How To Make A Band Work
Pete Wernick
142 pages, $22 postpaid

By Ronnie Dee

Pete Wernick says his book is geared mostly for bluegrass/acoustic performers, but I found that it has a plethora of interesting advice for would-be and fledgling band members of any ilk. It is also a fantasy read, what with chapters on: Choosing a Bus or Van for Traveling; Choosing an Agent; Making CDs and Tapes; Dealing With Concert and Festival Coordinators; Selling Band Souvenirs; and Organizing Mailing Lists and Fan Clubs. You know what I mean; the kind of stuff we'd all love to have happen.

In a more down-to-earth vein, Wernick discusses how to book gigs; how to select and set up a sound system; and in perhaps the most interesting chapter in the book, lays out the elements of a good stage show.

This chapter can help any type of musician in putting on a good show. He describes in some detail, including charts: how to work compatibly with a sound man and stage manager; how to put your band members in a favorable light with the audience; and how to handle onstage problems. He stresses preparation as a major factor in putting on a top-notch show. I've done enough gigs in my time to know that much of what he says is true and I've seen enough gigs to know that a lot of performers should heed what he has to say on this subject.

Pete Wernick was a member of a very prominent bluegrass group from Colorado called "Hot Rize." They played together for twelve years and performed in many venues before disbanding a couple of years ago. He put the book together in an attempt to assist budding performers get organized and to tell it like it is in a group.

Organizing a bunch of musicians to play together for a short time is a monumental task, and getting them to commit to long-term goals is getting harder all the time. Everyone wants the glory, but few want to work for it, especially since success isn't instant or guaranteed.

This book may have been aimed at groups, but there are a lot of tips that can benefit a solo performer, too. Wernick talks about the nuts and bolts of booking; promo materials; contracts; stage plots, cue sheets; etc. It also contains lots of charts, diagrams, pictures, and article reprints that make for interesting perusing.

There are a lot of considerations to deal with in forming a band, and if you are so inclined, it might behoove you to read this book, even at $22. That's also your first lesson: if you want a top-notch band, it is going to cost you some bucks to keep up and go first-class (and we all know that that's the only way to go). If you're not so inclined, it's an interesting reference volume, but overpriced for the casual reader at 151-1/2 cents a page for an 8-1/2 x 11 spiral soft-bound book.

For info contact: Pete Wernick, 7930 Oxford Rd., Longmont, CO 80503.