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Thread: What are your roles?

  1. #1

    Default What are your roles?

    Just for fun, in addition to playing your instrument, what are the roles you serve in bands, sessions, jams, etc.?

    I'm often the arranger. Not the musical director (not that I've ever been in a band at the level where that was an official role!) In the pro-am level bands I've been in, most players are pretty much expected to figure out their own parts. But a lot of times, the harmony isn't obvious, or certain instruments have important backup figures to play that other folks miss, and I'm usually the one figuring it out. Fortunately I can play the other instruments (except drums/percussion) well enough to understand what they can and can't (and often, "should") play.

    That's despite the fact that I'm usually the least talented player in the band. Most of the time I play keyboards, and we keyboard players are lucky that there are so few of us, we can usually join bands with guys a level or two above us.

    I can't help the drummer, though. I'd love to understand different rhythmic styles & genres well enough to do that, but I'd need to start over at square 2 or so. I generally can tell if the drummer is bad not by hearing what they're doing wrong (unless it's obvious like bad timing) but more by the fact that the whole band can't gel properly.

    I'm never the guy picking out the tunes. Evidently I'm not great at that, except for in a duo I play in with me on guitar and a mando/fiddle player. At least, I must not be good at it because not many of my suggestions end up on the set list.

    Making a set list is a skill, and other than in the duo, there's always (thankfully) been someone better at that. Other things I'm never good at are getting gigs and managing things. Thank goodness for people who are good at that!

    Oh yeah, when we're not lucky enough to have a sound guy, I do that too. Mostly probably because I'm too demanding & picky about it, plus until lately I've had most of the gear. It's a real joy when I don't have to, though!

    I was in a soul band (LOTs of fun!) and our female vocalist, also the bass player / lead vocalist's daughter, served the excellent role of getting lots of young people to our gigs!

    So, what "extra" do you bring to the table? What other roles are important but often overlooked or unsung?

  2. #2
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    The bands I am in aren't large enough or organized enough to have predefined roles. Except I am usually not the one getting the gigs. And I am often usually the one who names the band. We have been lucky enough to have had the venue provide sound, so we all just bring our microphones. Nobody would ever confuse me with a lead vocalist. We all enthusiastically bring in new tunes and collaboratively make the set lists.

    In jams in which I have participated enough to be considered a regular, I am a reliable source of new tunes. And I am often the historian, remembering old members we don't see often, and tunes we used to play.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: What are your roles?

    I made the set lists and ran the sound through my board and PA so the band started calling me Captain
    But I moved away this winter so now I’m “special musical guest” when I go back to visit

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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    I theoretically head up the youth praise band at church (i think weve played twice since COVID hit, and the musicians are getting harder to find). Anyway, I pretty much work out the set list, figure out arrangements, leader/helper to the younglings, and fill whatever sound voids need filling (part of the reason I play as many instruments as I do). Cant do percussion, though, other than mando chopping.

    We sometimes have a sound guy whos very good, but hes understandably harder to get now that his kids are grown and having grand babies, lol. He brings a nice board and goes all in, and he makes us sound good. When I have to do it I just use the Fender Passport the church has. I have a lot of my own equipment but we do share with the church, so I usually do all the setup and tear down, too, to make sure everything ends up in the right spot. It can be a lot, but I actually really miss it!

  5. #5
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    I just try my best to blend in and add to the music. Mostly Old Time Stringband music.
    Last edited by Charles E.; May-11-2022 at 5:57pm.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    In all things (ad-libs, harmonies, breaks, heck even instrument) except rhythm, in all my bands I am the guy where everyone else ain't.
    I don't need to double up on anyone. Ears, folks!!

    I don't mess with any of the minutia. Just show me where to stand, what song and key.
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    To play what isn't being played and sing what is missing and to provide additions to the music without getting too busy. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    general set-up and take down help; occasionally try to run the board if nobody else has a clue; am able to say "hup" to change from one tune to another; and i'm the one who knows how to start many of the tunes and let others nearby know which tune we're playing since more often than not, i know the common name.
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    Registered User Dave Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    Utility player and sometimes singer.

    D.H.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    In my band my role is mandolin player.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

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  12. #11

    Default Re: What are your roles?

    I started off in a duo whereby the musical partner let me pick the tunes, and play the solos, and then start singing tunes with lyrics (i.e., "songs"). Then I invited a bass player to join. The trio had me doing the bookings, and picking the songs, and singing the lyrics, and playing the solos. Then I invited a clarinetist to join. I took out a business license and starting having the checks written to my business whereby I would pay the others as accessories. I guess that made me the leader. By default. No one else wanted to take charge.

    But reflecting back, I don't think I would have wanted it any other way. I got to pick my songs which kept it interesting for me. The other three seemed glad to tag along and get an equal share of the pay.

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    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    I have the van.
    "If you ain't the singer, you better have a van"
    -Jimmy Vaughan
    "it's not in bad taste, if it's funny" - john waters

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    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    Know the tunes, turn up on time with equipment that works.
    Help with moving equipment.

    No more than that since I'm only a substitute, which suits me fine.
    I played gigs 2 or 3 times a week 40 years ago and it got a bit anti-social to be out playing somewhere every Friday and Saturday night.

    Also, I manage a business full-time which is stressful enough and I want no part of managing a band. Just turn up and play, and enjoy it. There is a bandleader and I do what he asks.
    Bren

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    I'm currently not in a band, but when I am, my rolls are 'forward', 'backward', 'alternating thumb', etc.
    (Banjo humor, sorry...)

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Rosett View Post
    I have the van.
    "If you ain't the singer, you better have a van"
    -Jimmy Vaughan
    Truer words were never spoken. I'm not currently in a band, but the last two were like this:

    "Celtic trio" with fiddler, a guitar player and me on mandolin. I was basically a sideman there with the fiddler choosing repertoire and leading the group. He also got us the gigs and collected payment. I owned, hauled, and ran our compact PA system.

    "Celtic duo" working mainly wedding gigs, with me on mandolin supported by a guitar player. No leader as such, both the guitar player and I contributed repertoire. Again I owned, hauled, and ran the PA system. The guitarist got us gigs and collected payment (notice a theme here? I'm not good with money).

    These days, I only play out in local Irish/Scottish sessions. No specific role there, I just call and lead a few sets here and there. Happy not to be hauling, setting up, and tearing down a PA system.

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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    After many years of playing out the group has managed to accumulate no funds, incur a few debts and that's where I come in with my supplemental funding for a variety of everything and anything to keep the ship floating. I thank heaven that we can make music and share so much fun and friendship.

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    Question Re: What are your roles?

    Buying High, Selling Low, apparently..
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    Registered User Paul Cowham's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    Well, the one thing I don't consider myself to be is a frontman, I am more of a sideman.

    In terms on ancillary roles - I helped put a short lived band together many years ago and ended up sort of managing them which proved to be something of a nightmare for reasons I won't go into now. Shame as it was a great fun band musically..

    Role forward a few years and I was playing guitar for ceilidhs, and seemed to end up doing the sound. The saying "in the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king" definitely applied here. I was the least worse at doing this!

    Role forward a few years and I was playing gigs for the charity "music in hospitals" with 2 very good Irish tune players, I was playing guitar. We did gigs in nursing homes, drop in centres for people with mental health issues as well as hospitals. I ended up driving as I was the only one who could drive, let alone had access to a vehicle.

    I played mandolin for a good few years with a band, the Prohibition Swing club which was nice as I didn't really have another role other than playing the mandolin.

    Now due to a combination of covid and having 2 small children, my only regular musical outlet is a local Irish music session. My role is dependent on who is there; if there are no chordal players, I'll end up playing guitar all eve. Dependent on how many tune players there are I may sing a song or two, and if there are other guitarists/bouzouki players there I'll play mandolin. As a regular "seasoned veteran" at the session, I'll also try and help in other ways e.g. encouraging younger players to lead a tune.

    Never a dull moment...

  22. #19
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    In High School, College and Med School I played guitar and a (very little) mandolin in an acoustic trio that gradually morphed from playing Beatles, CSN, etc to a 6-8 person country rock band where I played guitar and (poorly) pedal steel. I mostly helped select repertoire, sang high tenor parts I can no longer hit and worked out vocal harmonies and arrangements with the principal vocalist. After completing a residency and fellowship, I played mandolin in a Bluegrass Band, where the mandolin player was delegated to the person who was slower changing a broken guitar string than the leader. When we added a true bluegrass mandolinist, I played rhythm and lead guitar, added tenor harmonies. That band fell apart when the owner of the PA moved.

    Mostly played finger style blues or Doc Watson tunes with friends for about 10 years, gradually picking up more mandolin as most of my friends played guitar.

    2002 to present, I've been part of a three man group playing swing tunes in the mandolin chair to balance out a guitarist/vocalist and a lap slide guitarist. I help select tunes & contribute vocals.

    2007-2018, I was in a rock band (NED) comprised of Gyn Oncologists from around the country (Alaska, NYC, Seattle,Texas, and Chapel Hill). We recorded and gigged at fundraising events to raise awareness for non-breast women's cancers. We all helped compose and arrange our original tunes; I played electric & acoustic guitar, slide guitar, and mandolin in that group. Eventually, I quit the group because of my wife's medical issues.

    More recently I played guitar and contributed vocals for a couple of years in a local rock band. Our repertoire was "Songs you all know, and some you don't, from 1963 to 1969". Loads of fun, but disbanded when the leader and the bass player moved.

    Playing with others has always been a joy, because the sum can be much greater than the talents of the individuals. Yes, there can be group dynamics that sometimes feel uncomfortable, but on the whole, I've been involved in groups that haven't had too many power dynamics and everybody works so that the music works. My experience has also given me great respect for those who are talented and driven to make a living playing music.

  23. #20
    Registered User TonyEarth's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    Long ago I played mostly second violin in a violin group. Now I play almost exclusively for myself.

    For as long as I've played mandolin my role has been "bedroom musician unsuccessfully trying to start a jam/band with anything that has a pulse"

    Speaking of which, anyone want to start a band? ...heh.
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    Back when I was playing in bands I usually ended up being the driver, because I was the one with the van, and I also was the one who booked the gigs, put up flyers and posters for the gigs and was the primary song writer. I also silk screened the merchandise we sold at shows (T-shirts and patches).
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  26. #22
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    Load in, load out, play my instrument, keep my mouth shut.

    I also have a batman tee shirt but rarely wear it.

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  28. #23
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    Songwriting.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  29. #24
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    1. I own the PA, so I get to gigs an hour early, and stay an hour late. Some day I'll insist on being paid for my extra work.

    2. Often do the "front man," introductions, explanations, where we're playing next, etc.

    3. Count repetitions, get everyone to change in medleys, say "out!" when we come to the end of a tune (or tunes).

    4. Argue with other band members about the set list -- what's in, what's out, order etc. Once we get it set we're pretty much OK.

    5. More rhythm and back-up than lead, but a lot of instrumental harmonies and counter-melodies. Love that stuff!

    6. Do a lot of booking and rehearsal scheduling, between gigs. Used to take in all receipts, pay other members, issue 1099's etc. Not so much now.
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  30. #25
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    Default Re: What are your roles?

    I play mando with a core group that includes 3 acoustic guitar players; one who mostly plays washtub bass and another who sometimes doubles on banjo. The 3rd guitar player has trouble with timing, so one of my roles is to beat on him. We mostly play old folk and rock. Wagon Wheel is as close as we get to BG. I do rhythm and lots of fills around the melody along with solo breaks. Though I’ve always been a singer, I prefer to remain mute and focus on picking.
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