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Discussion Starter #1
had a player show up habitually drunk to rehearsals, but was really really good at hiding it?

I would say player A (the alleged drunkard) played about the same as he always does that night - not great, but not terrible either.
Is A a top shelf player? No.
2nd tier? No.
Can he hack it at all? With effort, yes.
Is he a nice guy who gets along with others? Yes.
Is he easily replaceable, in the current market? Not very. (This is a rehearsal band.)
Would I play with him again? Yeah, probably.

I never noticed A was playing differently the night that player B went off and constantly criticized and insulted A during rehearsals. B is not a great player either, just okay. After 90 mins of this abuse, A finally becomes unhinged and starts a profanity laced rant in the middle of a tune, contents of which is directed at B. (no, we didn't stop the tune. We finished it.)

But.. B is always a jerk to everyone. Who knows if he's really telling us the unblanched truth about A's personal problems with alcohol, or if he's just decided that A will be tonight's victim. I've spoken already before to the bandleader about B's negative rehearsal demeanor. I warned him that this kind of thing was not good for a band which already has a turnover problem. There is a difference between Supporting Each Other vs. Not Helpful. There is also the matter of face - it is not good for someone to lose face so publicly in front of their friends. Some issues need to be taken offline, outside of rehearsal time.

B continues his own rant after A leaves rehearsal and says this guy better stop showing up drunk or A is gone. Well, i'd say that's okay by me, because A is a nice guy who tries and often succeeds, meanwhile you're kind of a jerk and a cancer on the band and i've been wishing for a while that you'd find somewhere else to play. If I knew someone might abuse me at rehearsals, it might drive me to drink too! Plus you brought A into the band, just like you did in others, so what are you gonna tell us now -- you didn't know about A's weaknesses before you gave him the chair ? Well ????

So, i'm all for cutting B loose. But, then we'd lose one of our gigs... a band that already has very few, and I know the band management won't go for that...

I know some of you are sympathetic to A, and that's understandable. I'm just saying we only need x% of this particular player right now, we don't need perfection. We can't afford it. (if we could, we know who to call) I just don't believe everything I hear anymore when someone talks bad about someone else. I'm always looking for the real motive. I'm stone cold sober at every rehearsal. EVERY ONE. If A and B didn't make the same number of mistakes, EVERY night, then someone can shoot me. This night was ... nothing special.
 

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If I went to a rehearsal like that I would start cracking open beers for sure. I hate the negativity some people bring to the table. What sucks for you is now you are going to be watching A like a hawk to see if he is wasted all the time. That would suck because if he is then you have a person you like with some serious problems, if he is not then you will feel like a jerk for doubting him. Good luck with this one. Maybe it will blow over and everyone will play nice next time.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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To me it seems like A did nothing wrong at all. provided his ("alleged" you say) state had no detrimental effects on his playing or social behaviour, no issue. The fact that he lost it after 90 minutes from an abusive (allegedly sober?) person is understandable.

I've played with alcoholics, junkies, pot heads, pshycopaths, dyslexics, scientologists, liberal democrats, speedfreaks and trombonists. As long as they do the job that's all that matters.

I would have sacked B.
 

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I agree with Pete. I've played with true alcoholics. The music business is wrought with these kinds of people problems. It's a very hard lifestyle to maintain besides the human factor. It sounds more like player B has an agenda and think's more highly of themselves than is true by the way.

Since both people play about equally well, and player A's drinking problem may or may not exist, then I think you have to ask B to lay off or move on. Player B is the one affecting the band in an adverse way. Not player A. Not yet anyway. Deal with that if it really does become an issue. But please don't forget the human part of the equation if you decide you have to.

Harv
 

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Yeah, I've played with alcholics quite a bit. A guitar player I know seems to be able to cut it at a pretty high level even after he has had enough booze to make me vomit. The music didn't seem to suffer too much but somebody always had to pick the guy up and drop him off. He also did not help with setting up equipment or tearing it down. I got more tired of the babysitting than the drinking...
 

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The music didn't seem to suffer too much but somebody always had to pick the guy up and drop him off. He also did not help with setting up equipment or tearing it down.
I've known plenty of teetotallers like that...
 

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I've played with alcoholics, junkies, pot heads, pshycopaths, dyslexics, scientologists, liberal democrats, speedfreaks and trombonists. As long as they do the job that's all that matters.
"....and trombonists " too funny but I know what ya mean - the good ones can be a real different breed.

I ran a rehearsal band for 6 years. The personal dynamics of a group of guys that get together every week can get pretty tense. If you are lucky, you will end up with a bunch that get along. If not, you get what you are experiencing .....drama.

The choice you have is to get involved in the drama or not. For your own sanity - please choose "not".

If this was in the professional world, a music contractor usually has decisions to make when hiring guys. Every musician has an "up side" and a "down side" to hiring them. As long as their "up side" out weighs their "down side" they will keep getting hired. If it tips, then the musician is of no use to the contractor.

My best example is about a player I know who is an AMAZING veteran player who is famous for yelling at others. They day he crossed the line and yelled at the contractor was the day he stopped being hired at that venue.

The fact that Player A needs to get "on the wagon" is a personal demon for him. As long as the job gets done, from a professional standpoint, who cares.

Player B is out of control if he is interrupting a public performance. In my mind there is no bigger "down side" when being a musician.

Charlie
 

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It would be a no-brainer for me, fire B or join another band.

I recently played in a band where the drummer who is 52 and had the emotional intelligence of a 12 year old and liked to control everything and everybody wanted to play by yelling commands in a adolescent sort of way. The leader of the band just sat there and allowed it to go on rehearsal after rehearsal.

I made a decision that life is way too short to put up with people like that, and I politely resigned on a good parting basis since I got along with everybody else.

Drama in bands sucks. Even Buddy Rich who was famous for such rants would be fired by me.

B
 

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B is definitely the problem. I played a gig once with a sloppy drunk and vowed to the leader that I would never play with him again. But A doesn't sound like a sloppy drunk, whereas B is a jerk. Personally, I can suffer a competent drunk better than a jerk.
 

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It would be a no-brainer for me, fire B or join another band.
I've changed my mind about this.

I wouldn't fire anyone.

If I was the bandleader I would talk to both, with a warning to B. I'd tell him not to wind people up again or he's out. And I'd suggest to A that even under provocation, to just act professionally and get on the with the job.
 

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Rehearsal bands are supposed to fun for the players. If there's not a fridge full of beer on hand, you're doing it wrong ;)

That being said - I agree with others who suggest it's about the music, not what you have or are currently ingesting.

The best violinist I have ever heard play worked a project for me and got sloppy, barely conscious, drunk at all 4 sessions he played. Somehow his playing was on automatic and flawless (and awe inspiring). I could never use him live but he could play even when he couldn't stand. It was one of the strangest things I've ever seen.
 

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I've changed my mind about this.

I wouldn't fire anyone.

If I was the bandleader I would talk to both, with a warning to B. I'd tell him not to wind people up again or he's out. And I'd suggest to A that even under provocation, to just act professionally and get on the with the job.
i agree with pete here. even if i wasn't the bandleader. sometimes, a change in atmosphere is no more than a point-of-view away. the way it's described (by the OP, who is only one side of the story - tongue in cheek),
.. A is doing all that is expected of him, and nothing that is a deteriment to the band. he may be limiting his own potential, but he is doing all that the band requires. "drunkeness" is a problem because drunkards typically have unconttrollable bad behavior. doesn't sound like this is the problem here.
.. B is obviously bothered by A's drinking? or is B bothered by everyone? it would be good to treat B the same as one would treat A - with dignity and respect, and find out why B is so concerned about things like this (iceburg idea). if B could relax and accept that certain things are really not an issue with the band, maybe B would see things differently. be kind, cuz everyone is going through something. B might be needing a friend or two? i don't know, but some friendly conversations may help understand and may help fix things. btw, B might feel responsible for A's drinking since he brought him into the band, and he might feel a responsibility to the rest of the band about this. maybe it'll help if the rest of the band tells B how they feel about it?
 

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. B is always a jerk to everyone..
This will never work, in my experience. All the rest of it aside, this is your main problem. Or maybe I should say it's B's problem, but also a major problem for the band if B is a band member.
 

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A question comes to mind. Does B have any religious/socio beliefs that cause him/her to have an aversion to drinking at all? This could be hard to overcome if it is the case.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for everyone's input and opinions. This has been a very stressful time for us in the band, and we have a big show coming up this week too which is not helping things. I can pretty well say there is no religious or moral outrage going on, but there is _something_ going on, maybe due to facts that I'm not privy to yet.

There is this problem getting rid of someone that gets us gigs. Low paying gigs, but we don't get many as it is. Of course if that gig went away, then there's a bit more motivation of course. I heard bandleader sat down with B and had a long talk. I didn't hear any warning though. It was more like a pep talk.
 

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The long talk with B sounds like a good approach. It's no shame. Everyone needs an attitude adjustment sometimes. The player A is getting attacked because he is the most vulnerable as a functional alcoholic. This vulnerability is probably the only thing that really links him to B. Many a flawed individual will let out their frustrations and aggression on the weakest person around them.

It needs to thoroughly be explained to B how he is hurting the band. And B needs to be given a chance to change. Contrary to popular belief, people can and do change if they truly desire to. But after a while, if no change is observed in B's behavior, he will probably need to be asked to leave. One bad actor in a group can eventually destroy it. And the ability to get gigs simply gives the bad actions more importance.

Player A will need help too. Everyone lives on a sign wave with both highs and lows in their lives. For functional alcoholics, the lows can be much lower than they are for most folks. And eventually, the lows will affect his playing and will probably lead to some kind of crash in his life. Try to urge him to attend AA or some other program to help him deal with his addiction. Again, there is no shame in this. Addressing your problems is the adult and healthy thing that we should all do.
 
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