Playing in bands as you get to your 40s and up.

Austin_Taunt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,955
Does anyone find it gets harder to get a band going?

Covid killed my successful cover band that played mostly fairs and festivals for really good pay. We were unable to gig for two years and as expected, some members decided to not rejoin. Now we are trying to get something going again and it is tough. In 6mo we are on our third drummer, 2nd singer and two keyboard players have come and gone. The biggest issue is getting people to learn material. They start out strong bc its new and exciting but after about 15-20 songs they fizzle out and start canceling. Biggest excuses are I’ve been busy and I dont like that song. Last night the frustration got to me and i stopped rehearsal and gave the “you guys need to know these songs before you get here” speech. Been 6 weeks with this lineup and we can barely make it through 10 songs.

Being 40 now Ive noticed the pool of musicians has shrank tremendously. Used to have a list of guys you could call and they would show up prepared. Now Im happy if guys just show up. Is this the life of the older musician or has it always been like this and I didnt notice?

I feel like Im whining but I guess i needed to vent. Im searching for an established group to join but its not looking like anything is available unless i want to travel over a hour. Probably need to just suck it up and keep pushing.
 

RC Mike

Member
Messages
778
Low pay, large time commitments, and the hobby-nature of the activity don’t jibe with the desire for professional attitudes. It’s a for-fun thing for most people, as they can’t earn enough to justify the time. If the passion and willingness to sacrifice other aspects of life isn’t there, what really is there in its place?
 

Aceman893

Member
Messages
2,115
How long did it take to get your successful cover band up and running at that level?

Ain't gonna repair itself over night.

Think about what it takes to be a Drummer at ~50?
- A house
- Drums
- Family willing to put up with the space/volume
- Fit enough to do it


Yeah, the pool shrinks, a lot. Same with vocals - assuming the really could sing before they were 50. Guitar is easy, and gets easier every year. What used to to take a Marshall half stack, and a pedal board is now and 8"x6" multi fx.
 

B Money

Member
Messages
6,174
Yeah, down in the ranks of the part-time amateur musician, the talent pool shrinks considerably. Hell, most guys pack it in around 25 and sell their guitars and amps to buy fishing poles and golf clubs.
Some linger a little longer into their 30s when kids and careers kill their musical interest.
After that all that remains are the grizzled "lifers" like us that can't seem to get it out of our systems.
I'm sure the vast majority of us are clinging together just to keep things afloat. I'm in my 50s now and I'm still playing with the same core group of players that started out in high school together!
 

stratohiker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,662
I chalk it up to the all pervasive short attention span theater since the age of the interwebs started.
Not only affects younger peeps........Yes, I see it's even leaked into my mother of all people.
And yes, we all have to work at staying in shape, no matter what instrument we are playing.
I eat right, exercise as often as possible, and drink responsibly. Drugs? Not in many years.
I see and know lots of peeps my age, that are not doin' that, let alone musicians who are still conducting themselves like 20//30 year old's.
 

rizla

Member
Messages
1,357
When I hit my 40s my band mates were younger, by 15yrs.
The problem I had with older guys is they wanted to play the same old crap, nothing new was any good for them and gigs got less great and less often.
Having 26 -30yr old band mates meant they chose songs that the 20-30yr olds in the crowd wanted to hear and we stayed in the better venues and better paying gigs.
It doesnt mean abandoning really good old classics that everyone loves and expects. It just means playing what newer people like.
 

alund

Member
Messages
4
Covid has made “working” hard towards a goal difficult as everyone was allowed to be comfortably settled for a couple years. It’s hard to get off the couch more so than it was in the past. Lots of people have become acceptably mediocre in the US including musicians. The key is to find people who play strictly for fun; not for money.
 

Sloppyfingers

Member
Messages
1,606
I'm in my mid fifties myself, and indeed I feel it's hard to get something going..If you have a group of old friends that you've been playing with for years, you are blessed. My bar band cover band days were in the 90's, and I had a good run..I was maybe 44 when I tried to get a new band going, and it just collapsed after maybe 8 songs. The drummer bailed and it just kind of fell apart..It's a big commitment to do it right, and not just a 'bowling" night (to me) Everyone has to practice their parts and rehearse together a minimum of once a week.

These past few years, and to keep things going for myself, I took up video editing and I have been organizing online collaboration videos with some old and new friends where I stitch it all together after and make a video after..It's a lot of work, but rewarding at the same time..Everyone I collaborate with seems to dig it, and they can work around their own schedules. I sometimes think that I should adjust my attitude and just try to find that "bowling night" hobby band, but that would get old fast for me if there's no progress. Hauling out gear to dick around in someone's garage playing same ole ,same ole once every month just doesn't appeal to me..About 3 years ago I knew another guitar player (acquaintance) who wanted to start something, but red flags started showing when he had his neighbours over and all he did was endless leads over 12 bar blues and I felt like I was part of his own personal Saturday night backing band. Then of course the ridiculous and unrealistic list showed up of songs to learn for the next rehearsal in 2 months time. I passed on future "rehearsals".
 
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Dubious

Member
Messages
2,221
my experience in my 40s is that a number of things are WAY better - people still in it at this point can usually play, have good gear, disposable income for a jam spot, or a house / jam spot already, reliable transportation etc.

But overall its way worse as their musical tastes tend to be frozen in time, ambition low, and eventually they just want to do covers. No one seems to want to record, work on originals etc.
 

Platevolt

Member
Messages
1,169
Does anyone find it gets harder to get a band going?

Covid killed my successful cover band that played mostly fairs and festivals for really good pay. We were unable to gig for two years and as expected, some members decided to not rejoin. Now we are trying to get something going again and it is tough. In 6mo we are on our third drummer, 2nd singer and two keyboard players have come and gone. The biggest issue is getting people to learn material. They start out strong bc its new and exciting but after about 15-20 songs they fizzle out and start canceling. Biggest excuses are I’ve been busy and I dont like that song. Last night the frustration got to me and i stopped rehearsal and gave the “you guys need to know these songs before you get here” speech. Been 6 weeks with this lineup and we can barely make it through 10 songs.

Being 40 now Ive noticed the pool of musicians has shrank tremendously. Used to have a list of guys you could call and they would show up prepared. Now Im happy if guys just show up. Is this the life of the older musician or has it always been like this and I didnt notice?

I feel like Im whining but I guess i needed to vent. Im searching for an established group to join but its not looking like anything is available unless i want to travel over a hour. Probably need to just suck it up and keep pushing.
Guys this age are either truly pro and know what to do (the minority) or ... meet the majority: hacks who cannot control volume, drink/smoke weed during practice, don't learn parts at home, and want to play "fusion" without the theory and technique required.
 

Bob Arbogast

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,202
I'm on the edge of 62 and having my best band experience ever. We play once or twice most weekends. We rehearse rarely. But we're getting tighter. We play mostly Chicago blues, not blues-rock. So set-up is old school and simple. Life is good.

Wildwood_June2022.jpg
 

donnievaz

Member
Messages
3,576
my experience in my 40s is that a number of things are WAY better - people still in it at this point can usually play, have good gear, disposable income for a jam spot, or a house / jam spot already, reliable transportation etc.

But overall its way worse as their musical tastes tend to be frozen in time, ambition low, and eventually they just want to do covers. No one seems to want to record, work on originals etc.

56 here. The reason nobody wants to do originals and record is because nobody wants to hear original music by a bunch of old folks no matter how good it may or may not be. That and you're spot on about being frozen in time. They also don't want "new old" music, unless of course it's done by kids, ie. Greta Van Fleet.
 

Aahzz

Member
Messages
2,443
I've had so many false starts with bands since my last one broke up right before Covid that I've just decided to go solo acoustic. It's just been a royal pain to get people who can be bothered to learn the dang songs.
 

DrewJD82

Member
Messages
1,137
It definitely feels different in some ways. I’m 39 and just had a cover band die a slow death, I was the oldest guy in the band and it was my “I’m just going to show up and play” gig, which also made it the least fun for me.

Seems at this age, we’re starting to get to that “I just want to have fun” point and that often means “I don’t want to have to care too much, this is a hobby.” My personal idea on that, because I also said “I just want to have fun” is that the fun part doesn’t start until the work has been put in, the band is tight and basically on autopilot.

I got in a band with much younger musicians and while they were the nicest group of people I’ve ever played with, certainly talented, their inexperience and decision making was so foreign to me. They just didn’t understand the importance of rehearsing and nailing things and started booking gigs well before we were anything close to “ready”…..and that showed when we started playing out.

Playing in a band has always been a labor of love, even in the best situations, but I think we’re at the point where we have to navigate that a little more.
 

Chicago Slim

Member
Messages
4,862
I retired from the business world at age 46 and worked as a professional musician until age 63. You have to get out there so that everyone knows you and has heard you. I did everything from giving guitar lessons, to fronting bands and playing for recording artists on short notice. My people skills got me work as a Band Leader and Music Director. I finally quit as I was tired of having to be available seven days a week. You have to always be available and always say, "Yes". It's not an easy job as you get older.
 
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Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,113
That's basically why I quit playing in bands in my early 20's.

I spent my teenage years in bands practicing several times a week and gigging as much as possible. But then I graduated college, got a real job, got real bills, and got a dog. I didn't want to play lame covers with people 30 years older than me, and I didn't want to drive for hours in a crappy van with teenagers to play originals at basement parties.

Now I've got kids who all have lots of activities and a busy job and everything is going non-stop 100 miles an hour. I can barely find the time to get out of the house once a week to play beer league hockey let alone find a group of guys around my age that are half decent on their instruments and practice and play out. So I mostly just noodle for fun at home.

A couple of the guys I used to play with ended up doing the church band thing, which seems neat (but I'm not religious and don't love that music). I'd probably be more of the speed to try and get a cover or tribute band, or just play some weird experimental music for fun. But man it seems like a lot of work.

It would really drive me nuts to play with people that weren't all that good on their instruments. I spent several hours a day practicing for years and years, and it wasn't hard at all to just learn a song by ear or to follow along while someone is playing. Heck for a cover band you should pretty much know all the songs if it's a genre you like.
 
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