Day gig: Financial Planner. Night and weekend gig: Rocker
by Al Reese
For those of you that have read my previous posts (yes, both of you), you already know about my love of music. I’ve been able to pursue that passion by playing bass in a local classic rock cover band called Project Alice. We play about once a month in northern Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts. I’ve been lucky enough to connect with a good bunch of musicians, including a young woman singer who can belt it out all night long. We play a variety of stuff designed to stir up the crowd, but mainly songs by AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Stones, etc.
When I tell friends what I’m doing, they will sometimes say that they’re jealous. Fueled by powerful memories of their teenage years, it all seems so cool, so glamorous. Well, as my band mates and I have agreed, people who say they want to be in a band have probably never been in one. To illustrate, we played a gig in a local pub a couple of weeks ago, and were the “headliners” of a two-band night. To complete our sound check before the first band went on (where we play one song to check instrument balance and volume), I had to leave home at 6:30 to be at the club at 7:30 p.m. The first band didn’t complete their set until 10:45 so, with 15 minutes to set-up a different drum set and plug in our instruments, we went on at 11 p.m. Set completion at 1:00 a.m., strike and schlep the equipment immediately thereafter, home at 2:30. Go glamorous! And the pay: fuhgedaboudit! For that 8-hour commitment, each member of the band earned $100, about the same money I was making when I was doing this back in high school. And that’s excluding all the practice time necessary to learn the tunes and fine-tune the arrangements, and also completely ignores the behind-the-scenes drama of band members not getting along and quitting two weeks before the gig. That, too, is just like high school. Geez – some things never change!
So why do I continue to play and put up with all the crap? Well, one simple answer – it’s just plain ol’ fun! To me, there are few things more soul satisfying than locking in with the drummer and pounding out a solid foundation for a tune. This is clearly not about the money; I know far too many very talented musicians who struggle to make a solid living, much less save for “retirement.” No, this is truly a labor of love. Even though I’m often one of the oldest guys in the club (and certainly the least tattooed), I wouldn’t change it for anything. At least until the next guitarist quits!