Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kinda Sorta Maybe Happy Gigster

Last nite, the Dynamic Duo played the annual Governor's Volunteer Service Awards.

Years past, we have drug our equipment through the doors, only to be met by clueless staff who don't know anything about musicians playing. We have stood there, waiting, wasting time, asking for a large cart to carry in our equipment. This year, I was determined to streamline everything.

My contact for the gig was succinct: "You start playing at 6:15 in North Hall." Well, clear as an unmuddied lake under an azure sky of deepest summer.

The usual displeasure of loading, putting on the monkey suit, feeling too fat, didn't warm up enough, etc. - all these things are de facto before gig feelings.

It took me six trips of walking to and from North Hall, before I was ready to sit down and tune up. By this time, sweat fell down my face like raindrops. This truly is one of those gigs where the hassle lies within the equipment load in. We need a flat dolly. What I have is grossly inadequate.

Although this is the Governor's award event, the man himself did not show. Neither did the lady Governess. Only being the hired help, I haven't any info as to the no show, but I would have to say that the people who traveled from all over state to get their award and to have their picture taken with the Gov had to be sorely disappointed. There was no announcement of this fact nor apology.

One thing I like about being a Happy Gigster is that I often get an insider's look at social events. At this gig, the tables are already set with salads, desserts and water glasses-all of them wet with condensation. It is also interesting to watch the staff and to hear the passing commands of those women who are in charge.

One thing I hate about it all is the ubiquitous treatment as a second class citizen. People, I have said this before: despite your social status you may believe you possess, once you get slated as the musician, you are treated as the hired help. (When I retire, I will enjoy the fact that I no longer have to be treated like shit for playing an instrument.)

Even the waiters ignore you sometimes. Last night, no less than two rude waiters ignored our requests for water. One waiter was asked and he said "Sure, " but then kept on walking. One, who had her hair up so high that we called her "Pebbles," just went about without a hint of acknowledgement. Sure, it's tough being in the food service industry and they get rotten treatment as well, but I'd figure there would be a little camaraderie among the hired help. Finally, a kind soul recognized that that we were, in fact, two human beings and not merely props that make noise. We just wanted water, FFS!

Every now and then, equipment goes squirrelly. It just happens. Perhaps it's temperature, the shaking from moving or perhaps those delicate electronics just go haywire sometimes. Kinda like really intelligent people, ya know?

Last night my brand new tuner and my third string had a schizophrenic battle over who was more insane.

Tuner: "You're sharp!"
String: "I'm not!"
Tuner:"You're in tune!"
String: "@#$% you. I'm in tune."

Upon checking said string against the others, often it was out, way out. This went on all throughout the gig. It didn't help that the bottom three strings were new and reacting to the air conditioning.

When we began, it was like wet noodles: limp, out of tune and nowhere near our level of playing. This continued for a few pieces until we both realized the tuning situation had to be resolved. I kept tuning between songs. Lisa didn't feel like herself. In fact, she said she felt like she could play the gig seated. This is something she never does. Never.

We decided to switch styles over to jazz. Finally, it sounded like us. I kept getting a little feedback, but all was well.

I told her bluntly, "Despite how well we play, we still get paid." Blunt, but true.

Entrees consumed, speeches underway equals time to scooby. Now, in defense of the wonderful person who gives me this gig every year, we are recognized from the podium, by name, by the MC. We are even given a round of applause for our efforts. That, my dear and few readers, is a rare, rare thing.

The speaker had a voice which was like railroad spikes to my head, soooo I loaded everything I could onto the inadequate dolly and we exited as quickly as possible. Reaching the exit doors, there was caution tape causally strung in front of the most convenient of exits. It was so awkward, that someone asked, "Do you need help?"

Any reasonable person would have just walked over and helped, but Mr. Helpful chose merely to inquire and not do anything useful to help someone struggling with about 70 pounds of crap in a doorway in which the heavy door refuses to stay open an inch.

These things are what made me retire from the playing scene during the 90's. I had had enough of the low pay, the mercenary attitude of most musicians, the constant hassle and the indignities of second class Three Stooges citizenship in the so-called elite ranks of musicians.

In the ever growing personal jargon of Robert Fripp, he writes about the...

Four Qualities Of Musicianship.


Professional Master / Mystery Musician

Happy Gigster

I will be never be under Genius, nor Master/Mystery Musician. I think of myslef as a Professional, but last nite, all things considered, I was a humble

Happy Gigster (who complains about near everything).

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