I keep seeing this post circulating on facebook, its going "viral" and yes its worth reading...
"If you ask yourself why musicians [need to] charge so much for performances, think about this. We don't get paid vacation, we don't get paid sick days, we don't get bonuses for outstanding performances nor for Christmas. We don't have insurance plans nor do we qualify for unemployment. We sacrifice our family on special days so that we can bring happiness to others. Illness or personal affairs are not excuses for a bad performance. Next time you ask, remember that musicians are musicians because of love of music, but that love doesn't pay debts. Happy Musicians' Day!!"
Well if your a musician you cannot help feel something strong when you read it. The fact that it begins by focusing on the financial aspect of our life as musicians it is very real but sounds kind of cold - the thing that brings it home is the closing statement; "musicians are musicians because of the love of music" And this is so true. We love it so much and it becomes our life blood. Many of my facebook friends and colleagues chimed in saying "Happy Musician's Day" ...there continues to be post after post of comments and heartfelt testaments of the life and dedication and thankfulness of musicians throughout. I was touched by the idea or fact of a day for musicians and wish them the same but at first, rather than look into it, reality strikes and I just had to run off to a gig or work on promoting or finding another gig! Indeed I love the idea of a universal day that celebrates the musician but unfortunately upon investigation, apparently there is no officially recognized "Musician's Day" nationally or internationally. But that doesnt stop anyone from posting, re-posting and wishing everyone a happy musicians day!
One thing I did find out about was Saint Cecilia and there are celebrations in her honor and musician's honor. Apparently like the musicians who kept playing on the Titanic she sang to god as she was executed and is remembered as the patron saint of musicians.
Well for me, all of this is only the tip of the iceberg, because it triggers so many stories I could personally tell about the theatrical, crazy, comedy and ironic life of being a full time musician. Musicians stories as you well know, indeed are colorful and have become the subject of cinema, theater and some really fantastic yarns to weave - my own are no less than epic and quite endless and worth telling. Ask me sometime about the life of Samba musicians in Spain during carnival. Or ask me about how many gigs or colleagues I have completely lost or lost touch with simply because I got sick and could not make it to the gig no way no how. Ask me about the ever changing music business that as soon as you learn it, it changes and all you learned doesn't apply anymore. Ask me about aging as a musician and after so much hard work seeing younger musicians take all the work in one clean sweep or watching older heroes with brilliant musical mastery working in the most awful conditions. Ask me about the hours I put in compared to the corresponding monetary compensation. Ask me about my aging guitars with the care needed to keep them in shape and all the money I spend on equipment or how after a decade you need new equipment to keep up with technology and demands of new genres... Its really an endless tale of unbelievable ironies, fantastic ups and downs, dreamlike moments, serious struggles and I could go on and on with stories that are all worthy of being told to any audience musician or not.
And what can a musician do, give up when times are hard after dedicating your whole life to it? I really don't have another skill so highly developed now as this one to fall back on. For me there is no giving up even though the thought may cross my mind on some days and sometimes many days in a row. So yeah, now I would love to go on and on but I need to prepare for tonight's gig with Cabo Verde Cretcheu in Pasadena at Plate38... So happy musicians day (November 22nd or lets just say everyday) to all of us who are courageous enough to try and make this gift of magical sonic insanity our lifes career.
PS: Isn't it funny that today as I write this I am fighting a cold and really should stay in and not sing with a soar throat tonight but because the symptoms are mild enough, that doesn't even cross my mind for a second except to write here in irony - I have to go to work to keep the gig going with the promoter and venue, to get my meager pay and well because I love it! I love it so much it gets me through it all.