Re: [Harp-L] Live Music Scene Reality Check

Ok, I don't know how it works elsewhere, and it certainly didn't work this way in Pittsburgh, but here's what WE have to put up with in my little corner of the world. Behind the water pipes, men's room, Circle K convenience store, tonsorial parlor, hobby shop, Greyhound station and Quiznos sandwich shoppe, Port Charlotte Fla. U.S.A.

There are a few keyboard men down here that seem to run things. Everyone knows that to get a gig at one of the more lucrative hotel or seafood restaurant sites, you will need at least a trio. And that will cost at least $100.oo a man. A keyboard player will convince the establishment that for a mere $350.oo, he can get them a quartet or MORE. So they bite. The keyboard then calls several of a RAFT of retired? musicians, tells them he has started a 'Jam' and wants them to sit in. Sometimes he will kick a 50 to the drummer and rhythm guitar, sometimes he will let them split the tips. HE then pockets a cool $250.oo or more. Here's a typical night.

You show up at the World's Largest Shell Factory and the keyboard man has already set up.

Keyboard man: He is one of the hottest B3 players to ever come out of Pittsburgh. Problem: He DID come out because he was always 'second' in Pgh. In S.W. Fla., he is a STAR.

Rhythm guitar: He is a retired teamster and can play with the best of them. Never went 'totally' pro because he made too much as a teamster. Only wants to play once a week. Lives in a VERY nice guarded community.

Drummer: Played with the best of them, many years at Atlantic City. Good times AND bad. Doesn't want to travel anymore. Only wants to play to keep his hands sharp.

Smokey Joe: Is a feature and usually shares in the tips. Is retired, doesn't need the money but WON't play for free.
Expects at least gas money and a couple bucks for Arby's, OR free drinks. Won't play on too many tunes, because that wouldn't be fair to REAL working musicians.

Alto sax: Retired doctor. Plays for the grins. Money would INSULT him.

Sop & Alto sax: Active brain surgeon. Plays to keep his finger dexterity

Ten sax: Retired big band (Les Brown). Plays for the notoriety & ego

Trumpet: Retired music director Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey (phd), Just wants to keep his lip.

Trumpet: Retired high school music teacher & band leader

Trombone: Retired college music professor (phd) & orchestra leader.

Lead guitar: Retired Nashville sessions musician. Very 'Buddy Guy-ish'

All saxs/clar/flut: Retired band leader. Needs to play?

Accordian/keyboard: Retired music teacher...Juliard

And about 10 more people on various instruments, drums. EVERYONE seems to be dual or multi instrumental.

Here's the problem. Musicians NEVER retire. In just about any other field you can think of, a person will eventually hang it up and say: 'That's enough'. Not so with musicians. We have all these retired guys in their 60s, 70s, & 80s. Even a few in their 90s. At 64, I am one of the youngest.

In other vocations (even medical) a person will move on and leave an opening. When I retired 'I left an opening for a youngster to move into, make a life for him/her self, start a family, and get a piece of the American dream.
Musicians STILL play. If you're a real musician, you NEVER quit.

So, now I find myself guilty of the very thing that I am against. Tying up jobs that someone else needs. When you have all these guys playing for free. it sure WILL put a damper on live music. Because even though they ARE playing music, they are tying up possible paying gigs, and as long as the venues and the conniving 'gig leaders' are getting away with it, things won't get any better.

I see no way to get these old farts to quit doing this (save, lying in the box), and so, in THIS area, the live music scene is going slowly down the tubes.


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