[Dixielandjazz] My Last Candy Stripe Jacket Gig.
Sun, 11 Aug 2002 21:50:16 -0400
By way of atonement for mis directing that "math" post to the DJML,
instead of the next address on my address list, here is a story about
OKOM uniform gigs, and the last one I played.
In the fall of 1999, I took a sideman gig for New Years Eve, not having
been successful at booking Barbone Street. The gig was canceled in
October and I got a cancellation fee. So I took another sideman New
Years Even gig and this one was canceled on December 27 and I got an
other cancellation fee. I figured I'd made a couple of hundred dollars
and wouldn't even play.
Then on December 28, a booker called from New York City in a sweat to
find both a trombone and a clarinet player (Dixieland) for New Years Eve
at a "First Night" event in the Bronx Zoo. Pete Pepke and I took the gig
figuring what the hell. The money was good, and we knew the NYC banjo
and tuba players and they were good. Trumpet and drummer to be supplied
by local 802 AFM.
We get to the Zoo at 8 PM to find that the gig is outdoors and it is 30
degrees fahrenheit or 0 degrees Centigrade. Then we find out that we
have to wear Summer Weight Red and White Striped Blazers. Luckily I had
my polartec underwear and a wool sweater. I figured I'd treat it as a
learning experience and we got ready in the dressing room, a large bus.
I look like Michelin Tire Man stuffed into fancy jacket.
Then in walks the drummer. He is dressed in black buckskins looking
almost like Daniel Boone, big black hair and long side burns. He is
going to use a snare and a cymbal. OK. Then says he is not a Dixieland
player, but has heard it occasionally. Where did you last gig says I?
Just came off the road after 6 months with an Elvis (like in Presley)
impersonator he says. Then gets up to try on jacket and rips his pants
from crotch to knee on a counter edge. Jacket does not fit. Pins pants
together with pins from girl singing act also sharing bus and gigging in
another part of zoo.
Then in walks trumpet player. He is tall and thin as a rail, dressed in
long overcoat. Has a beret, dark glasses and a goatee and says "man" all
the time. He has his girl friend with him. She is tall and very thin,
dark long straight hair but otherwise looks like an anorexic Calista
Flockhart. He refuses to wear "square" striped jacket. Is devotee of
Gillespie, Navarro and Clifford Brown. Says he does not know any
Dixieland tunes at all, but has good ears.
Oh boy. Trombone, Clarinet, Tuba and Banjo ready to kill booking agent.
However, being consummate professionals go out to start gig in striped
jackets, along with Retro Elvis and Retro Hipster. Start with Back Home
Again In Indiana. I take lead, trumpet sits out first chorus and I tell
him it is same as "Donna Lee". After that, he takes a blistering
vertical improvised chorus, though obviously constrained by banjo tuba
rhythm. Drummer does pretty fair press roll behind us.
We were in front of the Sea Lion Pool and the Seals loved it. Honking
away slightly out of meter, while strollers in zoo clapped their hands
(too keep warm?). We then figured out tunes we could play together like
Whispering (Gillespie's Hot House), and Sweet Georgia Brown (Brown's
Sweet Clifford) and some of the simple stuff like every tune ever
written on the chords of Bill Bailey.
It was truly a learning experience and I vowed never again to wear candy
striped jackets or any sort of uniform, or to take gigs from agents
without fully investigating them. Actually the trumpet and the drummer
were not bad musicians, but then, we were supposed to do a set in the
Gorilla House and got lost in this very large zoo, in spite of lighted
pathways along the way but that's another story. We played that set with
Baby elephants and Tapirs inside, near the bookstore, and then finished
up by the Seals on the way out at midnight.
All in all it wasn't great, but it was a lot better than we thought when
we first saw Elvis and The Hipster. Both had good ears and we got it
PS I got a neat momento of the event. A "artists" badge with "First
Night" 2000, New York City on it. Pepke and I still laugh about our