[Dixielandjazz] Musician earnings

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at charter.net
Mon Oct 11 16:04:35 PDT 2004

Tom Said:

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.
I'm sure everyone who has been in a local has about the same kind of story to tell.  I wouldn't class the guys in the local as bad musicians because that really isn't true but the local here isn't, and maybe can't, doing anything for the weekender although they have opened a booking agency.  I did get a job last year from it.  The local here is involved with the Symphony and Show musicians as they should be but there is a whole lot of music going on besides those two venues.

The way it works here is that musicians travel in certain circles.  I have never played a C&W gig nor have I ever played a Black Club or with a rock group (for 40 years).  Not because I wouldn't but because they don't call me.  They call the guys they know and know who can do the job.  I play Bigband, Commercial, Trad and my own Duo.  The guys that I know and play with don't do other types of music much either.  It's tough for a newcomer to break into these circles so when I run across a young musician that can play I recommend him to one of the leaders or have him sub for me.  I'm bringing a guy up right now.

Speaking of the union big band in the basement.  we had one of those for awhile.  I liked it because it was a practice group that wouldn't interfere with my gigs but musically it was a joke and never played.  Bad timing too they picked Monday nights when a lot of guys were playing at a restaurant.(below)

At the same time there was a group that wanted to set up in one of the restaurants on Monday nights.  The pay would be low $15 and the musicians elite.  It has worked out pretty well as a paid rehearsal.  The union approved of this by the way.  After about two years the shoe fell.  The leader died - bad luck.  Worse luck the club 1099ed the leader who hadn't kept track on all the guys who got the $15.  I actually don't know what happened.  The band is still in existence.

No good turn goes unrewarded.


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