[Dixielandjazz] Musician earnings

TCASHWIGG at aol.com TCASHWIGG at aol.com
Mon Oct 11 14:36:27 PDT 2004

Well spoken and the situation across most of the USA as far as the AFof M 
goes, been that way ever since I joined it way back in 1963 and left in 1970 
after having enough of it.

The local in San Francisco at that time had a perpetual 96% unemployment rate 
amongst union card members, and the city and surrounding areas metropolitan 
market was thriving with live music venues of all kinds, some good some bad.

I did the same thing as you hired who I wanted when I wanted and paid them 
always substantially more than Union Scale, when a guys I called and asked how 
much they wanted to do a gig answered "I gotta have scale man"  that's what he 
got, and when he did the gig and got pissed when he found out everyone else 
got 25 to 50 bucks more than he did for the same gig he would usually get mad 
and refuse to work for me again anyway.   

Some of those guys who are still around find me every ten years or so and 
still ask me for a gig now, or want me to book their bands.

I only worked TWO gigs in my entire career for Union Scale Wages, and they 
were both thrown my way by the union, pitiful gigs from their trustfund 
allocations, they also broke at least three of the unions major rules as well.  They 
had me bring my own PA system and a B-3 Organ with no additional pay or cartage 
as definitely stipulated that I had to charge every other employer of my 

And as you said, he was usually a weaker less proficient player than the 
other guys anyway, and his best gig was the daily rehearsal in the union basement 
with the big band that was coming back.  I am still waiting to see that Big 
Band perform in public for money almost 40 years later.


Tom Wiggins 

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