session/gig work

w/ Pete Mancini and The Hillside Airmen @ Great South Bay Music Fest

Fast, Efficient, Knowledgable, Organized, Tight.  

These are some of the words that come to mind when I think of providing an artist with the best possible musical support I can deliver as a bandmember, session man, or a substitute "hired hand on the ranch".

How can I help you, the artist, get to a point where all of our cylinders are firing, and we're running smoothly? How can you, the artist, help me to show up prepared, with the right gear for the mission, so we can ace the gig at hand?

w/ Gene Casey & The Lone Sharks
There are some common sense things that everyone can think of right off the top of their head, and there are some things that might not be so apparent. Let's start with the easy stuff, and assume that we've already been rehearsing the material, and the band is ready to perform.

Sometimes I just get a text. "Can you do Sept 27th?".

That's the only information given. It's not a lot to go on. The questions immediately pop into my head. Where is the venue? What's the name of the venue? What time do I need to be there? Length of performance? Is there equipment provided? What do I need to bring? These are all questions that need to be answered in order to make decisions.

Great info to include ASAP would be date, start/finish times, pay, gear needed/provided/shared. For out of town dates, transportation, food, beverage info.

Songs / Setlists.

Let's assume we are at a point where (all / some / a few) songs are being learned, rehearsed, arranged, or otherwise explored. There's a number of great ways to serve things up to me that will get me internalizing songs fast:

  1. Drop Box (or equivalent). Have a folder for everything we'll be performing. Song files, MP3's, charts, setlists, cheat sheets, etc.
  2. Charts. One for each song. Straight text or PDF is fine. Microsoft Word ".DOC" files are bad. Keep things to one page if possible, single spaced. Lyrics with conventional "letter" chord nomenclature is fine, and even the most simple "Nashville Numbers" chart (everyone does it differently) is even better. I often convert things to the number system anyway, in the course of learning things and getting "off the book".
  3. MP3's. Yes! Any higher resolution / format would clog up the internet pipeline here. MP3 is AOK. Post up files and I'll download them to the server here at the Lantern Sound Recording Rig.
  4. Setlists. I love setlists, but I love them even more when KEYS are included. Include keys next to every song. If you want to include any other helpful song-to-song info (gimmicks, segues, beginnings/ends), I totally welcome that!

    Now put the setlists, the charts, and MP3 files in the same Drop Box folder. One stop shop!
  5. YouTube / Spotify playlists. You have those TOO? NICE! Send them!
I often make my own spreadsheet for lists of songs by an artist. Here's a screen grab of one, showing what I'm making notes of when I'm studying the material. Beginnings, endings, verse/chorus/middle info are all detailed. I can re-order songs according to what the setlist is at any given time, and this certainly helps me master the material in practice and rehearsal. I make them available to the artist, and they can use, modify, or add to them in any way they want. I don't keep these things to myself - the whole band might benefit from my work, so why not share? (Go Team).

OK, that's it. I'll see you at the gig! MH


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