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Author Topic:  Guest Singers with bands?
Darrell Criswell


From:
Maryland, USA
Post Posted 21 May 2018 1:08 pm     Reply with quote

Why so often do I see great bands bring up people from the audience who are at best mediocre singers to sing often two or three songs and usually the songs are overplayed, worn out songs like "Sweet Dreams", "Can I Have this Dance" or "Walking after Midnight"? Occasionally, but not often, I hear someone called to the stage that is great and sings interesting songs, but its the exception. I have even heard band members joke about the talents of these people.
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Mitch Drumm


From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post Posted 21 May 2018 1:29 pm     Re: Guest Singers with bands? Reply with quote

Darrell Criswell wrote:
Why so often do I see great bands bring up people from the audience who are at best mediocre singers.............?


I'm guessing that is a rhetorical question.

On the off chance that it isn't a rhetorical question, where the ingratiation is seen as ultimately in the best interests of the band, as evaluated by whoever is in charge of the band---however mistaken and laughable that may be:

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Clyde Mattocks


From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 21 May 2018 6:49 pm     Reply with quote

There are about as many reasons for this as there are instances. Lots of times its just professional courtesy to people in other bands. Sometimes (lots), the owner insists that you get so and so up. Then friends of the singer bug you all night to get him up and you finally do it to get some peace. Then you occasionally run across genuine talent in these cases. People who just go around to get invited up generally have to do mundane stuff that just about any band would know. The worst is the guy who says "Let me sing a couple with the band, but get me up early 'cause I have go to another club."
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Clyde Mattocks


From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 21 May 2018 7:16 pm     Reply with quote

Jumping back in 'cause I thought of a funny story that goes along with this. Several years back, our band was playing a gig at Shenanigans in Richmond. There was this guy who kept wanting to get up and sing a song with the band. When I called him up and said his name, there was a repo guy in the audience. He thinks to himself, hmmm. that name sounds familiar. Sure enough , he checks his book and he has an order to pick up the guys car. When we take a break, we go out on the sidewalk and the wrecker is hooking up Mr. guest singer's car. The repo guy tells him he enjoyed his singing and gives him cab fare home. You can't make this stuff up.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 22 May 2018 12:44 am     Reply with quote

a year or so back I was on a gig in Lexington NC, the band leader actually hired my wife to come sing 3 or 4 songs each set. She sings the classics. It was a 3 set gig.

Well of course, unknown to me, people are lined up to sing with the band as the club owner demanded that his guests be able to perform . There were so many guest singers that they took up near half the night.

The really sick news all around was after the so called guest singers did a song or two, ( not one ) they LEFT and took their friends with them ! By the time it came back around for the band to play our material the room was empty !

It was pathetic. My wife sang 1 song. I quit the band that night. We did both get paid $100 but I didn't accept any more gigs with that band leader. He kept telling me he had no choice as thats what the owner wanted. I said fine, but I HAVE A CHOICE.
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John De Maille


From:
On a Mountain in Upstate Halcottsville, N.Y.
Post Posted 22 May 2018 4:05 pm     Reply with quote

I used to work for a guy (leader of the band), who, constantly got people up to sing a song or two. Some were pretty good, but, some were just awful. I got used to it after a while. But. never really liked it. I always thought, that, it interrupted the vibes with the band. We had a good sound together and had worked out many intricate musical parts. When these "guests" got up to perform it was catch as catch can.You never knew how they were going to be. We always did our best to back them up, but, it didn't always work out right.
Nowadays, we try to avoid all the nonsense and just say no!


Last edited by John De Maille on 24 May 2018 3:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Richard Sinkler


From:
Oakdale, California
Post Posted 22 May 2018 7:45 pm     Reply with quote

One of my biggest pet peeves.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 23 May 2018 1:53 am     Reply with quote

let me put it another way which is really arrogant.

I don't bring a $4000 Steel guitar, a $1500 Telecaster , an amp or two, prepare for a 3 set gig on my own time then play behind some guy or gal with plaid pants and a striped shirt who is singing a Gene Autry song in a key that is not even known to mankind.

I now tell band leaders that I won't play behind "sit in" guests at dances or gigs unless I know them personally and am familiar with them . They can NOT HIRE me which will be fine by me.

maybe tomorrow I'll tell you how I really feel. Whoa!
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Don R Brown


From:
Rochester, New York, USA
Post Posted 23 May 2018 6:54 am     Reply with quote

Occasionally it works out the other way around. The "guest singer" turns out to be better than who the band has as a regular.
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Darrell Criswell


From:
Maryland, USA
Post Posted 23 May 2018 1:25 pm     Reply with quote

Don Brown: I have seen that happen, where the guest is better, and it is great, often the guest is not necessarily better just has a different styling or doesn't have his own band because of limited repertoire.

Another thing I have seen is the band plays some songs or a set before the singer/bandleader comes out and play a whole lot better by themselves. I remember seeing Sammy Kershaw one time, his band was really energetic but when he came out they acted and sounded like they were playing for Lawrence Welk
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Bill Sinclair


From:
Hagerstown, Maryland, USA
Post Posted 23 May 2018 1:35 pm     Reply with quote

And don't you love it when they sing the lyrics off their cell phone?
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Richard Sinkler


From:
Oakdale, California
Post Posted 24 May 2018 8:21 am     Reply with quote

Bill Sinclair wrote:
And don't you love it when they sing the lyrics off their cell phone?


Or iPad, and still forget the words.
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Dave Hopping


From:
Colorado, USA
Post Posted 24 May 2018 6:09 pm     Reply with quote

Isn't that what open mic night is for?
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Rick Barnhart


From:
Arizona, USA
Post Posted 24 May 2018 6:51 pm     Reply with quote

It can be dreadful at times, but by allowing a guest singer to sing a song or two, the band just may have "made the night" for someone. We take ourselves pretty serious sometimes.
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Richard Sinkler


From:
Oakdale, California
Post Posted 24 May 2018 6:57 pm     Reply with quote

Dave Hopping wrote:
Isn't that what open mic night is for?


Exactly. Did one of those every Sunday for years. That IS what they are for.

I did some time in a band that worked out a set show with set lists, and very seldom strayed from it. That meant no allowing uncle Freddy's long lost Aunt's plumber up to beller away. Also very seldom took requests. Of course, with the newer country local bands these days (at least in my area) only know maybe 4 sets worth of material and just simply can't pull out many requests. Gone are the days when bands could pull out almost any old song at a moments notice and the whole band knew it.
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Bill Terry


From:
Bastrop, TX
Post Posted 25 May 2018 4:40 am     Reply with quote

I just sort of roll with it personally. Sometimes the 'comic value' is worth the aggravation.
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Richard Sinkler


From:
Oakdale, California
Post Posted 25 May 2018 9:43 am     Reply with quote

Bill Terry wrote:
I just sort of roll with it personally. Sometimes the 'comic value' is worth the aggravation.


I do the same, even though I hate it more times than not. My motto is: "I'm not paid to like the song (or situation), I'm paid to play it.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 27 May 2018 12:03 pm     Reply with quote

Story time...

In 1985 I was playing in a road band that somehow ended up at the Kingsway Inn Rodeo Club in Edmonton. Pretty swank place. Huge. Couches and lounge chairs instead of barstools. And we were completely inappropriate for it.

So there we were playing our usual hack version of Elvira. Our lead singer never could quite get the oom-poppa-mow-mow bass vocal quite right. Anyway, this short skinny guy comes up to my side of the stage, right there during the song, climbs up the stairs, waves me over, and asks if I’d mind if he sang a bit. I told him to wait, and I’d have to ask the bandleader between songs if it was okay for him to sing. The guy started to turn away, but then he came back and just waltzed right up on our stage, during the best gig we had ever booked, grabbed our singer’s mic....and did the best oom-poppa mow mow you ever heard.

That short skinny guy turned out to be Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys, who were on tour and staying at the hotel that night.
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Randy Schneider


From:
Central Texas, USA
Post Posted 27 May 2018 12:17 pm     Reply with quote

Fred Treece wrote:

That short skinny guy turned out to be Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys, who were on tour and staying at the hotel that night.


Great story, Fred!
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 28 May 2018 1:13 am     Reply with quote

Richard Sinkler wrote:
Bill Terry wrote:
I just sort of roll with it personally. Sometimes the 'comic value' is worth the aggravation.


I do the same, even though I hate it more times than not. My motto is: "I'm not paid to like the song (or situation), I'm paid to play it.



Above I mentioned a dreadful night, that same night, what I didn't say was that a few friends I had not seen in a long time came to see the band, they left early without a word.

Sure , we are paid to play but are we are hired to play with a band or are we hired to play for an open mic night ?

When we are hired we should always play the best we can, look neat and clean and represent ourselves to the best of our ability . A band getting paid $500 or so and letting UNKNOWNS come up and sing, even if they are great, is the best opportunity for immediate failure and that falls on the band, not the guest singer.

What about the people that came to hear the band and not the guest singers ? Don't they matter ? They are the real patrons.

I play a 2-hour bi-monthly gig where we may invite a guest to sing , a KNOWN guest, never unknowns. For the most part we already know the material and they must first talk with us about song choice. ONE TIME, not all that long ago, a guest we knew came up and CHANGED the song, he called for a song that the band did not know well, over the live mic he embarrassed the band, basically said I want to sing this song and I can't believe the band doesn't know it and it's a real easy song. He didn't stop there, he kept turning around looking at us saying , while looking at me, the Steel player, come on give it a try..it's easy...in the mic. The room was silent. Finally, I just said please sing the song we talked about . I'm not even the band leader. So he did and he sang it thru like 3 times, it was like the Groundhog Day of songs. We forced the ending.

Another thing he did when he finally sang was to keep moving forward of the PA system so he could tour the audience like Wayne Newton, he kept turning around like we set the PA up wrong , making it seem like it was the band and PA that was causing the feedback.

At the end of the show I addressed this guy ( in private) and told him I will never back him up again and to never call me for a gig. I reminded him that this was our show, not his and he put the band on the spot.


He apologized but barely.

This is the danger of bringing guests up to sing, sometimes even guests we know. Sometimes they come with the intent of being the STAR. You can spot it a mile away, they show up with 7 or 8 people who came to hear their friend sing.

WE ARE NOT HIRED TO MAKE SOMEONES NIGHT. WE ARE HIRED TO PROVIDE MUSIC FOR THE VENUE. We are hired to play in a band and play the bands set-list. Exclamation

Oh yeah, he never came back since that night.

And the song was Night-Life, and yeah I could have played the Price version but the band was not prepared. The guy wanted to sing some other version which I had never even heard of.

When we were packing up, the band leader asked me what I said to the guy, I told him. He then told me that before I spoke with him he said to the guy "never come back to one of our shows, you are not invited". We laughed and continued on. I've been on this gig for 3 years now, twice a month. Just when you think you've seen it all, the next show arrives ! Laughing
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Last edited by Tony Prior on 29 May 2018 11:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 28 May 2018 10:07 am     Reply with quote

So, Tony...you’ve met Nick The Lounge Singer too, eh?

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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 30 May 2018 10:52 am     Make lemonade Reply with quote

Whenever we get a guest singer up, I tend to look at it as a win-win-win situation. If the singer is terrible, it just makes our band's singer sound better in comparison. If the singer is average-to-good, it's just like having another singer in the band. And if the singer's exceptional...well, then it's a great experience, one to be remembered. Cool
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 31 May 2018 1:40 am     Re: Make lemonade Reply with quote

Donny Hinson wrote:
Whenever we get a guest singer up, I tend to look at it as a win-win-win situation. If the singer is terrible, it just makes our band's singer sound better in comparison. If the singer is average-to-good, it's just like having another singer in the band. And if the singer's exceptional...well, then it's a great experience, one to be remembered. Cool


While I don't disagree in concept , but I do wonder why we call really bad guest singers "GUEST SINGERS".

What does our audience think about guest singers ? What happens when someone comes in to hear the band and a really bad guest singer is on the mic ? How do they know whats going on ?

Like I said above, on a gig not long ago the band leader allowed several guest singers to come up to the mic, all poor in my opinion. I had friends come to see me and the band, they got up and left and I don't blame them, I wanted to leave as well . Doesn't much matter if we played well, the song presentation was poor.

There is no line between the band and the audience. The line goes to the very back of the room, behind the last patron. The audience is inside the line. Just because we may feel we are having a good time backing up a bad singer doesn't mean the audience is also having a good time and enjoying it.

I stand my ground, we are hired to play a dance or a venue for the audience at large , bringing up mediocre or unknown guest singers is not part of the deal. Unless of course that is what the venue is all about, guest singers or players.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 31 May 2018 9:49 am     Reply with quote

+1 Tony, and hear hear!

Most of us have had to scratch and bite our way into our first club gigs, so why should a “guest singer” just be allowed to step up on stage with an established band? Quite possibly not knowing what a fool he is making of himself and making the band sound like crap...

We should never forget that there is an audience that didn’t patronize our venue to get tortured. Unless you are a known quantity, or it is open mic night, or you own the venue, lose your hubris and get your own gig. If you’re good enough, that shouldn’t be a problem.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 1 Jun 2018 12:23 am     Reply with quote

+1 Fred . I'm with ya !
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