The good and the bad of having a band

God help me, I’m thinking of putting a band together…again.

Once upon a time, I had a pretty good band. But keeping one together isn’t easy. We all have other things tugging at us – work, family, other bands, etc. – and unless you can keep your guys/gals super busy and well-rewarded, priorities shift. When that happens, the quality goes down. Ultimately, that’s why I quit trying last year. It’s too heartbreaking and frustrating to work on something, and then just as it starts to flower have someone leave.

So last year, I decided to officially kill off the band and go it alone, or with a trio at the most. I do mostly solo shows now, but I try to keep a handful of good dudes working, too: bassist James Ricks and keyboardist Steve Saunders were both in that old band, the Lightning Strikes, and Daniel Tejada played with us occasionally too. Ray Maring, another Carbondale musical stalwart and multi-instrumentalist, has lately joined our motley crew, as well.

From a purely cut-throat point of view, solo shows pay the best. And they are less headache, even if they are more work for me. From the venue point of view, hiring the trio is by far the most bang for the buck. (They don’t always see it that way, though. You can lead a horse to water…) The other problem with a five-piece band (my preference) is that damn few venues around here are willing to pay a decent price for one, especially one that takes pride in playing 98 percent original music.

I could have something together now, but it wouldn’t be good enough. And I won’t settle. The only way to be good enough is to rehearse…and rehearse….and rehearse. But it’s tough to find people with that kind of time, drive and professionalism. And it’s tougher to find the right lead guitar player, and even more-so, the right drummer. I finally began playing drums myself in the studio, as I know the groove I’m going for, as well as the emotional journey of the song.

But I’d say a good 30 percent of the songs I write would benefit greatly from the fuller sound of a full band. And that is starting to really frustrate me.

Right now, I’m building a new house (see previous entry on the house fire). But maybe once it’s built I can once again turn my attention to rebuilding a band, too.

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