I got a chance to interview a great band from Philadelphia, PA. They are my favorite band from the area. They are a fun group of guys who know how to rock. They have written hundreds of great songs, they play sell out shows, they give you your money’s worth when you come to the show. They don’t charge extra to meet the fans.
DON MCAVOY & THE GREAT WHATEVER are © – DON MCAVOY (LEAD VOCAL, GUITAR, KEYBOARD, MANDOLIN, UKE, BANJO, SAX, HARMONICA, ETC), MARC AROT (BASS AND VOCALS), SAMMY PARKER (LEAD GUITAR AND VOCALS),
Angel Alamo: Tell me about the band what kind of music do you play?
The Great Whatever: “ACCESSIBLE” original music for all ages and music tastes. Rated “E” for everyone! Positive, energetic and upbeat.. Fun first. No agendas or causes or political messages.
AA: Are you working on any new music?
TGW: ALWAYS! We have a tough time making our set lists, sometimes! When adding a new song, we end up cutting an older song we really like. It’s a tough decision, sometimes, but a great problem to have! Also in the works, is a musical / rock opera centered around our original songs!
AA: In this download era are people still buying records?
TGW: Our fan base tends to be an older demographic and still buys CD’s. (Our CD went all the way up to ALUMINUM!) Our fan base still wants to touch and feel and to have something tangible to hold for their dollar. They want to read the LINER NOTES and LYRICS and we spent a lot of time getting them together on our latest CD (“There’s Time Between The Bridge and The Water”) The younger crowds seem to be wanting vinyl now which is an interesting trend, although vinyl is very expensive on the musician’s end to produce, though. With all that said, the overarching trend seems to be internet released singles via streaming mp3 or You Tube videos, which will probably be the path we follow for a while since it takes a very long time to record, edit, master, produce, finance and print your own full length CD.
AA: If you could open up for any artist who would it be?
TGW: Well we entered the “Open For Bon Jovi” contest at the Wells Fargo Center earlier this year, but did not get selected. That would have been fun! To answer the question, ANYONE who would want us to!!
AA: If a promoter wants to book you for a show how do they go about it?
TGW: Typically, via our web site, e-mail or Facebook page (all of our digital links are below), HOWEVER, that’s not the way it works anymore. They don’t come to you and seek you out. You have to find them and show them you have a following and gigs and a web presence that you developed all on your own. You have to self-promote and self- book and self-create your own buzz first to even get a glimmer of attention from promoters and the bookers. YOU have to constantly chase THEM.
AA: Toughest part about playing live?
TGW: Technical / sound glitches since you have very little time to set up and sound check before you play. You can’t work all the bugs out first like you’d want to, so it ends up making for some unplanned surprises sometimes! Also, if you are playing more than one set –holding the crowd into the second set can be a challenge (we prefer playing one set whenever we can). Also, sometimes you are just there as background noise especially if you are in a bar or place that serves food. We like to play music-centric venue like the World Café Live (we are performing there Saturday July 29thwith our friends Germany Hill!)
AA: Do you play covers, if you do which songs do your audience seem to prefer?
TGW: We like to refer to our original songs as FUTURE COVER MUSIC! We have SO MANY original songs right now, we don’t have much time for covers. Besides MOST bands play covers anyway. We try to be different. However, once in a rare occasion we have played a cover. Usually a fun, spur of the moment thing. In the past, we’ve done “Gold” by Jon Stewart and “Get In On (Bang A Gong)” by T Rex.
AA: How does the band make a setlist for a show?
TGW: Typically a band vote. We start with our tightest and more popular songs (15 or so) and add and subtract from there. We will only bring a new song to the once we are tight with it and know it up and down. We always mix up the order whenever we can and gear the songs to the venue where we can (rock songs at a bar gig or more acoustic songs at a coffee house for example).
AA: What song is most popular with the band?
TGW: We each have our own personal favorite and each member always lobbies for our individual favorite to get added. Don’s favorite is ALWAYS the newest song he wrote! Right now we all love playing “The Spell” (a song we brought back from our first CD “Sometime The Characters…” from 21 years ago!)
AA: What can fans expect from the band this year?
TGW: A few more shows (World Café Live on Sat 07/29 and an outdoor show at Shamrock Park in Bel Air, MD on Sun Aug 6th which will be broadcast on the local cable TV station!), a benefit / private show or two. From there we are going to work on some newer songs and record them. We also are looking to make another video and develop our musical / rock opera a bit more.
AA: You guys are all in your 40’s and 50’s and have been doing this for over 25 years. Why do you guys still do it??
TGW: Because we can’t imagine us NOT!