On Friday I joined Jessica Lurie and Arne Livingston in opening for and sitting in with Victor Wooten, Dennis Chambers, and Bob Franceschini, musicians I’ve been listening to and admiring for half of my life. Here’s what happened and what I learned:
They walked in and sat down to watch just as we started going over tunes at soundcheck. I was nervous to the point of almost shaking but thankfully my body took over and made the music happen. Living Daylights’ repertoire is full of twists and turns and, this being my first time playing their music, I’m glad I studied and had a strong foundation of practice to fall back on. Preparation and time on your instrument always pays off. I give full credit to mega-bassist Damian Erskine for being a shining example of how a pro gets ready for the stage. He plays through the music on his own, marks up charts so they’re extra readable, and makes his own charts when necessary. Whenever I’m prepping for a gig, I always ask myself “What would Damian do?”
After soundcheck I escaped to the green room to pull myself together. When I came out 10 minutes later Dennis was walking back and met me in the hallway. He smiled big, threw his hands in the air, and said he was looking for me to ask about sitting in. I was stunned and the nerves came rushing back, but he was so kind and funny and personable that within minutes I was fully relaxed, hanging and shooting the breeze with one of my idols. By the time we took the stage an hour later I was completely comfortable and just happy to be playing, free from fear of being judged by the incredible musicians I looked up to, and that’s the key. My nerves were an extension of an irrational fear, and getting comfortable with the source of that fear allowed me to get out of my head and enjoy myself. Our set went great. Continue reading Lessons Learned→
I had a long conversation with some of my favorite musicians last night about taking gigs for crap money. I’m against it, some were for it, I’m curious what everyone thinks.
My position is that part of a bandleader’s job is to make sure you have money to pay your musicians what they deserve, regardless of expected turnout, and even when hiring your friends (I think ESPECIALLY when hiring your friends). There’s money out there to support music (How much did KEXP’s new building cost? How much did folks raise to save KNKX?), it just requires making the case to get it. Grants, fundraising, negotiating with venues, seeking out money gigs, merch, etc. It’s not easy and it takes effort and creativity, but it’s doable. Aside from making sure you have money to keep for your own effort, there are a ton of positive side-effects to having this attitude. Continue reading Bandleaders: Pay Your Musicians→
Recently I’ve become acquainted with Jukely, a subscription-based web service that, for a $25 monthly fee, gives music-goers the ability to attend “unlimited” shows without paying a cover charge. There are limitations to the service in that not all venues/concerts are available through their site, each concert has a limited number of passes, and, from what I understand, subscribers can only reserve a spot for one concert at a time. On the back end the service will pay the venue less than 50% of the ticket price for each member who attends a show.
Even with these limitations, as someone trying to figure out a sustainable (read: non-punishing-debt-accruing) way to perform quality music with professional musicians, this seems like a way for people who are entirely removed from the creative process to insert themselves between musicians and their audience while A) extracting money from that interaction, B) adding nothing of value to it, and, most importantly, C) driving down the perceived cost of live music. Continue reading Jukely: Another Tech Company Undermining Artists→
Many in Seattle and across the northwest have read, shared, and reacted with shock to last weekend’s New Yorker article concerning the large-scale seismic event brewing beneath our region. While skeptics and scientists may quibble over details, one thing remains clear: when the next Really Big One hits, however extensive the devastation, Phish will still be mediocre.