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Finding that unicorn band to play with...in your 50s

mtmartin71

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,859
The unicorn that I'm chasing...
  • Group of relatively talented players...folks who work on their instrument all year vs just to prep for a couple of events...no one where you're going to wince or feel embarrassed up on stage together
  • People you can hang with and have a beer
  • Folks who actually have the time to commit to prepping, rehearsing, and playing
  • Folks who want to consistently get together but keep the gigging light...so jam/practice once a month and gig every 2-3 months
Between bands I've been in and projects I'm sort of in now, the two greatest areas of difficulty on that list have been the last two. Either I have some folks who have the relative talent and are interested, but they cannot commit the time to get momentum going. That's the number one issue. Or, I can certainly find more committed people but they are gigging 4 times a month doing Fri/Sat night commits on a couple of weekends. Unfortunately I cannot do that with my responsibilities and schedule.

Anyone here have a band that ticks the boxes above and has the proverbial unicorn? How did you find those people and bring it all together? I write this as I frustratingly have two situations I'd love to turn into something but both suffer from people with a lack of time and commitment to get them off the ground. Maybe that's just it. The only way to get with committed people is accept that I have to personally create the time in my schedule to gig frequently, or, just deal with the dabblers and accept the meandering :)
 

supergenius365

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,522
I think I have a unicorn. We practice once a week and we have gigs, but not an overbearing amount.

For me, the major plus is that I am a songwriter and the guys want to do original music. I had a band in my 20s and I never expected to have a band to play those songs again. But here I am in my 50s probably playing more than I did in my 20s as well as writing new material for this band to play.

I found these guys on Facebook. They put an ad on a musician finder page and it described me pretty much to a T. Going on 3 years now and still having a blast.
 

Jason UP

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,292
Unicorn here (band link is in my sig). All great players. Practice once a week, maybe gig 4-5 times a year and that's plenty. Mid-40s, one dude has 2 really young kids, all original music so it tickles the creative itch. Same dude with the 2 young kids has been my best friend since I was like 12. I've done the 100 gig a year thing and this is much better for my situation, with career and kiddos etc.
 

stratohiker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,144
I've been lucky (esp. for a town this size). The week I moved here, I met a drummer at a local restaurant. He invited me out to a gig the next nite. Didn't expect it but, got invited to sit in while checking them out. Then the leader of the band calls me up to join the next day.
Drummer is in another band (blues/americana). They needed a guitarist as theirs was gonna be moving. So, got in that band as well. And, I'm on their new CD too.
I'm playin' kinda more than I really want too.....Usually at least 4 times a month, and often more (esp. in season). And, I sometimes play with a typical southern rock/country band too 'round here for fun and a bit of money.
Plus, I'm still gettin' calls to play down in GA from a band that I was playin' with right before I moved (they always get good money for their event/party gigs)
Good times though......cannot complain. And the money defin. helps.
 

mtmartin71

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,859
@Jason UP @supergenius365

Thanks for that...it's inspiring to see the unicorn does exist! Also, I didn't know FB had a musician finder so thanks for that heads up.

The common thread for both of you guys appears to be doing your own thing on the originals side. I'm betting the people wanting to go that path are more apt to prioritize and commit to it because of the need/want to create. Cover bands almost feel like more of a game of pickup basketball or a softball beer league. Yes...you can get some really good teams going but ultimately other things always get prioritized over it. Plus an originals band takes more work to develop music to get up on stage with. But maybe that's the inspiration I could use right now. I've written the music to songs that got recorded and I really enjoyed it. I just kept landing with people that wanted to do covers.
 
Messages
810
Yeah,
No dice on the Pegasus here, I put out an ad on CL many months ago and just ended up fishing up tires that’s been kicked around the block....:banana:banana:banana:banana
It’s a sinking scene? Seems nearly impossible unless.........:dunno
Solo acoustic meal option don’t seem too bad ehhh?:banana:banana:banana:banana:banana
 

WordMan

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,576
I play open mics in my area. I regularly run into folks who want to jam, and some actively want to form bands. I am not looking to form a band at this point, but I can see how I could easily network as well as check them out before committing to anything.
 

mtmartin71

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,859
You lost me at “relatively talented players”! Honestly, I don’t think there are so many of those around.
That's fair! When I say relatively talented players, I should qualify what that means for me. The band members all live somewhere between mediocre and highly talented, but the sum of the parts creates something noticeable and unique i.e. no one person is so far ahead of the others that it stands out, and no one person is exposed as very average because everyone is lifted up. I had that with my last cover band. We just couldn't maintain the commitment and our singer/guitarist moved and we could never replace that. 100% agree though...huge challenge to find the mix.
 

supergenius365

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,522
@Jason UP @supergenius365

Thanks for that...it's inspiring to see the unicorn does exist! Also, I didn't know FB had a musician finder so thanks for that heads up.

The common thread for both of you guys appears to be doing your own thing on the originals side. I'm betting the people wanting to go that path are more apt to prioritize and commit to it because of the need/want to create. Cover bands almost feel like more of a game of pickup basketball or a softball beer league. Yes...you can get some really good teams going but ultimately other things always get prioritized over it. Plus an originals band takes more work to develop music to get up on stage with. But maybe that's the inspiration I could use right now. I've written the music to songs that got recorded and I really enjoyed it. I just kept landing with people that wanted to do covers.
The Facebook ad I answered was for the state of North Carolina, so maybe search for one in your particular area.

Original music does require those things you say. At this age, it’s all I really want to do. There are way too many other people who can do covers much better than I can.

Good hunting for your unicorn!
 

8len8

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,269
I’m chasing that unicorn in my 50’s too. No bands in this area playing the music I want to play and having the look / stage presence I prefer.
 

mvd18969

Member
Messages
2,004
Dude
Read my thread that I posted about an. Hour ago. I'm in same boat but it's too many gigs, great band though
The unicorn that I'm chasing...
  • Group of relatively talented players...folks who work on their instrument all year vs just to prep for a couple of events...no one where you're going to wince or feel embarrassed up on stage together
  • People you can hang with and have a beer
  • Folks who actually have the time to commit to prepping, rehearsing, and playing
  • Folks who want to consistently get together but keep the gigging light...so jam/practice once a month and gig every 2-3 months
Between bands I've been in and projects I'm sort of in now, the two greatest areas of difficulty on that list have been the last two. Either I have some folks who have the relative talent and are interested, but they cannot commit the time to get momentum going. That's the number one issue. Or, I can certainly find more committed people but they are gigging 4 times a month doing Fri/Sat night commits on a couple of weekends. Unfortunately I cannot do that with my responsibilities and schedule.

Anyone here have a band that ticks the boxes above and has the proverbial unicorn? How did you find those people and bring it all together? I write this as I frustratingly have two situations I'd love to turn into something but both suffer from people with a lack of time and commitment to get them off the ground. Maybe that's just it. The only way to get with committed people is accept that I have to personally create the time in my schedule to gig frequently, or, just deal with the dabblers and accept the meandering :)
 

mvd18969

Member
Messages
2,004
I'm a guitar player and I sing lead and also play some keyboards so there are a lot of opportunities out there for me. Unfortunately everybody seems to want to gig way too much then I'm looking to do. The ones that have a more reasonable vision of gigging are very mediocre at best it seems
The unicorn that I'm chasing...
  • Group of relatively talented players...folks who work on their instrument all year vs just to prep for a couple of events...no one where you're going to wince or feel embarrassed up on stage together
  • People you can hang with and have a beer
  • Folks who actually have the time to commit to prepping, rehearsing, and playing
  • Folks who want to consistently get together but keep the gigging light...so jam/practice once a month and gig every 2-3 months
Between bands I've been in and projects I'm sort of in now, the two greatest areas of difficulty on that list have been the last two. Either I have some folks who have the relative talent and are interested, but they cannot commit the time to get momentum going. That's the number one issue. Or, I can certainly find more committed people but they are gigging 4 times a month doing Fri/Sat night commits on a couple of weekends. Unfortunately I cannot do that with my responsibilities and schedule.

Anyone here have a band that ticks the boxes above and has the proverbial unicorn? How did you find those people and bring it all together? I write this as I frustratingly have two situations I'd love to turn into something but both suffer from people with a lack of time and commitment to get them off the ground. Maybe that's just it. The only way to get with committed people is accept that I have to personally create the time in my schedule to gig frequently, or, just deal with the dabblers and accept the meandering :)
 
Messages
810
I play open mics in my area. I regularly run into folks who want to jam, and some actively want to form bands. I am not looking to form a band at this point, but I can see how I could easily network as well as check them out before committing to anything.
I tried that months ago...the experience left a bad taste in my mouth due to a terrible sound-man. I mean, it sounded like I was playing in a sea of muffled mush. Couldn’t hear a thing and never went back.
 

LqdSndDist

Member
Messages
1,336
When I got a DAW and found an internet full of drum programs, backing tracks etc, I realized I could be in my ideal band with just myself.

i have total creative control, we can always jam or record when I want, on my schedule, etc

no gigs these days but that is fine with me.....


Being in a band just doesn’t work for a lot of people and it likely isn’t going to work, only lead to frustration.

sometimes better to just play solo, record your own music etc, when and how you want, instead of deal with all the drama of peoples schedules, skill levels, egos etc
 

mtmartin71

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,859
I'm a guitar player and I sing lead and also play some keyboards so there are a lot of opportunities out there for me. Unfortunately everybody seems to want to gig way too much then I'm looking to do. The ones that have a more reasonable vision of gigging are very mediocre at best it seems
I missed your post. Sorry...I guess we were vibing the same thing at the same time and didn't mean to steal your thunder! :) But yes...this is my fear as well. That I won't be able to find the right mix of player capability unless I'm willing to commit to more gigging than I'm capable of.
 
Messages
510
I found my unicorn band as well, but there are trade offs. We are in our late 30’s to mid 50’s. We all have families and day jobs.

We play covers and have a repertoire of about 60 songs. Typical bar band, but we try to spice up the song choices a bit.

We practice 2-3 times a month (once a week if possible), and limit our gigs to once a month-maximum. Some months we just take off if our personal lives get busy. We get together just enough to scratch that itch, and actively keep the whole situation low-key.

One trade off is that we will probably never get as tight as we want. Life just gets in the way. Luckily we keep getting offers to play, so we seem to be doing something right.

Trust me, we definitely know we have shortcomings, but we do what we can with the limited time we have.
 
Last edited:

mvd18969

Member
Messages
2,004
I hear you..... I've had to pass on many good bands over the years due to the over aggressive gigging schedule.
That's why I was so stoked about this band because it seemed like they were only looking to play with the same frequency as I was. But that ended up being short lived lol
I missed your post. Sorry...I guess we were vibing the same thing at the same time and didn't mean to steal your thunder! :) But yes...this is my fear as well. That I won't be able to find the right mix of player capability unless I'm willing to commit to more gigging than I'm capable of.
 

chillybilly

Member
Messages
3,579
The unicorn that I'm chasing...
  • Group of relatively talented players...folks who work on their instrument all year vs just to prep for a couple of events...no one where you're going to wince or feel embarrassed up on stage together
  • People you can hang with and have a beer
  • Folks who actually have the time to commit to prepping, rehearsing, and playing
  • Folks who want to consistently get together but keep the gigging light...so jam/practice once a month and gig every 2-3 months
Unicorns are rare to nonexistent...to extend the metaphor create your own unicorn. By this I mean when you join you can be the nice guy, the helpful guy, the flexible guy, the guy going the extra mile loading in gear that isn't yours, the guy who brings a six pack and shares it, etc. If you're an observant bloke you will know how much is not enough and how much is too much.

The point is to kill them with kindness, earn their trust in an honest not a devious way. But use that trust factor to exercise more control, influence and direction over time. Unfortunately, musicians are all that different from people in other walks of life - they want to be led by the hand, expend minimal effort and (paradoxically) reap maximum reward. Turn those lemons into lemonade. Become the musical director or the informal equivalent. Be the originator and curator of The Vault ie the shared MP3s, lyrics, charts, setlists, etc. They may view it as drudgery. Hell, you may also. But the fewer details they have to worry about the better for them and, in turn, you.

Even if there are sizable gaps between meetups for rehearsals and gigs treat it like any other band with a social media/web presence and promotion. The Infrequent Types all too often resemble Doyle (Dwight Yoakam) and his hapless backyard bozos in 'Sling Blade' - some people just can't or won't commit, others lack the talent even if they wanted to. In my experience the light schedule is often down to a lack of motivation that's part of a vicious cycle: a lack of prep results in shaky gigs which discourages further prep which discourages further gigs. If virtue is its own reward then doing a clean set in rehearsal should be the immediate goal as well as confidence builder for a live gig. You may find (as I have) that rehearsal success translates to a hunger for more gigs even if the offhand attitudes don't appear to be subsiding initially.

Frankly, if you get to a certain age instrumental ability becomes a little more black and white issue: people either have chops or they don't and the likelihood of rapid or significant improvement is low.

One alternative is to find a band with a longstanding lineup but one that may require a sub or an additional player out of necessity or desire on occasion. A photonegative of your desired scenario, perhaps, but it would obviate most of the problems you describe while fitting in with your desired schedule.
 

mtmartin71

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,859
One alternative is to find a band with a longstanding lineup but one that may require a sub or an additional player out of necessity or desire on occasion. A photonegative of your desired scenario, perhaps, but it would obviate most of the problems you describe while fitting in with your desired schedule.
I've thought about this too...being a sub or occasional add on.

The rest of your post is well taken. I actually approach any band or project the way you described in terms of how can I show up to be prepared but also help the other guys. I think it's just a case of better recognizing what people can and can't do and either accept and live with that, or move on and look for a new opp. I have a tendency to hang on too long and hope the people around me will change. History is pretty clear though.

So far some good ideas and some new avenues for me to try. The main thing is that I want to keep trying. That keeps options open.
 




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