Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Turning Pro

I used to play in a function band. We were good enough to get paid and for people to dance, but not good enough to be anything other than hobbyists.

For a year during that time I had the honour to play with a genuinely world-class drummer. He played with us for pocket money while he was finishing his music degree. It was great fun, humbling, and faintly embarrassing to play with him. He has since turned pro and I spent this weekend with him. While the quality of the musicianship in his bands is now is vastly superior, everything else is as bad or worse as when he played with us. The work is harder, the hours longer, there's more travel, less sleep, the pressure is higher, the money isn't good, and they still get asked to put up with the same stupid shit that we did.

A venue asked my friend's band leader to do a show for free before making a regular booking: they said they'd see how many people came, what the night was like and then take it from there. The band leader said "I've got a big group of friends, we're going out drinking and I think this might be the right bar for us. Why don't you come round to my house with a couple of barrels of beer and pour us drinks all night, and then we'll take it from there?".

My friend's gig was in Soho, but I couldn't be bothered staying for all of the three shows he had to play. Instead I walked to Chinatown and ate in the cheapest restaurant I could find. It was the sort of place that has the menu taped to the inside of the front window next to a rack of inside-out chickens. In fact the restaurant was so ramshackle that it didn't have a sign with its name. I think the place was called the "Come in we are open". I texted one of my friends about it and he rather brilliantly said that he thought he knew it, and that it used to be called the "Sorry we are closed".

Richard "Your hands and work aren't steady" B

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