House Band

yetanotherdrummer

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When I was younger and gigging all the time, most of the bands I played with would have long term gigs at the local clubs. We would play at the same bar, anywhere from 2 to 4 nights a week, for 3 months, 6 months or longer. We had a series of places that we would rotate with. I know that there were other local bands on the same circuit. It was nice because we could just leave everything set up at the bar for the entire time we were playing there (although I don't think I would do that now).

Did any of you have the same experiences?

Is this still a thing like it was back in the 70's, 80's and 90's?
 

dumbdrum

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Yes, I used to play the Ramada/Holiday Inn circuit. I live in VA. and we go up and down the coast 2 weeks then move on to the next. Later on I had a local Sheraton Inn gig, play a month off a month Monday- Saturday and work a day job. Those were the day's my friend....
 

paul

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Life was very different 40 years ago, wasn't it? I've talked to many younger (I'm 73 now) who've never played a four hour gig, and who only play originals. Clubs like original bands because they don't have to pay BMI and ASCAP.

There are still clubs that hire one band per night, but it's another band tomorrow night.
 

mydadisjr

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I did a house band gig at a ROWDY hardcore cowboy bar in Flagstaff back in the '70's... DJ's on Route 66.

One time we did a 2 month stretch... 6 nights a week with AFTER HOURS TILL 3 PM on the weekends! Ouch!

We would get done playing at 12:45 then the place would turn up all the lights and take all the alcohol (no booze after 1AM). The band would go into the break room in back and have a drink and sometimes a smoke.

We would then come out to the main room to take the stage again at about 1:15. The whole clientele would have changed by that time, most of the cowboys were gone BUT all the hard-core drunk and weirdo people from all the other bars who were not ready to go home yet had flocked in. Really a strange experience.

I would pray that some other drummer would show up and sit in.
 

Stickclick

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It's not like that anymore, the gigs are gone. Some places we have one or two gigs a week, leave some of our stuff there overnight. But mostly I'm seeing one time gigs. Lots of them are parties.
 

Mcjnic

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I didn’t experience a lot of that. Some. Not a lot. We would do a lot of club and event hoping across Texas. It was some rodeos, some honkey-tonks, we did Gilley’s a time or two, some chili cook-offs, a few rock clubs, lots of parties, and some special outdoor concerts. That sort of thing. I don’t think we did a lot of repeat weeks at one club often at all. It was busy and spread out all over the state, but fun. I was in Middle School and then High School during those runs. So, for me it was an adventure. To this day, I have no idea how we got around me being this kid playing the honkey-tonks. I’m sure someone in my family cleared it ahead of time. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
 

hsosdrum

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When I was gigging between '72 and '77 we mostly played prog rock and hard rock cover songs, with about a set's worth of originals sprinkled throughout the night. We gigged everywhere from Colorado and Wyoming to Chicago, Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska. We never ever played more than one week at a time in any one place; most of the gigs were one-nighters, many at ballrooms whose heyday was back in the big-band era. We were always the only band on the bill, playing four sets a night between 9pm and 1am under AF of M union contracts: 50-minute sets with 10-minute breaks. One memorable gig was at an after-hours biker bar where we played between 2am and 6am, grinding out the last few songs as the sun rose. On average we played around 250 nights a year. (Doing the math, that's around 1,500 4-hour nights, or roughly 6,000 hours spent playing in front of audiences.)

We carried our own sound and light gear (back then the venues supplied nada), along with risers and platforms so we could expand the stage when necessary (or put the drums on a riser when the stage was large enough). Altogether we carried around 7 tons of gear, so we always had at least 2 roadies for load-in, setup and tear down, in addition to running the sound and lights during the show. For a year or two we even carried our own (homemade) pyro boxes, and for the life of me I'm still amazed that we never set anything on fire. (Except for a roadie, once when he was re-setting the boxes between sets. He spent a couple of days in the hospital with second-degree burns but was OK and soldiered on with us for several more months before a late-night crash in our equipment truck sent him looking for safer employment.)

We opened for REO Speedwagon at the VA hall in Cheyenne, WY in late '73, the Grassroots at a ballroom in Storm Lake, IA in late '74, and Sugarloaf at a ballroom in Hartington, NE in early '77. We were supposed to open for Cheap Trick at a gig in Madison, WI in '77 but they had a scheduling conflict and cancelled, so we found ourselves playing for a hall sprinkled with disappointed Cheap Trick fans who hadn't gotten the word about the cancellation. We also played a gig at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA in '76. That night it felt extra-special to be playing rock and roll on the very last stage on which Buddy Holly ever played. We played at clubs on Tuesday nights where there may have been 20 customers all night, all the way up to ballrooms packed with over a thousand kids, and every sized audience in between.

In the 43+ years since I left the road I don't for one minute miss the driving all night between 2am and 8am to get to the next one-nighter, the helping out loading and unloading equipment when we were short a roadie, the loading equipment into the truck at 3am in –30ºF temperatures, the not having pocket money for years at a time, the stares, snickers and cat-calls we got from locals when we walked into an all-night diner (See: "Turn the Page", by Bob Seger, the very best song ever written about life on the road as a rock musician), the sheer "lather-rinse-repeat" monotony of drive, unpack my personal items, sound check, eat dinner, perform, pack my personal items, sleep in a cheap motel (two to a room) or drive to the next gig. In fact, the only two things I do miss about those six years are 1) the sense of brotherhood and camaraderie I shared with my fellow bandmates, and 2) playing drums on stage under bright lights in front of a different crowd every night. Walking onstage, counting off the first song's downbeat and summoning all of that sheer collective power made it all worthwhile. It's nearly 44 years later and I still miss that.
 
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p83

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i was in a band for a year in the late 80's that played the typical 9-1:30 6 or 7 nights a week. in that time we played the same club all of january and all of august. it was tuesday thru sunday, and sunday was jam night. our other gigs were usually one or two weeks at a time. i asked the leader why we did that club and he said january is post holiday hangover and people are broke and stay home, and in august everybody is on vacation, not in clubs. this way we were working every week (this was our job) when it was down club time, and we got a little break from moving gear. always ready to move on after a month anywhere.......................
 

musiqman

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We have this in Amsterdam too (Leidseplein area mostly now). Its hard to get in (I didn’t) but if you are in, you are set.

We had a lot more places like CC Muziekcafe (closed due to hipster neighbours), Nel (still for jazz pre-covid) too but most of them are closed like CC.

Its mostly midnight giging for not much money, but for some its better than teaching.
 

pwc1141

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I did half the night for the drummer whose jazz trio gig it really was and who had an earlier gig that kept him late. I did this for over a year 6 nights a week then rotated with him with on Sundays when it was a jam night. So 7 nights a week. Up until recently, that was still possible for many bands in the big city but not where I have now moved to.....lucky to get once a month here but we have just started a second lock-down so .......
 

drummer5359

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I was a teenager working as a busboy at a hotel/restaurant in the mid nineteen seventies. They had the same band in the lounge five nights a week, Tuesday through Saturday. For the first year and a half it was "The John Garrick Trio". My (guitarist) older brother worked there before me. The previous band, "The Delmonicos" had been there for six or seven years stretching well back into the nineteen sixties.

Watching them, my brother and I learned a bit about what was expected of a professional musician.

I moved to south Florida in 1979 at the age of twenty, my brother moved there six months later. He and I played together in a rock band, one or two nights a week. It was always some place different. In late 1982 I was offered a gig in an organ trio that played lounges from West Palm Beach to Key Biscayne. Rick's band worked under a few different names depending on the venue. At the high end lounges like "The Fountain Bleu" or "The Diplomat", we were the "Rick Steven's Trio", at a lesser club in Hollywood Florida we were "Slick Rick plus Two". Sometimes we were booked for four nights a week for a few months, sometimes it was for a week or two. Rick was at least twenty five years older than me, he had been a fixture down there since the late fifties. I'm trying to remember Rick's real last name, he always used stage names. I held that gig down for a few years, it paid really well. Playing "After the loving", "Don't it make your brown eyes blue", and the latest disco hits got old.

I'd love to have a gig like that again.
 
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cribbon

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When I was gigging between '72 and '77 we mostly played prog rock and hard rock cover songs, with about a set's worth of originals sprinkled throughout the night. We gigged everywhere from Colorado and Wyoming to Chicago, Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska. We never ever played more than one week at a time in any one place; most of the gigs were one-nighters, many at ballrooms whose heyday was back in the big-band era. We were always the only band on the bill, playing four sets a night between 9pm and 1am under AF of M union contracts: 50-minute sets with 10-minute breaks. One memorable gig was at an after-hours biker bar where we played between 2am and 6am, grinding out the last few songs as the sun rose. On average we played around 250 nights a year. (Doing the math, that's around 1,500 4-hour nights, or roughly 6,000 hours spent playing in front of audiences.)

We carried our own sound and light gear (back then the venues supplied nada), along with risers and platforms so we could expand the stage when necessary (or put the drums on a riser when the stage was large enough). Altogether we carried around 7 tons of gear, so we always had at least 2 roadies for load-in, setup and tear down, in addition to running the sound and lights during the show. For a year or two we even carried our own (homemade) pyro boxes, and for the life of me I'm still amazed that we never set anything on fire. (Except for a roadie, once when he was re-setting the boxes between sets. He spent a couple of days in the hospital with second-degree burns but was OK and soldiered on with us for several more months before a late-night crash in our equipment truck sent him looking for safer employment.)

We opened for REO Speedwagon at the VA hall in Cheyenne, WY in late '73, the Grassroots at a ballroom in Storm Lake, IA in late '74, and Sugarloaf at a ballroom in Hartington, NE in early '77. We were supposed to open for Cheap Trick at a gig in Madison, WI in '77 but they had a scheduling conflict and cancelled, so we found ourselves playing for a hall sprinkled with disappointed Cheap Trick fans who hadn't gotten the word about the cancellation. We also played a gig at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA in '76. That night it felt extra-special to be playing rock and roll on the very last stage on which Buddy Holly ever played. We played at clubs on Tuesday nights where there may have been 20 customers all night, all the way up to ballrooms packed with over a thousand kids, and every sized audience in between.

In the 43+ years since I left the road I don't for one minute miss the driving all night between 2am and 8am to get to the next one-nighter, the helping out loading and unloading equipment when we were short a roadie, the loading equipment into the truck at 3am in –30ºF temperatures, the not having pocket money for years at a time, the stares, snickers and cat-calls we got from locals when we walked into an all-night diner (See: "Turn the Page", by Bob Seger, the very best song ever written about life on the road as a rock musician), the sheer "lather-rinse-repeat" monotony of drive, unpack my personal items, sound check, eat dinner, perform, pack my personal items, sleep in a cheap motel (two to a room) or drive to the next gig. In fact, the only two things I do miss about those six years are 1) the sense of brotherhood and camaraderie I shared with my fellow bandmates, and 2) playing drums on stage under bright lights in front of a different crowd every night. Walking onstage, counting off the first song's downbeat and summoning all of that sheer collective power made it all worthwhile. It's nearly 44 years later and I still miss that.
I felt like I was looking in the mirror when I read this - hats off to you. This is the finest in-the-trenches description I've ever read of both sides of the working life of a road warrior; it brings back memories of a life whose sharp edges and harsh realities have been softened and blurred by time. I'm glad I did it, but I'm glad I quit it.
 

Deafmoon

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When I was gigging between '72 and '77 we mostly played prog rock and hard rock cover songs, with about a set's worth of originals sprinkled throughout the night. We gigged everywhere from Colorado and Wyoming to Chicago, Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska. We never ever played more than one week at a time in any one place; most of the gigs were one-nighters, many at ballrooms whose heyday was back in the big-band era. We were always the only band on the bill, playing four sets a night between 9pm and 1am under AF of M union contracts: 50-minute sets with 10-minute breaks. One memorable gig was at an after-hours biker bar where we played between 2am and 6am, grinding out the last few songs as the sun rose. On average we played around 250 nights a year. (Doing the math, that's around 1,500 4-hour nights, or roughly 6,000 hours spent playing in front of audiences.)

We carried our own sound and light gear (back then the venues supplied nada), along with risers and platforms so we could expand the stage when necessary (or put the drums on a riser when the stage was large enough). Altogether we carried around 7 tons of gear, so we always had at least 2 roadies for load-in, setup and tear down, in addition to running the sound and lights during the show. For a year or two we even carried our own (homemade) pyro boxes, and for the life of me I'm still amazed that we never set anything on fire. (Except for a roadie, once when he was re-setting the boxes between sets. He spent a couple of days in the hospital with second-degree burns but was OK and soldiered on with us for several more months before a late-night crash in our equipment truck sent him looking for safer employment.)

We opened for REO Speedwagon at the VA hall in Cheyenne, WY in late '73, the Grassroots at a ballroom in Storm Lake, IA in late '74, and Sugarloaf at a ballroom in Hartington, NE in early '77. We were supposed to open for Cheap Trick at a gig in Madison, WI in '77 but they had a scheduling conflict and cancelled, so we found ourselves playing for a hall sprinkled with disappointed Cheap Trick fans who hadn't gotten the word about the cancellation. We also played a gig at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA in '76. That night it felt extra-special to be playing rock and roll on the very last stage on which Buddy Holly ever played. We played at clubs on Tuesday nights where there may have been 20 customers all night, all the way up to ballrooms packed with over a thousand kids, and every sized audience in between.

In the 43+ years since I left the road I don't for one minute miss the driving all night between 2am and 8am to get to the next one-nighter, the helping out loading and unloading equipment when we were short a roadie, the loading equipment into the truck at 3am in –30ºF temperatures, the not having pocket money for years at a time, the stares, snickers and cat-calls we got from locals when we walked into an all-night diner (See: "Turn the Page", by Bob Seger, the very best song ever written about life on the road as a rock musician), the sheer "lather-rinse-repeat" monotony of drive, unpack my personal items, sound check, eat dinner, perform, pack my personal items, sleep in a cheap motel (two to a room) or drive to the next gig. In fact, the only two things I do miss about those six years are 1) the sense of brotherhood and camaraderie I shared with my fellow bandmates, and 2) playing drums on stage under bright lights in front of a different crowd every night. Walking onstage, counting off the first song's downbeat and summoning all of that sheer collective power made it all worthwhile. It's nearly 44 years later and I still miss that.
Exactly! I didn’t do the amount of gigs every year you did, but almost everything you said, I lived back in the 70’s into the early 80’s. Once DJ’s really got popular, the work slowed way down.
 

Deafmoon

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I felt like I was looking in the mirror when I read this - hats off to you. This is the finest in-the-trenches description I've ever read of both sides of the working life of a road warrior; it brings back memories of a life whose sharp edges and harsh realities have been softened and blurred by time. I'm glad I did it, but I'm glad I quit it.
I’m with you! My band wasn’t prog but hard rock and though it was a blast to remember, it was not easy.
 

yetanotherdrummer

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You know, I used to think that I really missed out by not ever playing "on the road", but there is something to be said for going home to your own bed each night. Plus I always had a full time day job, so I had a insurance, etc for the wife and kids.

Although there were times when I made more each week playing in the band then I did working 40 hours at a "real" job.
 

BennyK

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The best was every monday and tuesday because we showcased ourselves and got a lot of other gigs out of it . The band got pretty smooth out of that stretch .

After some nights, I'd park at the job site and catch a few hours sleep in my car , then 12-14 hours bustin iron and concrete at the end of a jackhammer or driving a vibrating roller ( road construction) I had a wife and two babies at home ... I worked like a donkey but my groove became deep and righteous . Seven years later my wife decided she'd had enough of me living that life . Gave her the house,the truck,the refrigerator etc and became a cowboy once again .... never quit being one, maybe that was the problem ? To thine own self be true .

I had three other long term house gigs during my drumming life and I liked it because there was no tear down and all that nuisance .

Rick's Place Merivale Rd. Ottawa
Adam & Eve Piano Bar Aylmer Quebec
Vinnie's downstairs Prescott Hotel Ottawa
L'Auberge de la Lievre Buckingham Quebec

Been across this country twice with guitar flailers who had the communication skills of chimpanzees . I suppose I was a bit like that too .

After settling back here I would drum the two hour drive north west south and east for many years .

" I was so much older then , I'm younger than that now " Bob Dylan
 
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EvEnStEvEn

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I loved having "House" gigs at popular nightclubs & lounges back in the day.
Steady schedule & steady income 5 and 6 nights a week plus tips, new material & fresh songlists every week, steady following of friends & fans. Perfectly dialed sound. Band gets SUPER TIGHT and no 2am loadout.

Some musicians didn't care for performing at one venue for months but I grew to strongly prefer it and wish house gigs were still around now!

One particular gig I had we loaded-in at 6pm on a Tuesday and loaded out at 2am on a Saturday...3 years later.
 


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