The funniest way I ever got a gig


Back in 2014, my girlfriend and I were living in Brooklyn for the summer. I was ostensibly deciding whether or not I might want to live there long term and try to get into the music scene, but really I was mostly sitting around practicing and making Youtube videos.

Well, it turns out you actually CAN get a gig just by sitting around practicing… as long as there’s a working bass player on the other side of your apartment walls!

This guy approached me in the shared kitchen of these two apartments, and said “Hey, I heard you practicing… do you want to sub on a gig for me tomorrow?” A couple phone calls later, I had a gig the next night at the Bitter End in the West Village with a singer/songwriter guy. One set. >>$500<<. First and possibly last NYC gig ever, no hustling required, barely left the house. :slight_smile:

And the real punch line - what this guy heard me practicing through the walls was a solo bass arrangement of Africa by Toto. (yet to be released into the wild) :lion:

Anybody else ever get an unexpected gig through strange channels?


Life can be twisty.


That’s awesome. The doors that Toto can open for a musician are myriad.

I can’t remember a gig offer I’ve had that was out of the ordinary. I remember a gig offer I got to play bass in a young singer-gal’s band. The call was from the dad. It was a pitch like you would write into a bad/amazing 80’s style Karate-Kid-but-Bass-Playing movie, where the plucky, idealistic, promising youth (me) gets a call from the Nefarious Mr. Big (the dad). He had promises of money and fame and TV and movies and LA and all the rest.

I passed. I passed, because that’s what the movie kid would have / should have done. Also, the gig sounded horrible.

But - here’s a point/counterpoint for you all – most successful and working musicians I know go by the philosophy: Never say no to a gig. It’s an absolutely functional and self-proving philosophy. It works! So - if you want to be a movie character, fine. If you want to be a working musician - take the gig.


I’m curious… did you have to learn new songs sharpish or do you have the ability to bust them out on the spot with sheet music or something?


I think the bandleader/singer/songwriter guy sent me demos the morning of the gig, I believe I scribbled out my own charts. So a mix of the two, basically busted them out at the gig after just a few listens and some rough notes on chord structure and song form. The fun things you can do after learning scales, chord theory, and how to write charts!