[Dixielandjazz] Unwritten rules

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet@earthlink.net
Thu, 12 Sep 2002 23:02:08 -0400

We seem to be making the card hand out by a sideman much too
complicated. At the risk being too simple, here is the reason why it is
a no no.

The side man is at the venue as an employee of the band leader. That is
to say, he is Joe Sideman, player in the Leaders Jazz Band. At the gig
location, the sideman is not Joe Leader of the Sneaky Jazz Band.
Therefore, with anyone whom he converses (or has social or business
intercourse) he is Joe Sideman of the Leaders Jazz Band.
The moment he hands out a card purporting to be something else, he is
violating his agreement with the Leader to be Joe Sideman. Don't need a
written contract, just the good sense to be who you were hired to be at
the location where you are performing.

Want to steal gigs, or hand out cards? Fine, drive back there the next
day and be the leader's guest. Personally, I still wouldn't blame the
leader for not hiring a sideman who did that. I know I wouldn't re-hire
a person like that.
Simple reasoning on my part. Hey, expand the audience, expand the
venues. Of of all the places in the world that exist as possible venues,
why follow me around? You all know the answer to that. Because the
easiest way to get get gigs is to steal them.

As to Kaye's contention that if the leader was doing his job, he
wouldn't have to worry about it, THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE POINT.
Note that I make my schedule quite public. I don't worry about it. In 10
years, I've had one gig stolen from me by a sideman. He brought a
competing band into the club for nothing. The next month Barbone Street
got hired back. Why? The club owner learned that you get what you pay
for. We made more money on the bottom line for him, than a free band

The POINT IS. When you work for a band, YOU ARE AN INTEGRAL PART OF THAT
BAND. To claim to be something else, by handing out your own "leader"
card is blatantly egotistical as well as unethical. Why should that be
so hard to understand?????????

Note again, This is not an "Unwritten" rule. Local 802 AF of M New York
has it in writing, Local 77 AF of M in Philadelphia has it in writing,
Jim Beebe says Chicago's AF of M has it in writing etc., etc., etc. It
is a written rule. The unwritten rule is "Do Not Bite The Hand That
Feeds You."

Personal case in point. On Mardi Gras, I have 4 bands working under the
name Barbone Street. I contract via handshake with 3 bands (Tex
Wyndham's Red Lions being one, with a sub for me) and pay them the
entire club fee less $25 as a booking fee, handling etc. Each band hands
out my cards, my schedules, and refers all inquiries to me. While at
that venue on gig day/night, they wouldn't think of handing out their
own cards. They ask me for my cards and schedules in advance, I do not
have to "instruct" them. It is simply the golden rule in operation, and
that Mardi Gras gig is one more gig than they would normally get

Are we leaders interfering with sidemen's right to solicit business? Of
course not. Solicit all you want, but on your time, not mine.

Steve Barbone

PS. In Barbone Street Territory I personally find that our reputation
has gotten so strong that other band leaders no longer want to hire me
as a sideman for fear the client will be introduced to me and
automatically ask about my band. My own local gigs as a sideman have
decreased about 90% in number from  4 or 5 years ago to the point where
I now get more sideman jobs in New York City area and Washington DC area
than around home in Philadelphia. Or maybe it's because I don't play
well enough?  Or maybe the locals think I hand out cards? Don't worry DC
and NYC, we have no plans to play in those markets. Too many gigs here.