The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Depp’

Jazz sick days

Posted by keithosaunders on November 15, 2013

As I mentioned in my previous post the past two years has been a boom time for me. I keep waiting for the work to slow down but improbably it continues. It has been my credo to take most any gig offered – that is to say I will not turn down work merely to allow myself a day off. Of course a gig has to pay a minimum amount, but this being the jazz business if I told you what that amount was, suffice it to say you would be shocked. And not shocked in the way you would be if you learned what Johnny Depp pays his accountant. Let’s just say if I told you I’d probably have to kill you.

But the thing about being freelance is there are no sick days. I’ve played gigs with fevers colds, flus, and thrown backs. (Have you ever played a thrown-back gig? HAVE YOU?!) If you cancel the gig, which of course is the sensible thing to do, you’re not guaranteed that you will make up the salary down the line. On the other hand, if you employ warrior mentality and solider on, you could end up prolonging your illness.

This week I was sick with a bad cold and I ended up sitting the difference. After giving my students the option of canceling on Tuesday (which they declined) I ended up canceling my Wednesday night gig and a Thursday afternoon lesson, retaining my Thursday night gig which actually paid well. Now I feel fit as a fiddle for my weekend gigs. Just don’t hug me.


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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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