The Little Black Book



After reading and hearing about bass players concerned with finding a drummer, guitarist, horn player, or anything else for their ultimate band, I thought I would share one of my record keeping skills: keeping notes, names and phone numbers of band members.

Some years back, I began keeping records of people with whom I played and met. I have always tried to keep situations amicable, and to never burn a bridge. I would also read and call on ads for musicians in local papers. By doing this, I created a black book of players. These players are at my fingertips, and I am able to call different people for different situations. For example, for covers I would call a great rock drummer who was a strong player and had a full sound. For originals or recordings, I would call a drummer who was lighter and had more of a funk groove. The same would apply for singers, guitarists, and others.

The practice of keeping names has paid off. Remember, you may have a list of names but not everybody is playing all of the time. So when I make phone calls, it’s likely that some players are in-between bands or looking. The most valuable thing about this black book is that you keep in touch with people and create a bond, or a trust. It may take some time but it will pay off. Who knows: without expecting it, the next person you call may be looking for a bass player, or may know someone who is looking! This has happened to me and I give credit to networking for it. As I get older, I know what I am looking for in players, and not everybody fits that mold. This network of players allows me to pick and choose for projects and introduce players to other players.

Here is a quick story. I kept in touch with a drummer for about a year before I actually played with him. I met him through an ad he had placed, and though we were just too busy to get together, we kept in touch. It was worth it, because when the time came for us to get together, we were comfortable playing together, and there was little to no tension when we met. It was as if we were old friends.

The little black book almost makes you a booking agent by pulling people together, introducing others, etc. There have been instances where I have introduced people to each other and they have started their own bands. Though you may feel like you’re competing with this type of networking, you shouldn’t. We all have the same goal: to find people who share the same values, and have the same love for music that we do.

So, if you are in a situation or a band that isn’t coming together, just leave on friendly terms and look elsewhere. Keep everyone’s name, number, instrument, and style on file, even the people you don’t like. Who knows? The band you walked from may get rid of the person you didn’t care for. It happens, and it happens more often than you think. The network you create is a wonderful way to meet and play with people. You will meet people of all levels of musicianship, and people in different careers. This network of people will be your connection to the world of music, so don’t burn your bridges or lose numbers.

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