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

twotone

Member
Messages
6,530
I was about forty years old when I entered the band I'm in now. We've been together since the early 2000s, and I think what keeps us going is that we don't do a lot of cover tunes, we practice whenever we can (sometimes only once a month), we play for our own enjoyment, and we have no bandleader or frontman.
 

Steve Hotra

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,489
Well... Ive got a few things happening.
I'm 65 and a multi instrumentalist. Guitar, keys, pedal steel, banjo and mandolin.
Playing keys and 5 string banjo in a Keith Urban tribute band.
Playing keys and mandolin in a singer / songwriter band.
Ages in these bands are mid 30's to early 40's.

I sing / lead worship at a Tuesday night recovery service ( acoustic guitar)
Saturday nights I play at the same church: electric guitar or keys
Sunday mornings: I am the MD, and play keys / run tracks.

I teach 3.5 days a week, with a student load of 30 students.
I am enjoying this musical season of my life. I haven't stopped playing since 1975.
 

Gilbert Rocks

Member
Messages
98
i just turned 50 and I don't feel anything near it. haha. Yes, getting a band together is a pain now adays. I make a great living in the music world and have no patience for hacks. I'm playing now with a 25 year old kid that is an awesome musician and we are having a blast. We rehearse and will have our first show soon. Can't wait. I'm playing acoustic and he a jams electric and acoustic and we both sing. My old band from the 90's is still together and touring. You just never know where music will take you. We just have to learn to embrace the whole journey.
 

gtrdave

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,924
At 55 years old I'm playing more now than than ever before in my life. I've got about 4 active bands and 2 other semi-regular projects that I'm a part of, plus I do a couple of sessions a month, regularly play in church and usually find my way into random one-off gigs and showcases.
I am a lot more discerning than I used to be and I say no to some gigs for a variety of reasons, usually because the ROI is low or absent, but I've got enough going on (including a full-time job and everything else in life, like cutting the grass and riding my bikes) that I'm working as much as I want to and don't need to work any more than I am.
 

john weires

Member
Messages
923
69 years old here and the oldest member of the band! My band has been together since 2017 and stayed together through Covid in 2020, where we played zero gigs (except one party for a band member). 2021 we played a dozen or so gigs mostly played outdoors where we all felt a bit safer than indoors. 2022 has started off strong and we are playing regularly. It seems very few worry about Covid right now. Our season is mid March through October here in Estes Park. The town dies when the cold weather and wind moves in in November.
 

nla

Member
Messages
248
You're talking about pros in a thread about starting a dad band.
Per the OP: “successful cover band that played mostly fairs and festivals for really good pay”. Sounds like (semi-)pro to me. And maybe that’s part of the problem: expecting pro level commitment and performance from “dad band” musicians.
 

DunedinDragon

Member
Messages
1,521
I think this is really just a function of your non-band life taking precedence. For most people as you get into your upper 30's your professional life outside of the band becomes more demanding as your more experienced and are given more responsibilities. At the same time your home life is pretty busy with your kids and their activities. I know it was that way for me as well as many of my former bandmates.

However, take solace in that as you get nearer to retirement things start to settle down. Your kids are out on their own and you generally have more time to pursue outside interests like playing in bands. I know I was out of the band business around that age and started back in my mid 50's. The good news is, there are plenty of other people in that same situation and they're FAR more disciplined and pragmatic about it than many younger people, so it becomes much easier to get a good band going that operates efficiently and knows how to play for an audience.
 

supergenius365

Disclaimer: Not an actual supergenius
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
11,969
I'm 54 and in a pretty busy (for me) band. I never expected to be in a band after my last band broke up in my 30s as I tend to only do my original music.
My current band was a complete chance/dumb luck thing that I found an ad for on Facebook. I answered the ad on a lark and ended up fronting a band with my originals for the past 5 years.
I think it would be an absolutely Herculean task to form a band now, at any age, given Covid and the fact that just about anybody can record music in their bedroom on their computer. The individual/personal NEED to find other people who wanted to play in a group is greatly reduced in this day and age imo.
 

gtrdave

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,924
Of course we don't blame anyone - but a guy who gets 'Tired' of it - is a pretend musician - or I should say a Pretend Pro - I wasn't that - I made and make a great living in the music business - I never got tired of it - I also didn't go crazy very often with the drinking, drugging and staying up all the time - I mean I had my moments - but never got in deep - stayed fairly on track - and learned to be diverse in my income - and I'm in no way saying people weren't good - there were a couple of guys in my club days who weren't full time who could run rings around me - but they treated it casually and I didn't - it was and continues to be my livelihood.

Over the years I've met other musicians who have said something like the following; "if I don't make it by (let's say) 35 years old, I'm hanging it up." I was always kind of put off by that statement. I mean, it's their life and they can do whatever with it, but such a thought has never even entered my mind because being a musician is what I do. I've had day jobs in and out of music, but performing, writing, recording, producing, engineering, etc...is something that I've been working on since I was 12 years old and I've never thought of the pursuit of music as having some sort of "sell by" date, where I get to discard the activities if things didn't go my way.
This includes through 30+ years of marriage, raising kids and various bouts of higher education.

The passion for music is a heck of a motivator.
 

Burstbucker

Member
Messages
2,202
First of all I tip my hat to anybody who’s been able to play music with friends and have fun while doing it.

Hasn’t been my experience unfortunately.

I played in bands a little bit until my mid twenties then dropped out of the scene completely until my late thirties.

At that point my main goal was to find a few like minded players, practice once on weekends with the idea that people would show up having done their homework and ready to have a productive practice session but that was usually never the case as most of you know.

I would make cassette tapes of the tunes that we had chosen (this was over twenty years ago btw) and give them out to everybody, that took time and effort and most of the time I was buying the cassettes.

Then the drummer would show up not having learned anything through the week and blamed his tape machine, it wasn’t working. So then like a fool I would burn him a CD and give it to him but to no avail he would have yet another excuse.

Then one of our drummers started an affair with our bass player’s wife, blew everything up of course! Lol

On top of all that my job required that I would be on-call every second or third week, that was fun…..

I threw in the towel at the age of forty two after trying for three years. Jump ahead almost twenty years and my new job requires that I work an insane amount of overtime, especially weekends. So I have even less free time than I ever had in my entire life!

On the plus side I have a wonderful stash of guitars, pedals and amps but I hardly even have time to play them, the irony.

For those who can have the right work/life balance and find the RIGHT people that you can click with before you’re too old to gig I envy you.

The little bit that I got to play live in a band setting was definitely fun but it just didn’t work out for me in the end.

Oh well at least I still have my gear.:)
 
Last edited:
Messages
6
I'm 61 and in two great bands with zero ego issues. Both bands had amazing last gigs just before the pandemic shutdown, so even though we were unable to play for almost two years, our memories of playing to sold-out houses gave us momentum and inspiration for the future. Now both bands are playing regularly again and sounding tighter than ever. I have two gigs today: I'm playing with my five-piece at a street festival this afternoon, and then with my three-piece at an outdoor venue tonight. Yes, the cost of gas eats up our meager pay, but the joy I get from performing with dear friends for appreciative audiences is worth more than any amount of money. I can't imagine ever getting so old I don't want to do it anymore. That would be like death to me. I know it sounds morbid, but I honestly hope I die on stage, with that final note ringing in my ears.
 

22Top

Member
Messages
1,225
I’m 38, 2 young kids. Spent the last 15 years moving around for work and didn’t really land in any ‘scene’ wherever I was. Lots and lots of jams, solo gigs, and sit-ins.

I had a couple regular bands in uni, but after that just found that I couldn’t find the committed people in my age group.

During Covid I decided to pick up the bass again (played in HS band). That led to lots and lots of playing and relearning different parts for songs I already know. And a new outlet for gear-hounding.

I fell bass-ackwards into my current gig: bass in a country cover band. I think all the other guys are in their 50s - they had a keyboardist covering bass and keys for the last few years, and had me and another keys player come audition. The 5 songs went well. Got the gig so had 3 weeks and 10 hours of shared rehearsal to learn 60 tunes for my first gig with them at a wedding.

Because me & Keys were hopping on to a train in motion, it was easier to learn fast.

I was not even all that into country - and less so the basslines - but I fluked out and landed in a band where no one drinks (at least two of us are sober), and everyone understands rehearsal is for learning as a group.

Now I make more $$ for showing up with my bass, modeller, and a clean shirt. No PA, no gig booking, no frontman duties.

The band is thrilled with the new sound, and I still had my in-ears on when I hit the can during a rehearsal break… i heard what they were saying when I wasn’t around and it was v flattering
 

gtrdave

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,924
First of all I tip my hat to anybody who’s been able to play music with friends and have fun while still enjoying themselves.

Hasn’t been my experience unfortunately.

I played in bands a little bit until my mid twenties then dropped out of the scene completely until my late thirties.

At that point my main goal was to find a few like minded players, practice once on weekends with the idea that people would show up having done their homework and ready to have a productive practice session but that was usually never the case as most of you know.

I would make cassette tapes of the tunes that we had chosen (this was over twenty years ago btw) and give them out to everybody, that took time and effort and most of the time I was buying the cassettes.

Then the drummer would show up not having learned anything through the week and blamed his tape machine, it wasn’t working. So then like a fool I would burn him a CD and give it to him but to no avail he would have yet another excuse.

Then one of our drummers started an affair with our bass player’s wife, blew everything up of course! Lol

On top of all that my job required that I would be on-call every second or third week, that was fun…..

I through in the towel at the age of forty two after trying for three years. Move ahead almost twenty years and my new job requires that I work an insane amount of overtime, especially weekends. So I have even less free time than I ever had in my entire life!

On the plus side I have a wonderful stash of guitars, pedals and amps but I hardly even have time to play them.

For those who can have the right work/life balance and find the RIGHT people that you can click with before you’re too old to gig I envy you.

The little bit that I got to play live in a band setting was definitely fun but it just didn’t work out for me in the end.

Oh well at least I still have my gear.:)

It definitely is no fun when you have to deal with other musicians who lack motivation to practice and so on. For years it seemed there would be one guy in several bands I played with who would never practice on their own and come to rehearsal unprepared, but they were always quick with an excuse as to why even when given ample time.

A few years back I was in a band where the drummer was the culprit. I got into the band reluctantly because I knew he was a slacker and tended to rush tempos on everything, but other friends talked me into it (never again). We had to learn one particular song for an event we got hired to play as it was sort of their theme song (Ride like the Wind). We gave the guys a month to get it down, but sadly could not rehearse due to schedule conflicts, which gave me a really bad feeling going into the gig.
So, dude shows up to the gig, we get through our usual moldy-oldy tunes and get to the time when we're to play RLtW in the set and the drummer turns to me and says (I $#!+ you not...) "Sorry, but I haven't had time to even listen to this song".
I was furious. It's not like it's a hard song at all, but it's got a groove and some nice nuances in the accents that any monkey with sticks could figure out if they take a minute.
So we play the tune and it's way too fast, like everything he plays, and it has zero feel and it was the final straw, etc...
I announced after that show that I was leaving the band and wished them well. They broke up soon after and I haven't spoken to the drummer since.

Yes, that kind of nonsense I have no time for anymore. Thankfully, I've been very fortunate over the last 5 years to have found some great, motivated, passionate and extremely fun musicians to play with. Not one of us is a virtuoso, but a great work ethic and a great attitude makes for great musical moments and a pretty steady gig schedule.
 

DunedinDragon

Member
Messages
1,521
Over the years I've met other musicians who have said something like the following; "if I don't make it by (let's say) 35 years old, I'm hanging it up." I was always kind of put off by that statement. I mean, it's their life and they can do whatever with it, but such a thought has never even entered my mind because being a musician is what I do. I've had day jobs in and out of music, but performing, writing, recording, producing, engineering, etc...is something that I've been working on since I was 12 years old and I've never thought of the pursuit of music as having some sort of "sell by" date, where I get to discard the activities if things didn't go my way.
This includes through 30+ years of marriage, raising kids and various bouts of higher education.

The passion for music is a heck of a motivator.
I can admit that I'm not anywhere near that committed to performing and I give a tip of my hat to anyone that has that kind of passion. I do have some friends that have that kind of passion and they've dedicated their lives to it even into their 70's. I realized in my mid to late 20's I didn't have the level of passion it requires to put up with all the traveling, hotel living, setting up, tearing down, hauling equipment and the good and bad venues so I pursued other interests and it worked out for me as I was able to retire at the ripe old age of 49...and now I pursue music on my own terms without regard to having to make a bunch of money from it.
 

wraub

Member
Messages
2,162
Besides that part where you actually play music together nothing about being in a local band has any appeal for me at all anymore. Too much work for too little return.
 

gtrdave

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,924
I can admit that I'm not anywhere near that committed to performing and I give a tip of my hat to anyone that has that kind of passion. I do have some friends that have that kind of passion and they've dedicated their lives to it even into their 70's. I realized in my mid to late 20's I didn't have the level of passion it requires to put up with all the traveling, hotel living, setting up, tearing down, hauling equipment and the good and bad venues so I pursued other interests and it worked out for me as I was able to retire at the ripe old age of 49...and now I pursue music on my own terms without regard to having to make a bunch of money from it.

Like many things, there's no one right way but many ways and your way has worked for you.

I have a musician friend who put in 30 years working construction with the unions. He retired at 51 and continues to play music as a sole source of income with little pressure, thanks to a pension that he paid into all that time. His spouse has a pretty good day gig, too, so that helps. :)

In my 20s I played a lot of music for little to no money, all in the hopes of 'making it' in Hollywood. I could have easily been defeated by the lack of success, but I simply changed course in both my career and my musical pursuits and my way has worked for me.
 

MrTAteMyBalls

Member
Messages
4,701
I'm 41, an accomplished musician on several instruments, and I can't find jack squat to play in. I have fully worked out and recorded songs just needing vocals, for instance....and I can't find a singer for YEARS now. I had the same problem in Denver. Everyone I auditioned was terrible. All the great singers are already in other bands.

Anyway I moved to Munich, Germany a couple of years ago and it's just dead here. No music scene at all really. Occasionally there is a not very good metal band looking for a guitarist, but no rock bands really. There are some kind of "dad band" cover band kind of things looking for musicians pretty often, but they are typically as terrible as you can imagine. I went to one audition and just couldn't do it. It was so bad.

One problem is I have a very high standard. If we don't sound professional, then it's embarrassing for me. I won't tolerate "hobby band" kind of musicianship. I want to be able to proudly show off my band to friends and family.

I am also a composer and I have new material constantly. There just isn't time for me to learn covers when I am always working on something new. I have always been compelled to write songs and I don't see that ever stopping, unfortunately. I am musically extremely unfulfilled and frustrated right now.

Just because we are 40 doesn't mean we have to resort to playing stones or Clapton covers or whatever. Really guys!!!!
 

Strummerfan

Member
Messages
8,137
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.
It's always been this way. I've had band members who wanted to play shows but didn't want to do the work to get there. Band members who were constantly drunk or stoned. Band members who just couldn't be relied on. Band members who took on too many different projects and didn't focus enough.
Every mofo wants to be a Rock Star. Only a handful want to be musicians.
 




Top Bottom