A week in the life of a working musician

I played last night at the Sin City Blues & Soul Revival in Las Vegas with my old friend, singer extraordinaire Tad Robinson. Tad told me this joke once: “How do you get a musician to complain? Give him a gig.” I swear I’m not bitching, but I bit off a lot this past week.

I worked 10 out of 11 nights, starting with September 5. I’ve also been teaching a 20 hour week at the Old Town School. I try not to say no too often, and I’ve learned that when somebody gives you an opportunity, you might not get another chance if you turn it down. So when I got an offer to do two days of recording on Wednesday and Thursday, I grabbed it. That meant 2 days of recording, teaching and club work. By Friday, I was tired, but had the luxury of not having to do anything until the evening. Nothing, that is except shop, laundry, pack, practice for the festival, and so on.

Saturday is typically my longest day. My first student is generally at 10:30 or 11:00 AM, I teach one or two classes in the afternoon, and then more privates until around six. I knocked off this Saturday, because I had arranged to do the music for a close friend’s daughter’s wedding. I had Tad come up to augment the band, and we all had a great time. I had not been informed of the couple’s first dance wish, but we scrambled on ipods and phones to find a chart and lyrics, and we pulled it off. Everyone was very happy.

Early Sunday morning, I met Tad at the airport to go to Vegas. He had shopped for flights and wound up on an airline that is low cost, but has an amazing fee business going on. I had learned earlier in the week that not only do they charge for carry-on baggage, but that the price at the airport would be mind-boggling. So we got a more reasonable fee in advance online. I was faced for the first time with putting a bass guitar in baggage. I picked the instrument I thought I could best afford to rebuild (I have two parts basses built for travel purposes, and used a double bass bag, cleverly putting my clothes in the second compartment so I would only have to pay for one bag. But by the time I got to the airport, I could not face doing it. I found it less stressful to pay another $20.00 to gate check the instrument, and after I got to Las Vegas, I spend a half hour on the phone to spend another $10.00 to do the same returning.

The festival was at The Riviera, on the older part of the Las Vegas Strip. It is an older place, and while not exactly shabby, show it’s age. There is no avoiding walking through the casino to get to the elevator to your room, and it has the aroma of tobacco and alcohol. It did not seem particularly busy most of the time. There were four stages, and ours was on the penthouse floor of the Monaco Tower. It held perhaps 600. We had a few issues. The B3 organ and Leslie speaker were not functioning, there were sound problems, and it took a while to get our set underway. I was having a tough time with the bass I had chosen to travel with, and frankly, was more than a little worn out at that point. But Tad, while not being a perfect booker of flights, is a great singer, harmonica player and performer. At the end of our set, the crowd was on their feet, and I heard numerous comments on how good we were. So what do I know?

This morning we went to the airport for our return flight. I waited outside the plane for someone to come and gate check my bass. when no one showed, an amazing thing happened. The pilot offered to let me keep the instrument with him in the cockpit. The perfect end to a busy period. Not quite. When I got home, I went to the school and taught two bass classes for good measure.

Only four gigs this week, should be a walk in the park.

Posted in Thoughts on the State of the Blues

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