Part 1 – Preparing for a gig
Read and understand all communications regarding the gig. Make sure you know all details including, but is not limited to:
1. Exact start and finish times.
2. How much you are going to be paid, how, and when. Will you get a portion of any of the tips? This is important to know in order to avoid any misunderstandings, which often cause hard feelings. E.g., you thought you were going to get cash, but the gig actually pays you a check in the mail 8 weeks later.
3. Exactly what should you wear.
4. Do you need an amplifier, microphone, music stand, stand light, or fakebook?
5. Will there be food and drinks? Will you have to pay for them? Failing all else, will there be a source of drinking water? (Don’t laugh – I played a gig recently where we had to load in to a second floor walk up, then move the band up a flight of stairs to the third floor for another set, and the only beverages available were tiny warm bottles of ginger ale!!)
6. Where should the band park their cars?
I never leave for a gig without the following:
1. Spare audio cable and power cable. Extension cord.
2. Nalgene bottle of ice water
3. Extra clean shirt
4. Black hand towel
5. IPhone with IRealPro installed (basically a fakebook on my smart phone)
6. Custom molded -15dB earplugs
And finally, I’ll leave you with this pro tip: Be very early to every gig and rehearsal. Even if you believe that your load-in time is ridiculously early, be the first person there. Bring a copy of The NY Times, maybe spend some time practicing your putting, but be there early.
Once you get to your gig early and prepared, don’t be nervous. You practice music hard every day, and you are going to give 100% at the gig. Perhaps you might even have a bumpy night musically, but keep on playing through the bumps. 80% of the gig is you being nice to yourself and your band mates. The rest will fall naturally into place.
Part 2 – Will Mr. Ketch ever be ‘Jim’ to me?
When I was a senior in high school, my parents bought me a bass for my birthday. I caught on quickly, and started practicing playing jazz with my friends. I jammed with good musicians at my high school, and I believe I had a modicum of natural talent for jazz bass. During the summer between high school and college, I began to practice scales. At this point, I still didn’t know what I was doing.
That fall, I enrolled at UNC-CH. I had the absolute hubris to audition for the jazz band. Imagine my complete astonishment when I ended up getting placed in the advanced band- after having played the bass for less than a year, and having never touched an upright bass in my life? The direction of my entire life was defined in that moment by Mr. Jim Ketch, the jazz band director.
To this day, the name ‘Mr. Ketch’ is similar to ‘Mom’ or ‘President Reagan’. (Yes, Reagan was president when I went to college). I’d never call my mom Mary Ann, and I’d never walk up to Barack Obama and call him Barack, so I have a hard time calling Mr. Ketch ‘Jim’. I know he prefers to be called ‘Jim’, but it’s tough for me because it feels a bit disrespectful to someone who has been such an iconic and respected teacher to me from when I was 17 years old.
I’ll end this story by saying, Thanks Jim, I enjoyed playing with you last night!