Weekend Gigs

I’ve got a few gigs coming up these next few days, so technically these span across into weekdays as well. Tonight, October 29, 2015, I’m performing with the Gamblers at the Halloween Ball at Eleven on Grove in downtown Asheville, NC. If you’re a swing dancer, the music starts at 9 PM. If you’re not a dancer, lindy hop lessons start at 7:30.

Tomorrow and Saturday nights, October 30 and 31, I’m going to be performing at the Atlanta Varsity Showdown with the Gamblers and the Low-Down Sires. This is a huge swing dance event with classes, competitions, and live music. The dances I’m playing both start at 9:00 PM. I will have some downtime on Saturday morning and afternoon, in case you live in the area and wanted to catch a lesson. Please contact me to schedule.

Sunday, November 1, 2015, I will be conducting the Smoky Mountain Brass Band in concert at Spruce Pine United Methodist Church in Spruce Pine, NC. We will perform a variety of British-style brass band music, including something for All Saints Day. The concert starts at 3 PM.

Finally, on Monday November 2, 2015 I will be back with the Low-Down Sires performing at our weekly Speakeasy night at Twisted Laurel, downtown Asheville, NC. There is a free dance lesson starting at 9 and the live music starts at 9:30.

If you are in Atlanta this weekend or western North Carolina tonight, Sunday, or Monday, consider coming out to support live music. Please be sure to say hello to me after the show!

Getting Paid To Play (or write)

In the past I’ve been very open to allowing folks to repost or translate my blog articles on their own sites or newsletters, as long as they include a link back to the original site. I figured that my main purpose is to get quality information out to people and allowing this is a good way to increase my internet footprint. After reading through a post by Will Wheaton concerning a very similar topic, I’m beginning to rethink my policy a bit. Wheaton was asked by a prominent blog if they could reprint one of his articles.

Huffington Post has a lot of views, and reaches a pretty big audience, and that post is something I’d love to share with more people, so I told the editor that I was intrigued, and asked what they pay contributors.

Well, it turns out that, “Unfortunately, we’re unable to financially compensate our bloggers at this time. Most bloggers find value in the unique platform and reach our site provides, but we completely understand if that makes blogging with us impossible.”

This is not too far off from the restaurant that wants a band to come in and play for their customers for “exposure.” I tend to avoid these gigs myself and typically encourage student musicians to avoid those as well. When too many musicians start accepting these deals then too many venues begin to expect that paying professional musicians is optional. I’m sure restaurants pay their chefs, shouldn’t musicians get the same deal?

The difficulty here is that I am already giving away my writing for free, so why not go a little further just to reach a bigger audience. It’s a tough call and it seems that, at least at this time, it’s one I will have to make on a case by case basis. Those folks who have asked me for permission and linked back to me have so far been mutually beneficial, since it has increased traffic to my site and allowed me to reach a bigger audience. At some point, however, I may have to start saying no and insist on some sort of renumeration.

The Music of Chicago

I’ll be performing tonight (Thursday, October 15, 2015) through Sunday (October 18, 2015) at the Hendersonville theater of the Flat Rock Playhouse. When I was asked to play “Chicago,” I assumed it was the musical theater production. It turned out that it’s the music from the band Chicago, a pleasant surprise. I’ve always loved their music and feel a certain connection to the original band who mostly all met at one of my alma maters, DePaul University.

The Music of Chicago will feature some of my favorite Chicago tunes, including BeginningsMake Me Smile, and Question 67 and 68. If you’re in western North Carolina this weekend looking for some live music, come check it out.

Weekend Gigs

I’ve got some public performances coming up this weekend. If you’re around any of these areas looking for live music, please come on out to one of these shows.

Tonight (Friday, October 9, 2015) I’ll be performing with the Greenville Jazz Collective Big Band at the Fall For Greenville. We’ll be playing at the Furman stage, located in the courtyard right in front of the Peace Center at the intersection of Broad and Main streets.  The address is approximately 300 S. Main Street, Greenville 29601. Our set is from 5 PM to 6 PM. I believe this is a free performance.

Tomorrow afternoon (Saturday, October 10, 2015) I’ll be playing salsa with Montuno at Asheville’s Fiesta Latina from 12:30 PM – 1:15 PM. We are performing at the outdoor pavilion next to Pack Square. This is also a free performance.

While technically not the weekend, Mondays are the new Saturdays at the Twisted Laurel, downtown Asheville, NC, when they are hosting their weekly Speakeasy Night. I perform there every Monday night from 9:30 PM to 11:30 PM with the Low-Down Sires. There is a free swing dance lesson that starts at 9 PM, followed by our sets.

If you do make it to one of these shows please come up and say hello to me afterwards or during one of the set breaks.

Rehearsal Etiquette

Here’s another list of rehearsal etiquette, mainly geared towards the orchestral string player, but as always, much of what is in there applies to all musicians and in any rehearsal situation. Some of my favorites:

Arrive early—at least 15 minutes early, or with enough time to both get your instrument out and warm up. There is nothing more awkward than shuffling through a crowd of seated musicians in the middle of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn. If you are late (it happens), try to avoid taking your seat while the musicians are playing; if you can, wait for an appropriate break in the action to slip in.

And I would like to add that you absolutely must be there early for the gig. As a band leader, I am frequently frustrated when I ask musicians to be ready for a sound check at a particular time and folks are still arriving and getting their stuff in order when it’s time to start. Often the sound check is the only chance one of my groups will get to “rehearse” a chart before the gig (we sight read on the show a lot). I don’t want the audience to hear the “sausage being made” because we’re still trying to get the mic levels set and practice that tricky passage before the show.

Bring a pencil. This one gets its own paragraph. Attending rehearsal without a pencil is like sitting through a university lecture without a taking notes. Even if you think you’ll be able to remember every direction the conductor gives, every dynamic change, every cut, and every ritardando, really, you probably won’t. Keep a couple pencils in your instrument case so they’re always on hand.

And use it. Often times I hear musicians, particularly student musicians, tell me they already know what I asked them to mark. Or sometimes they tell me they are confident they will remember. That may be true, but we all have mental lapses and it’s best to be safe than sorry. And if that doesn’t convince you to properly mark you music, consider that sometimes players have issues that require a sub to play a rehearsal or performance for them. If your music isn’t clearly and cleanly marked your sub will not have a chance. Be prepared.

Leave your arrogance at home. Members of the orchestra are all equal; everyone is contributing. Don’t gloat if you have a solo, and don’t bust out personal solo concertos and performances pieces just to show off. Everyone will be more annoyed than impressed. Also, don’t practice another orchestra member’s solo to demonstrate that you can play it better.

This goes to jazz rehearsals too. I don’t feel it’s cool to jam on someone else’s changes between charts and show off how hip you are. It’s also rude to hog solos. By all means, if you’re not blowing many solos on the gig and want a chance speak up at the rehearsal and ask for one if something gets opened up. Sometimes the band leader will be receptive if you jump up and blow a chorus when it’s not specifically asked for in the chart or fill in behind the vocalist, etc., but remember that other folks like to solo too and if you’re already blowing a lot on a gig or rehearsal that those times are better for giving other folks a taste.

Check out more common sense, but often overlooked, advice for how to behave in orchestra rehearsals here.

Rise of the Synthesizer

Did you know that the early synthesizers weren’t really intended for rock music, but classical? How did synthesizers become ubiquitous with rock music, then?

In the summer of 1970, after popping into a pub for a pint, rock keyboardist Keith Emerson sat down at his enormous Moog modular synthesizer in London’s legendary Advision recording studio and noodled a few improvised notes. His goal was to add some electronic punch to the end of a mostly acoustic-guitar number called “Lucky Man,” written by his singer-guitarist bandmate, Greg Lake. As his fingers ran up and down the synthesizer’s keyboard, Emerson played along to the bass, drums, vocals, and guitars already recorded by Lake and drummer Carl Palmer. . .

Emerson would later say he was just fooling around, and that he definitely did not expect his first take to be his last, but Lake and sound engineer Eddie Offord liked what they heard so much, they deemed Emerson’s work on “Lucky Man” done.

Learn more about the Rise of the Synthesizers over at Collectors Weekly.