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Getting the Gigs

I am a musician. First and foremost, its what I am. I didn't go the traditional route of finishing high school, leaving for four or more years of college, and looking at music as a hobby until I got a career. Music was my career. I left high school early with a GED so I could join up with a traveling top 40 band in a very short-lived tour. I've played in bars since I was 15 or 16 years old, sneaking in the back door carrying guitar cases so nobody would card me. In fact, when I finally turned 21, that milestone age most people would celebrate going out to a pub with a big blowout, I had to celebrate in secret as the club owners thought it to be my 25th birthday. Had they known then I was underage working in their clubs for so long they'd have put a contract out on me, or at least had me taken in an alley for a good high education session. For me it was the day that seemed to never arrive where I would no longer go to work in fear that I was going to be busted for going to work and earning a living. That was a long five years.

I was known in those days for working, a lot, as a musician along the gulf coast of Florida and all throughout the southeast. I played with all kinds of bands, more than one at a time, playing drums (poorly) in one country band while on another night playing guitar for another thrown together band for the gig I happened to have book. I played bass in one band, guitar in another, whatever it took. It was work or go hungry. Music was all I knew how to do.

It was more of a quest to keep eating than some narcissistic drive at fame and fortune. I never had a booking agent for most of my work, only later when I was playing frat house shows did an agent really step up the plate. They were Crescent Moon Talent in Nashville, and they were the most practical agency I ever dealt with. "You book the bars and stuff yourself, Mike. We'll send the frat house social chairmen to the shows. If they like you, we'll book your band at their house for their party season." And that's exactly how it worked.

For some reason what came as natural as could be to me remained mostly a black art, a mystical magical ability to the other band members. I kept myself booked as a solo performer, booking band shows where I'd not seen the other band members for weeks, telling them "show up in Auburn, AL on this night and we'll play and each make $250.00." And show up they would. Years after I had played with them, I would get calls or emails asking me for help getting their new band gigs, wanting to know my "secrets" for working so much, figuring it can't be that hard if I did it. It wasn't. It isn't. And tomorrow, I'll tell you how you can do exactly what I used to do to keep yourself gainfully employed full time as a musician if you're willing to do the same things.

Posted: 12/11/2008 10:12:50 AM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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