Fat Tuesdays for Funk / Soul / Jazz / Blues musicians

It’s been a while since I put up a blog.  I’ve had the pleasure of getting married recently so have been pre-occupied :) .  I’ll write a blog about some of the excellent suppliers we found sometime soon, and also one about the nightmare that finding a band can be! Some of the demands bands make, and fees that agents charge left me a little cold. Anyway – another time..  

I have an inkling of an idea. It’s a mere spark in the milkman’s eye at the moment but why not put it on the internet.

Whenever I’m thinking about what to do for an evening out there are 2 things that tend to spring to mind.  First is that I would like to see more local gigs that showcase quality music and clever ideas.  Second is that I’m always on the look out to meet and play with more musicians.

Unfortunately many of the gigs that you stumble across don’t display much in terms of ambition and ability.  For those of us who are in bands there is always the problem of finding deps, and keeping them up to speed with what you do. I also suspect that there are many musicians out there who have not had the chance to sit in with bands either for fun, for extra cash, or even just experience and to cut their teeth.

What if we could start a regular night where we took over a venue, had some equipment set up, and let a variety of bands play a few numbers each / share ideas / jam / collaborate? Let people showcase ideas or meet and play with potential deps.  It would essentially be a free club for local musicians to bring ideas and have fun. Of course you’d need to be invited to play… we wouldn’t want it to border on karaoke!

It’s probably just a dream but wouldn’t it be cool to know you could just show up, hear quality music, meet like minded musicians and have a few drinks. 

Maybe it’s just me…?

What Makes A Good Cover?

Welcome to the Fat Cat Soul Band blog! If you’re reading this then you clearly have too much time on your hands.. mind you, by extension I’m far worse for actually writing it so let’s agree to go on in embarrassed acknowledgement of both having nothing better to do.

We thought we could use this space to share some favourite albums / artists, chat about what we’re up to and generally shoot the breeze.

I thought we’d start by chatting about covers (seeing as we’re a covers band) and what makes a good cover version. Now I’ve always been bored by a whole set of straight covers, and when we first started FCSB we had a couple of rules in mind:

1. Be faithful to our chosen genre
2. Make it interesting and surprising for people

Genre then… In many respects our name gives it away… we’re a Soul band. We chose soul because it is a beautifully varied and rich genre. It includes soul (classic and modern), funk, motown, RnB (the way it used to be, i.e. good and about the music, rather than dull and about what an artist looks like) and many more. We wanted to specialise and cater for a discerning, intelligent and beautiful audience (flattery might work to secure bookings…) and we all love soul music, so it seemed the only way to go. I’ll harp on about the music itself in a later blog, back to covers for now. We decided that we didn’t want to play the same old predictable rock / pop covers that everyone else does (try and find a covers band who don’t do Sex on Fire – go on, have a look). I’ve nothing against those songs / bands, but it doesn’t do it for me to see yet another covers band play them note for note. We wanted to play stuff that’s exciting – and when you look back at the back catalogue of soul music you can’t help but be stunned by the timeless talent and creativity. The only drawback for us then is how well known, and loved, these songs are. We knew we had to approach these with due respect, but also make sure that people have a reason to come and see us play them, hence point 2.

I’m sure that a lot of people would say that covers bands should do covers, and if you want interesting then you should be in an originals band. Sigh. I’m not going to touch that debate with a 60 ft pole. My point is that while a lot of these songs are classics, and don’t need to be changed for the sake of change, there is still a lot of scope to make things more entertaining for an audience. And that’s the point of a covers band – to entertain. We spend countless hours thinking about how to do a song. We look at the original artist’s live versions, check out other interpretations from different artists and come up with an arrangement that we think works, and is fun. Of course you can’t completely re-work every song in the set, but if you’re not thinking about it then surely it gets boring for the performer as well?

So onto the question – what makes a good cover? Well, the original needs to be well known and liked. You wouldn’t believe the length of some of our discussions around what songs to do. I hold my hands up as a bit… difficult… to talk to about song ideas. It’s not like I punish people for an idea (that only manages to stop one idea, a slow headshake and look of sadness at their lack of moral character is so much more effective) but I do tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. The Wham suggestion over Christmas still saddens me (you know who you are) and I will never cave on my feelings toward Lionel (sorry Nat). These are the types of suggestions that ruin friendships! But the point is that we spend a lot of time thinking about what should go into the set – there’s no room for filler. If you’re not liking the songs you’re playing then how can you expect anyone else to enjoy themselves? So a good cover is one that you want to play, and people want to hear. It’s kind of that simple! The thing that sets bands apart from each other is the treatment that they give to that cover, and whether they’re bold enough to do something that stands them apart from a DJ. I love seeing artists live who make the effort to change up their show from the record. It shows guts and a desire to entertain. A prime example at the moment is Bruno Mars. I was never a big fan of his, but watching his live shows left me blown away.

If you’ve stayed with me then kudos to you. We’re playing a couple of gigs this weekend, and then have a couple next week. On Thursday we will be back with the Winevaults and will have a couple of new songs to play. If you’re local then we would love and appreciate your support. Come and have a drink with us. If you have a suggestion of a good cover then throw it our way and enjoy the spectrum of emotion in the response, everything from admiration to disgust.

Have lovely weekends all.