What types of customers have you worked with?
After primarily playing clubs & festivals for many years, always with a full band, the economics of live music changed, and I had to shift gears a bit. So, while I continued doing some club & concert shows, I streamlined the numbers of musicians I needed to still present a full, warm, high quality, professional sound. Thus, I utilized technology to create a great deal of music, recorded it, minus lead instruments, & use those recordings as the background, so that two or three of us sound just like a four or five piece group. I can even play a night's music solo, which has enabled to get many jobs that would normally have gone to a DJ, guitarist, pianist, or even a small combo.
Being able to make great sounding music, yet without needing the size or the budget of a larger ensemble, has meant we are called for many kinds of events. Of course, for more intimate events, a dinner, home cocktail party, or where space is at a premium, me alone, or as a duo, with my guitarist, makes perfect sense. However, we've been hired to also perform for up to 1,000 or more people, as well.
We have done hundreds of corporate receptions, shows, dinners, Christmas parties, & large galas, where Bill Gates or Barack Obama, may be speaking, or another artist, like Bruce Hornsby, or the Pointer Sisters may perform after us. Our client list includes many of the very biggest companies, most professional sport organizations, & trade groups in the medical, legal, scientific, engineering, & IT fields, as well as many non-profit & governmental organizations.
We most often play for cocktail hours, dinners, & anywhere just the right musical ambience is desired.
When a more high-powered concert or show & dance is desired, I can call on other top professionals to fill out the band, as I most recently did this past summer, to play the mainstage at the Atlanta Jazz Festival.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
Well, here's an example indicative of our versatility, and of how well we perform.
The first was being only one of three local jazz bands selected to play on the main stage of the 2010 Atlanta Jazz Festival, where we were followed by Trombone Shorty, Esperanza Spaulding, and Marcus Miller. We were a bit stunned at the rousing applause & shouts of "more, more, one more", and that was after already playing an encore tune! I would have loved to play longer, but there's a time consideration at play, when it's a festival, as other bands have to come & go, as well.
My group at that event was six musicians & a female vocalist, & included some of the best players in the world. My guitarist had been Gladys Knight & Marvin Gaye's lead player for many years, my drummer has worked with Earth Wind & Fire, Joe Sample, Jean Luc Ponty, Bette Midler, Grover Washington Jr., & many others, etc....
The following week, with just my guitarist, and keyboard player, we played a reception for Microsoft's top executives at the Four Seasons Hotel, something we've done many times they've come to town. When we finished, the hotel manager bought us each a glass of wine, to toast my departure.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
For one, I would suggest seeing them play live, if possible. Next best is to view some video, & of course, at the minimum, hear some recordings. If they have references/testimonials, that is a good way to see who's experienced, and how well others view their work.
It's very important also, to as best you can, ascertain if those you book are reliable, will show up early enough to deal with any unexpected contingencies, & be dressed appropriate to the event. Obviously, tuxedoes for a backyard BBQ or jeans & t-shirts at a corporate reception might not make for the best mix. If there is a specific manner in which you'd like the band attired, be sure to discuss that beforehand, & clearly. I've sometimes been surprised at what a band member may think is "casual dressy", and have learned to make sure I'm clear in my directions..
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
I suppose that I'm one of those musicians that is not simply an interchangeable part, not one to just fill a saxophone or flute player spot. My entire relationship to music is that I use music as my primary artistic outlet, so I must be feeling what I'm doing, or would simply rather not do it at all. Because of that, no matter if I'm playing a concert to 50,000 people, on television, for presidents, movie stars, & top corporate CEOs, or at a home day care center, or backyard BBQ, I cannot just phone in my part, everyone gets the best that I can do, period.
As to the profession, I guess it's the converse, and something that banged up the idealistic image I had of all musicians, before I went out into the professional world. Not all musicians are deeply passionate, expressive, nor always concerned that the audience always gets 100%. I believe that every job is a blessing, that while I could've made a better living had I continued on to law school, just being able to make a livelihood doing something I love is a definite privilege, and one I am very grateful for.