Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sitting With The Cool Kids

There was a point early in the century when I decided to try and put forth some effort in trying to establish myself as an improvising musician.

I didn’t feel part of any particular school of thought or technique where this was concerned, but I wanted to try and connect with people who seemed to have similar artistic aims.

The thought of introducing myself to people and performing for strangers was intimidating, but there was a limit to what I could do by myself.

Sticking to the East Coast, I tried to find gigs above and below where I lived.

In the one city, I called and e-mailed a likely place. They had me call back. Each time I called, they told me to call back.

Which I did, usually while reading a list of their latest bookings.

In the other city, I was invited to take part in a day-long performance where the musicians would take turns in shifts. After driving for hours, we slowly realized that no parking was provided for the participants, nor was there any nearby lot.

Finding street parking, we lugged the keyboard into the building just in time for me to begin my shift. As I sweated profusely and tried to catch my breath, the fellow in charge would watch while rubbing his chin, pausing every 5 minutes or so to walk over to me and turn down my volume.

Then it was back to calling the other city. They said it sounded interesting and told me to call back.

So I e-mailed the fellow who’d turned down my volume and asked if he’d be interested in booking me at his club. He apologized because, although they’d like to have me, their piano was in terrible shape and he was sure it wouldn’t be up to my standards.

He was really, really sure.

Two weeks later, I read a review of a visiting musician who thrilled the audience at this club with his acumen on the terrible piano.

So I called the other city again. They were having lunch and asked me to leave a message.

But then, remarkably, I got an e-mail from a local promoter who asked if I’d like to play on a bill with other keyboardists. I accepted and was told that they’d be recording it as well.

After the show, I inquired after the recording. Months later, after numerous e-mails, I slowly began to realize that the promises in the e-mails to send it had been sarcastic.

I wrote to the other musicians on the bill. They’d all received their recordings.

I was not asked back.

So I wrote to the other city again. There were no bookings to be had as the booker had moved to my city and, within two weeks, arranged for six gigs booked by the guy who was going to send me the recording.

I offered to trade lunches with him, but he said his mom would kill him if she found out.


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