Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Playing Guitar and Antarctica

Q: As my sightreading reaches more acceptable levels I look to consider comping on cruiseships in a ‘Jay Leno’ style pit band. Although it is not a first choice, it will at least be something professional top put on my CV, as well as a chance to play something beyond party tunes, and to further improve reading skills and save. How well respected are people who have done cruise gigs? Will it open any doors on my return? I’m 25 now and I feel like if I don’t do something it will be too late. I can’t think of any other options at the moment. Some wisdom from someone of your experience and calibre would be fantastic.

I'm not sure that a boat gig (as we call it in musician circles), in itself commands any real respect. What does command respect is a musician who consistently works, be it a boat gig, plus anything else for that matter. A good friend of mine just went on a boat gig, he is a year younger than you and a very fine guitarist. He asked me what I thought about the job offer on the boat. Some other musician who was there at the time gave his two cents, which I thought was a load of crap. He said that a boat gig does nothing for one's career and should be avoided. I told him this: that it doesn't matter what the gig is and a gig is a gig and should not be turned down unless you are sure that there is something better on the way and the boat gig would ruin your chances. You see, it is a privilege to get paid to play a guitar. Think about it, it is a piece of wood with some steel strings attached and when you hit them with a little piece of plastic, somebody gives you money and you can get babes too. What a concept, it seems to good to be true! Some people even give me money to show them how to pick at the strings with the plastic thing so they can get paid too. So when you start wondering if a boat gig will pay well or commands respect, the answer is that any job you can do with a guitar in hand commands respect and any amount of money is overpayment for such a fun thing. And I'll tell you when he emailed me a photo of Antarctica, i really thought so. How many people get to go to Antarctica? And how many of them get paid to go? And how many of them get paid to go to Antarctica by hitting some steel strings on a piece of wood with a plastic thing? Pretty amazing if you ask me. I suppose that there are better paying gigs but so what? Hopefully it is just one gig in a series of gigs that will stretch on and on. Plus, you never know who is on the gig. One of the guys on the gig could go on to a real big gig one day and take you with him.
If you can get yourself on a boat gig, pat yourself on the back my friend and welcome to a very exclusive club, the club of professional musicians.