TU ITIO N
COVERING THE BASSES
espite their detractors,
tribute bands have
been going for years.
From the early Nineties
through to the late
was a huge tribute scene in
this country and although it
isn't quite as busy as it once
was, running a tribute band
or operating one alongside
your covers band can prove
financially beneficial as well
as offering clients something
different from the standard
covers band. It can also double
up the amount of work you have
if it's marketed properly.
Tributes are effectively covers
bands and can be a tribute
to a particular artist, a group
or a particular genre, such as
disco, punk or soul - think the
Commitments, for example.
In days gone by, it was only
inactive artists or groups
that were given the tribute
treatment, but by the mid-
nineties, it was commonplace for
still-extant bands or artists to
become the focus of a tribute act
if there was money to be made.
First, consider the line-up.
In using the same personnel
as your covers band, both the
tribute and the regular band
can dovetail and fill in the
blank dates from each band's diary. Be prepared to represent the band, artist or genre down to the Nth
degree; costumes, wigs, stage sets and instrumentation all have to be considered. The busiest tributes are
those who take it seriously and run it like a business, so that the audience come close to believing they
are seeing the real thing. In this context, your ability to copy the original songs and replicate the vibe is
obviously paramount. Having said that, some tributes prefer to be musically identical without going the
whole hog with costumes and the extra paraphernalia.
For bassists, having the right instrument, backline and effects should all be considered. For example,
being in a disco band, you wouldn't look out of place with a Precision, Jazz or Stingray and a selection
of envelope filter, fuzz and octave pedals. Likewise, a Stingray or Jazz will do the job for a Red Hot Chili
Peppers tribute. Then there are artist signature models, so a Green Day tribute would benefit from a
Mike Dirnt Signature Precision, for example. Those wishing to undertake a Level 42 tribute - and there
have been quite a few - will need plenty of cash, and Lord knows which bass you'd opt for from Mark
King's extensive back catalogue of instruments.
Although there are fewer regular circuit venues for tributes to play at these days, the theatre circuit
is still financially lucrative. By doing your homework, it is still possible to find enough venues around
the country to create an impressive gig list. Private parties and corporate events can also be financially
rewarding, depending on your tribute. Will the audience want to hear anything more than 30 minutes of
the best-known hits? This is where offering both your tribute and your covers band to play a set of each
can work very well. Ker-ching!
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