The Day The Sideman Became the Bandleader

I had an occasion where an Instrumentalist I often employed struck out on his own. I thought it was great because he wasincredibly talented.

I'll call him the proverbial "Bob" to reduce the pronouns herein.

Bob & I have had a few issues in the past, some major which we managed to work through, others we endured, but his departure was amiable, so much so that during the following summer when his drummer couldn't make several gigs due to an injury, Bob hired me. He sent me the music, dates, rehearsal schedule and the pay scale. I was very interested as it gave me an opportunity to perform music I didn't normally play and to get out of my own zone for a minute. 

Through the two months I spent with his band, both during the practices and performances,  I found the entire process as educational as it was amusing.

In the Middle of a  Break on our Fifth Gig, Bob noticed I couldn't control my giggles as he was explaining himself to another band member and we both broke out into a knowing laugh. Bob had become "Me!" Those Very Same Things that I would Insist of Him during His Tenure in My Group, He Now Expected of His! 

He Was Singing The Same Song:

  • He Expected them/us to Absolutely Be On Time or Be Early! For Rehearsals. For Soundchecks and When Returning from Breaks. Bob was visibly frustrated when anyone was late.
  • He Expected that We Know the Material. We had Received It Well In Advance. We'd Rehearsed It and it surprised/upset/disappointed and a few times angered Bob when Someone Fumbled.
  • He Expected that We Perform the Material Exactly as He had Written/Arranged It. Improvisation Could Obviously Occur during our Solos, but the F# was to be Played Precisely as It Was Printed on the Chart - and Not Your Inversion Of It.
  • He Expected No One to Be Inebriated, Loud or Expressing Expletives Excessively, which was a surprise to me, because Bob & I must have had 22 such conversations when he was approaching my bandstand.  

It was quite a turn around to see Bob behave so cautiously.

The Difference was Obvious. This Was Bob's Band. Bob's Audience. Bob's Name and Bob's Reputation at Stake. 

Bob simply could not afford any naysayers to wreck his business plan, because there's always another band two doors down vying for these same gigs.   It was Bob's responsibility to maintain his thang, while plotting the advancement of his artistry.

The Lesson is that the Same Rules of Driving Apply to All Who Seat in the Seat. The Passengers aren't necessarily paying attention to all of the Hills, Valleys, Detours, Speed Limits and other Mitigating Circumstances that may cause the Driver to Navigate as they do. Commuters Don't Need To - Although We Share Responsibility for a Safe, Rewarding Journey. Yet, Every Reason for Arriving at a Meaningful Destination Becomes Crystal Clear Once the Steering Wheel is in Our Hands.

Bob didn't know this at first. He didn't understand this when he constantly questioned me, second guessed my decisions, sometimes taunting, other times refusing to go along with the rest of us. Within a year's time, No One Had to Tell Bob Anything...


Do You Have A Similar Story to Share? I'd Love To Hear From You

Or Perhaps You Have Been "Bob"...What Have You Learned in the Transition?


I Had No Music Playing as I Wrote & Posted This Blog, which is unusual...

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