[Dixielandjazz] Show bands was live vs. recorded music
Larry Walton Entertainment - St. Louis
larrys.bands at charter.net
Sun Aug 16 23:31:26 PDT 2009
It's the same story everywhere and it doesn't make any difference what kind
of music you play.
Wednesday I was playing in a rehearsal band. That band two years ago was
booked almost every Saturday night. The band leader just had to throw in
the towel. The band was a six piece group with three singers and did a lot
of weddings and corporate things.
My own gigs have fallen off too and I work singles and duo's most of the
time. So far I have only two duo gigs booked for September. Man if they
can't afford a single or a duo then just where are we going? Last night
(Saturday) I worked with a 5 piece group and we got $50 each. I guess it
was OK since it was just an hour and I didn't have to drive far but that
really isn't very much.
The piano man with the rehearsal group told us about a friend of his that
owns a restaurant. The friend put an ad on Craig's list for musicians and
groups. NO PAY just tips and beer. He said the response was overwhelming
and the guy lined up groups for the next two months, three nights a week.
The piano man said some of these groups were really good.
Last summer I visited a resort which is about 30 miles up the Mississippi
from St. Louis and is not really on the beaten path. There was a guy
playing piano for tips in the main room and he wasn't getting any. I talked
to him and he had driven up from St. Louis and apparently did it fairly
often. I don't think he was even making gas money from what I saw.
A year ago I went to a restaurant that was featuring a singer that I work
with occasionally. The group had a guitar and bass backup. The music was
better than excellent. I don't know what they were getting but the only tip
they got was the $20 bill I dropped in the jar. The waiters got better
The point is that musicians are falling all over themselves just to play.
It's tough to keep groups together when you can't pay them at least fairly
Rehearsals -- forget it. The musicians just aren't willing to do it for the
most part unless there are gigs lined up. I do certainly understand that.
The rhythm section and specifically the piano players are usually the
problem. They can drop back and do singles which is probably the reason why
my single gigs are falling off. They work cheaper than I do.
The guys that are trying to make a living here are really taking it in the
neck and if it weren't for private students most of them would be flipping
----- Original Message -----
From: "Stephen G Barbone" <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
To: "Larry Walton" <larrys.bands at charter.net>
Cc: "Dixieland Jazz Mailing List" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 11:23 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Show bands was live vs. recorded music
>> Howard Wiseman <h.wiseman at yahoo.com> wrote (polite snip)
>> As a 57 year veteran of live theater, I can say today that even when you
>> want a band, they are getting harder to put together and even harder to
>> find?who can?play the music and are willing to rehearse.? We did
>> "Urinetown" a couple years ago and frankly couldn't even find a
>> rehearsal pianist who could play the music.? A couple tired and gave
>> up.? We quickly had to order the "rehearsal" CD.??This has happened time
>> after time.? If you live in the right part of a big city, you may be
>> able to find musicians, but it's getting to be too much of a gamble.
> In the Philadelphia - New York City areas there are no problems getting
> musicians who are competent to handle a Broadway show book. And these
> gigs are much sought after because they pay well.
> A few of our substitute players work regularly in pit bands whenever they
> can. One, notably, in the annual Christmas Show at Rockefeller Center in
> December and January. He makes about 50% of his annual musical income
> from that 2 month show, which on some days has 2 or 3 shows and the
> overtime adds up significantly.
> Thus he can afford to play jazz during the rest of the year, when he is
> not touring with Liza Minelli or Earth Wind & Fire etc..
> The A F of M, local 802, still exerts some influence in the NYC theaters
> and as a result the pay scales are good.
> When Barbra Streisand toured Europe, (a year or two ago) she engaged a
> band of some 50 musicians, mainly drawn from the NYC theaters. This
> created work for lots of Philadelphia area musos who filled in for them
> while she toured. They cut the show books with no problems.
> It used to be that way in Las Vegas in the 1960s when live music ruled.
> I knew musicians who were making $100,000 a year there by doubling and
> tripling 4 hour gigs, some in shows others in lounges. Lots of jazz musos
> went there in order to eat.
> That all changed in the 1970s where I saw my first "Moog" show at The
> Aladdin with many dancing girls, etc, backed by a guitar, a drummer and a
> Moog Synthesizer. Then many of the lounges surrounding the gambling
> floors discontinued music. Small world. In the 1950s I gigged with a
> trumpeter/pianist named Herb Deutsch. He was touting a "genius" named
> Moog and helping this genius develop a music machine. Made him a lot of
> money. Herb is professor emeritus, Music, at Hofstra University. (we're
> both alums) We all laughed at him back then.
> Same thing in Atlantic City where 20 years ago, there were bands all over
> the casinos. For example, Banjoist Debbie Schreyer and husband Tom on
> bass worked 5 days a week at the Showboat there for seven years, making
> about $1800 a week plus 2 meals a day. (She got a leader fee) Then she
> and Tom free lanced on their days off. Pete Pepke and I did many gigs
> with them in quartet form. During those years she and Tom bought and paid
> for for a condo. When the good old days ended,they sold their condo and
> went back to Minnesota.
> No, it ain't like it used to be. Too bad we can't all go home again.
> Steve Barbone
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