Saturday, July 04, 2009

A Different Fourth Of July In Downtown Lexington

In a way it's kind of sad. This year there will not be music in downtown Lexington performed on the street corners by members of the American Federation of Musicians. I have played in various musical groups in downtown Lexington on every Independence Day since I became a professional musician in the early 70's. Dad has played the downtown festivities for about fifty consecutive years. This year the musicians have been told by the city that there is not enough funding available to pay the union musicians.

I remember some years having to carry multiple instruments for a variety of gigs. Several times I would have to carry a baritone sax, tenor sax, alto sax, and clarinet. Sometimes it would be raining and sometimes the temperature would reach 95 or 100 degrees. It was hard work carrying those horns all over town. I worked gigs with Ed Minor's Big Band, Men of Note, Swingmasters, Polytones, David & Dad Duo, Courtney Bonner Big Band, Lexington German Band, Jazz Arts Foundation Band, and various others.

The Men of Note, Downtown Lexington Independence Day, Circa 1990

The pay for these gigs is very low, in fact, they only pay the minimum union scale. I would think to myself each year that it was not worth playing the jobs due to the low pay, tough parking, the lugging of the horns, and the uncomfortable weather. Each Independence Day I would vow not to work the gigs the following year. Of course I always ended up playing them, as I didn't want to break tradition.

Instead of working these gigs today, I am sitting here in front of my computer on 7/4 at 9:00am writing this blog entry. Man, I should be playing at the bus depot right now with the Lexington German Band. When that is over, I'm supposed to be playing with the Lexington Concert Band. After that comes the parade and playing on the float, and then the big band & jazz gigs begin. Now that they are gone I'm thinking that it really wasn't that bad lugging all those horns in the heat of the day all over downtown Lexington. I wish I was there today vowing to never play the gigs again.


At July 12, 2009 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You musicians are not the only ones who lament the recession imposed break with tradition. For 10's of years, I have eagerly anticipated visiting the many venues on the 4th and hearing the works of the many talented musicians. It was a fine opportunity to hear snippets of various genres and to promote an appreciation for each. I missed seeing you and your associates who fan the flame of my favorite genre.
Hey! you didn't call me for Bogarts!


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