[Dixielandjazz] Bands & gigs & practicing

Larry Walton Entertainment larrys.bands at charter.net
Mon Oct 3 11:40:41 PDT 2005

Regarding the Tax Man.  Many if not most of the bands do not pay taxes on
their earnings.  Frankly I can't compete dollar for dollar with them.  They
can take half to 75% and still come out about the same as I do.  Many of the
places (corporate) I play require tax numbers etc which takes them out of
the picture but individuals will pay cash.  I can't solicit cash jobs
because of the afore mentioned tax guy.  This is an important distinction
between Hobby bands and professional quite often.  They move around so much
and don't make a lot so the tax guys really don't go after them.  A lot of
the bar owners pay them cash out of the till and so they escape detection
and still come out better than me.

We said:> >Guys tend to group together and if it works they become clannish.
> Yeah, it's called "a band", and that's what the fans pay to see & hear.

It's true a group of musicians, even not very good ones, can get together
and polish up 50 tunes (minimum) and start playing gigs.  They might even
get really good but they are joined at the hip and no one can do anything
without the others.  I tried out for such a band and I played in one for 15
years as I said before.  The band I tried out for absolutely loved me but
the problem was constant practicing because they really weren't readers and
had set routines, tunes and keys etc.  The second problem was I knew I'd get
awfully tired of the same old tunes every week.  The third problem was they
needed me for all gigs and no subs.  Well now I play with several groups as
well as doing my own thing and I really didn't want to entirely give up
that.  This group worked a lot and was very good but the down side was too
much.  I just can't see getting locked in with a group that will absorb most
of my playing time and take me out of the music business so far as other
bands are concerned.  Been there done that.

I submit that if someone dies, retires, or quits in your group, especially
if it's an important player, your band may die also.  There is always the
problem with personality or money conflicts that doom many groups.  While
your group may be solid financially, socially and musically most in this
category aren't.  The reasons vary but groups come and go so fast.

In my case we had a co-op band called Group 3 and were very successful
dollar wise and pretty good musically.  There was two problems: first the
drummer wouldn't grow musically and I got so infernally tired of the ring
ding a dingy on that ride cymbal.  The second was socially.  I just didn't
like the drummer and his whole family.  The keyboard player was  good but
somewhat limited musically and I really didn't want to continue with him.
His wife was also bugging him about the extensive playing schedule.  About
that time we lost our singer because she moved to another state and we were
going to have to replace her and break in someone new.  Not always easy to
do but singers are a whole other topic.

So what happened is that several problems came to a head more or less at the
same time and we went our separate ways.  The bad part for me was I had
taken myself out of the mix for a long time simply to make money.

I think you may be a very lucky person to be good at what you do and not
have any problems with it but as a long term business plan I don't think I
would recommend it unless the musicians are in some way limited such as not
being able to read music might be one or the population area might limit the
useable musician pool.  There might be other reasons too.

There might be equally good reasons why a band would do this for example,
money, musical and social compatibility or lack of other opportunities.
When I was in college my group banded together because of limited

I don't drink but the steak sounds great!
Larry Walton
St. Louis

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim Kashishian" <jim at kashprod.com>
To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2005 12:57 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Bands & gigs & practicing

> Larry answered my last post with a few interesting thoughts, which I will
> rearrange for the purpose of my answers below:
> >The hobby guys have a different attitude and really don't care what they
> make.
> This is a "those & us" problem which has been addressed on DJML a number
> times, but under the guise (if I recall) of "weekend warriors vs
> professionals". An argument that will never, ever be happily settled.
> types are going to exist in the same arena, and sometimes cross paths.
> >also at the end of the year the Tax man cometh.  So I have to keep books
> and records.  That sounds like a business to me.
> Yes, I mentioned I didn't like treating our band as a business, but
> obviously there are some matters that must be taken care of properly.  We
> pay an accountant to handle the tax matters of the band.  That frees us
> the business side, which none of us wish to be too involved in.
> >I think you are very lucky to be in a stable group but how many of your
> friends would survive >(musically) if the band suddenly disintegrated for
> whatever reason?
> I did mention that we are all present or past session recording musicians,
> and we mix with other musicians in that capacity.  However, the band is a
> set group.  We don't go out in a smaller or larger format, and I try to
> gigs around anyone's particular vacation plans, so we don't have to call
> a sub.  The drummer is the only one that needs to be subbed from time to
> time, really, as he travels with Spanish singers on tours sometimes.
> >You didn't say what size of a town you live in, but unless those
> have been circulating it might be tough.
> See above answer as far as the circulating thing goes.  We have all been
> the Madrid (Spain)professional music scene for 30 to 40 yrs.  Madrid is
> center for most Spanish recorded music & film with a population of 5
> million, and a very famous night life.  There are about 5 active jazz
> with bands playing nitely.  (Varying forms of jazz, blues, Latin, Bossa.)
> >Guys tend to group together and if it works they become clannish.
> Yeah, it's called "a band", and that's what the fans pay to see & hear.
> >You wouldn't fire one of your buddies even if someone else came along
> was much better.
> No, and that's why we also attempt to not have subs, as even if the sub is
> better, the band doesn't feel the same.  Your next question will be "how
> you keep it fresh, then?".  Well, that can be difficult, but we do it with
> key changes, tempo changes, a large rep...etc.
> I've noticed this thread bending towards something about practicing.  I
> believe you made some comment.  Practicing, as an individual, (at least
> trombone & trumpet) is a must.  Otherwise, the muscles in your lips won't
> respond for the next gig.  Nor, does the slide hand flow automatically
> the ease it should if you lay off for long.  Every day, even if just for a
> few minutes, is a must.  Which is what I must do now, before dinner is
> served up.  The bottle of red Rioja has been brought out of the wine
> about an hour ago, and the steaks are about to go on the grill!   :>
> There IS life other than music.
> Jim
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