Gigs

My regular gigs right now…

I play lead guitar in Jen and The Generics, a four-piece rock and pop group led by Jen Sphere, who I’ve known since school. She calls herself Jen Atmosphere on stage. It’s mostly covers but a few originals. Jen sings lead and plays drums. She also plays trumpet, sometimes she plays trumpet and drums at the same time! We do Wednesday nights at Gummo’s in Surrey and Friday nights at The Black Hole in Cedar Point.

I play tenor sax in Benny Bright’s Band of Blue. It’s a rocking blues group, five-piece rhythm section and three horns. Benny plays piano and sings. His specialty is those loud, slow, raunchy numbers. He’s been doing Thursday nights at Helen Choy’s Supper Club in Burnaby for years. I’ve been on that gig the last three years. Benny always makes it fun and he treats his band well. He also does a four-piece blues gig three nights a week at Stephen’s Bar in Vancouver. He calls it The Bright Blue Quartet. I filled in on guitar for them last couple of Octobers when the regular man goes away on vacation. Hoping to do it again this year, haven’t heard anything yet.

I don’t have a regular Saturday night gig which kind of sucks sometimes, you hate to be sitting home, not working, on a Saturday night. It’s the biggest night of the week and you’re making nothing. And if you don’t want to be sitting home, you go out and you spend money.

On the other hand, I’m working with three other bands that get gigs here and there and then there’s pickup bands and fill-in stuff and having Saturday nights open means I can say yes more often than not. So I usually get a Saturday night gig every week, not always.

On the other hand having some Saturday nights off is important when you have a girlfriend. On the other hand, it’s not as important if your girlfriend sings in a band and usually works Saturday night. How many hands is that?

I usually end up with four to six gigs a week. Weekend afternoons I can pick up wedding receptions, Saturdays especially.

Right now, I’m booked on Sundays. Got a gig for the summer, doing a solo guitar thing at the bar at the Mariner’s Inn in Cedar Point for the Sunday brunch crowd. Three sets. Electric but quiet, familiar pop and standards, jazzy, instrumental only. I don’t sing, don’t ask me. They give me a mic but all I ever say is, “Thank you.” I’m not the emcee type, not at all. I just play music. The longest announcement I make is at the end of each set, “Thank you for listening. Thank you for your tips.” Unless I have to announce that there’s a car blocking the service entrance.

And of course, I’m in a rehearsal band. Isn’t everybody? We meet the second Monday night of the month. Molly & The Moles. It’s a sort of a folk-punk-klezmer band. And we do some reggae, a little bluegrass and a couple polkas. I know, it sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But it works! It’s the funniest/coolest damn thing you ever heard. We’ve only played two gigs – both freebies – but people freakin’ loved us.

Molly is a short, plump, middle-aged lady who sings and plays mandolin while wearing a red sombrero, sometimes leading her to introduce us as Molly & The Mole, as in the Mexican sauce. She’s pretty funny. The others play guitar, piano and bass and I play clarinet. And everybody doubles, that’s how we can play all those different styles. We can have mandolin, fiddle, banjo, acoustic and electric guitar, piano, accordion, clarinet, sax, trombone, baritone horn, harmonica, bass guitar, stand-up bass, cello, marimba and drums – not all at once but we got somebody who can play each of them.

It’s always good to have a regular job too, just in case. Even one shift a week, you can always ask for more work if you need it. I got a job one night a week as a baker’s helper in Cedar Point. Been doing that about a year. Third shift, Sunday nights. Monday’s always a washout, pretty much sleep all day. Fortunately there’s not much work for musicians on Monday afternoons, so I’m not missing much.

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