[Dixielandjazz] Big Band

TCASHWIGG at aol.com TCASHWIGG at aol.com
Fri Dec 3 20:57:08 PST 2004

In a message dated 12/3/04 5:59:16 PM Pacific Standard Time, 
alsingerpresents at cox.net writes:

> Tom....FINALLY your negative point of view got to me! When it comes to big 
> bands in Phoenix and likely elsewhere it has everything to do with the utter 
> joy of playing the music ( a la Nate Hentoff) and virtually NOTHING to do with 
> traveling or money......is that so terrible? 

Well, Al, I don't know if you are a musician or just a presenter, as your 
address indicates, but just put yourself in Bob Ringwald's and the Boondockers 
situation on this question as well as any other professional working bandleader 
trying to make a living for him and his family and their sidemen.

Then answer your own question:    Yes, indeed it is terrible and contributes 
daily to the demise livable wages of live performance for professional players 
all over the world trying desperately to make a living as professional 

Now to be fair, I say the same thing to my many Gospel singing acts who are 
constantly begged and obligated to take their act to churches and sing for Free 
so the Preacher can take up a much larger offering because they have been 
advertised as coming to sing and attract many more souls to the church that 
Sunday.  I tell them to agree to go sing in the choir for the good lord and by all 
means give him all the praise and thanks for their talent.

But if they expect to be paid for singing outside the church then they have 
to be and act professional at all times and demand to be paid for their 
services or don't do it.

Have you ever asked your plumber to fix the toilet for free just because he 
is good at it an enjoys his work (maybe) or how about asking your heart surgeon 
to do a triple bypass for free because he likes his work and does not have a 
gig on Tuesday night.  How about asking your Dentists for free root canals and 
gold crowns.  

 You come across, in at least this instance, of sounding a whole lot like you 

> do not know what you are talking about......which you (and I) are certainly 
> entitled to.  al singer 

Having made my entire living all my life from being a professional playing 
bandleader and musician I certainly do know what I am talking about and every 
other professional bandleader with any ethics knows it and will agree with it 
too.  If they do not then I am sorry but they are amateurs and wannabes and more 
than likely never will bees if they continue working under those 
circumstances.  There are always GOOD GIGS for GOOD BANDS and Artists who choose to work 
hard to go get them and rise to the top of the ladder in our profession.  But 
situations like the Big Band undercutting cited by Bob make it harder and 
harder every day for the real guys to survive and make a living.

I say if you want to rehearse your butt off and play for your own amusement 
in a Big band with little or no chance of getting paid gigs, more power to you, 
but when you move over and start to WHORE the market with undercutting real 
professionals with standards and ethics fought hard for to be enjoyed by all 
musicians who proclaim to be Professional then you are crossing a line that 
should not be crossed under those circumstances.

If you can't do your research and go find and negotiate real jobs for the big 
band at the same pay scale as the other working bands then keep your ass at 
home playing for your own enjoyment.

Other than that Al I like you mate so don't take it personally, I speak with 
a big mouth and generically a lot, I throw the opinions out there and if the 
Shoe fits I say wear it if not it should not offend you anyway.

I also book big bands when I can find a suitable situation to use them and 
PAY them the same way I pay everyone else in smaller units fairly without taking 
into consideration that they have 16-18 versus 5,6 or 8 men.

If there is anything I despise more it is the special events organizer who 
proudly touts that we hire 150 bands and pay them all the same $150.00 a band 
for two hours no matter whether they are one man bands or orchestras.  And 
because of the Big band attitudes they often get away with that BS.

We are all considered WHORES in this business and often force to be just 
that, but I have always preferred to referred to as a high class call person 
trying to create a drinking problem  :)). 


Tom Wiggins
Why I know what I am talking about.
40 + years as a Band leader
40 years as a professional booking agent
40+ years as a live music concert. Festival and special event promoter.

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list