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Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians

josepp 26 Jan 11 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 26 Jan 11 - 03:48 PM
josepp 26 Jan 11 - 04:06 PM
josepp 26 Jan 11 - 04:22 PM
GUEST,999 26 Jan 11 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,999 26 Jan 11 - 04:43 PM
josepp 26 Jan 11 - 04:50 PM
GUEST,jeff 26 Jan 11 - 05:05 PM
josepp 26 Jan 11 - 06:28 PM
GUEST,999 26 Jan 11 - 06:53 PM
Steve Shaw 26 Jan 11 - 07:04 PM
maple_leaf_boy 26 Jan 11 - 07:17 PM
Leadfingers 27 Jan 11 - 06:49 AM
Wesley S 27 Jan 11 - 07:36 AM
greg stephens 27 Jan 11 - 07:47 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 27 Jan 11 - 08:16 AM
Leadfingers 27 Jan 11 - 08:18 AM
Bernard 27 Jan 11 - 09:42 AM
josepp 27 Jan 11 - 12:03 PM
GUEST,999 27 Jan 11 - 12:18 PM
josepp 27 Jan 11 - 02:12 PM
Richard Bridge 27 Jan 11 - 05:16 PM
John P 27 Jan 11 - 05:17 PM
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Subject: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: josepp
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 03:17 PM

I'm sure this has been done to death but the thread on sound engineers got me going. I bought a DVD the other day about the final concerts at the Fillmore West. It showed the crap Bill Graham had to put up with trying to run a venue. He flat out stated that the reason he was getting out of the business was that he was tired of putting up with asshole bands. Throughout the DVD, he's trying to get Santana to come and he's bitching about the fact that the band keeps putting these weird demands on him. For example, they want a certain light show. Graham's bitching that, as the promoter, he doesn't doesn't give a damn what light show they have. If they want that particular light show, they need to go and hire those people but Santana's management was expecting him to hire them. At one point he says every other band he booked for these final shows were fairly easy to work with but Santana.

He mentioned that bands were acting more and more "authoritarian" but then it was hard to blame them considering how much money they commanded. But it wasn't just the famous acts. At one point, they catch on film this guy from some unknown band coming in to talk with Graham about getting a billet for the final show. He said he tried for weeks to get hold of Graham but couldn't. Graham said he had been out of town for a while and that he was sorry but that's the breaks.

The guy was mad because he felt his band was better than some of the ones Graham billed. Graham says he's heard those bands and he likes them and he's never heard this guy's band. Too bad, sorry. The guy then says, "Well, I'd just like to say fuck you and thanks for the memories, man!" Not a smart thing to do. THEN he says hopefully Graham will hear his band soon. Not on your life after telling me "fuck you" says Graham. The guy keeps arguing and now Graham is pissed and screaming at him to get out of his establishment before he kicks his ass and he hopes he runs into him out on the town with no cameras around so he can knock his teeth out. "Fuckin' asshole!" the guy says as he's going down the stairs.

What the guy should have done was just give Graham his name and number, tell him to give him a call if he should need a band in a hurry and thank him for his time and all the things he'd done for the San Francisco scene. Maybe he could have gotten a spot considering how pissed Graham was at Santana's bullshit.

But that's what I mean about working with musicians behind the scenes. A lot of them are assholes. They think that they can treat you however the hell they want to and you're supposed to just take it. I'd never be a promoter. I know someone whose band got booked to do a large show because it had some mainstream celebs on the bill. During one band's set, the board goes out and they had to get it back up again. Out of nowhere, one of my buddy's bandmembers walks up to the promoter and says, "If that happens while we're playing, we're walking off the set!" The promoter had them thrown out. My buddy's songs were going to be played in front of all these people and he'd been excited for weeks about it and suddenly it never happens because a fellow bandmember suddenly pulls the big rock god attitude on the promoter and this band was totally unknown! They had no leverage at all and if I had been the promoter I would have done the same thing: You can't talk to me like that--GET OUT!

And some of these very big names are total assholes. Some of them are nice and all, I'm not saying that, but some of them, you wouldn't believe what a bunch of insane Prima Madonnas and drama queens they are. I've been on both sides of the microphone and I'd definitely rather be in front than in back.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 03:48 PM

After a lifetime working with all kinds of musicians. I say the following.

1 Most musicians on the English folkscene are good eggs and have the patience of Job. Their livings are dependant for the main part on amateurs. Most of them have learned to roll with the punches - that come often and painful.

2 The bad attitude very often comes from people who are insecure, and they are looking for excuses for failure in advance.

3 Would the guy who was working the desk have preferred it if he had no warning that the band was liable to walk. i have been in bands with highly strung wannabe geniuses. The spokesman for the band was probably not the originator of the threat. If you are in a band with an asshole who makes threats like this - they rarely have the bottle to make the threats themselves.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: josepp
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 04:06 PM

I won't mention the assholes I know about but I'll mention some who were total sweethearts: Johnny Cash, Rick Wakeman, Keiko Matsui and Cub Koda. I never met the first two. My sister met Johnny, she was behind the scenes booking acts making sure they were comfortable (most of the ones she told me about she hated) but Johnny was a complete gentlemen and had this wonderful sense of humor and everybody there loved him.

My brother's band opened for Rick Wakeman and said, Rick showed up at the place 3 hours early to have a look at the board and check out the acoustics. He helped move other bands' equipment and would chat with you about virtually anything. At one point, he's talking with my brother about some problem his band was having with certain venue owners and asking him questions and giving him advice. My brother said he had to keep reminding himself that he was talking to the guy that did all that kickass keyboard work for Yes when he was in junior high school.

I met Keiko Matsui and her husband, Kazu, and they were just SO nice. Very polite and friendly people. And their band was all really nice folks as well. My brother spoke with the bassist for a about 45 minutes.

And I met Cub Koda. It was at the Soup Kitchen in Detroit. My party was sitting at a table right up in front of the stage and Cub comes out with Hound Dog Taylor's Houserockers--Brewer Phillips and Ted Harvey. We had a an empty chair at our table and during a guitar solo, he walks over and sits down in the chair while continuing to play and says hello to us. I never knew the guy could play such good blues. As soon as his set ended he walked over to our table and shook hands with each of us and thanked us for coming. After the show, he and the band came back out and talked with people and I got to meet the Houserockers too. I also met Cub's dad. Just some really nice, nice people.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: josepp
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 04:22 PM

/////1 Most musicians on the English folkscene are good eggs and have the patience of Job. Their livings are dependant for the main part on amateurs. Most of them have learned to roll with the punches - that come often and painful./////

I could name some that aren't but I won't. I do have a bud who met Led Zeppelin back in the 70s and even has photos of himself with Robert Plant and he said they were great to hang out with. He also has photos of himself with Alice Cooper and said Alice was very cool.

/////3 Would the guy who was working the desk have preferred it if he had no warning that the band was liable to walk./////

The band wasn't liable to walk. He doesn't know why this guy made that threat.

///i have been in bands with highly strung wannabe geniuses. The spokesman for the band was probably not the originator of the threat. If you are in a band with an asshole who makes threats like this - they rarely have the bottle to make the threats themselves.///

There were only three guys in the band--one was my brother who definitely had nothing to do with the threat and they other guy was as shocked as my brother. This guy did this on his own for reasons he never disclosed despite being asked several times, "Why the fuck did you do that. What the hell were you thinking???"

Imagine what the guy would act like if he hit it big.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 04:37 PM

You ever done anything other than bitch?


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 04:43 PM

I`ve worked with Joe Frazier--Mitchell Trio
Tom Paxton
Richie Havens
Been on a stage just before Johnny Cash and met him behind stage
Ditto Chuck Berry except after
Penny Lang
John Lee Hooker
Jesse Winchester
Ron Bankley
Tom Ghent
Garnett Rogers
Rob Lutes
Bill Garrett
Lonnie Johnson
Patrick Sky

They have ALL be wonderful, both with the producers and their fellow musicians.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: josepp
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 04:50 PM

////You ever done anything other than bitch?///

No.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: GUEST,jeff
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 05:05 PM

In the late 70s I opened for Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers @ the Earl of Old Town in Chicago. No bass player, just a guy on a telecaster and a drummer. Hound Dog jumps up on a chair and hollars, "All right, M***********s let's get it goin'!" They tore the place down. HDT played some off brand Pac-Rim guitar w/about a thousand switches on it. He keep it in a cardboard case and said he had a dozen more just like it because they were cheap. He was raw, raucous, and raunchy...I LOVED him. Off stage he was real nice and gave encouragement in always being 'me'. "Don't never imitate nobody and always have some blues in your music." Sage advice from one who deserved wider acclaim.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: josepp
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 06:28 PM

The guy who plays the bass patterns on the guitar is Brewer Phillips and the drummer is Ted Harvey who likes to blow on a whistle while playing. I met them but Hound Dog was already dead. They were really nice. Cub was really nice.

I forgot to mention that I did play with Dickey Betts--the high point of my career. I was busking on a street corner and two guys in cowboy hats walk up and one has a guitar case. The other one tells me this man is Dickey Betts of the Allman Bros. I know what Dickey Betts looks like but not since the 70s but it seemed odd to me that his face could have changed so much. The guy starts playing and he's pretty good and a good singer too--better than me. But I realized he sang nothing like Dickey and, in fact, didn't have a Southern accent and then I realized this guy isn't old enough and might possibly have been younger than me. Moreover, he never pulled out a slide. Whoever heard of Dickey Betts without his slide. He's only one of the best known sliders alive. And I kind got a bad feeling when I played "Melissa" and he didn't know the chords or the lead runs.

I excused myself to go to a CD release party. When I got there I pulled up Dickey's photo on my cell phone--no resemblance whatsoever. Definitely not the same guy.

When I'm leaving the party, I have to walk past that corner. These two guys had a line people waiting to get their photos taken with Dickey Betts and a guitar case on the ground was literally brimming with cash. All I made that day busking was a lousy dollar--one lousy dollar--and these guys were making a killing pretending to be Dickey Betts.

So that was my closest brush to fame--being discovered on a street corner by a pseudo-Dickey.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 06:53 PM

Great to see your sense of humour.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 07:04 PM

It'll pass.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: maple_leaf_boy
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 07:17 PM

I haven't performed in quite some time, but when I did, I was never
pushy. I only requested that someone tell me I have five minutes before
I play so I can have a cigarette fresh before I play.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: Leadfingers
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 06:49 AM

josepp - I cant help but notice that all the examples you give seem to be American , and not exactly 'Folk'


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: Wesley S
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 07:36 AM

All of the problems you mentioned about Santana sounded more like problems with his management - not the artist. But I haven't seen the film.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 07:47 AM

depends what you mean by "folk" really, doesn't it Leadfingers? Maybe we should discuss it, huh?


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 08:16 AM

I wish there was a "like " button on Mudcat Greg!


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: Leadfingers
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 08:18 AM

MY idea of 'Folk' is fairly broad , but does NOT include Santana or th Altmanns !!


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: Bernard
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 09:42 AM

I've worked with many of the 'big names' during my time in the British folk scene, both as sound engineer and as support artiste - sometimes both at the same time!

It's obviously a little crass to name names, but I'll make an exception for reasons that will become obvious.

The first time I was due to work with Martin Simpson I'd been warned in advance that he could be a bit of a prima donna, and tended to eat sound engineers for breakfast. Not a good start...!

However, my experience with him on every occasion I have worked with him has been that he knew what he wanted and how to ask for it - as long as you knew your job, listened to him and did what was required there would be no problem.

In short, I've found him (and many others including Tom Paxton) to be the epitome of politeness and professionalism - perhaps 'mutual respect' sums it up.

As others have commented, these people depend upon the gigs for their livelihood, and in my experience the awkwards sods tend to be those who do have a day job as well. That's not to say all of them are, of course.

My day job just happens to be Sound Engineer, so when I'm doing it for free at the folk club I'm not too pleased when an upstart is trying to tell me my job, and doing it badly.

Our club is fairly small, usually audiences of around fifty, so I try to dissuade people from using a sound reinforcement system unless it's a band using some 'electric' instruments, where they need microphones for balance.

Unless a band has given me a rider in advance with specific requirements, they cannot realistically expect me to provide exactly what they want. More to the point, they should really have their own basic kit!

I'm often puzzled when performers don't have/bring their own specialist microphones for 'difficult' instruments - surely it should be a priority?

It's much tidier, especially for festival stages (again, I've seen this from both sides), if performers have their own microphone systems to plug into the multi - for example, Mary Humphreys and Anahata have a preference to use headworn radio mics, so they bring their own. End of problem!

Guitarists really should have their own DI and leads... not all DIs suit all guitar pickups. I've found that passive transformer DIs in particular can put a loading on a piezo resulting in some very strange noises!

People like Martin Carthy, Martin Simpson and Tom Paxton bring their own system for their guitars which simply need an XLR to plug into the sound system - it saves a lot of setup time, and avoids so many problems.

My own array of instruments on a gig isn't practical to plug up individually, so I use a strategically placed pair of AKG C1000s and a vocal microphone - quick and easy for both me and the sound tech. Three guitars (12 string and two differently tuned 6 strings), banjo, mandolin, piano accordion, English and Anglo concertinas...

I'm also surprised that some so-called professionals haven't developed a good microphone technique. The way you address the microphone is crucial to a good sound.

The ubiquitous Shure SM58 is a close-vocal microphone that will 'pop' quite badly unless either your lips are in contact with the top basket, or you're over five inches (approx!) away. Certainly if you're two inches away, as some tend to prefer, you will get very serious popping that is difficult to EQ out.

I think that's a topic for a different thread, though!


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: josepp
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 12:03 PM

I'm surprised how many musicians know nothing about microphones at all. For people who depend such equipment, they should learn something about them.

Many musicians have no idea how to mike an acoustic guitar. Many have no idea what the difference is between a dynamic, a condenser and a ribbon mike. Many don't really understand the concept of phantom power or why it's used. I've even met live sound guys who mike the bass or the kick drum with an ordinary mike instead of a dedicated low frequency mike and forget about them having any idea what a mike pad or a roll-off is.

They don't know what omnidiectional, cardioid, bidirectional or supercardioid means or what makes these patterns a help or a hindrance.

First of all, you want to make sure you're getting the best possible sound out of the equipment and you want to know when an engineer is just going through the motions and doesn't really care if he's giving you the best possible sound. Moreover, I went to school to learn how to be an engineer but most guys who do sound--especially live sound--never went to school. They learned by ear, as it were. That's fine, I know great live soundmen who learned as they went but many of them don't know shit and it would help you the musician to know when you're dealing with one of these guys.

I was in a situation once where this lady--terrific singer and pianist--was doing a live show and wanted me to record it. I said ok. So I set up a condenser mike for her vocal and had to use a phantom power unit because the board they supplied didn't have phantom power. The unit needed a new battery so I had to go fish for one. She started getting bitchy because last time we just plugged in a mike and away she went. Well last time it was a dynamic mike and it was strictly a live situation with no soundcheck. You can't record a vocal through a dynamic under most circumstances. You need a condenser and a condenser needs phantom power. She couldn't understand that and was really getting bitchy. That's what I mean. Let the soundman do what he has to do and don't make his job harder for him. He's trying to help you.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: GUEST,999
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 12:18 PM

That`s true about knowing the equipment. It`s also true that some places have crap for microphones. Likely the best are out of Germany--Telefunken, but who can afford $10,000 for a voice mic.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: josepp
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 02:12 PM

Neumann makes the best ones. I don't own a U-87 but I use them if they are supplied. Best mike I've ever used. Siemens makes some excellent ones but they are expensive. There's a Siemens mike that has a bunch of diaphragms in them that can be arranged in just about any configuration. I forgot which model it is but it's super nice and super expensive. I'd buy one if I could afford one. Sennheiser is great and that's what I use to mike bass. I've used the Electro-Voice RE-20 which is superb for bass frequencies but I don't own one unfortunately. AKG is also very good. I prefer to Shure but I also use Shure.

And you should always carry cheap, little, throwaway mics--Radioshack and like that. Sometimes, it's all you need and you don't have to lug this expensive gear around. In one case, I was doing live sound for a big band and the drummer would talk to the audience in between numbers. So I gave him a cheap, shitty mike to talk through. No point to hooking up an expensive one just for that. I had to pull the fader down though when the band started playing or everything would bleed through that mike and ruin the sound.


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 05:16 PM

I've heard some college trained sound engineers with no ears. The mix is all about ears.

I can't afford them but if I were recording vox I like the sound of the Rode mics.

For live rock vocals I like the series 1 AKG D880S, better sound than the SM58 but not as durable. For those occasions when I get a vocalist who WANTS (stamp stamp) a proper Shure I carry a fake Shure that sounds like dogshit so I can prove to him or her how much better the AKGs are.

I find the old AKG D190E underneath on the snare wires a good snappy biting solution to snares and SM58s can be EQ'd for a nice tubby sound on the toms.

I try to avoid overheads or a mic on the hi-hats if possible. Cymbals are a nasty noise, the ting gets in the sidewash just fine and once you have overheads up getting a balance on the snare and toms is next to impossible.

Kick I'd like an AKG D112E but I've got a Beta 52, and I sometimes stick an old mic with a variable frequency response set to bass boost as near the beater as possible as well to give me the thud and the audible strike. IMHO to capture kick drum properly you need to be getting down to 20Hz and lower so I never shelve those channels - the difference is quite audible if I put the 20Hz subsonic filter on and off in the bottom power amp channel. This may be why I regularly used to knock the endstops of 18 inch Kilomaxes.

Electric bass should be done with as little DI as possible but a HUGE stage amp. One mate of mine carries an Ashdown setup that must run about 4kilowatts. Sorted. In a previous life he had a pair of huge Try-selling-it (Trace Elliott) bi-amped stacks either side of the drummer.

For electric guitars I like the old AKG D80 - they add a little smear to some of the modern electric guitars that are too clinical (or anyone still using the old HH guitar amps) and help tame the nasty ringle-tingle on Telecasters.

It does make me laugh when kids a third my age say it's too loud!


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Subject: RE: Pushy, Ungrateful Musicians
From: John P
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 05:17 PM

I once had to talk a friend into continuing the concert series she ran in her bookstore. She booked traditional music acts and told that to a singer-songwriter who immediately started heaping lots of foul abuse on her. She just wanted to quit so she'd never have to go through that again. I've also noticed the booking people at venues being obviously unwilling to give me bad news. I'm sure they've been trained by jerk musicians to be wary. What is it that makes some musicians think the world owes them a stage? Don't they know they are a salesman making a cold call when they apply to a venue?

I've spent many years performing, running the sound board, and organizing concerts, so I've seen it from all sides. Most musicians are pleasant and professional, but there are an astonishing number of assholes out there. Of course, the same could be said for sound engineers (fortunately few assholes) and venue managers (unfortunately, lots).

In the venue category, there are the assholes who try to screw you over, either on the terms of the gig or the pay. And then there are the folk club bookers who expect the musicians to act completely professionally while excusing lots of problems with the venue by saying it's all run by volunteers. I don't expect volunteers to be perfect, but I do expect them to try real hard to deal with issues as they come up, and to not expect a greater level of finesse than they are willing to offer.

And musicians that want the venue to supply them with special microphones or other equipment! Complete idiots, especially in the folk music world where lots of venues ARE operated by volunteers and no venue is rich enough to rent microphones, or even to have the staff to spend the time trying.


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