Monday, May 25, 2009

It's the little things that count.

It's the little things that count.

Last night, I was the pianist with the Hauer 18 piece big band for the Miamisburg, Ohio Veteran's Memorial Day Dance. 
The band featured music from the 1940 WWII years and also included many of the Armed Forces Songs. 
Since I wasn't the Band Leader, my thoughts were concerned with being a good sideman. 

Thoughtful sideman will be offered work more then poor ones.

Here are some of my ideas ideas.

1. I always arrive at least 30 minutes before the downbeat to insure that my equipment is fully functional 
and i am not forgetting anything. This will allow me to scramble and get anything I need and still not be late.

2. I always help the band leader with additional equipment set up. 
The band leader not only has to set up and wire his own equipment, but also the band PA, 
18 music racks, 18 stand lights and pass out 18 band music books. Last nights band book had over 1200 charts.
One thing I noticed was how many other sidemen would show up to the performance at the last minute
with only their instrument and nothing else. Many didn't lift a finger to assist the leader with the set up duties.

3. I always volunteer my dolly and extension cords to anyone else who might need them.
I also have my name and cell number clearly marked to make sure I get them back.

4. I am never the last one to return to the stage after a break.

5. I make sure that any charts that I pull out of the book for that last set are filed in order after that set.

5. I make myself available after the performance to assist the leader with tear-down.

6. I search the stage after every else is gone to insure that nothing is left behind. 
I currently have the bass players guitar stand and will contact him so he doesn't worry about it.

7. In these troubled time, the more paying performances the better.

These tips will help to insure that you are always on the band leaders "call back" list.

Good Gigging,

Larry Marra

Monday, May 18, 2009

The top ten in my gig bag.

Here are 10 items that you might consider taking to your next gig.

1. Portable folding music rack with clothespins (in case you're outside).

2. Your own stand light (you never know how dark the stage will be).

3. extension cord. I carry a grounded, 25 foot-four outlet outdoor reel for my stand light, keyboard and amp and one left over. I also have a three t two pronged outlet adapter for older buildings.

4. An inexpensive dolly. I bought a fantastic one from called a magna cart. This dolly weights about five pounds and folds flat for transporting. It carries over 150 pounds. I added a bungee cord to keep things from shifting during transit. It cost $25 and had free shipping.

5. three apples (you can never assume that there will be food available when you get there). I had an hour drive to a four hour gig once, and was pretty hungry afterwards.

6. An extra 1/4 " amplifier cord and mic (for announcements). 

7. I take my gig clothes and wear jeans and a tee shirt to set up and tear down. If you are on a raised stage, make sure that your shoes are shined. 

8. breath mints, water and solid deodorant. 

9.  a GPS, or a  printout of the driving directions.

10. the cell number of the band leader (just in case).

I got this list the hard way. I hope that you find out how invaluable these items really are.

good gigging!