to have Yvette back.  Again as a Alternate Vocalist, not a regular member, but so much for her never singing with us again.  Basically, gigging with Yvette as a vocalist is still better than not gigging at all, and since Yvette and Lex are such good friends, that could actually work out.


But none of this matters right now, because gigs are being cancelled and rehearsals are being looked at, because of COVID-19 and "everybody" says that everybody should just stay home.  I haven't left the house since last Friday.  These are strange times.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 10:28:25 PM by Orbert »

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #593 on: April 12, 2020, 08:35:00 AM »
Cross-posted from another thread.  Just to catch people up (in the unlikely event that you haven't been reading the other threads), David contracted COVID-19 days after my last post, and has been hospitalized ever since.  During that time, he also sufferred a stroke, which has affected motor function on the left side of his body.

----------

Got a call from John last night.  It was time to talk about the thing that we all knew we had to talk about sooner or later, but nobody has brought up so far.

Because of David's condition, and the fact that he is looking at months of recovery time, and will likely not fully recover anyway, we need to think about finding another guitarist.

We love the guy.  He's been in the band for three years and is not the most gifted guitarist, but he's good enough for bar bands and easily the coolest guitarist we've ever had, probably the coolest guy the band has ever had.  COVID-19 and its complications have taken away his ability to play guitar, and we need to deal with that.  We don't know when the lockdown will be lifted, or modified or whatever.  We don't know when venues will open up again.  But when they do, they will need bands to play, our agent books all the main venues around here, and he likes us.  He told John flat out that once there are gigs again, we will be getting gigs.  He's already booked the first half of 2019 for us before all this shit started.  Agent Dude has never heard anything except 100% positive about us, from owners, fans, even other bands.  He said bands like us are what will be needed to help get things going again, once things get going again.  And we will need another guitarist.

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #594 on: April 12, 2020, 08:50:27 AM »
Honestly by now I'm convinced your band is never going to take off. You're finally all set up and have the best lineup and have gigs booked and ready to play? Here's a pandemic for you. :lol

Joking aside, hopefully you can find a good guitarist and nail the gigs when it's all over.
This first band is Soen very cool swingy jazz fusion kinda stuff.