The World According to Keitho

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To every gig there is an end

Posted by keithosaunders on December 12, 2015

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Being a musician and trying to maintain a career gigging is akin to Charlie Brown trying to kick that football.  Just when things are going well a club owner pulls it away.

On one hand the job rarely gets boring.  I play in a different place with different people most every night of the week.  If I have a bad night I can go home, practice the next day, wipe the slate clean and start over the next night.

The flip side is there is no job security.  I have roughly a half dozen steady gigs, some of which are once a week, some twice a month, and others once a month.  Any one of these gigs can end with hours notice.  There are no contracts, no year-end bonuses, and certainly no severance pay.  One year a dive bar back east in Queens called Brandy’s, where I had a steady Thursday, gave us a Christmas bonus of $20.00.  It was about 15 years ago but I remember it distinctly because it was the only time it ever happened!

This particular subject is top of mind because my favorite gig – a jazz quintet at a bar in Haight Ashbury called Club Deluxe – is being cut back from twice a month to once a month.  The gig is with some of my favorite Bay Area musicians and it’s a place that we can throw down hard in front of appreciative crowds.  It was always a somewhat lucrative night — they charge a cover at the door and the place is usually packed.

Due to a strange twist of fate, however, our pay has recently risen by approximately 30%.  The club fired the old doorman and it turned out he had been skimming off of the band.  For years we went home from that gig thinking it had been a good night monetarily.  Little did we know they should have been great nights.  So here we are with a defacto raise – something that happens to mus

icians with the regularity of alternate leap years –  and *now* they cut us back?!  COME ON!  But that’s the way it goes in the Charlie Brown-esque world of the jazz musician.  Gigs come and go.  Somehow the music preservers.

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4 Responses to “To every gig there is an end”

  1. Hang in there my man. They say (whoever “they” are…) if you’re doing what you love the money will follow. Your dedication to your craft is exceptional and I enjoy reading about your experiences…play on!

  2. Stay strong. Talent will win out.

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