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Uncle Butch

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I play in a local Bluegrass band, I consider it a hobby band. We mostly play at the local jams every Friday night. Most of the crowd has white hair and it's a cheap night out for them. We occasionally play a few paying jobs a year, but most of the time it's Friday night freebies. I enjoy it and it's a good way to keep your chops up without having to spend hours on the road traveling, setting up, and tearing down gear. I'm gonna retire soon and am thinking about looking for more paying jobs to pay for more festivals. What about you? Do you play out? Do you get payed to play? Are you a "closet picker"? 
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TDF5G

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I'm about in the same boat you are, Butch.  I've played in local bands about all my life, several different ones.  I did play in a couple of regional bands also.  Nothing professional.  We play at the local bluegrass clubs on occasion, for free, all the bands do.  It's just for fun.  We do charge to play for other shows unless it's a fund raiser or charity type of show for a good cause.

It is fun for me to play out on occasion, as a hobby, to have songs worked out and perform them.  For me, I enjoy the challenge of learning a new break or harmony part to a new (to us) song.  It's gratifying to work on it and get it down well then actually do it at a show.

I agree that it does keep your chops up too.  I have played banjo in most of the bands I've been a member of.   I've played mandolin with a couple of bands and bass in one band. Recently a friend of mine and myself are talking about the possibility of starting up a new local band which looks like I may play guitar with.   So I'll have to work on my guitar pickin' if this happens.  

I do a lot of fill in work for local bands also, when one of the members is unable to play a gig. 

For the most part I really enjoy jamming the most.  I like the fellowship and the no pressure of not being concerned about goofing something up.  Just pickin' for fun!  I'm hoping to retire in a few years and attend more shows and festivals and do all the picking I can.
[smile]


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Uncle Butch

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TDF5G, it's hard to find good Bluegrass pickers around here. There are boatloads of pickers playing old country, and I don't have a problem with that, but I want nothin but Bluegrass. I'm really fortunate to have a bunch of guys to play with that are hardcore Bluegrass and want to pick as much as I do.
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Benjamin1884

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Butch, I've been playing the retirement homes for 7 years now. Still have a few more to go till retirement myself. Even host a jam at a local place in the chapel. We've got some excellent pickers, upright bass, banjo mando, fiddle. Some very good singers too. Material ranges from BG to old country, quite a bit of Gospel, and even some old folk like Kingston Trio, PPM, Tom Paxton, Pete Seeger. The only occasional reminder I make to our performers is that this has turned into quite an event for the residents, and to keep our material pertinent to them. We will have 40-60 residents wheel themselves down, and then family members also attend. According to the administrator and the pastor this is a highlight event for them so I really try to tailor it to what they like to hear. I've been enjoying this rebirth for me of playing the music I was taught, and it's a pleasure to see folks so engaged as well.
Rick
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drbluegrass

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Butch
I play in a local Bluegrass band, I consider it a hobby band. We mostly play at the local jams every Friday night. Most of the crowd has white hair and it's a cheap night out for them. We occasionally play a few paying jobs a year, but most of the time it's Friday night freebies. I enjoy it and it's a good way to keep your chops up without having to spend hours on the road traveling, setting up, and tearing down gear. I'm gonna retire soon and am thinking about looking for more paying jobs to pay for more festivals. What about you? Do you play out? Do you get payed to play? Are you a "closet picker"? 



Similar situation for me. But the biggest problem living in southeast Iowa is simply finding bluegrass players of any instrument. There are some good ones but they're already in bands. I'm not a beginner. I'm actually a pretty good BG guitar flatpicker. I also play Scruggs style banjo and I play mandolin. I'm an OK lead singer and very good harmony singer. I have an extensive background playing in bands.....but not BG bands except for one.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm a serious hobbyist. I'll be going to an indoor BG fest this weekend and I think I'm going to put the word out I'm looking for a band. Preferably not a "road band". Just a good, "pro level-like", p/t band. Like a lot of BG bands in the southern Iowa/northern Missouri I'll likely have to be willing to drive a distance to rehearsals just to be in a band. It's not uncommon for musicians to drive 4 hours or more (one way) to rehearsals in my geographic location. There are so few really good BG musicians in southern Iowa. I'm retired so it wouldn't be as difficult for me as for others.

Anyway, that's my situation. I love playing BG music and I'm willing to travel some distance to do it. But there is a limit. I'll just have to try and find a band and then consider the limiting factors.
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TDF5G

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Butch
I'm really fortunate to have a bunch of guys to play with that are hardcore Bluegrass and want to pick as much as I do.


Yes you are.  There are a few hardcore bluegrassers around here also, but most play in bands.  I'm fortunate to get to jam with about any of them on occasion and I do get to fill-in sometimes also.   

I'm not sure what this new band venture is going to amount to.  We've not got together yet.  I like other types of music, especially old traditional country, but I want to pick bluegrass also.
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TDF5G

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Quote:
Originally Posted by drbluegrass


Anyway, that's my situation. I love playing BG music and I'm willing to travel some distance to do it. But there is a limit. I'll just have to try and find a band and then consider the limiting factors.


Been there done that.  I love to pick and play bluegrass.  I always figure I'm not gonna make any money at it, but if I can get paid enough to break even, at least it's not costing me anything to go pick either.  [biggrin]

It's hard to find folks to pick with that are all on the same page as you, as far as what style of bluegrass everyone wants to play.  And you have to find people that are reliable and easy to get along with.   Good luck with starting your band.  We may cross paths some day.
Todd

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Uncle Butch

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Reply with quote  #8 
Well judging from the replies so far it seems we are all in the same boat as far as skills, age, and our situations are all very similar. It's great to know I'm not alone, I'm glad I found this place.
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Steve Blanchard

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I play professionally and have been for a long time.  I'll play an occasional charity or good cause gig pro bono, but I won't/don't play for free as a rule.  Your time is worth something an you should be compensated for it.  If you play for free or expenses, it could be more difficult to get paying gigs that are worth your time, since you may have already set a standard that you do it for nothing or next to nothing.   Even if you're a hobby band, you should get paid if at all possible....it will keep event promoters honest.  Just my .02.
 


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Benjamin1884

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Reply with quote  #10 
Steve I'm inclined to agree with you. I've played cancer benefits, and Parkinson's benefits as my wife is a Parkinson's patient as a volunteer. Our retirement home business started off as volunteer, however the Activities Directors at the places we play firmly told us they do need to pay us. When asked why they responded they have entertainment budgets, and if they don't use them that money is taken from their budget. So we relented, and accept payment, and file the appropriate tax info with the IRS.
I've made at peak around 5K a year playing a few times monthly, although the wife's health is not great so we have cut that back quite a bit. Your time, expenses, and effort have value.
Rick
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TDF5G

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Blanchard
Your time is worth something an you should be compensated for it.  If you play for free or expenses, it could be more difficult to get paying gigs that are worth your time, since you may have already set a standard that you do it for nothing or next to nothing.   Even if you're a hobby band, you should get paid if at all possible....it will keep event promoters honest.  Just my .02.
 



I completely agree.  If you're not playing for a fund raiser or charity the band should be payed for their time and effort.  Most people don't realize the expense and time and effort that is involved in putting on a show.  If a promoter is selling tickets at the door, then the performers should all be compensated too.  

When someone contacts me about our band playing a show, I give them our price and the fee for the PA if required.  There's been a couple of times when they are surprised that we would charge anything at all.  I politely explain the costs, time and effort involved in putting on a show.  If they want a performance with PA and all, it costs more than just picking off to the side or over in the corner for some background music, like at a BBQ or picnic for example.

One lady, who was promoting a local car show, called me several years ago, and after giving her our price, she remarked, "Well I thought you bluegrass people just played for free, just for the fun of it."  I politely said, no we don't, there may be some bands that do, but you do get what you pay for.  See if you can hire a rock or country band that will play the car show for free.  I actually did attend the car show, as I like old cars and there was very poor rock band playing there, and I'd bet they weren't playing for free either!

We're just a local "hobby" band, and the way I look at it, we can pick and jam in the garage for fun and not get paid, and that's all right by me too!

Todd



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charlie

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Reply with quote  #12 
hey folks I'm new here and just now after all these years of playing I've come back around to where I started. Played the honky tonk and juke joint circuit for 25 or more years. I just bought an acoustic guitar about 4 months ago and been studying bluegrass ever since. I've always loved and appreciated bluegrass and always been a fingerpicker but boy it's been a major workout hearing and seeing all those open note scales, pulloffs, hammeron's etc...I probably spent the last 6-7 years mainly working on chord melody playing to jazz standards, now it's on the back burner and I'm obsessed with getting this bluegrass feel down. 

I live in the Ms delta, couch player now but it's near impossible to find any player's in my area and I really need someone to practice with so I can work this out to some satisfaction even tho I'm my worse critic...

oh and p.s. I've been taking online lessons from Scott Nygaard at peghead for a couple months and he's a really good teacher.
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