I get this question frequently.
"That's a lot of people on stage. Do y'all ever do a scaled down version of The Shakedown?"
On any given night there are going to be between 7-12 musicians on stage with The Shakedown. Essentially having a sports team on stage each night is a recipe for a headache. Way more logistics and planning. Did 10 people get that email with the gig details? Does everyone know the next song, or can they at least fake their way through it? Is everyone showing up on time? Don't get me started with travel logistics.
Doing mostly weddings, we play in some spots that could never be mistaken for a music venue for a small acoustic ensemble, let alone a dance frenzy-inducing sonic battleship. Last weekend we put 9 musicians and a sound tech in a stone-walled alcove that was probably meant to hold several potted plants and a couch. Everyone in the band got a taste of my sweat that night because I was within less than two yards of my whole band. Playing music in cramped, acoustically crappy, logistically challenged venues is a pretty common occurrence for our band and we've made peace with it. We're there to transmit an energy for a special occasion that doesn't necessarily require a pristine setup. But I digress....lineup.
Wouldn't it be nice to play as a trio or a five piece just sometimes? There'd be half the details, I'd probably get us booked a whole bunch more due to lower overhead/folks to pay at the end of the night. Yet the Shakedown seems to add more members every year and I wouldn't have it any other way.
It's self evident, but we love this music that we play. We are extremely fortunate to be involved with a community of musicians who can play our covers of dance music to a very high standard. Given that, I have to hear our music performed in as dynamic a manner as I can reasonably staff. I want this music, some of which hasn't been played live in years, to come alive in front of our audiences. Besides, once we get through the logistics of setting up the show, playing these songs with this group of people is so much more fun and I'm fully confident that our dance crowds can feel that when we play. Keenan has spent God knows how many hours writing our horn charts, and folks, they are awesome so they must be performed. Watching Keenan (tenor sax) and Alan (alto sax) play off each other is such a special thrill. Some weird tribal lizard part of my brain melts when I hear Nick (drums) and Brevan (percussion) get after it on "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes". Riffing on guitar with Dustin (lead guitar) has been a special blessing in my life since 2009. When I glance over my shoulder to see Darion (bass) doing his Mr. Groovology thing....well, the spirit compels us to groove so groove we must. It's been a freakin' party since DLJ (keys) joined us in 2012. Don't get me started on Tamisha (vocals) because she's just getting warmed up with us...You put this all together and yeah, the headcount adds up. After all the logistical stress, the planning and scheduling emails, I'm still not going to scale down this band. I love each and every person in this band. I love performing with each and every person in this band. Notwithstanding the fact that we play this dance music with a unique, dynamic energy that is rare in a world where more sounds can be electronically performed by smaller ensembles...
But lets set the love/music/kumbaya aside and get all business-y with it. We are in a service business. Every time you perform your service, you are marketing your business to prospective clients. There's probably 2-3 folks in every crowd we play that connect the dots and say, hey, can you perform for us at this other function? The best client in the world is one that is pumped to hire you because they already love your service. We want to perform for people who have seen the large format of our band and have to have the music played like that again. It means we play a lot less, but we have to try our damnedest to put our best foot forward each time we play, and that involves a pretty big crew. Hope you're ready!