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New Combo

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New Combo

Sunday, January 18, 2009 3:49 AM
Author: Not Found

I'm looking to start a combo for local gigging and performances in the Grand Rapids area and had a few questions for the gallery. As for instrumentation, I was looking to start small and go with saxophone, guitar, and bass. Any suggestion to otherwise? The area I'm most hurting for is places to approach, and how to approach them. Besides going after restaurant venues or clubs, what other approaches have worked and what people have used that works best for gaining gigs. Next, looking for any suggestions for a cohesive set of tunes. Most of what we'll be doing will probably be out of The Real Book; but, I wondered if anyone had a set list that has worked well for them, or any suggestions! I'd appreciate any input or suggestions you're willing to give! Thanks!


Regarding your new combo
Sunday, January 18, 2009 5:57 AM
Author: Not Found

I lived in Holland, MI, for nine years, so I'm familiar with the area. Here are some venues to look into: The BOB Butch's Drydock (Holland) Capone's (Muskegon) Billy's Schuler Books Bell's Brewery (Kalamazoo) New Holland Brewing Company (Holland) There aren't a whole lot of dedicated jazz clubs (in fact most of the ones I just named really aren't clubs per se), but there's a surprising amount of freelance work for a town of its size, and even more if you're willing to do some driving. I'd recommend three things. First, literally go down the phone book and call every restaurant, hotel, and bookstore, even ones you'd never think would hire live music. I actually had a decent-paying regular gig at a Panera Bread in Holland, and another one at a Holiday Inn in Muskegon. Just work the odds - the more places you call, the more likely you'll be to get a bite. Second, check out festivals. Some Michigan towns like Grand Haven, Holland and Saugatuck are summer hangouts for the snowbirds, so business really picks up between Memorial Day and Labor day. There are all kinds of festivals, summer concert series, etc. I'd join the union as soon as possible. Michigan is a huge union state, and many of those festivals are MPTF gigs which means you need to be in the union to even get paid. I had a student make almost $10K one summer with his trio going all over the state to different summer festivals. Right now would be the time to start hitting up those places - by March most of them will probably have their programs set. Third, see if you can get in on the convention circuit. Those gigs will usually be at places like the Devos convention center, and while they're not frequent, they're really good money. I think the union office has a master list of all the conventions taking place in town over the next few years. If you like, you can email me at email and I can put you in touch with some of my buddies in GR who can probably help you out better than I can. As for your second question, what always works best for me is to carry a list of the tunes I know, listed not alphabetically or by composer but by style - standard, burner, ballad, waltz, bossa, funk, bop, etc. It's much easier to mix it up on the spot that way. This works great for background gigs, but if you're being featured, I'd stay away from Real Book tunes unless you have your own arrangements of them. Otherwise you run the risk of sounding too much like a pickup band. If you can have some sort of niche outside the straight-ahead, Real book approach (original tunes, crossover, unusual instrumentation, etc.), you'll get more feature gigs and make more of a name for yourself. Be ready to play the most oft-called tunes. In my experience, the five most requested jazz tunes BY FAR are (not necessarily in this order): Take Five New York, New York Linus & Lucy (Charlie Brown theme song) Sing, Sing, Sing Georgia On My Mind (I'll bet I missed one or two. I'm sure other NASA members can add one or two to this list.) More often, people request a composer or bandleader, as in "Play me something by Duke/Louis/Goodman/Miller/Dorsey/Brubeck/etc." So be sure to have one or two tunes from each of those bands in your repertoire. It's usually worth a few good tips. :) I hope this helps.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 6:28 AM
Author: Brady Amerson

This reply is about a year late but ah well! My favorite instrumentation is guitar, sax, and bass...you can split the cash pretty well that way too. Keep in mind that if you're doing fake book stuff, check your editions!!! The sixth (aka the only legal) has some MAJOR changes from the other editions. Some examples are: a different bridge on Well You Needn't, a wrong first ending in In the Wee Small Hours, and Straight No Chaser transposed up from the key all the other books. If you have the time, I would suggest making copies, just in case. I've found that what helps the most for getting gigs is having stuff [I]online[/I] to make it easy for those hiring you. I've skipped a lot of trouble by just saying "check out my website." Take a little extra time to make a few videos and recordings...and if you don't have the time for that, at least give them a CD or DVD when you call them. Hope that helps, Sarah Cosano

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