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Experienced Drummer Looking For Gigs

Article by Sean Mitchell // December 02 2020
Experienced Drummer Looking For Gigs

“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” - Confucius 

Whether you are a firm believer in the “woo woo” of the world or not, it cannot be overlooked that many in the drumming industry who have risen to the top have had two things going for them: one was opportunity and the other was preparation. 

Drummers can spend many a waking hour woodshedding concepts, practising grooves, learning songs and—if you are really dedicated—rudiment after rudiment after rudiment. But at the end of the day what separates the pro from the amateur is the details; and it's all about details. You have to have the tools you need for the job when you are called for a job, and your drumstick bag will be your tool bag for years to come. 

Perhaps you are a drummer who is looking for more gigs and are interested in becoming a drummer for hire or “working drummer.” So, you place an ad on the web. 

Local drummer with lots of experience looking for bands to play with. Great gear, great attitude. Can play many styles. Call 555-5555. 

Now all you have to do is wait. Given your credentials you are a shoe-in. Soon the responses come flooding in. 

Hi, we read your ad and wanted to hire you for a gig. We are a polka band who plays many styles of polka, waltzes and old-time style dancing. Call me at 555-5577 for more info. 

Congratulations—your first customer! Do you have a marker and some staff paper? Being that you are a fill-in drummer on a gig like this where the dancers are very particular, you definitely want to know the changes and the time signatures or at least be able to reference them quickly. You may need a suite too, most gigs like this require you to dress up a bit. You have one right?

Hi! Polka Guy here again. I forgot to mention in my initial email that we play on a stage that has poor lighting, so if you have a music-stand light bring it. Thanks. 

Hmmm, good to know. Don't want to be halfway through a Gypsy Tap or a Highland Reel and lose your place! You have a music-stand light, right? And extra batteries in case yours run out on the gig? 

Hey there. We are a Latin band in need of a drummer for a recording session. Nothing too heavy but someone who can take direction. Call me at 555-5561. 

Awesome—and a studio gig to boot! Definitely going to want to be prepared for anything on this one. Brushes, Rutes, cowbell, maybe a shaker or two? You have them right? 

Hey! I am looking for a drummer to play a gig with me. I am a singer-songwriter and I play a lot of acoustic stuff, so I am not looking for a full kit. Maybe a simple setup with some dynamic sounds. Something earthy and organic. What's your email? I can send you some MP3s. 

You are so freakin' busy! Not a full drum kit on this one, but it still sounds like a blast. The guy was a little vague on the whole "dynamic sound" thing. Maybe a tambourine? Mallets might be a good thing to use here if he is looking for different sounds. You have those right? 

RE: EXPERIENCED DRUMMER LOOKING FOR GIGS (Author's note: this one really happened to me recently)
Hi. We're a country band who is doing a house gig for a local bar and their opening weekend is coming up in a few weeks, so this is a big deal for us. Our drummer is not able to make it for our inaugural gig and we need someone who can sit in for the night. Must be able to play to a click. We need someone who can “plug and play” as we don't have a ton of time to rehearse. 

You are going to need charts so the music stand light will come in handy again. Grab some Sharpies in case there are changes to the charts; there is no rehearsal on this gig so you will need to mark changes on the fly. You have a metronome you can use live and good ear buds too, right? Extra batteries for the metronome too? 

On top of all these gigs, you have some Moongels or something to that effect in case you need to adjust your sound? Maybe consider a drum key, a small wrench and a small led flashlight, in case you need to make some quick fixes. Gaff tape always goes a long way—old school but effective. How about a towel to wipe away the sweat from being so damn busy? Last but not least, as any savvy business-minded drummer knows, it's all about networking to stay busy. You have business cards in your bag, right? Current phone and email? Because you know how likely someone will try and call you again if your cell number is old or if their email comes back undelivered. 

If at any time you have doubts about how prepared you must be in order to stay busy, here is some advice from some of the top session/studio drummers around. Talk about details! 

Kenny Aronoff (Bob Dylan, John Bon Jovi, John Mellancamp, Smashing Pumpkins) 

“Touring stick bag is just my sticks. However, some have wrap, some plain with 1/2” tape wrapped around the very end of the stick four or five times so my pinky finger locks into it and some have the Vic Firth dip on it. Studio session bag with have my sticks, three sets of brushes, some timpani mallets, two pair white plastic Vic Firth Rutes (605s or 606s) and three pair of the wood Vic Rutes.” 

Dom Famularo (clinician) 

"First, I carry my hi-hat short rod so I can lower the hi-hat to the height of my snare to play open-handed. I also carry several drum keys because I lose them in every country. My ear plugs, an all-purpose tool, and Sharpies! It is my lifeline to setting up!" 

Daniel Glass (Brian Setzer, Royal Crown Review, Bette Midler) 

“Drum key, mallets, brushes. Moleskin to cover the spot where the beater ball strikes the bass drum head. Protects the head, but doesn't destroy the subtle tone/attack.” 

Rich Redmond (Jason Aldean, Nashville Sessions) 

“Wrapped and unwrapped sticks, brushes, mallets, Pro Mark Hot Rods, DW drum key, lug locks, Drumtacs, index cards, Sharpie, business cards. Throw in a protein bar if I'm heading to a session or clinic.” 

Scott Pellegrom (Pete Lockett, Rick Chyme, 38th Parallel) 

“Tympani mallets, marimba mallets, five different models of drumsticks, three different models of brushes, tambourines, duct tape, electricians' tape, superglue, clothing, pens, paperclips, paper towels, rags and plastic.”

IF YOU LIKED THIS ARTICLE YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: Hearing Damage: The Drummers Apocalypse, The Business of Relationships



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About the Author
Sean Mitchell

Sean Mitchell has been an active participant in the drumming industry for over 20 years. He has studied under Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge and Drumming's Global Ambassador Dom Famularo. Sean is also a songwriter and regularly performs with his wife (and singer) Jill Mitchell. Sean proudly endorses Aquarian Drumheads.

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