View Poll Results: Do you play as a job or as a hobby?

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317. You may not vote on this poll
  • Career

    52 16.40%
  • Hobby

    153 48.26%
  • I get paid occasionally/not full time musician

    112 35.33%
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Posts 101 to 150 of 155
  1. #101

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    I'm proud to be a hobbyist, I just enjoy playing.

    I'm under no illusions about my level of ability "mediocre on a good day" and I've had plenty of humbling experiences when taking lessons with real pro players.

    Just enjoy it.
    Guy
    Last edited by GuyBoden; 11-17-2012 at 09:24 AM. Reason: Just enjoy it.

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  3. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by GuyBoden
    I'm proud to be a hobbyist, I just enjoy playing.

    Just enjoy it.
    Guy
    +1 It's great to have a hobby that you have a passion for. For me when I join in with a group that wants to hustle for gigs, it seems to take away some of the joy and make it feel a bit like a job.

  4. #103

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    +1 It's great to have a hobby that you have a passion for. For me when I join in with a group that wants to hustle for gigs, it seems to take away some of the joy and make it feel a bit like a job.
    Frank, if you're a hobbyist, then I'm one, too. I just think there should be a term for "guitar as zen" people, as this use of guitar, it seems to me, goes beyond "a hobby." I think there are at least THREE categories, but if we insist on just two, with "guitar as zen people" being hobbyists, then that's me. Hobby boy am I.

    N.B. It doesn't have to be all jazz -- guitars are good for other musics just as well.

  5. #104

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    Interesting results. I started teaching whilst doing a music degree and haven't looked back since, its developed from a small time local teaching gig, to an online site with worldwide students. So much fun

  6. #105

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    I guess I'm a full time pro, meaning all my current income comes from playing guitar. But it's not 5 or 6 nights a week like it was when I started in the early 70s. Lots of demand for live music back then, not so much now. There's been some years when I had to supplement my income with other music related jobs like audio engineering.

    I would never recommend music performance as a career now. The only people who should even consider it are the few that love it so much that they can't imagine doing anything else. Because, unless they're both lucky and very talented, it's going to be a hard life. Especially as you get older.

    (I don't know how talented I am, but I have been fortunate to work steadily....still, if my wife didn't have a job that provides health insurance.....)

    As much as I love jazz, I've never played a straight ahead jazz job. But I've learned a bunch of chord-melody stuff over the years, and one of these days I'll get up the nerve to try a solo gig!

  7. #106

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    It's a shame the public appreciation for instrumental music has waned to near extinction! It don't mean-a-thing if you cant sing!....

  8. #107

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    Quote Originally Posted by larry graves
    It's a shame the public appreciation for instrumental music has waned to near extinction! It don't mean-a-thing if you cant sing!....
    That's why I'd like a female jazz vocalist as a duo partner for my 7-string playing.

  9. #108

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    That sounds like a winning combination!.......

  10. #109

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    im a professional hobbyist

  11. #110
    Whatever reason you justify guitar is okay with me if you get paid or if you memorize a bit of music who is going to deliver a verdict.

  12. #111

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    I cant understand why your stumped because younger cats aren't playing old fashioned music, Be- Bop went out of fashion in the early fifties. What audience are you referring to anyway the residents of rest homes. You expect the younger generation to go out and play older music but not you.. if every jazz guitarist decided to become a hobbyist there would be no jazz out there...Actually jazz is holding it's own, just look at the attendances jazz festivals......

  13. #112

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    Quote Originally Posted by larry graves
    I cant understand why your stumped because younger cats aren't playing old fashioned music, Be- Bop went out of fashion in the early fifties. What audience are you referring to anyway the residents of rest homes. You expect the younger generation to go out and play older music but not you.. if every jazz guitarist decided to become a hobbyist there would be no jazz out there...Actually jazz is holding it's own, just look at the attendances jazz festivals......
    Me? I don't expect them to do anything. When I was trying to learn Charlie Christian style swing in the 70's information was hard to come by. I didn't know about comping, archtop guitars, didn't have an ear for good vocals. I didn't know about a lot of things. There will always be a market for older songs like from the swing era- it's just a matter of tapping into it.
    I decided not to persue swing or jazz early on but my point is, it's easier to do now than it used to be.
    Django style swing seems to be fairly popular and I believe a lot of it has to do with the easy access of info on the internet on how to approach the music. I can't say the same for older American swing.

  14. #113

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    right now i am a hobbiest but would like to do some gigs one day

  15. #114
    Finding jazz gigs is a art who wants to hear a jazz group who is willing to pay money to listen and look.Where in Society does it fit.One answer is that other musicians would want to hear and look but that is about it.The amount of plastic CDs at the local dump is gathering.

  16. #115
    I met this person from long beach California he said the bars were the best place to catch musicians playing every night.

  17. #116

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    Quote Originally Posted by 604bourne123
    Finding jazz gigs is a art who wants to hear a jazz group who is willing to pay money to listen and look.Where in Society does it fit.One answer is that other musicians would want to hear and look but that is about it.The amount of plastic CDs at the local dump is gathering.
    Hard to say if things will ever turn around in favor of live music. It's been my experience that if you find a singer who can work a room, everything else falls into place. Instrumental music by itself is a tough sell. I got more into bop more over the years but I miss the dancable music, working with singers, hustling for gigs, etc...

  18. #117
    Getting back to the thread the hobby thing starts to eat at me but your right the singer puts it all together and makes it cool to listen to.If you play jazz guitar there has to be at least 10 tunes you can do by rote.do all the chords-drop 2 and 3 memorize the lyrics,memorize some improvisations for the chords and change the lead lines from the head to your signature,introductions and close.If you can do that with a singer and at least 10 tunes the paper money is in your hand.

  19. #118

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    At this point I'm strictly a learnist. I'll be 67 this year. All my dearest musician friends that I played with over all the past years have passed on in one way or the other. Starting playing when I was ten yrs old and mainly played juke joints and honky tonk's all thru my region until I was about 60 till I was the only one left. I live in a small little town in the Mississippi delta so it's pretty much only me and my guitar. I still work full time and practice probably 20-30 hrs a week but I've come a long way in my learning in the past 5-6 years.

    So I'll just keep hobbying/learning away, it does a mind, body and soul good.
    Last edited by BFrench; 02-27-2018 at 06:39 PM.

  20. #119

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    Quote Originally Posted by BFrench
    At this point I'm strictly a learnist. I'll be 67 this year. All my dearest musician friends that I played with over all the past years have passed on in one way or the other. Starting playing when I was ten yrs old and mainly played juke joints and honky tonk's all thru my region until I was about 60 till I was the only one left. I live in a small little town in the Mississippi delta so it's pretty much only me and my guitar. I still work full time and practice probably 20-30 hrs a week but I've come a long way in my learning in the past 5-6 years.

    So I'll just keep hobbying/learning away, it does a mind, body and soul good.
    Inspirational.

    D.

  21. #120

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    Full-time pro for 55 years, some teaching through that, but mostly playing and writing arrangements.

  22. #121

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    Same a Bfrench here...just turned 67 and started playing guitar at 12 when the Beatles came to America.First paying gig was the 9th grade graduation. I still play everyday (added violin years ago) and do occasional paying gigs as a guitarist/singer. The whole getting paid for playing thing has changed profoundly. With so much music so ubiquitous and free, no one wants to pay for it anymore. At this point I play out of pure love of doing so. I'm still working up new material and get the deepest satisfaction from playing and singing. Trying hard to instill a love of live playing in the grandchildren.

  23. #122

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    I always say that I play professionally. Music isn't, and has never been, my primary source of income, but I've worked professionally as a musician since I was a teenager, and I definitely play at a professional level, I do the same gigs as other musicians who are full time pros, and therefore, I just say I play professionally.

    I personally dislike the term hobby as I feel it doesn't properly describe the amount of time, effort and dedication I have towards learning this music.

  24. #123

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    I think "amateur" (referring to meanings related to this book) is a term to be preferred to "hobbyst".
    But that's what I do, I'm definitely not somebody who makes his living out of music.

  25. #124

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    full time here too, i try to do as many jazz gigs as possible ive turned down good paying gigs to do a $50-75-100 jazz gig just cause i knew the other players were great and i was gonna get my ass kicked..lol. I do have a $50 steady big band gig though, that has been great but i dont get to solo much, which is fine but good for sight reading. i have to play all styles rock, country, pop, track gigs what ever. Hell i play Mandolin as well in a country band, which is actually really fun... wish i could just play jazz at all times cause that's all i practice the most.

  26. #125

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    Quote Originally Posted by larry graves
    I cant understand why your stumped because younger cats aren't playing old fashioned music, Be- Bop went out of fashion in the early fifties. What audience are you referring to anyway the residents of rest homes. You expect the younger generation to go out and play older music but not you.. if every jazz guitarist decided to become a hobbyist there would be no jazz out there...Actually jazz is holding it's own, just look at the attendances jazz festivals......
    not so sure about that. I recent trip to NYC revealed that many of the greatest players are not working regularly and the ones that are are playing to empty houses. Twice in the last 12 months I have visited NYC in may (in 2017 and 2018) and both times, I reached out to Kreisberg, Rogers, Bernstein, Juris and a bunch of others. Both times, I came up empty handed although Kreisberg ended up filling in for someone on the last trip at the last minute and I got to hear him that way.


    I went to hear one of the best jazz musicians in NYC a couple weeks ago at a well known jazz club and he was playing to a total house of 7 people, 3 of which were listening (my table) and the other 4 were talking. He stopped playing several times to glare at the talkers. After the set, he came over and sat at our table and mentioned that he was so tired of the NYC club scene and didn't know if he wanted to continue doing it. Many of the great players have moved out of the city back to their home towns and are mostly doing road gigs and/or festivals.

    And while Manhattan has more real jazz clubs than anywhere else in the world, Vanguard, Blue Note, Mezzrow, smalls, 55 bar, bar next door, many of these clubs are struggling and featuring indie, blues or pop music on some nights. And while there are tons of restaurants and lounges with jazz bands, many of them are not conducive to anything other than background music. I've heard Pasquale Grasso a bunch of times in NYC. Once was in a lounge, and another time was in a restaurant. My table was the only table paying attention in both cases. So much so that he came over to our table and thanked us on both occasions.

    So yeah, festivals will always do well and that's where the better money is for a jazz musician but you can't do festivals 200 nights a year. Even Pat Metheny is no longer doing that quantity and for years he was the model of 200 nights a year on the road.

  27. #126

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker

    I went to hear one of the best jazz musicians in NYC a couple weeks ago at a well known jazz club and he was playing to a total house of 7 people, 3 of which were listening (my table) and the other 4 were talking.
    Pretty much the same here. I can go to a restaurant with Peter Sprague playing, there might be 10 people there listening and the rest talking.

  28. #127

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    I think there was a period of time where any given week you could hear bollenback, rogers, juris, bernstein, johnston, kreisberg, mazza, etc. I think it's slowed down a lot though.

    And the other factor is the expense. It's not feasible for a jazz musician to live in manhattan anymore. An apartment in the village is going to run $2500/month for an efficiency. So guitarist living in brooklyn or queens and faced with a $45 uber ride * 2 eating up close to 100% of their gig fee would need to schlep their guitar, amp , pedalboard on the subway and transfer trains part of the way through. Some of the older guys who have rent control may be in better shape in that regard...

  29. #128

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    Also, what is a pro anymore? If someone plays 4 gigs a month living in NYC but has to have a day gig to pay the rent, does that make them an amateur? Or what about say, 2 gigs a month and 3 days a week teaching guitar?

  30. #129

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    Also, what is a pro anymore? If someone plays 4 gigs a month living in NYC but has to have a day gig to pay the rent, does that make them an amateur? Or what about say, 2 gigs a month and 3 days a week teaching guitar?
    I've felt this way since I moved to NYC in 2000: it was immediately obvious to me that whatever criteria anyone sets that defines a "pro", you're going to have world class players playing world class gigs that don't meet that criteria. basically everyone teaches for a significant part of their income now, does videos, etc.

    This was even true way back in the day, Joey Baron worked a day job in manhattan for many years, and for some of those years he was recording amazing music with Bill Frisell. Countless jazz musicians have relied on their spouse's income to make ends meet, including, at times, even Monk.

    This is a topic that has come up time and time again on forums over the years, and I hope the distinction between "pro" and "amateur" is fading in importance.

  31. #130

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    When I last posted to this thread 1n 2013, all of my meagre income was from playing. I now get a nice Social Security check each month that pays the same as a whole lot of gigs. (unlike some of my musician friends, I always paid my taxes.) So I guess I'm now a hobbyist!
    Making a living with music is harder than ever and, even if you love it, it can grind you down.

    I'm now happy playing 3 or 4 gigs a month. Just the fun stuff.

  32. #131

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    I have spent many more hours trying to be a good guitarist than I even have learning how to repair guitars. A neck refret is a nice gig and I make the hours plus I don't drag any equipment. Playing guitar for a living is not something I would ever consider even though I did it for a few years during and after college. My money came from teaching.

    If someone can make a living playing guitar and being a musician they are special folks in my opinion.

  33. #132

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    I am a pro, but I feel like a hobbyist.

  34. #133

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    I’ve played for a living and played as an amateur as well. Hobbyist? I do build free flight balsa models as a hobby but guitar for me is a passion. I single parented two children and for three years found working as a guitarist the best way to both make a meager living and be there for my kids in the daytime hours. That was the early 80’s in Cleveland. I wouldn’t want to have to do it again. I still gig 3-5 times a month but not to make a living. I find the word hobbyist pejorative relative to being a musician

  35. #134

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    Former pro, now I gig when I can given business related travel.

    I ‘tour’ a lot, but wield a laptop instead of an axe.

  36. #135
    I used to play out for $ quite a bit in my younger days and did so for some time (while always having another job on the side). More recently, my brother in-law and I did a number of gigs the last few years at Italian festivals, playing traditional Italian music, but I've since moved, so that was the end of that. Having typed all of that and in answer to the poll: I consider myself a hobbyist.

  37. #136

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    Hobbyist/Amateur ---- where amateur is one who is a lover of a science or art, but does not produce income with it ----fits me squarely. Been trying to learn guitar since 1966 or so. Never made money to speak of. There was one time in 1982 I filled in for some friends at a wedding and they gave me $100 dollars. Not very accomplished. But I still enjoy it alot. Retired now, so I find time to play a bit more in my old age. Keeps me off the streets.

  38. #137

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    I've never cleared more than $500 or so a year playing gigs, after expenses and whatnot, so essentially I'm a hobbyist who occasionally hits paydirt. That was playing rock -- I haven't earnt a dime playing jazz, and rightfully so, because I'm not that good at it at all.

  39. #138

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    I've considered myself a professional musician since I was in my late teens/early 20s, but the label is more formality than reality at this stage. I don't feel too bad about it, though. When I was in Austin two years ago I had a gig and hired a musician whose performing and recording credits include Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, and Robben Ford. The gig paid $60 per man plus tips.

  40. #139

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    Quote Originally Posted by guitarbuddy
    When I was in Austin two years ago I had a gig and hired a musician whose performing and recording credits include Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, and Robben Ford. The gig paid $60 per man plus tips.
    That's a pretty sad reality....

  41. #140

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    With apologies to Schopenhauer for abusing his quote...



    "No time can be more unfavorable to music
    than that in which it is shamefully misused
    on the one hand to further political objects,
    on the other as a means of livelihood..."

  42. #141

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    I retired young (45) and after a couple of somewhat successful careers in law and management, I decided to give full time music a go. I am 61 now and have averaged about 200 gigs a year for the last 15 years (making about 20K including gig fees, tips and free food and drink). All of my gigs are jazz gigs, about 70 of them are just me playing solo jazz guitar. the rest are duo, trio, quartet and once in a blue moon, quintet gigs. I do not teach (I turn down at least one prospective student a month, so I could if I wanted to I suppose). Most of my gigs are background music gigs in restaurants and wine bars. I have played with local, national and international luminaries (from Vince Lateano to Larry Coryell) and can hold my own, but my skill set will always keep me being "local talent". My earnings are a meager living, but I have other sources of income and my wife makes a great living (As Redd Foxx once said, "all a man needs is a good woman......with a good job!)

    If I can get 3 or 4 more years more of living this dream, it will all have been a pretty amazing ride. Getting paid to play your guitar is indeed a dream come true!

  43. #142
    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    I retired young (45) and after a couple of somewhat successful careers in law and management, I decided to give full time music a go. I am 61 now and have averaged about 200 gigs a year for the last 15 years (making about 20K including gig fees, tips and free food and drink). All of my gigs are jazz gigs, about 70 of them are just me playing solo jazz guitar. the rest are duo, trio, quartet and once in a blue moon, quintet gigs...
    Do you mind if I live vicariously through you?

  44. #143

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    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blues
    Do you mind if I live vicariously through you?
    Please do!

    I figure my chances of living this dream for another 3-4 years (I am truly surprised that it has lasted this long, to be honest) depends on two things:

    1. My health. At 61, the first signs of arthritis are showing up. Most bass players and guitarists over 60 report some problems with this. If my hands start to hurt significantly more (and more often), I will have to quit.

    and:

    2. The availability of the gigs. The venue owners/managers and agents who keep me employed are all in their 60's and 70's. When they retire and are replaced by younger venue owners/managers and agents, I presume the gigs (if there is still an interest in live jazz) will go to younger players.

    So far so good.

  45. #144
    Thanks!

    Just turned 60 myself this past summer, so I certainly read where you're coming from.

    I hope that both will continue for you well into the years to come!



  46. #145

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    This explains why I would rather repair a guitar than take a gig. I play well enough to function when needed but i have my limitations. I can do a refret, dressing, and then a headstock repair in almost one day. That would be a lot of gigs and I don’t have to travel. Finally I have to play the guitars to check then out. A blessing.

  47. #146

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    I get payed for playing guitar and earn the living for me and my family (wife and one daughter) by making music. So I am a professional musician . But don't play in any famous band, I'm not a well known guitarist and I even would go so far, saying, there is not one single style I'm really very good in. I play Jazz, but also Funk, Alternative, Rock/Pop-Covers but also (and I love) Blues, Acoustic, Electric, every now and then sub at a Musical-Show, some Folk or Country... I do everything, it is never boring, I always (have to) learn many new things, there is no (boring) routine and I love that. The job has many disadvantages, but I am happy and thankfull, that I can live my dream as a working musician!

  48. #147

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    Throwing my hat in the ring here...

    I just turned 33, went to college undergrad for music, studied classical guitar and jazz, played in and sang in an original indie rock band that entire time and we gigged a lot regionally, recorded a few CDs. After that, moved to NYC in 2009, tried the music business and hated it, lived there for a few years and got my MA in music ed at Teachers College, still played in a band the whole time, minor touring, more CDs. Then, I switched focus to jazz solely and moved north to Yonkers, so I'm just outside NYC. My wife is a music teacher in a nearby town, does pretty well because she has a lot of experience. I've been teaching music full-time for about 7-8 years. We've got two little kids (3 and 1). Last year I gigged about 50 times, or once a week, a lot of restaurant/bar background stuff, places in NYC, some jazz clubs, some weddings, go to jam sessions, took a couple lessons with Adam Rogers, I recorded a CD that got some good reviews...I also make in a point to go to the city and see music once a month or so. In fact, I saw Adam Rogers with Joe Locke a few nights ago...amazing.

    But, in 2018, I averaged $100/gig. So yeah, that was about 5K for 50 gigs. That is not a living. I practice every day and put a lot into it, but the monetary returns are not there. I make a lot more teaching music, which is cool because I get to play the piano and run a chorus...I mostly enjoy it.

    On good days, I liken myself to Vivaldi, who composed so much and taught at a girls' orphanage. My wife recently let me know that his situation was actually a punishment bestowed on him by the higher ups in the church, so maybe that changes my assessment of myself too ;-)

    I talk to the younger players I gig with around here - one told me he made 10K a few years ago. That, in my opinion, is not a living either. Not sure how it's possible to survive. He's a monster player too.

    Other days I wish I could just play and not have to teach. Then still, just the other night I played with an older guy who played professionally for years and is trying to get a music teaching job in my area and cannot. So, other times, I feel very fortunate about my situation.

    That's it. I consider myself professional because I play at a high level, play with amazing players, gig for money as often as I can, release albums, and am dedicated. But, if someone wants to hurt my feelings, they could say it's just a hobby. Not sure if a label matters.

    I do love the process though, playing, practicing, gigging, writing, it feeds my soul. So, I just try to be as appreciate as possible of my situation.

    That's it!

  49. #148

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    I picked “occasionally get paid” because that is exactly the truth.

    ..and yes. Restaurant gigs are all I have ever done for actual pay.

    And?

    I’m fine with this.

    We all love jazz because we love the art..and I’m not sure that I have found a single individual on this site who isn’t in it for this.

    I have often dreamt of being the next “great” ..but as a full blown career?

    I don’t know man.

    I’m pretty good and I have taught guitar in the past..but I am a bartender to be honest..and let’s face it, most of the restaurant gigs I have landed have been because I know people in the business and not because I am “in demand” as a jazz virtuoso on an archtop! LOL

    Are you a pro or a hobbyist?-034470ee-91df-4735-8185-4b76e510dbd3-jpg

    This picture is from a lounge gig I played recently. I got paid $75.00 for three hours of playing solo..and they didn’t even put my full name on the marquis! That was humbling.
    LOL


    Really though, many greats did other things too I suppose—

    Tal Farlow was a sign painter.

    I once heard that Oscar Moore was a bricklayer. ( though I have never confirmed this)

    Johnny Smith had his guitar shop open for decades.

    Jimmy Bruno stopped playing altogether and became a bar manager for a hot minute back in the day.

    My late father was never famous, but he was a monster player..he taught guitar, but really he was a mechanic.

    ..even Wes worked in a factory in the beginning.

    One of the greatest players I have ever heard, Kenny Poole, played with just about everyone. From Jack Mcduff to Mark Murphy to Groove Holmes.
    ..but Kenny was like Tal.
    Neither of them liked to travel much and Kenny mainly just played restaurant gigs in Cincinnati for his whole life by choice.

    so I don’t know man..

    A career?

    well..if you can make it happen then more power to you!

    i personally believe that you can do it.

    We all gotta’ stick together.

    my best to you

  50. #149

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    Your comment was eye opening and educational to say the least
    thank you for sharing

  51. #150

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    And, happy melodist, unwearied,
    Forever piping songs forever new;