December 29, 2009

You know what you’re doing on New Year’s Eve when you’re a musician

As a musician, for so many years, New Year’s Eve meant one of the best paying gigs of the year so that’s how you celebrated it. It is hard to pass up that big pay day as a performing musician but a part of you wants to do something with your family some of the time. If you have children, you are not with them as you are usually playing in a bar or club. You are also not really one of the people enjoying bringing in the new year by celebrating with the one you love. Even though a spouse or special someone may likely be with you, as a musician, you are in the middle of a set and counting down to midnight, perhaps get a quick kiss and hug, as you begin playing “Auld Lang Syne“. Although you are out celebrating and having a good time, after many years of playing in a band on New Year’s Eve, you will most likely, want to not play, once in a while.

In one of the bands I played in, all the members wanted to not play out, so we decided that we would demand a much larger amount of money, thinking that would be the only way to not play. The amount was accepted, so play we did! As a musician, especially if you play for a booking agency, it is almost an unwritten law that you must play on New Year’s Eve.

To illustrate the pressure of a musician to play on NYE, I once was in a house band at a ski resort and scheduled to play. During the day, I began to develop symptoms of the flu and near the time to leave home, I really did not want to go, but I knew there was no way that I could call and tell them we could not play, so I went. I lasted about a couple of songs into the very first set and fainted and fell off my chair onto the stage. I vaguely remember people carrying me out of the lounge and putting me in a car to take me home. I don’t really remember much but waking up 2 days later after the fever broke. It was a bad case of the flu and I should have never have gone, but one thing I remember after I fainted on stage and being laid on a restaurant floor, was the bar manager saying, “That’s OK, he doesn’t have to play”, proving the only way I could have gotten out of playing was by fainting in front of the manger.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that playing wasn’t enjoyable and the extra income was always nice for those after the holiday bills, but just once in a while, it is nice for a musician, to enjoy being in the crowd or just at home, watching the Time Square, New Year’s Eve ball fall and go crazy with your kids!

  It has been quite a few years now that I haven’t had to play a gig on New Year’s Eve, and although I am not ruling out ever doing that again, I must say that I now enjoy being home or doing something with my family and don’t really miss the New Year’s Eve bash with the band.


Beverly Mahone said...

You haven't played in a few years and I haven't been out celebrating in a FEW years! Hubby and I have chosen to just stay at home and watch the ball drop on TV. As far as the entertainment on TV, it sucks! I miss Barry Manilow.

David said...

I hear you! Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope all is well with you.