Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!
Did anyone realize how unimportant their music is in this world? Music?! Stop there! I should say Total Existence on Planet Earth!
Whether you come from a small, tight knit suburban music scene or a tight middle sized New Haven-esq type scene or a “little fish in a big pond major city” type music scene, let’s face it: Reputation Matters.
Not just, reputation but the way in which you treat others. I work and live within the confines of a tight middle sized music scene in the New Haven area. Many of the musicians in these parts know and work with each other in some degree or fashion. I’ve even known some of these musicians since high school and our garage band days. In fact I’m quite proud to see some of the guys I first played with grow into serious musicians and see their success. Some have even made it a habit of working with some heavy hitting groups and artists. Just recently I got to talk with a pal who I haven’t seen in years but is climbing his way up the indie rock ladder. I’m sure some of you have heard of The Stepkids. Great band and its awesome talking with their drummer Tim, a classmate of mine in college and talking shop. Don’t forget the little people when you spend a day in your gold plated jacuzzi someday!
Since creating the Jazz Series at the Outer Space in Hamden in the winter of 2011, I have been able to work with many more musicians from all around and see the business side of the scene from a different perspective. I started to realize why so many talented musicians never seem to get the amount of work that you would expect. Mostly, because they act like jerks to people.
You wouldn’t believe the demands I receive from musicians when booking a date for the series. From money to food to crowd expectation. I mean don’t get me wrong. Musicians deserve their earnings. I support that just as much as anyone else. However, I know when not to be an asshole to people. Talking down to a fellow musician or booker while talking yourself up, is no way to make a career. I learned from Eddie Henderson once: “You never want animosity on the bandstand, because its the music that suffers the most.” Can’t get any more simple than that.
We all have stories to tell and retell again and again of a time someone was a serious dumb ass on a gig. (I won’t get into firing a bandmate when I found out he said some inappropriate stuff to my friend’s girlfriends…. and mine own… at the same party.) But honestly, are these cats aware of their behavior? Sometimes I hope not because it would be quite irritating knowing they’re aware of it and think its ok.
Maybe I’m just a bleeding heart liberal who thinks of a perfect society where a jazz club exists on every block and every musician treats each other fairly and the gigs are plentiful and the money is astronomical and there’s free candy day and gas costs barely anything and you can watch Looney Tunes again and your girlfriend doesn’t turn the TV off when you want to watch Lethal Weapon for the 2nd time that day in between Rocky marathons!
Let me get to the point of this post because if you’ve read this far, well, I owe you.
When a musician treats you badly, you can just hire another. Simple. When a show promoter treats you badly. It affects the scene. We have such a show promoter in the Nutmeg State. Someone who thinks they are the only game in town and just because they work within the network they can treat people like shit. It grinds my gears this Naplolean-God like complex and I’ve noticed that some club owners embrace it because let’s face it, the organizer brings business. I can’t blame the club owners for it, I want them in business just as much as anyone else. But, I can bitch about it on the internet! Booyah!
I like to think that I treat each musician I work with, whether on the bandstand or as a booking agent for the series, equally. I offer them the same fair deal as everyone else and do my best to spread their sound when I can. But the organizers of one particular booking agency in Connecticut (face it, we all know who I’m talking about) need to realize you can’t act like an asshole to people. It creates negative karma for you. One day there will be a young kid like you, trying to do the same work and they’ll have a better situation because they’ll know your reputation and how 99% of the people who work with you think you’re a fucking scumbag. Lastly, stop treating people like dirt because its only a matter of time before someone “socks you in the mouth.”
Just be cool, people.