The Working Guitarist

An Abstract of a Caucasian, Long-Haired Male Playing the Guitar in Front of Speakers
An Abstract of a Caucasian, Long-Haired Male Playing the Guitar in Front of Speakers

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The Working Guitarist

It has been sometime since I have posted anything here and felt, due to a recent surge of activity, felt like writing to you. Some have read my cruise musicians blog, if not you can access that here: It has been sometime since I have posted anything here and felt, due to a recent surge of activity, felt like writing to you. Some have read my cruise musicians blog, if not you can access that here: Stories from the Road

Since writing this article, I have given up cruising, except for a 2 week sub gig last spring. Hanging around town presents it own challenges and rewards, trying to establish yourself after years of leaving town takes time.

Sept. provided a plethora of opportunity. The 3rd was an opry show with a deranged Jerry Lee Lewis clone that hired some local top guns, and had some guest artists, for which I was sent a cd and transcribed some charts for it. It went very well, the band was good.

A jazz duo gig with an old associate at a swanky restaurant followed, and we played Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, ect. $80 plus $42 in tips, not too bad.

I got the call for a blues brothers review band from a fellow union musician, a local promoter held a corporate event and filmed the occassion to edit and distribute to try to sell the act. We were provided charts, cd's, a black hat and sunglasses, the typical black suits and tie we provided. The event went well, 3 horns and a complete rhythm section, 2 of the horn players played Jake and Elwood and did a hell of a job. I'm hoping the promoter is able to sell the product.

There were 2 country open mike nights I play twice a month with some friends from the old days, 2nd and 4th Wednesday each month.

2 huge gigs came up, both union, one, "The Barber of Seville",an Italian opera that has 5 pages of guitar music written towards the beginning. Still, I was eligable for union opera wage in spite of the fact I didn't play that much. 2 rehearsals and 1 performance. I got the call about 5 pm, and hauled ass into town to pick up the music from the librarian, to make a rehearsal at Municipal auditorium the next day, a big venue in San Antonio, TX. I busted my ass on the score, part of which is solo barouque guitar. The conductor looked like Frank Zappa, and conductors don't like it when you don't follow the tempo exactly as they dictate. I had some issues with how he was conducting in 6/8 time and sweated through the first rehearsal, I was asked to show up early the next day to fix the issue, I did and he didn't. Finally, I was graced with 4 minutes of his majesties time and fixed the problem, I made it through three performances and he seemed pleased, whew!

The next weekend my plate was full, another union gig, classical guitar parts for a show called "the 3 cantors". Jewish klezmar music with orchestra. Again, I rehearsed the parts untill I thought my shoulder would seize up perminately. I had some problems with some of the notation and consulted with a very accomplished classical guitarist I found on the web, Craig Eilhorn in Eugene, Oregon. He graciously gave some good advice, how to cheat playing classical tremelo, something I have noodled with in the past but never aspired to master. Classical guitar to me sounds really nice, but extremely contrived so I only know enough to fool most people. The tricks worked, and I made it through the rehearsals and performance, ka ching!

At this point, I started getting jerked around by the promoter of the Barber of Seville, and here 2 and a half weeks later, haven't seen a check arrive yet, today is the cutoff day and will be contacting union officials over this if I don't see it today, $597.

These union gigs provide a wide variety of interesting projects, and I have played enough theater, production shows, and events to get through most. I got the call last year to play with the San Antonio symphony for the world premier of the movie

"The Alamo", under the direction of Gordon Goodwin, a famous big band leader from Los Angeles, and once again, for me anyway, requires many hours of hard work to interperate 4 or 5 pages of notated guitar music. The stress is enormous, playing the newly received pages to the wave of a conductors wand, better not blow it.

The 24th of Sept yielded a swing band casual at the Menger hotel from 7-10, tux, and immediately after, rushed accross the highway to play the opening of "The Rocky Horror Show" at the Cameo theater. To acheive this, I had my rock guitar rig with the score all set up, and used my jazz guitar at the swing gig so I just unplugged and ran. I have played this before, and will be doing a 10:30 PM show, Saturday nights through Nov.5th.The show went well and had evolved from when we played it last year, better venue, lighting, sound, better drummer. The place was almost full of frantic Rocky Horror fans dressed in a wide array of ridiculous outfits. There was pre show dancing on the catwalk and provided a real circus atmosphere, I always enjoy rock operas.

I have always aspired to be a working musician since I was a little boy living in New York. My brother in law took me to many broadway shows and there was something so mysterious about those musicians playing down in that hole (the pit) dressed in black. Trying to be a jack of all trades takes a lot of work and time, I now am 50, and am hoping by setting down some roots, can look forward to increased activity in this area, the live music biz is tough, but the more pies you can get your finger in, the better musician and bigger bank account you will acheive.

My motto has always been..."if they call wanting Siberian dancing bears on Friday, confidently say yes, then hang up and work your ass of to get some damn Siberian dancing bears". Good Luck, thanks for reading my rant, and as always inquiries and correspondense can be addressed to:

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Updated: 3/16/07