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Singing Prima Donna Stories


BluesKing777

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After reading EA's thread where he mentioned his SPD (Singing Prima Donna), I thought I should start a thread for a bit of light relief of tales of SPDs!

 

 

Surely there are plenty of war stories amongst the guitar players who have been 'backing guitarists'.....?

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I was in a 10 piece R & B type band for a while that went nowhere except downhill fast. We were happy when we shortened the style of music on our board to 'R & B' 'cos the SPD couldn't spell Rhythm! The board out the front of the bar with our name and the style of music spelled wrong probably wasn't a good start to the night.....

 

The keyboard player nudged me one night while I was setting up and said: Don't look now, but 'the Roid' (another endearing nickname for the SPD) has lipstick on!'

 

 

There we go....

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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I never played in a band with a SPD with lipsick. I played in one with a drunk singer that could not remember the words. He was a badass on lead guitar though.... Him and I would get into the art of weaving lines on the guitar. This was an electric band doing 'beach music and R&B' on the coast of N Carolina in the early 90's. Shag music and R&B. We had good times and bad. He played a Roland keyboard also. On the way to one gig, we flipped the keyboard out of the back of my pickup and had to pick it up from the shoulder of the road. It survived and played great! Can,t say the same for him!!! [crying]

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Actually my singer and I have great chemistry and its a solid relationship. If i was honest I'm probably more the prima donna as Im more of a perfectionist then he is and I cringe when things do go fully right.

 

But we do often have a debate whether changing a key should only benefit the vocalist (they always remind you that you are 'supporting' the vocalist on guitar) or whether to change the key because the guitar chord / melody sounds better in a different key.

 

I think its both actually and depending on the song. We decided to tune down for the next gig, but some songs even half a step down sound pretty crappy and I insisted theose stay in original key, being capoed. He's OK with that but on the other hand appreciates that we can tune down half a stp for Angie as an example which doesnt have a drastic change on tone / voicing, but where its a bit easier to hit the high G in the chorus .... now the big girl just needs to hit an F# .... ;-)

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I dunno there EA, speaking as someone who doesn't sing and considers the guitar as 'supporting a singer', I'll tune where I have to or attack it from a different angle to get the singing in the right spot for the singer, it's one thing you can't change, some singers can 'get through' a song in certain keys, but drop/raise it a little and they can 'perform' the song.

 

I quite like the challenge actually, my singer usually sings songs quite a bit from the original key, one tune we do that was originally in Eb is done in Bb etc... loads of the stuff we do needs capoing, some songs capo 2, some capo 4, even got 2 tunes alternate tuned in capo 7 & capo 8. The guitar you can compensate, re-assess looking for a different angle, the singing is the singing....

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Another story that just came to me, a friend gave me a call to help him press buttons for his new recorder he bought and wanted to try at one of his live gigs. When I got there, people were everywhere - wow, what a crowd! So I found my mate and he spilled the secret - he was playing in an Elvis tribute band. Oh My!

So I took up my spot next to the mixer man and his desk, with my fingers ready on the recording equipment, and then the big Elvis intro music came on - 2001 Space Odd or such and the band dressed like Elvis's Las Vegas outfit played the famous warm up riff by James Burton. Out came: yep - Fat Elvis!

 

Well.....

 

 

BluesKing777.

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Okay, I'll join in here,

 

We had a singer that felt that every song needed tambourine. She couldn't play it. Just shook it violently whenever she got tired of doing her Stevie nicks twirls. She would even chuck it to the floor in the middle of quiet ballads when her arm got tired. So, we took some strong clear packing tape and taped it to the floor between sets one night. She went to grab it and fell squarely on her butt with a confused look on her face. Of course, I got the stink-eye! (But it was worth it)

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so my turn,

 

was in a real good classic rock cover band back in the 80s/90s,

 

the drummer decided, we need a female vocal - "so we can do weddings" (Uhm we're not a wedding band dude -- Dummers.. yeesh)

so anyway, after much debate, we decide to make the direction change, but then he nominates his wife's sister. Ohh! really?

 

she had been in a few bands prior, had a reasonably good voice, was friendly, attractive and for the most part, she did seem easy to work with. But she had no idea of how to make any given song work for her range. Insisted on trying to reach notes she couldn't possibly reach (think Ann Wilson from Heart for example).

 

The other guitar player and I had been working together for many years prior, and had a pretty good chemistry when it came to doing what worked for the both of us, bass player was a damned good singer too so we had real good harmonies when everything was in the pocket.

 

So, we urge her to go for notes that were more in her range "find the notes that work for you, deliver it with authority and it will work" No, That's not the note I need to sing, it's not right to do that yadayada.. Ya but, you aint hitting that note anyway, so what's the point? It's ONE note, got the rest of the song down great, Who's gonna know, and more so, who's gonna care? why kill the karma for one note?

 

Nope, Not a chance..

 

so,,, eventually we get this pretty huge gig, (wasn't a wedding).. so naturally, half way thru the first set one of the songs in question pops up "ok.. here we go" try the same thing, get the same results right? Right!

 

She was so bummed out and embarrassed that it knocked her off her game for the whole night. But it was turning point, either drop those songs, or, make them work for the voice she had. The tunes got good responses and we did them well, would have been a shame to loose them.

 

Eventually she did figure out how to work around it, and later commented, "I don't know why it took me so long to figure this out" [glare]

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