LIVE MUSIC COVER BANDS
This site is dedicated to all the live music cover bands and original entertainers and artists out there. The aim of this site is to both document the history of cover and original bands in South Africa as well as to give them a platform to advertise on. Please feel free to send me your bio, contact details and some pictures of the band and you can advertise on this site for free.
Below is a summary of my own feelings about cover bands and also a bit of a history of the Undercoverband and their experience of live music.
The culture in Cape Town South africa has in the past been very supportive of cover bands. Original live music bands have however not been so fortunate in my opinion. Having played in an original band for many years, I know the pain and disappointment experienced by trying to get people to give your music a chance. Over the last few years or so, we have seen a change in peoples attitude to original music. People are now giving original music the time and attention it deserves. We have seen the birth of many bands of international standard, like the Parlatones, Just Ginger and many more. With the falling of Apartheid as well, we have as South Aficans become more aware and influenced by music from the Black Townships and the exciting fusion it has created. We have also in the past been dictated to with regards to our musical tastes by radio and tv stations. The average white South African would normally only relate to what they have grown up hearing on the radio (A very limited sprectrum indead). Perhaps I'm wrong but the middle age person these days has a certain limited idea of what they want to hear from a live music cover band. This in a way has set a standard for these cover or function bands. Its very hard to break away from playing the standards and being a successful cover band playing live music. Having given up original music myself due to family life and trying too hard and getting nowhere, the next natural progression for me was to stay with music by doing covers. Some may see this as a cop out but for many of us, playing covers is a way to express our musical feelings without being a song writer and to make a bit of money while you're at it.
LIVE COVER BAND
Me and the bassist were both in the military dance band together. We started our first real band after doing our national service (Early 1990). In the early days we played as a four piece live band (Small talk). A little later we became a 6 piece. After two gigs we were back to a three piece. We played mostly standard rock songs like Brown eyed girl, Radar Love, smoke on the water, Aint seen nothing yet and many more. At that stage we all had jobs so it wasn't really about the money. We would do one gig every six months and feel like real heroes. We would mange to buy a case of beers and a couple of chops for post gig braai. Later on we found a rhythm guitarist who gave the band a different dynamic. He was very straight looking so we always called him brother John or John the priest. Many years have gone by so I am not sure of all the details but I do remember we got some gigs at the Brass Bell and did some house parties. Nothing to write to granny about. We also spent many a smoked full weekend recording stuff in Robs studio. There were many more practice and drinking sessions than gigs. Later we became the Undercover band which was a three piece band with a female vocalist (Nikki Lee) who joined us. In a short space of time we had been through two guitarists and a female vocalist before the right combo was reached.
The real strong point was having guitar, bass and drums. This kind of combo is very simple and effective for live music. The less members in a band the less chance there is of something going wrong. Most bands have politics arrive at some time or another. It is strange and true that most issues that trouble a band are related to the drummer. I don't know why, it is just the way things are. Luckily for our band we had a great drummer with a personality to match. A drummer needs to play without speeding up or slowing down. If your drummer shows any of these tempo change tendencies, find someone else. You will be happier in the long run. It is equally important for a rock and pop cover band to have a drummer that doesn't do too much. This could result in you trashing your voice trying to sing above the very busy and loud drummer. A lead drummer is what I call it. Bassist's can also suffer from the lead syndrome. Very annoying. If you want to be lead guitarist then join a band as a lead guitarist.
FINDING A PRACTICE ROOM
Luckily for us, Rob the drummer had a recording studio in an industrial building which was an ideal place for live music bands to practice. At other stages of my life we had practice at our house. Quickest way to end a band before its even started. Into the first ten minutes, your very paranoid neighbour will phone the police to complain about the noise. The police would then mysteriously drop all murder investigations to speedily reach your house before the second verse starts. You've been robbed it can take two days for them to arrive. One bar of smoke on the water and they're in your house. Turn right down or we will confiscate all your equipment. End of story. So it was a blessing to be able to use the studio. We spent countless hours practicing, recording and listening to music. It was a time of no worries.
This aspect of a band is very difficult. Having good equipment is essential for a successful cover band. Over the years I made some bad choices due to financial constraints and partly to ignorance. I bought dud speakers thinking I was getting a good deal. For years we used those speakers and people would say that the voices sounded muffled. It was only years later when I was starting my first one man band, that I bought decent speakers. If you are doing local pub gigs then you should get yourself two 500 watt speakers with mixer and amp to match. If you have a live drummer then you will also need two monitors.