Recently I was hired to do a production show gig. It was the Country Super Stars Tribute Show.
This show features live musicians and singers. Some productions shows use pre-recorded tracks to augment some parts of the show. This one did not. That means everyone had to know their parts and play them.
This particular gig I was not only playing bass, but I was also the main back-up singer. I was singing all the high harmonies and 98% of the main harmonies. Pulling double duty is a lot of work. Not only do you need to know the songs but the words and your harmonies in each one. And for different singers there are different harmonies you have to sing.
Now for the most part, this is the same thing I would do for any other gig I am hired to do. The main difference is on the casino or bar gig I’m playing four sets and have some time to warm up or as I like to call it “coast.” On the four-set gigs I can usually coast on the first set. The crowd is just coming in and things aren’t crazy yet. Also I have breaks between songs and breaks between sets. This allows me to pace myself throughout the night and let loose when need be and coast when it’s a little slow.
With the production show it is on eleven from the beginning. It’s a concert. People bought a ticket, they are in their seat and are ready to be entertained and have a great time. There’s no phoning it in. You have to be 100% on your game and in the zone.
With this show, vocal warm-ups were done in the dressing room and in the wings of the stage before we went on. Little things like taking time to tune are out. If my bass was out of tune, I picked up my other one and continued on. Now there were spots when I could check tuning, get a drink of water of wipe the sweat from my face. But not many. The show was 75 minutes long and was over before you knew it. You had to get out on stage and kick butt from the get-go!
Some things were just not going to happen, like having a music stand and charts with a light. I did get away with having an iPad on a stand. This was far less noticeable than a music stand. I was the band leader on this gig and was glad to be able to refer to arrangements and specific parts on my ipad. This also made it easy to direct the other band members in case of brain farts and missed cues.
On bar gigs and some casino gigs, most guys use music stands for charts and lyrics or just to put stuff on. The drummer and keyboard player were able to hide charts behind gear but for the rest of us we were out in the open and had to rely on memory.
There were other little things that made the production show experience one I am looking forward to repeating. Having a nice big dressing room with individual lighted mirrors with showers & bathrooms right in the dressing room was great. We had our own “Dresser” – this is a person who washes and fixes your stage cloths. How great is that! Plus, catering in the dressing room with plenty of things to drink and eat.
We also had a full production crew who took care of setting up all the gear, running the sound and lights and basically treating us like rock stars.
I did love this gig, but casino and bar gigs are my bread and butter. I’d be lost without them. Being treated like a rock star is great, but it doesn’t happen often to working musicians and it’s now time to get back to reality…
Thanks for checking in. Time for me to load my gear and make my way to the gig!
Scott Woodward is a working bassist and singer in Las Vegas and beyond. Check out the rest of his blogs about being a professional musician HERE.
Originally posted 2012-09-03 22:41:32.