Sick Band Member

Gig etiquette - Sick band member - do I cancel or get a substitute?

October 21, 2015

Sick Band MemberYou set up a gig and prepare for your big day, when all of a sudden you get a phone call saying one of your band members is sick. The saying is that the show must go on, but this is not always the case if you are struggling with half a band. Finding a band member to substitute your sick member is not as easy as putting up a help wanted poster. Instead, you have to audition new recruits, talk to people, and maybe even cancel your gig. A sick band member right before a show is daunting, but it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. In fact, there are ways to handle the loss of one member. Here are some things to consider.

The Singer
A lot of deciding on the future of a planned gig when you have a band member sick depends on who is going to be out. Typically, one of the most important band members is the singer. It is very hard to continue a gig when the singer is not available. In most cases you will probably want to cancel the gig. If you do this, be sure to explain why you are canceling it so the venue doesn’t just think you are flaking out on the gig.

You should always try to make your band as versatile as possible. This means having band members with multiple talents. Check to see if anyone has the ability to stand in as the primary singer. If not, you could hold quick auditions depending on how much time you have. If you are used to playing cover songs, this may be easier than trying to teach someone new songs. You could also talk to singers of other bands to see if they could stand in for a gig, while your singer is out. You want to be sure to do a lot of practicing before the gig to ensure everyone meshes well.

While a drummer is important to the band and the gig, you can still get through a gig without them. If you find out that your drummer is sick, you have several options. You can choose to do an acoustic gig where you do not need a drummer for that show. If you go this route, you want to make sure you have all the equipment you need, you get in plenty of practice, and you let the venue know about the changes. When your drummer does get better and can make a return, you can then continue to book gigs.

When your guitarist gets sick, there are options for you. A lot of bands will have different guitarists that bring a unique sound to the band. Some guitarists can easily be replaced as there are many players who can play a guitar. If your guitarist has a specialty, this is harder to replace. You want to decide how the band will sound without them. If it won’t sound as good, you will need to find a new guitarist or cancel the gig until your band member gets better. For example, if the sick band member plays a rhythm guitar, you can go with an acoustic set and not need the guitarist.
Losing a band member to illness is never a welcome problem to face but with planning and improvising, most shows can go on!

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