Winter newsletter from Musicians Contact
http://www.MusiciansContact.com The Source For Jobs Since 1969 Sterling Howard, Founder/Owner news@MusiciansContact.com Musicians receiving this email: 34,399
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Our newsletter is mostly a forum where we report what YOU think about various musical topics. Give us your input on how to increase live music, what’s right or wrong with music, how can the pay scale be raised, etc. Give us your thoughts, solutions, and comments so we can feature them in future newsletters, like the following, which came in from Steven Gary, who I feel hit the nail right on the head:
Regarding club owners, this really needs to be addressed. When I started playing cover clubs 20 years ago, bands were getting about $250 a night. Now, bands are getting about $300 a night, not even keeping up with inflation. I have seen many club owners who don't seem to care about quality - a jam night will get just as many people in the bar as a decent band, so why not go with guys that'll take $35-$50 each? And if a lousy band brings in their friends, it's better than a good band that doesn't. This may destroy the clubs' future, but if they aren't looking past this week, it won't matter to them - and this thinking is what wrecks the club scene in the long run - just as I think pay-to-play wrecked the original music scene in Los Angeles in the 80s.
You would think that if a club develops a reputation for having great live music it would increase their business. But if they don't care then it doesn't matter. Clubs seem to have a rapid turnover in management and ownership. Ever walk into an empty club or bar and wonder how they stay in business? And the other side of the situation are the musicians themselves - there are plenty of 'weekend warrior' bands - very fine musicians with a tight sound - and day jobs that pay them enough so that they don't care if they make a buck or not - they're playing mainly for fun. Situations like these were not as prevalent years ago. So how do we as musicians fix this? There is something in place that can help, and in fact it was designed to fix this sort of thing - but never has - it's called a Union. Why has the Musicians Union never functioned in this area? How many working-class musicians do you know who are members getting results? They only benefit if they work in "Union Shops" - like TV, radio, film recording, or stage. Why is that? It's a Catch-22 - the musicians that really need organized help are too poor to afford the dues? Is it that at the club level, it's just not a big enough payoff to the officers of the Union? Can't the membership take any effective action on the club scene to raise wages? What would happen if musicians started picketing the clubs with signs saying "Unfair to Musicians"? Hundreds of years ago there were Guilds who not only protected their members but also set standards of quality, competence and professionalism within their field - what would that be worth today?
Have something to say? Please, send your comments to: news@MusiciansContact.com
To lighten up a bit, reach back into your memory and send us your fondest experience on any of the following categories. The best are printed in future newsletters.
1. Worst or Most Unusual Gig: (Submitted by Art Dekko) I was playing in a husband/wife duo and got a call from an agent to play a restaurant an hour south of Sacramento. The agent told us to dress formal and wear a tux. When we arrived there were 40 motorcycles parked in front. The bar was packed with bikers, black leather and girls in tank tops. The owner told us he had just purchased the place and wanted to change the clientele. "There's a lotta nice farmers and their wives that I'd like to get in here for dinner," he said. "I want to get rid of this motorcycle crowd, so just play quiet dinner music." We began playing jazz standards when suddenly I felt a hand on my leg. A friendly biker was leaning on me like I was a piece of furniture, stuck his face about a foot in front of mine and said, "Do you know any Merle Haggard?" We made it through two sets of humiliation and rejection and then looked at each other, knowing we were thinking the same thing: Let's get out of here! So we packed up and left. That's the only case I ever remember that the gig was so bad even the money couldn't justify it.
2. Best Gig Ever: (Submitted by Peter Reilich, keyboardist)
One of my fondest gig memories was on John Waite's first solo tour. He was not yet known as a solo artist since his first solo hit "I Ain't Missin You" would be on the 2nd solo album. Sometimes when you open for a headliner there is competition, depending on whether the headliner digs you or not. Towards the end of that summer tour in 1982, we opened two shows in Orlando for headliner Loverboy. We had our tour's best two shows that week; it sounded great and the crowd really dug us. We found out why in the dressing room as Loverboy lead singer Mike Reno stopped in to visit before we went on stage the 2nd night. He explained that Waite's earlier albums in the 70s, singing lead for The Babys ("Midnight Rendezvous" "Every Time I Think Of You") had been a major influence on his singing style. He said that he was honored to be playing a show with his former teen idol. We,being the opening act, all laughed at that. Reno also told us that he stood next to the sound engineer during our shows making sure we sounded good. Now that's what I call a dedicated headliner.
3. Weirdest Audition: (submitted by Andre Post)
I was in a throw-together band that had only rehearsed once and we got a call to audition at a New Jersey club. The band leader thought it would be a nifty idea to lip sync our audition set by faking to play while blasting the pre recorded pop tunes though the p.a. speakers. Not a good thing. Within 15 seconds the club owner told us to pull the plug and get out.
4. Closest Call To Fame: (anonymously submitted)
As you will see by my story, I'm an OLD drummer. In 1965 or 66 I was visiting San Francisco and thinking of maybe moving there. I met a girl at a party who seemed plugged into the local music scene. "Know of any good bands who might need a drummer"? I asked. "There's a group called Jefferson Airplane who needs a drummer" she responded. I thought what a STUPID name and said "Forget it!" Of course 6 months later as White Rabbit hit #1 in the country, I bragged that I once turned down an audition with them!
5. Bad/Best Musician Joke: (for you musically educated folks)
A C, an E-flat, and a G go into a bar. The bartender says "Sorry, we don't serve minors. So the E-flat leaves and the C and G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished, the G is out flat. An F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough. A D comes in and heads for the bathroom saying "Excuse me, I'll just be a second". Then an A comes in, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. The bartender notices a B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and exclaims "Get out now. You're the seventh minor I've found in here tonight!"
Please, can you throw us more? We're running out of bad jokes. Submit at: news@MusiciansContact.com
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