« New Gigs »

Well, here are the new work situations as they have appeared in 2007 thus far. I find myself drawn between the devil I know and the devil I know.

I did a gig a few weeks ago for a USO style show band. I had to get there a bit later than desirable because my courier gig (detailed in the previous blog) didn't let me out as early as I would have needed. So when I got to the venue, I found that all the gear had been loaded upstairs by the owner, and some of it was set up. I had prearranged that I would be an hour late, but I felt bad that I wouldn't be able to make myself useful on that most critical part of the day: getting things in. The band itself was sort of two performing pods that had come together: the girl singer trio and the band itself. The gig I did was their first gig together, and it was only a week before when I met them for the first time. It was odd that I knew only one of the singers, her sax-playing husband, and no one else except the guitarist who I knew from back in 1998 or so when he played with one of the bands I worked around back then. Aside from them it was a fresh start with people I didn't even know existed. I mixed the band in what I was certain would be a dreadful room but turned out to be pretty okay considering the environment. It was on the USS Midway museum. The system was owned by the bass player, and while he had some peculiar methods for certain settings, I think I got it all to sound pretty good considering the venue, the newness of the band itself, and the full sound they made, and of course, not hearing them except in a very low level rehearsal that week before. It went well enough as far as I was concerned. Nothing blew up, and I was able to hunt down a nasty feedback that came from a vocal mic (one of those old fashioned ones that weren't made with current levels in mind), and was able to expertly substitute one of my own mics that emulated the sound while ditching the feedback. I felt good about it, all things considered. The bass player was impressed that I seemed to know what to do, and was quick to set up and breakdown. He gave me good feedback as we were on the way out, and maybe he would hire me for more work. We shall see. I was paid nicely, even before the gig actually started. This was from the leader who was one of the girl singers. If the bass player/PA owner calls me, that would be two new inroads.

But then a few weeks ago, I found in Craigs List an ad for a mixer/assistant/tech/loader boy for a band doing the same sort of stuff that I did for years. The ad was almost custom crafted just for me. I wrote back and said, 'I have done literally everything on your list and I would be very surprised if we haven't already worked together' And I had indeed done all that. Apparently this band was not just a band, but a pair of bands that are rather newer than the ones I have worked for all those hundreds of years. Next generation shit, I guess. Again, everyone in this organization was a new face, and that is genuinely odd considering that I knew many many people from this town, and specifically, that market of corporate show bands. I guess I've been away long enough that a few new faces turned up. While I didn't actually know anyone from this conglomerate, the feller I talked to had also worked for Bob Tedde and Mike Keneally, which just sort of blew my mind. But never had I seen him in my life. Damn. Anyhow, the gig tonight was another instance of somehow not getting there at the start of load in, due to a botched gig sheet saying to be at the "Harbor Marriott" but not specifying which tower. I was there on time by one verbal agreement, but later found the email said to be there 45 minutes earlier. Damn. I got there and had to discover for myself that the gig was in the other tower, but that was a bit of a challenge to get to, even though it was next door. By the time I got there, once again, it was all loaded in but for a few things. This makes me feel pretty stupid to show up to a new gig and make such first impressions. But I think it was understood that there was some confusion, and it seems to be forgiven. I think they were happy to have a guy come in and seem to know what to do even before he knew the band member's names. They too paid me on the spot, exactly what I asked for, and I was surprised because they had me (I just did the set/strike/out), a very well known freelancer soundman on his first encounter with the band, another guy who was new and worked the show, and yet one more who seemed to be a friend who helped out for strike and load out. It was really quite a crew considering that the a couple of the band members too were striking and pushing, with probably seven people on this task (which for these guys included taking the backline gear too—sort of uncharacteristic from my experience). Jeeze, I remember when band guys carried their own shit and there were only two of us to move the PA and run it all night. Yet somehow, I got paid rather more for the same work as in 1997-2003, even while they didn't know my name and still had a "huge" crew to do this common hotel gig, a benefit for the local YMCA.

I don't know if my day gig will take nicely to letting me take occasional time off to do these gigs, but I shall attempt to take gigs when possible so I can diversify again. I would like to think that these two gigs introduced me to a few new opportunities to get some decent paying gig work which respects who I am now, and doesn't hold me to what I was worth back in the 90s when I just started this shit. I find myself loathing my day gig because it is so un-me with all the driving and rather direct service to an industry I don't believe in. But gigging can be quite a frustration too, with shifting schedules, varied venues, finicky planners, flowers and foof all in the way, and all the other headaches. But to find some of these newer gigs that aren't sabotaged by the old baggage that has accumulated with the first generation's contacts might be okay, particularly if they pay as competitively as these have and if I hold my own while biting my tongue the whole time, still sort of loathing myself for having to return to this line of work in order to pay my increasing expenses, particularly while Kelli is in school. If somehow I could wrangle just 10 gigs a month at a worthwhile rate for FOH work, I could do okay, and would not need to do a silly FT courier gig for 40 hours a week, with so many more opportunities for tickets or accidents, or whatever. But I would have to really know there were the gig opportunities before I could dump the courier shit; they just can't coexist without friction.

It's all poopie.

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