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uncle fester

Cutting your music chops later in life

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Seems like quite a few folks here have walked the music path through high school and beyond, getting the band experience and cutting their musical chops there.  Not me, was post college I started to cut my guitar chops. 

Since college and after returning from a stint overseas I picked up the guitar and been strumming it at my kitchen table for the last 30 yrs.  The last 10, with the advent of youtube as a learning device, I've gone from playing a perpetual lick, to playing (and singing) full songs, some covers which is always cool, but it's my originals... I like the best.  30 yrs of noodling on licks has given me a few things to build into songs. 

So that got me to this point in life, an old guy (50+), trying to figure out how to take this performing thing to the next level.

I figure there's a solo career path and band path.

For the band path, I would love to get together with a bass and drums, but would take whatever comes along but again, being a bit more senior, finding folks who are into jamming a bit, while dealing with the pains of working with someone whose never played with other people before is not a small task.  ...and my 8:30pm bedtime doesn't help 🙂  Then it's song selection as well and how it draws an audience.  I can't and don't want to join a cover band.  To me it's the folks that did this in younger years just have the inventory of songs and experience I'll never get...

On the solo front, I've been to several open mics, and that's my main outlet to perform.  I enjoy it, most are a lot of fun, but I aspire to do a full show, I could fill 90 mins w/o a problem, but it's finding a room full of people who want to listen to my stuff for that amount of time.  So my plan here is to find a captive audience that would just be happy with some live music... which has lead me to the local senior centers...  went into one and discussed possibly doing a show on a regular basis, there's some interest, maybe I'll be the senior whisperer.

Regardless I love playing, but really wonder how I can expand what I do in the music world...  maybe busking?  Any recommendations to an old trying to ease his way into the performance spectrum?

Just rambling thoughts

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I played for a few years starting at 16, and give it up before I tuned 21. Joined the military for 23 years. In 2007 or so got a nice tax return back and decided to by a Fender Tele and have been playing ever since. I could in no way shape or form be in a band. I play for me and me alone. I suck and I know it. But I have nice guitars to suck on. Now here comes Big Bill.

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A couple of years ago my band started putting videos up on Facebook and....I suddenly realised how I sounded.  Awful.  Badly timed licks, no proper phrasing or flow.

I have plenty of 'chops' - technique - but I wasn't saying or playing anything musically.  Always thought I was a good listener but never listened to myself properly, in truth.

Since then I've concentrated on simplifying, listening to what I'm doing in the context of what's going on in the band, not trying to show off technically or fill up space with unnecessary notes, and my playing and timing has got a LOT better and more musical.

I am 65 and have been playing seriously for 44+ years.  I was even a guitar teacher for 12 years.......I could listen to someone else and tell where they were going wrong but didn't apply the same rigorous analysis to my own playing. 

Live, listen and learn. 

Edited by jdgm
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Thanks for the replies, and yes listening to myself (from recordings) has really helped me.  I mentioned it in another thread, one of the final steps I go through now learning a song is to record it, listen back, and then smooth everything out from there...    was eye opening the first couple of times.

 

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50 minutes ago, merciful-evans said:

why not construct a simple ad online/local/music stores/etc. outlining who you are & what you have in mind? 

never thought of that, thank you 

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First pass at my want ad:

Little bit older guy (50 yrs or so) looking for musicians to play mostly acoustic blues / rock blues on mellow scale.  

  • Also play a few songs on 3 string cigar box guitar, and banjo.
  • Play some covers, but got a bunch of originals I like as well.
  • (some of the covers: Mary Janes Last Dance, Blister in the Sun, Come Together, I am the Walrus, For What it's Worth, Baby Please don't go, Lake of Fire, Sweet Dreams...)

Hope to get  together 1x / week or every other week with intention to learn a few songs for open mics once a month or every two months or so.
W/in 6 mo. hope to have enough material to offer up a 90 min gig.

Really would like bass and drums, but guitars and other stringed instruments are welcome to see how we fit.  
I sing good enough, not opposed to others singing, I still want to sing some.

I've played guitar for 30 yrs, never played with people before... so apologies ahead of time for the learning curve.

==============

Besides contact info, anything else I should include?

Edited by billroy fineman

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Low tech adds can work as well, like leaving a 3X5 card on bulletin boards in places that musicians may frequent. Like music stores, pubs, community centers, universities, cheap places to eat basically any public place. Emphasizing that you are a singer guitar player wanting to form or join a band. Lots of groups are formed with vocals that are not so good and may be looking for an upgrade. Also a thing to consider is the ratio of really good guitar players to bass players is usually about 10 to 1, bass players have the odds stacked in their favor and one that can sing gets even more points. As a guitarist I have played in mostly rock bands, as a bass player I took my pick of project and working bands playing jazz, blues, rock and country etc.. But in truth I was never completely satisfied playing bass but met and learned from a lot of good people.

Note.. I was 14 the first time I got paid to play, seems like another lifetime ago, I was a guitar player that had just bought his first bass.

Edited by mihcmac
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I'm one of the guys that started young and have been playing for a long time (with a 20 year hiatus in there). I have found that performing with a band in front of people is the best way to get as good as you want to be fast. Reason being is that in order to perform up to whatever your standards are, you have to get ready which means practice both on your own and with the band. If you want to do it then you automatically have high enough standards to get it done. Like anything you want to accomplish, the best way to do well is to constantly or at least frequently be thinking about it (exposure and repetition).

 

 

 

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Thank you again all.  It's a journey but one i'm enjoying.  I do appreciate the input from those in a know, so appreciated!  Not for not, been listening a bit to the dead lately - that's just happy music I don't play any, but maybe worth learning a song or two.

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On 3/6/2020 at 10:47 AM, Sgt. Pepper said:

I played for a few years starting at 16, and give it up before I tuned 21. Joined the military for 23 years. In 2007 or so got a nice tax return back and decided to by a Fender Tele and have been playing ever since. I could in no way shape or form be in a band. I play for me and me alone. I suck and I know it. But I have nice guitars to suck on. Now here comes Big Bill.

Very similar feeling here too.

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On 3/6/2020 at 11:47 AM, Sgt. Pepper said:

I played for a few years starting at 16, and give it up before I tuned 21. Joined the military for 23 years. In 2007 or so got a nice tax return back and decided to by a Fender Tele and have been playing ever since. I could in no way shape or form be in a band. I play for me and me alone. I suck and I know it. But I have nice guitars to suck on. Now here comes Big Bill.

 

I started at about 54 or so never played and never even tried befor then.  I agree though, no grand illusions for me I do it for my hobby, relaxation and always loved music.  I  too feel very fortunate to have the guitars I have .  I own 8 gibsons and three Martin and a few other low rent but fun guitars, thanks to my lovely wife for putting up with me and providing the opportunities to be able to purchase them.  Yes I suck at it too but love it.  I should state that I am going to be 61 in a couple months.

Edited by kelly campbell
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33 minutes ago, kelly campbell said:

 

I started at about 54 or so never played and never even tried befor then.  I agree though, no grand illusions for me I do it for my hobby, relaxation and always loved music.  I  too feel very fortunate to have the guitars I have .  I own 8 gibsons and three Martin and a few other low rent but fun guitars, thanks to my lovely wife for putting up with me and providing the opportunities to be able to purchase them.  Yes I suck at it too but love it.  I should state that I am going to be 61 in a couple months.

At one point I had 6 Martin's. Reduced it to 4. One high end, one 12er, one home beater, and one I leave at our house we inherited (also a beater). Want a Bird or a Dove. Preferably a Dove due to I have nothing maple, but don't need them. J-200's are nice but dreads are large enough. If I get one it will be used. I've got Hog and Rosewood covered. 

Edited by Sgt. Pepper
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I started playing out so long ago it's hard for me to remember what you are going through.  I agree with Tman that you have to persevere and get out there and perform.  There are going to be some gigs that really suck, where you don't get paid or the band sounds bad, but you have to keep going and keep at it.  But get out and play.  Rehearsing is important, but you can get stuck in the basement trying to get it perfect for ever.  Nothing gets a band tighter than playing out live.

Good luck and enjoy the journey.

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On 3/7/2020 at 3:43 AM, billroy fineman said:

So that got me to this point in life, an old guy (50+), trying to figure out how to take this performing thing to the next level.

For the band path, I would love to get together with a bass and drums, but would take whatever comes along but again, being a bit more senior, finding folks who are into jamming a bit, while dealing with the pains of working with someone whose never played with other people before is not a small task.  ...and my 8:30pm bedtime doesn't help 🙂  Then it's song selection as well and how it draws an audience.  I can't and don't want to join a cover band.  To me it's the folks that did this in younger years just have the inventory of songs and experience I'll never get...

well Bill, having been in fairly similar position (age, talent, experience) my approach was to write my own songs so I knew I could play rhythm and sing them at the same time to an acceptable (?) level, then find guys of similar level who really enjoy getting together to play original songs and a crack lead guitarist (which gives the band credibility, and hey...if you write stuff that is cool to solo over these guys can still have a blast hanging out even if they do other more 'serious' stuff elsewhere). Thing is, relatively simple songs can sound great once you add drums, bass, lead solo's, bit of backing vocal etc so I just make sure to write stuff that is relatively straightforward rock but with some unexpected twists, changes in pace/volume etc... but still pretty damned basic. People kind of like listening to that in normal pub gig situations rather than OTT virtuoso stuff I find.

good luck - rock on!

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12 hours ago, 'Scales said:

well Bill, having been in fairly similar position (age, talent, experience) my approach was to write my own songs so I knew I could play rhythm and sing them at the same time to an acceptable (?) level, then find guys of similar level who really enjoy getting together to play original songs and a crack lead guitarist (which gives the band credibility, and hey...if you write stuff that is cool to solo over these guys can still have a blast hanging out even if they do other more 'serious' stuff elsewhere). Thing is, relatively simple songs can sound great once you add drums, bass, lead solo's, bit of backing vocal etc so I just make sure to write stuff that is relatively straightforward rock but with some unexpected twists, changes in pace/volume etc... but still pretty damned basic. People kind of like listening to that in normal pub gig situations rather than OTT virtuoso stuff I find.

good luck - rock on!

Thanks for this, very much appreciate hearing someone whose successfully traveled a similar path.  Love to hear your originals are working out and will take to heart the keep it simple advice.  Rock on!

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I've been playing music since grade school, started playing in bands in high school around 1981. I played, gigged, toured, recorded up until about 1995. Went back to college, had a family, a couple of awesome kids (who are now 18 and 22), a couple of horrible marriages and didn't play any gigs at all during that time and wasn't playing guitar nearly as much as I once was. About three years ago, I bought a brand new Gibson Les Paul Standard and started playing a lot. A year later, I was band ready again, bought some gear and started looking. The first band didn't work out very well but a few months later, I found the guys I'm with now. The drummer had played a few gigs, maybe 100 or so. The bassist played guitar and switched to bass to plan in a band. He had never played in a band before, never played live. The singer plays guitar as well and he hadn't been with a real band nor played gigs until then either. We added our guitarist/keyboardist/singer last year and like me, he's played a few hundred gigs. Since then, we've played venues large and small and probably have played 25 to 30 gigs with 12 booked so far this spring/summer.

All that being said, we're all in our mid 50's so it's never too late.  I go to bed early because I get up early for work during the week. But, on Saturday nights, I sleep in a bit so I can stay up until midnight, 1 or 2. There are some solo musicians or duets here that play the early show from 5 to 8:30. It can surely be done and it's never too late as long as you have the desire to do so.

I found my bandmates on www.bandmix.com and there's people on there that just want to jam, some that want to gig regularly, etc. Local music stores sometimes know people or have bulletin boards. Maybe talk to other musicians in your area and see if there's a local musicians Facebook group or something of that sort as well. People still come out and hear us old farts rock because the people that go see live music are our age and we play songs that we all grew up with. Good luck!

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2 hours ago, MichaelT said:

 

I found my bandmates on www.bandmix.com and there's people on there that just want to jam, some that want to gig regularly, etc. Local music stores sometimes know people or have bulletin boards. Maybe talk to other musicians in your area and see if there's a local musicians Facebook group or something of that sort as well. People still come out and hear us old farts rock because the people that go see live music are our age and we play songs that we all grew up with. Good luck!

Wow - what a great resource, I've got 50 people w/in 10 miles...  got to do some data mining.  Thank you!

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oooh I got that little school girl feeling.  I posted a profile on bandmix, been looking at the profiles of other folks and had a short list of people to reach out to.  I went to send a comment to one and realized to get to that level it was a pay for service.  Was thinking of next ways forward when low and behold - I got a comment in my inbox from the very person I was going to reach out to.  What's protocol here, do I wait 3 days to reply.

Really though, I am excited at the thought of hooking up with someone musically...  got to figure out next steps within the world of corona protocol.  I hope he likes the band name, I already got t-shirts.

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trial by fire. just do it.  with anyone that'll have you and as often as possible. just go for it.  

Edited by Karloff

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All the above.. I've found Band opportunities at Open Mic's & Jam Sessions, Church, Guitar Forums, Music Stores etc. 

Everyone you talk to should know you're a Musician. Spread the word. Play everywhere you can. Parties, Barbecues, whatever.

Being aggressive & persistent is an absolute.

Make a Promo Solo Video of you Performing as you would at Gigs. Include Contact info & put it on YouTube & Facebook.

It's all about getting out there..

The downside I see in your scenario is finding people that want to do exactly what you want to do.. You got to be flexible. Most Guys that want to Gig, want to Gig regularly. Every week 1-2 Nights at least. To do that you've got to be good. That means at least 1-2 Rehearsals a week until your Band is tight. Plus, Wood Sheddin' at home on your own so you come to Rehearsals prepared.. That's like 1-2 hours every day..

Then there's the Gig Guy.. Seems there is one Guy who has the knack for getting Gigs.. He's the Guy you want in your Band.. If you're not that Guy, Find him or her.... All the successful working Bands I know have that Guy... Don't know what it is but it's a big part of what makes the Band.. Why? Because Bands that don't Gig usually don't last long....

It's a lot.. But, in my experience that's what it takes.... Unless, you own a Club, Bar or some kind of Venue. Or have friends that do & can play there....

Good luck!

Edited by Larsongs
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5 hours ago, Larsongs said:

Then there's the Gig Guy.. Seems there is one Guy who has the knack for getting Gigs.. He's the Guy you want in your Band.. If you're not that Guy, Find him or her.... All the successful working Bands I know have that Guy... Don't know what it is but it's a big part of what makes the Band.. Why? Because Bands that don't Gig usually don't last long....

Good luck!

 

So true....yes.[thumbup]

 

 

Edited by jdgm

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