Re: Do you still enjoy playing for $$?

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Posted by Been there, still there... a little on June 28, 1999 at 21:13:50:

In Reply to: Do you still enjoy playing for $$? posted by Leland on June 28, 1999 at 15:18:13:

A couple of decades ago, when I was more of a "freelance" musician, I would make around $25,000 a year playing tuba and other instruments (about half of it was tuba), and about the same amount of money at my "day job".

Even though this era was one of the highlights of my life and during that time I met and worked with many incredible and monumental jazz musicians (Lemmon sisters, Henry Questa, the original Bob Crosby bunch, Don Goldie, etc.) , I began to resent playing in this one particular (really quite fabulous) recording, performing, and touring jazz band that I worked with regularly (but not exclusively), because of the same miniscule musical imperfections never being addressed (after a while, those are the ONLY things that one hears), one person's minor pill habit, another's habit of trying to tell everyone else what to play on their solos, etc. (I'm sure that I got on their nerves, too. We were together, ALOT.) Eventually, three of us resigned, all at about the same time.

A local combo that I played with quite a bit was just a really bad trombonist/leader fronting a dynamite rhythm section. I needed the money, was polite, and never said anything behind anyone's back, but always was worried that someone I knew would see me working with him and I would be embarrassed. Two other things that were downers about that gig were his small paychecks, and sitting outside the poorly-perfumed Ladies Room entrance (where we had to set up) each weekend at this "old guard" country club.

During a couple of hectic years, I had a jazz job at one restaurant/bar during happy hour six nights a week, an ethnic European job at another club that started right after the happy hour one seven nights a week (with the typical "temperamental" chic singer), was doing the local symphony, was recording station I.D.'s and commercials for a "jingle mill", AND my "day job". I stayed pretty grouchy during that time.

Working in a symphony orchestra for a year was OK, but the rehearsals were dreadful. I would watch other brass players and percussionists read books to kill time and think, "whoa, gotta git outta heeeere." Being treated like "the help" by the symphony board and league was not encouraging, either.

I worked every Sunday in a hired church orchestra for about five years, but when I realized that I was adding a double Scotch to my regular morning coffee JUST on Sundays, I realized that had to go.

My favorite work has always been the jazz jobs with the classy players (sub-ing is the MOST fun), and brass quintet recitals and recordings (The church quintet jobs are OK, if you like really loud Bb chords with organ and watching pleasant-faced strangers in robes eat donuts between services.)

In recent years, I limit my exposure to gigs. After having made some polite excuses, I don't get as many calls. I felt a bit like a whore doing a $650 (2 hr.) New Year's Eve job on valve trombone and tuba at a casino (I HATE casino gigs!!! I feel like I am performing in the middle of an opium den.) this last year (strictly for the money, obviously), but when I got there, the band was fabulous, I knew a couple of guys on the bandstand, and it was terrific fun! (TERRIFIC FOOD, TOO!) Forgive my hedonism. (I also, alas, take the $600 Easter jobs. OK, I AM a whore!)

I guess today I mostly do jazz sub-ing (no "steadies" -- too many runouts and three day festivals), brass quintet recitals for private rich folk concert series and such, symphony sub-ing, and a bit of off-the-wall who-knows-what (ie: ethno-Euro, rock, contract orchestras for Broadway shows ["Chicago" was fun, but I turned down "Carousel", because I had already tolerated that particular N.Y.C.(_!_) conductor before on another show.], and just a couple of "freebies" for EXTREMELY good friends and business associates.

Here is my answer to your question:

>>>>I would have to say that when I did NOT have control over the choices of gigs, it sometimes became tedious, but was usually a pleasure, and I was very grateful for the work. In more recent years, since I can pick and choose the situations and don't have to take every job, it is a real joy and pleasure, always.<<<<

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