About Me

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Atlanta, GA, United States
When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Passing One Up

I've been diligently learning the 1st Guitar book for Rent with Act3 Productions, and I'm quite pleased with my progress. I'm able to play nearly everything up to tempo, and I'll be comfortable with the most difficult sections in another week or two. After that, it'll just be a matter of consistent review and practicing with the soundtrack to develop a sense of how my part fits with the rest of the ensemble.

Today I had to reluctantly pass up a good gig because it conflicted with Rent. It would have paid nearly twice as much with a slightly smaller time commitment. It was another musical, too. I love playing musicals. I'm happy to be the regular guitarist for Act3, but it would have been nice to "diversify" and get my foot in the door somewhere else.

There are some musicians who would have taken the more lucrative gig, but I'm not wired that way. If you constantly go to the highest bidder without regard for the people who already hired you, you may get some good gigs at first, but you'll eventually find yourself with a bad reputation as you burn your bridges. That's not to say you should never jump to another gig, but you should have a really good reason. While I won't earn as much money playing Rent, I'll be playing for an organization of terrific people who have been very good to me, and who have let me know that I'm their first call guitarist for the foreseeable future. If I had taken the new gig, I could have jeopardized my future with Act3 for what might well have been a one time gig…not a smart tradeoff.

Each situation is different, but here are some factors I take into consideration when I'm lucky enough to be contacted for a gig that conflicts with one already on the calendar.

  • If the first gig is a freebie and the new gig pays, I'll take the new gig.
  • Money is a consideration. I don't know what my breaking point is, but I have to be honest and admit that I can be bought. It would have to be for a LOT more money.
  • Enough time to find a replacement. If I had been asked to play the new gig a month or two ago, I probably would have taken it, because it would have given Act3 plenty of time to find another guitarist. If I switched gigs now, I'd be leaving Act3 in the lurch. It would take them time to find another guitarist, and the new guitarist would have had to scramble to learn a difficult guitar book.
  • Opportunity. I love playing for Act3 Productions, but if I got a call to play a show at the Fox, or if a well known touring artist wanted to hire me, that opportunity would be too good to ignore. I'd take the new gig.
I'll generally stick with the first gig, but I'll switch gigs given a certain combination of opportunity, time, and money. For the most part, though, it's going to be difficult to get me to drop one gig for another. To me, it's very important to nurture relationships with the people I play for. That means being loyal to my client, and if I do decide to switch gigs, it means helping them find a replacement. I'm not the #1 guitarist in town, but I earn big points by acting like a professional. I show up early, dressed appropriately, with my music prepared, and unless I have a really, really, really good reason to switch, I stick with the first gig and dance with who brung me.

2 comments:

  1. That's a tough one. The best person to make the right call will always be you. I wonder if they would have the same integrity if they found a player charging half your rate...

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  2. Good point. I can't control other's actions, only my own, so I don't worry about that. I go on the assumption that the people I'm working with are trustworthy unless they prove otherwise. Having played with Act3 Productions a couple times and getting to know the people involved, I can tell you that Act3 is a class act.

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