The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘club dates’

Ray Steven

Posted by keithosaunders on May 16, 2016

Back in the old days when I was a young buck starving jazz pianist living in New York City I fell in with this character named Ray Steven who led a society band.  Later I would learn that one must always be wary of people with two first names, but I was young, naive, and needed some gigs that paid a more than jazz clubs did.  In regards to payment,  ‘little’ was the operative word here.  Ray paid the bare minimum.  In fact often times my check, when it finally arrived, was five or ten dollars light, as if by accident.

Ray had the type of band that would play at society dances in exclusive clubs around Manhattan – the Harvard Club, the University Club, the Hotel Pierre.  The east coast refers to these gigs as ‘club dates.’  The west coast calls them ‘casuals, ‘ which is even more of a misnomer.  In the summer we would often trek out to East Hampton, 110 miles to the east, and play at some swell’s estate.  We, the sidemen, would make under scale, while Ray pocketed enough dough to put his kids through college.

Ray had several corny sayings he would draw from after a particular song was over.  He said them so often that the band ended up memorizing them.  After a lively rock song he would say, “That’s better than a Jane Fonda workout!”  If we played a Latin song such as a merengue or a mambo,  he would bellow out a sentence in Spanish followed by, “That means ‘Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one!'”

He many more but I think you get the idea.  Here’s another one of his homilies which would take place after playing something particularly demeaning, such as The Electric Slide, or after a conga line had spontaneously broken out. (It was demeaning to us musicians, not the party-goers — they had no shame)  Ray would slobber up to the mic (by that time he was as drunk as any of the guests) and call out, “That’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on!”

It’s funny, though, but this last bit of Stevenism has me thinking.  He was right —  sex really is fun.  But we don’t think of it as such, at least in the conventional sense.  I suppose that’s because it gets weighted down by the emotions that come with it.  How inconvenient!  I mean…we go bowling, have poker night, golfing, tennis, book club.  Why can’t there be sex night?  It would definitely be better than a Jane Fonda workout.


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Posted by keithosaunders on December 12, 2011

I played a casual last night.  Here on the west coast gigs that are affairs — weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, corporate parties — are referred to as casuals.  Why they are called casuals I don’t know.  They are anything but casual.  In fact, you often have to wear  a tuxedo, although last night was not one of those nights.  In New York such gigs are referred to as club dates, yet another misnomer.  Canadians call it jobbing. 

Years ago I had a sax player buddy who nick named me Captain Casual, not because I played that many casuals, but because I was really bad at them.  I didn’t know that many standards, and I knew very few pop tunes.  I didn’t even know what a cha-cha was, let alone have one in my repertoire.  Not that this is anything to be proud of.  It’s just that over the years, from necessity, you learn enough of these tunes to get by. 

These jobs are a necessary evil of the music business.  Why?  Because they’re the only gigs that pay any damn money!  Especially with today’s economy — few of us are in a position to turn down these gigs.  And if you are lucky enough to play them with good musicians, under the right circumstance they can be enjoyable, or at least painless.

On Saturday I played a casual in San Mateo; a large-scale corporate party for Virgin American.  For some reason these parties often have a theme.  Why they feel compelled to have these themes I’ll never know.  It’s corny.  Why can’t people simply eat, drink, dance, and go home?  Is that asking too much?

Saturday’s theme was chocolate.  Or was it candy?  It was never really clear to me.  Somehow there is an invention that can pump various scents into a room.  Our room smelled like chocolate, while another room smelled like peppermint.

In our room there were a half a dozen TVs showing the old film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory  — the one staring Gene Wilder — not the soulless Tim Burton/Johnny Depp monstrosity.

The move kept playing on a loop, and since it was a long gig it was on several times.  For some reason I wanted to see the part where Charlie finds the golden ticket, but I kept missing it.  I don’t know why it was so important for me to see this scene, but the more I kept missing it the more I wanted to see it. 

That’s basically it.  I made my money and drove home.  Just one more thing, though.  The San Mateo bridge is the longest bridge I’ve ever been on — it’s eight miles long.  That’s one long-ass bridge.

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