During the past 7 days, I have performed 3 unpaid gigs.
Last Saturday, my string quartet, Strings of Elegance, committed to a 2-hour set at one of Utah's premier wedding shows downtown. We have done this every year since the bridal fair began, in order to provide elegant music for the show, and a marketing opportunity for ourselves. It's a win-win for the show and for us. Or so I thought. This year, we were informed that instead of playing in the lobby on the ground floor, we would be placed on the 9th floor with all the yummy food. We thought this was a grand idea because no bride-to-be is going to pass up wedding cuisine samples! Well, when we arrived, we found that this year, they had brought in a second string quartet and put them on the mezzanine level (a better location in our opinion because all the other vendors are on that floor and you can hear them from the lobby). On top of it, they left us out of the program. STRIKE 1.
That same night, the cellist from my quartet joined me in Park City. We had received a phone call from someone who was setting up musical groups at upscale restaurants in Park City while the Sundance Film Festival is in town. We agreed to play at Ruth's Chris. The catch? They couldn't offer us cash, but they said we would earn tips, and that we could have dinner there... anything on the menu! Now if this were Applebee's, I'd say no thanks. But it's Ruth's Chris. This veggie lover could do well to experience what a real steak tastes like. So, since we were in the position to bargain, we agreed to play duets for 2 hours, in exchange for two dinners for two. We wanted an opportunity to show our men a good time, at a later date. (Valentines Day is coming up and I'm in charge of planning it this year. This would make it reeeeel easy.) Plus, we figured the Sundance crowd would be generous with their tips. Boy were we wrong. We received one $10 tip. From one person. One lousy cow-masticator appreciated our music-making enough to show it monetarily. My fabulous cellist friend got a measly $5 and the valet got the other $5. Also? We have yet to see our gift certificates. Neither manager on duty knew anything about our arrangement. STRIKE 2.
Tonight, I was looking forward to my first vocal performance with my new jazz ensemble. A couple months ago, my little brother D was playing the drums in a jazz trio (including a bass guitarist and a keyboardist), and they recently agreed to let me join them, along with a jazz flautist. Together we make a quintet! And I loves me a jazz quintet! The flautist committed us to play at his friend's wedding reception, and since we are a new group comprised of mostly students, we agreed to play for free. You know, to start making a name for ourselves. Plus it's fun! The instrumentalists were set to arrive at 4:30 to set up their equipment, and I, being the singer, got to show up right at go-time: 6:00. At 6:05 I arrived and apologized for being late. (As a stay at home mom, I forget about the existence of rush hour.) D and S informed me that my tardiness was not a problem, as they were waiting for K and M to show up. No, I thought, they must be mistaken. K and M were supposed to be there 90 minutes before. But no. Apparently, K decided to take his car into the shop at 4:00, a half hour before he had committed to be at HIS FRIEND'S wedding. He told us he should be there by 6:40. So we swallowed our frustrations and had a seat. We were invited to partake of the delicious Middle Eastern spread, and partake we did. As we waited for our tardy band members, my foot tapped and shook involuntarily under the table. Even though we weren't being paid, and there was nothing we could do but wait, there was a bride who was counting on us to provide the lovely ambiance of jazz music, and we weren't doing our job. This made me increasingly anxious and frustrated and, as time wore on, incredulous. 7:00 rolled around. Then 7:15. My brother had to leave at 7:30 due to a prior engagement, and I had only planned to stay until 6:30 since we only had about 30 minutes of music prepared, and only 3 of our songs have vocals. At this rate, I was going to miss bath time (the punk's; not mine), which is my favorite time of day. So we said if 7:20 hits and they're still not there, we would just have to go. Hello 7:20, and goodbye. Okay, maybe we'll give them until 7:30. We can stay until then. 7:30 came and went. Finally, at 7:45, they walked in. And we walked out.
The moral of the story? No more free gigs!
And K, you're out of the band. We don't need a stinkin' flautist anyway.