A tough gig

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BradHarrison, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    10 years at the Shrine Circus in Detroit . 37 or 38 shows in 17 days. What a dirty gig that was. I used to leave my suit outside in my shed every night.

    Nothing like the smell of Elephant dung in the morning.
  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    As a military bandsman, in terms of personal discomfort, I have had my fair share of horrid gigs:

    1992 Columbus Day Review - 3 long-winded speeches, translated from English to Portugese to Spanish, and we were at parade rest for 2 full hours - in the Old Guard that means 2 hours where you just don't move. At all. If sweat is trickling into your eye, you just let it burn. If you get an itch on your face, you let it itch - that sort of thing.

    Various Summerall Field Ceremonies where the temperature was 90+ with high humidity and I was wearing wool Colonials with a hat and a wig.

    1997 Presidential Innauguration parade - it was COLD and we stood around freezing our butts off in the shadow of the US Capitol building for hours prior to step off. I didn't warm up until after I got home that night after the other Innaugural events we had to play and soaked in a hot tub. (I did the parade in 1993 too, but I don't remember it being quite so cold.)

    Great Circus Parade, Milwaukee, Wisconsin - this parade is LONG and is usually in the second week of July. Every time I have marched it I have almost passed out from overheating.

    I have a faily long list of less than pleasant gigs that I have done, but those are the big ones.
  3. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    I played with an organ so sharp that my C trumpet was pushed all the way in and I was still a solid 20 cents flat. Even playing along with a hymn gets tiring when you have to pull the pitch up that much. It makes me shudder to remember it.
  4. Tom_MacNiven

    Tom_MacNiven Pianissimo User

    Dec 13, 2003
    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    Hi there, this is a great topic!!!

    TrickG, your stories remind me of the hundreds and hundreds of parades I took part in in my formative years with the Boys Brigade Brass Band. Marching around either in sweltering heat or pouring rain and/or snow!!! The difference is that we wouldn't really get disciplined for scratching our noses or wiping the combination of hair gel, dirt from the band inside the cap, and rain which was flooding into our eyes!!! Owcha!!! So I can kinda empathise with you slightly. It must take real personal discipline to have that level of mind over matter.

    I did a gig from hell just a few days ago that I'd like to tell you about. It was a kind of corporate floorshow event for this bandleader/singer that I work for here in scotland. He doesn't care about his employees at all and subjected us to 3 and a half hours of rehearsal, then some time off, then 3 medium length cabaret type sets (the thing is hardly off the face) followed by a 1 and a half hour set for dancing!!! My face was quite sore after all that as I'm sure you can imagine!!!

    Anyway to give you some idea of what this guy is like, one of the dancers who was participating in the floorshow part of the evening cut her foot in the quick change area on a piece of glass. The venue had put them in the room called 'The glass room', which is used for, yup you guessed it, storing bottles and glasses. It stands to reason that there would be breakages in this room at points doesn't it? Yes.

    So the trombone player asked the bandleader if everything was alright (meaning with the poor dancer) and he replied completely straight faced, 'Oh well it's a good thing that the choreographer is here tonight because we'll have to re-choreograph the whole show.'

    Another of the dancers was having dizzy spells and his comment on that was - 'I hope none of the audience could tell.'

    How much should professional musicians/entertainers have to put up with just to make some money?

    I did the circus too Brian for a season, I know exactly what you're talking about! The horror of this gig was not only that though. While I was hanging around in the venue bored and cold, it was like a big shed, I saw something really awful. During the show there was a part where the band played 'All creatures great and small' while a tiny tiny pony (about the size of a big dog) ran round in circles through an elephant's legs who was running in opposite circles. The band was really high up above the entrance to the ring so we couldn't see anything but I'm told that was what the act was. Anyway the pony apparently was really messing it up and refusing to do it and stuff during the show so the ringmaster guy was like training it in between shows. The poor little thing was obviously scared out of it's wits at the prospect of getting crushed by an elephants foot and was refusing to do it. That's when he started lashing it with his whip. I saw this with my own eyes. The more he whipped it the less it would 'behave' so it just got worse and worse.

    Some people have said to me 'Are you sure he wasn't just cracking the whip to make the noise to get results?' Yes I'm sure. Anyway I wanted to leave there and then, but in line with professionalism I just did the rest of the run without talking to any of the circus people and clearly showing my contempt for them on my face as there was not much left of the run. Should I just have walked out there and then? I was a bit younger then and worried that my reputation would be soiled if it got around other musos.

    Sorry for telling such a horrible tale but it's nice to kinda get it off my chest.


  5. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    Tom my kids have never been to a circus because my wife hates how the animals are treated. She is by no means a PETA person either.

    I mainly can't stand the filth.

    I know someone who got fired from Ringling Bros because the lion and tiger "tamer" started having problems with his animals. Someone saw the bass player poking his bass at the cats and getting them all riled up. He had been doing it for a while before they figured it out.

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