25 November 2016

Post 449: BAND-LEADER'S HEADACHES

I have written before about how hard it is to be a good and successful band-leader. Special skills are needed, as well as the capacity to remain cheerful and optimistic even when things are going against you. I think it is very important for all musicians to be supportive of their leaders. It is the leaders who obtain the gigs and who have all the hard work behind the scenes.

I would not want the job. I don't consider myself capable.

However, I receive an occasional request (perhaps once a year) to provide a band for an event; and I do my best to oblige.

I was once asked at about a month's notice to provide a band for a birthday party to be held during a Bank Holiday (i.e. a national holiday here in England). I contacted some fine musicians and they all agreed to play. So I replied to the enquirer that I would provide a band. But in the week that followed, two of the musicians found they could not play after all. Oh dear.

I struggled to find replacements. As the gig was on a Bank Holiday, when there is a great demand for bands, most other musicians were already booked. Two string bass players were available but I obviously could not use both of them. It was almost impossible for me to recruit a satisfactory balance of instruments.  Eventually I managed to put a band together, though it involved one player kindly switching from his usual instrument to his 'second' instrument which he had not seriously played for a couple of years.

Luckily, in the end, The Pops Coffee All-Stars (!) worked well together and the gentleman and his guests were very happy with our music. We were warmly received and made to feel part of the party. In addition to being well supplied with drinks, we also enjoyed the bonus of an excellent meal.

But the experience had given me a further reason for admiring our regular band-leaders and sympathising with the headaches that are part of their job.