Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tradition? I Don´t Need No Stinking New Years Gig

It´s true. Who needs it? Sick of the game, anyways.

The oh-so-fabulous NYE (that means new year´s eve to all you rookies) gig has become a thing of the past, I fear. Used to be that, traditionally, NYE was the golden goose for musicians (amateur hour for everyone else.) As a general rule, one would expect to make about triple of what a normal Saturday night gig would be. Pay the rent in one night, and all.

As a general rule.

That´s changed now. A lot of places are just eliminating live music altogether (thank you, karaoke, Rock Band, and recession.) Other joints are just trying to manipulate, wanting to pay you just a bit more (maybe) in exchange for doing an extra set.

Or two.

Mainly, though, places that will still hire players are offering the standard wage (50 bucks and a chicken sandwich?) Ok, not that bad, but for some, it most certainly is. It may be again for me someday, too. Who knows.

This is my second year in a row for having the night off. Almost unheard of in this biz. Nevertheless, this is the state of affairs in my world.

And I´m not the least bit fazed.

See, I´m Europe. Spain, to be precise. I´ll be staying in Madrid, for the most part, near Anton Martin (a barrio.)

Mui fantastico!

(Just to get it out of the way, the weather is great. I hear that there´s about a foot of snow in Chicago, so I´m very well off. Today in Seville, where I am spending just a few days for New Year´s, it´s about 60.)

I decided, very early in the year, that I´d be in Spain for much of the winter. It was gonna be Jamaica (mon) as usual, but a little bird convinced me that Spain would be the tops, since we were there earlier in the year. So with some planning, saving, and having resigned myself some time ago that New Year´s was not going to pay many bills, like usual, I decided that I´d bag the idea of gigging, come here, hang with some very good friends, and do it as differently as I ever had done.

So that means there´s no having to haul my gear through the snow (did you say 12"?), not having to deal with the horrible driving conditions, and not having to play music that you can chew your steak to (wonder if I´d even get one of those steaks. My gut says nay nay nay.) I´m not gonna have to worry about drunk drivers everywhere, police check points everywhere, and I won´t have to bitch about being underpaid.

What a relief.

Instead, I´ll be having cerveza and tapitas and pescado (?) and jamon.

And then 12 grapes at midnight.

There is a tradition here ¨en España¨ that when the clock strikes 12, you must eat 12 grapes before the end of the chimes (can you imagine an entire country glued to the tv or radio or church bells? Me neither, but I´ll let you know.) This, naturally, will bring you good luck for the rest of the year. If you fail to eat them, then watch out. There may be a surprise visit from ¨el diablo¨(ok, I made that part up. But you never know...)

Now that could be a pretty nice new tradition to start.

Feliz Año Nuevo.

So it goes...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Loss and Lunacy at Legends

This is a post that I hate to write.

A good friend of mine, Chris Neal (saxophone for the Brother John band), had his horn ripped off at Buddy Guy's Legends a few days ago.

Chris has been in John's band for years, and that band has been the house band at Legends for years, playing every other Monday night. I've written about the Blue Monday Jams on these pages on many occasions, so those of you who are familiar with me, you know how much I like going to Buddy's on a Monday. The characters that you encounter time and time again are like none you'd ever meet in "real life".

Apparently, Chris' tenor sax (Yamaha Custom EX- it's a nice instrument) was lifted from the green room at the club (on the second floor and away from public access, by the way), which makes this tale of woe all the worse. For those of you who are not in a band or have never seen an episode of Oprah, the green room is reserved for the talent. It's a place where you can hang and chill, be away from the audience, and not have to be "on".

The break room, if you will.

And, of course, it's the place where you can keep your personal stuff, allegedly secure and out of harms way.

So basically, someone in the club went through the VIP area, up the stairs to the green room, took the horn, came back down the stairs, and probably walked through the club with said horn in tow.

This is a travesty. Legend's has a reputation as a leading music venue in Chicago, the so called "Home of the Blues". The club's owner is also reputable, famous, remarkable, and one of the world's foremost ambassadors of the only true American music.

Buddy Guy is Chicago Blues. Something like this should not be happening in his club.

So who's to blame? Was it a patron of the club or a Legends employee that took it, I wonder? It was one or the other, that's for sure.

Unless, of course, it was another musician. Now there's a thought.

And if it was another musician (not an unusual possibility, to be sure,) it's not like he/she will be able to bring it out on a gig. Ever.

Which could only mean...

As Steely Dan once sang, "So I'll pawn my crown, for a ride uptown..."

Hopefully Buddy and Legends will take care of Chris as best as they can.

So it goes...