When it doesn't fit anywhere else
 #157010  by James-T
 Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:19 pm
Hey guys

I'm hoping for some critical eyes and ears and feedback on my playing in a live setting. Our band is due for a five year anniversary next month and the singer/ rhythm guitar player has been looking at my playing in a new critical light. Comments such as "you never listen to me", "you shouldn't be looking to be in a band with two guitars because you can't listen to anyone", "you can't back me up as a singer", "you don't have a sense of rhythm". In fact he's started a new band which is more or less this band minus the lead guitar player. Because he wants to be surrounded by musicians that can support him and respect him.

When you hear these things after five years and are told that you should have gotten this years ago because I've been telling you over and over again and you just don't understand it, you start to question your own abilities.

Our singer has a habit of walking off stage during a song when he feels things are not as they should :oops: . I'm not sure if anyone else has experienced this. The funny thing is is that he's otherwise a great guy and I think he's a fantastic musician. He's got a bunch of great originals, plays great leads. Like I don't know, perhaps walking off stage is normal?

So what do you think. Feedback from players in established bands, pros, would be great. And I've got a few other Walk On Dead videos on my channel too. :smile:

Thanks so much,

James :-)

 #157016  by PaulJay
 Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:07 am
Hey James, good to see you back. Judging from this video I see no problem with what your doing. In this music it's not about one person. It take all the ingredients to make up this recipe. Leave something out and it won't taste right. I think the issue is your singer needs to be a front man in a "rock and roll band" not a jam band. Hope it works out for you. Don't be a stranger. ,Paul
 #157017  by Jon S.
 Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:18 am
First off, James, though it can be perilous judging anyone from his forum persona, you've always struck me as a friendly, easygoing type of guy. So for starters, your bandmate's feedback strikes me as potentially less than totally dependable. This being said, any feedback tells you one or more of 3 things: how you actually are; how you're perceived; about the one providing it. Chew on your feedback from all 3 angles. Be as objective as you can about it and see what, if anything, you want to change.

Regarding the content of your feedback, specifically, two things strike me about it. One, the repeated use of the dreaded "never" word. Very few people "always" or "never" do anything. Most of us live in the shades of grey (not those shades! ;) ). So when someone lights into you with a series of "you never" accusations, if nothing else, it's demonstrating huge frustration from that person. Two, this type of venting is something those of us who have also heard it probably most commonly get from spouses/lovers/partners. And, frankly, when it's reached that point, it's not impossible to fix but it's difficult. In these situations, if we've heard it before from others, too, then maybe it's us. If not, I would say, it's the "relationship" and best to simply "divorce" and find someone/thing better.

Your post resonated with me especially strongly today because, tonight, I'm heading over to a Dead jam at another guitarist's place regarding whom I, in the past, have had some of the same issues your singer/rhythm guitarist expressed re: you. The guy is not a bad person. To the contrary, he's a really good man and I like him a lot as a person. I also find him quite difficult to jam with, not because he's mean or selfish, but because when he's playing, he gets into his own personal world where, to me, he loses his connection with me. That includes playing leads in ways that don't mesh with my vocals and leaves too little space (as in room) for everyone else. Because I genuinely like the guy personally, however, I've felt safe to discuss it with him in a heartfelt way and that is the first step to improvement.

Personally, the 3 most important steps for me in being the best possible bandmate/jam partner musically have been these.

1. When the vocalist is singing (whoever it is, a dedicated vocalist or another band member), serve the vocals - don't step on them; support them melodically and otherwise.

2. Don't get lost in your own playing and sound. This includes not focusing so hard on your own parts that you lose your connection with the rest of the band. Especially if you use a stand, don't bury your head in it. Look up; look around; listen as or more carefully to the others as you do to yourself; as the band's playing, communicate actively and continuously in a myriad of non-verbal ways. It's far better, in my experience, to risk some clams now and then and stay connected to the rest of the band than to try so hard to play our own parts perfectly and lose those connections.

3. Lock in with the rhythm section (especially important if your bassist is Lesh-like!) as best as you can. A happy and supported rhythm section makes for a happy and strong band.

This is the longest post I've typed here in quite a while but you're a good guy and I hope something I've shared will be helpful. :)
 #157032  by Searing75
 Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:41 am
Walking off stage during a show is rediculous! I wouldn't play with someone like that myself.
 #157033  by Jon S.
 Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:56 am
Context is important, e.g., it's probably a good thing Manzarek and Krieger didn't say and do this in response to Morrison or we'd all have lost some good music. Same with Hendrix and Merchant and their bands. And on the other hand, there's Ashlee Simpson. :p
 #157036  by James-T
 Thu Jun 15, 2017 12:59 pm
Jon is correct. Context is everything. And I appreciate how he's believing in the best of someone, and also holding out some optimism that sometimes the music can make it worth it. What I am wrestling with are some of the comments like 'you never listen to me', and 'you shouldn't be in a two guitar band'. We've been playing together live for five years. I really do like this guy and I really think he has an amazing musical style and feel for rhythm and lead guitar. He's a good guy to be playing off of.

There have been three or possibly four incidents of walk offs. Each one has had a unique circumstance and has been a total surprise. They are always over totally different issues. Often it happens when things seem tight and going well, so I'm just been blind sided. It's possible I truly do have my head in the sand.

I will give you one example.

Inspired by a "jam of the day" from 71 of a Good Loving into China Cat I had the band work up, the night before a gig this arrangement. We actually got it tight enough in rehearsal to go with it.

I recall that we really nailed it and we were playing to a mostly Dead Head audience, small but appreciative, perhaps 40 folks all dancing.

In the rehearsal we ran out of time to go over the ending of the suite of music (Good Lovin>China Rider> Good Lovin), but verbally agreed after the Rider we would go back into the signature good loving jam riff and then do the second ending to Good Lovin.

So live we ended Rider, and then I picked up the riff and went with it. This is when the singer/ rhythm guitar player gave some funny body language and just when we were committed musically he walked off the stage. No vocals thus no ending the song - at least how we discussed.

It was a total train wreck after that and eventually our keys guy managed to rap it up into a rock bottom finish. The singer came back on stage and had the body language where you just go 'oh boy'. He dumped into me :oops: how I would never be a leader of a band and that was the proof. It was one of those lectures where they other guy is inches from your face and you are not sure where its going.

I felt so shitty after that, but just two nights ago the bass player and I were chatting and he was recalling that gig as having some of the best ever highlights. I regrouped after the break, and had a funny compliment from an audience member, something like man that was so real, like seeing some real musical tension and differences, cool! :smile:
 #157037  by James-T
 Thu Jun 15, 2017 1:37 pm
It bothers me when folks double post but here is another video.

Lot's of interplay between vocals and the guitar and also lots of dynamics. The second solo in Fire we all look up after I bring it up to a peak with some Garcia style fanning. 6:47 The solo is less than two minutes long. I don't think it is a never ending waste of music space.

Jon I think this video hits an all of your excellent words of wisdom. Am I missing something here. We sound grungy but to my ears we sound pretty good as a working jam band.

 #157038  by Searing75
 Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:30 pm
Well, for me, when I am playing music with other people, especially improvisational music, my heart is open and I am more susceptible to negative energy. I want no part of someone else's passive aggressive bull sh*t! I do tolerate some crap, as I know that I myself can get odd at times, whether from insecurities or just plain old frustration, but I would not allow for someone to tell me the things your band mate tellls you, or to walk off stage in a hissy fit.
 #157039  by James-T
 Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:02 pm
You have really hit on something I've never been able to explain. That video above is from a mini-festival where we played two nights, two sets each night. I used to put together the setlists I recall the first night our singer looked down at the setlist on the floor and reamed me out for making the font too small, or something like that. Not only was I taken back, but I think I asked him kindly him ease off on me. His response was I need to grow some thicker skin and suck it up, or I shouldn't be in a band. I was hoping for an apology actually. It basically ruined the evening for me. I think I was shaking after that for a couple of songs. The next night (that the video is from) I had accidentally eaten a cookie at lunch that had some extra ingredients so by the time we went on I was in a good headspace where I could just let go of all that negative emotion (and resentment) that had filled me up, and I thought my playing improved a lot as a result.

It sucks to be in a great mood one minute and to be made to feel like you are two inches tall the next. My experience with this band has been a mixture of feeling like I'm walking on egg shells, to fuck it I'm going to have fun no matter what, to occasionally being totally blind sided and beaten down when least expecting it.

Here is an email I received from our founding bass player from a few months ago. He's been out of the game for a bit with a new kid :-) and trying to come back to the band :smile: (we've been having different subs filling in). He's been playing for our singer's "solo" act AKA trio minus me.: Like me he really likes our singer and speaks highly of his musical skills and talents.
(He) has made a few comments about my playing (and singing). His comments have made me overly self-conscious of my playing, especially for the last couple of gigs. I feel like I am under a microscope (or being auditioned). I couldn’t relax and enjoy myself at the Farmers Market. That gig felt very tense. He often hints that he would prefer to have Alex or Mickey replace me.

As a band leader he is not very good at being supportive and nurturing. In my other bands we collectively work through things and we support each other.

He is always telling me that I am not on the one. That is an insult to a bassist. I always practice along with a metronome and am confident with my sense of meter. With (him) I find now that I am overthinking my meter and I make mistakes. Whereas in the past and with other bands I don’t think about my meter because I confident in my playing.
 #157040  by Jon S.
 Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:14 am
>> So live we ended Rider, and then I picked up the riff and went with it. This is when the singer/ rhythm guitar player gave some funny body language and just when we were committed musically he walked off the stage. No vocals thus no ending the song - at least how we discussed.

>> I used to put together the setlists I recall the first night our singer looked down at the setlist on the floor and reamed me out for making the font too small, or something like that.

Both of the above are consistent with, though not alone proof of, an alpha dog bearing his fangs when he perceives the little dog's moving in. If correct, your options may be limited. Underlying this type of behavior is, in my experience, more often self-doubt than self-confidence. In an adult, it's hard to "fix."
 #157041  by aiq
 Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:38 am
Based on the posts I would not work with the person. Who needs the static? Sounds like LSD, lead singer disease.

How do your bandmates feel? Does he throw shade at them too?

Maybe you have the numbers for a purge? Start a side band and see what happens.

Music is supposed to be fun. I could not get off in that environment and I play music to get myself off. I would find new playmates and a new sandbox.
 #157043  by James-T
 Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:01 am
Personel has always been an issue in this band. Our founding drummer and the lead singer had issues over rhythms. The drummer to the singer's ears could never get the rhythm correct to I Know You Rider. Our singer in the early years had a unique way of playing it. This ultimately lead to quite a bit of friction and constant discussion on wether Rider was a country two step type of beat or a straight rock beat. I recall the singer always saying most bands never play it right. When we brought in a second drummer, who was a great find we somehow balanced things out for a year or two, but ultimately it was decided that the founding drummer wasn't up to the task. I'm the one actually who let him go. And its always been a regret because in doing so I terminated that relationship. He's front and centre in both videos I've posted here. He's a good drummer, with limitations like most of us. He was always super positive. That's what I liked about him the most.

Keys has also been a revolving door. We picked up an amazing keyboard player, one of the best in Vancouver who plays with another Dead cover band and a more popular band who used to tour nationally and play a lot of original material. They have a couple of albums under their belt and sell out larger venues.

We played a local pub gig and we screwed up sound checking. Nothing worked when the owner wanted us to go on so the singer sent the keys guy off to his buddies place in search of XLR cables. Five minutes later everything was fine and the singer started without him. He showed back up with XLR's in hand to hear us half way through our second song. We never heard from him again after that gig.

We then picked up another keys guy. At a mini-fest 420 focussed last summer he took a dab or two before the first night show. He greened out and couldn't stand up at the camp site. Needless to say he missed out. I left early the next morning to meet my GF in the city and when I came back the that evening for the second show all seemed fine. But I heard afterwards from the drummer the singer and keys guy had at it that morning over pay and that pretty much ended that relationship. But to be fair to the singer it was more of a consensus to let him go. We found out four months later he had a massive brain tumour, which explains a few things and he's made an incredible recovery and back playing with a few of his other bands.

Then there is the story of the bass players. That's just too much drama to go into, but here is what I wrote to the founding bass player when he asked how things went with the sub at our last gig - I tried very hard to bring back our founding guy for this gig but was told by the singer he just wasn't up for the task, and that he needed at this pint in his life play with the best possible musicians.
No doubt you will hear from (the singer). But wow. Were you ever missed.

(the bass player) went nuts after the set break. (The singer) could not find him and when he did he had snapped. He wreaked every jam and got into a verbal altercation after the second set with (the drummer).

Somehow he ended up jumping out of (the singer''s) truck on the way to the after party. And finally found us and then he got kicked out of (our host's) place.

So (the singer) was forced to drive him back to Van at 4am. And I overheard him tell Will he should phone 911 and that sent (our host) over the deep end because the last thing that guy needed was the RCMP (police) at his door.

All things considered everyone but (the singer) agreed this thing needs to be fun and hands down you are the easiest out of any of us to hang with. And plenty solid enough to play. In fact some of our best gigs have been with you!
 #157049  by tcsned
 Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:03 pm
Walking off stage in the middle of a set is uncool no matter what's going on. Berating people is also poor leadership.