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First Wedding Band...

2459 Views 10 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Jim Clark
I just joined my first wedding band!

The group I'll be working with has played together for a long time. They play a wide variety of music to fit different situations. Their set list includes tunes by Santana, Grover Washington Jr, Boz Scaggs, and others.

I'm excited for the opportunity to learn a whole different set of tunes and broaden my musical palette. Are there any suggestions you gig-vets can offer me about working in a group like this?

Thanks :)
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I'm not a pro, but don't hit on the bride;)
Martinman makes a GREAT POINT. I know a guy who got SOO Drunk at a wedding he hit on the Maid of Honor.

Seriously, as a kid wedding bands were for LOOOOOSERS!!!! Now that I'm older - I make more money in 1/4 year playing weddings then I EVER did being a hip-jazz wannabee to cool to play "I feel good."

Treat everything like a business. Keep track of ALL expenses and mileage. I charge by saxophone expenses which makes it easier to track at the end of the year. You'll probably receive a 1099 at the end of the year which can be a KILLER on the good ole taxes if you're not ready.

Oh Yeah - HAVE FUN!!!
Congrats! A couple of random thoughts:
If there's no book of sax parts, and even if the band doesn't use charts at all, it would be a good idea for you to put some sort of book of charts together. That way, if you ever need to sub out to another sax player it will make things a lot smoother for both the sub and the band(leader).

Consider investing in a pair of custom fitted earplugs. They're MUCH easier to play with than any of the cheaper foam or wax ones. I wish I had done it years ago.

Learn the bridge to "Girl from Ipanema"!
A good wedding band will probably have at least 60 songs as the core of the material, maybe even more. My advice is to listen to them over and over and over until you know them really well. Get a lot of reps in playing the tunes so you know them front and back. Like someone else said at least make a lead sheet for the songs with the important tag lines and chord changes for the solos. Know the songs well and the old band members will respect your work and accept you.
Yeah, the wedding band I play with has 125+ songs in the book. And those are just the ones that have horns in them. When I get the set list for the next gig, if there's a song I'm not familiar with, I get a recording so I can have a point of reference.
who needs charts?
super20dan said:
who needs charts?
Write down the horn lines and horn harmonies for the most common tunes in the recorded key and the most commonly played keys... if you hear something like Amy Winehouse on the radio, you may as well right it down, too, cuz you're gonna have to learn it. Bring back up percussion... I bring shakers, a tambourine and claves; I'm about to get a pair of bongos and a cymbal stand for them. It helps to have something to do when there are no horns. What I've found is that the whole horn section loots the stuff I bring to use during the show, hence the added bongos, but really, any little thing will do, just so you're not standing around doing nothing. Learn to do a little two-step: you don't have to be a great dancer, I can't dance to save my life, but you have to look like you're having fun on stage. it's such a buzz kill to work with guys who just stand there and stare at their mic. Also, pic up one of those "sound-mirror" things... I'm used to playing with loud bands, so I haven't gotten around to picking one up yet, but it's on the list of things to do. NEVER rely on your monitors. Especially on flute! Get a piece of plexiglass in case you have to play outside. It beats the hell out of clips. No matter what, always show up with a mic, mic stand, cable, XLR/Quarter inch adaptor, music stand, stand light, and horn stands, even if you don't think you'll need them... you can always leave them in the car, but if you need them, you'll NEED them. I keep one bag packed and ready to go most of the time with as much stuff as I can fit in it, so I can save the scrambling around for my gear. If I take anything out of the bag at home, i just leave it open, so I'll know to check everything. Just some tricks I've learned, and many that others have learned for me. You don't want to come up short on a gig, so better safe than sorry, I say.
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Congratulations! Great advice from all. I would suggest you listen to the original (or definitive) versions of as many of the tunes as you can, especially the motown stuff. Oh, and don't over-play. If a song doesn't need sax - don't play! As far as percussion, that's cool, but listen to the drummer and make sure you're playing in time with him (or her!). You may need to spend some time on your percussion technique to make sure you are adding to the sound of the ensemble.

Good luck!


P.S. Learn RESPECT in the keys of Bb and C concert at minimum, so when that solo section comes up a tritone from the original key you're ready to rip!
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