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I Ain't No Glamour Boy
by Jazz Bass
It always cracks me up when someone says "It must be glamorous to be a musician." Ya think? It's not like you get a per diem and pay for rehearsal and performances, guaranteed. When you're small time, you're not in the union. Well, some of us are but we take all these "scab" gigs for money, honey. I love that lingo. Guys without any compunction about taking a gig off the books and keeping all the dough refer to that same activity with derision. Ah, Hypocrisy. Ah, well, ya gotta eat.
Digressions aside, This is about specific incidences that cannot be misconstrued as fun, good times, happy days, "oh..that's got be a gas!", or anything possessing a scintilla of glamour. Where to start? How about my first gig in public ever on electric bass? 15 years old with a Univox copy of a Hofner (with a scroll headstock. tres` elegant!) and a Gretsch Pro Bass 50 watt amp, I accompanied our organist at my Church for an all singing, all dancing "praise the Lord" kinda dealy. So how was I kitted out at my debut? In a bathrobe with a towel around my head like Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments when they are building the pyramids. That's Show Biz!
I got no problem with that because I've always been a ham and a song and dance man at heart, but it's just indicative of what awaits anyone that is a performer. There's this thing called "paying dues" that no one, talented or otherwise, can get out of doing over time. Like gravity. it sucks and every day too. So what's some dues paying, you ask? Hmmmm.....
Playing to an audience. Playing to no audience. Playing to indifferent audiences. Playing with indifferent musicians. Playing in a band with people who AREN'T musicians. Playing with musicians who are sure they know what the public wants and that they can deliver it, no problem. Playing with rock and roll musicians. (sorry, that was redundant, wasn't it?).
Driving. when you're tired. too much. way too fucking much. (Shall I mention that after all that driving, your gig could be cancelled and you not have been told?)
Toting, Lifting, All manner of sweaty work that artiste`s avoid by nature. Being nice to strangers. Giving of yourself, your time and your talent and not expecting anything in return and being pleasantly surprised when someone gets it. Oh, sorry, that is one of the reasons we do it. How did that get in there?
Anyway, you get it. It's work and it is a business. You get used to it after a while. I don't miss the assholes but I do miss the travel and the fellowship with the other outsiders. But glamorous?
There is the time a band I was in came in third place to 5 and 10 year olds dressed as teddy bears in a talent show. There was a picture in the paper with these kids that came up to our belt buckles in a line in front of us and our longish haired asses smiling behind. I remember playing to three people once in a Holiday Inn in Orangeburg, SC. Two of the people worked there. Then there was the time 4 guys had to shove me into a Ford Escort station wagon(oxymoron) because I didn't want to leave my bass guitar in an abandoned van on the side of the interstate. Did you know that if you are aware your alternator is bad that Saturday, when the shops are open, would be the time to address that problem.? Not on Sunday though, evidently.
I played in a bar called Thunder's Tavern in Passcagoula, MS one time. It had chicken wire in front of the bandstand, just like in the Blues Brothers movie. Not one fight broke out. I chalk that up to our suckitude. Oh well, two good tires can't make up for two flats.
I have been gobbed on and ignored. I prefer to be ignored in that situation.
Punk Rock and Contemporary Christian bands each have their own hells. Usually that involves achieving a specific emotional result without having the resources or acumen to make it work. God forbid you should work within your limitations and come up with something unique! Commercial Country is one place where you constantly meet people that can't swing from a rope but have a cush gig. You have to make peace with the fact that incompetents will be in charge in any business.
The world does not make sense, nor should it. If you can't rise above, then you will have to be happy at your level. Show Biz is one thing. Music is another. I always checked my hair but i never worried about it when the downbeat came.