The Jazz.com Blog
June 15, 2008 · 1 comment
Recently jazz.com published the first installment of FrÝy Aagreís fascinating journal of her experiences touring the US. This candid document gives insight into the harsh economic realities of life on the road. Here we see first hand how musicians are paid (if at all), how are they treated, and the various surprises that await them as they move from gig to gig. Below is a further extract from this journal. Click here for the third and final installment of FrÝy Aagreís tour diary. T.G.
FRōY AAGRE'S TOUR DIARY
DAY EIGHT: Twins Jazz, Washington DC Deal: 100% of the door money. Food and one free drink. Admission: 10$. Audience: 39. CD sales: 4. Concert length: Music from 8 to 12. Three sets at 50 min each. We made $240.
The venue was nice, but we were in for a surprise; the piano was horribly out of tune. The worst piano Kris has ever played on. We were shocked! This is one of the main jazz clubs in Washington DC with concerts every day and they donít tune the piano!! Kris had to leave out all the melody lines and unison part with the bass. Instead she played with lots of aggression.
We got a lot of energy from her, so the concert turned out to be very interesting. In a way she saved the concert. I was really struggling with the tuning and I felt lost in this ďout of tuneĒ universe. We all went into really free playing with lots of energy, and that was the only way to get through the concert. No room for ballads with that piano! This was the most aggressive concert so far. We played the first set and there was great response from the audience. A guy shouted, ďNorway is amazing!Ē Very funny.
When I booked the gig, I was told to play two sets between 8 and 12. However, it turned out we had to do three sets instead. The third set was really hard, we didnít have any energy left and we had to play some of the tunes again, as we didnít have any more repertoire.
Twins Jazz had a doorman who wanted a tip for grabbing people from the streets. After the concert the doorman came up to me and said that he had got about 39 people in there. I presumed he meant it was 39 paying guests. He wanted a $30-40 tip so I gave him $35.
When I went to the owner Kelly, she said there were only 32 paying people including a party of 15 people who had booked tables, so she only charged them half price (she hadnít told me about this). I had 7 people from the Norwegian Embassy on the guest list. So thatís 22 people out of 39 who were there anyway.
I felt doorman showed a bad attitude by pretending he had done a better job than he actually had, in order to get a bigger tip. Oh well. You live and learn. Kelly wanted me to wait all the way to the end for the door money and when we said we had to go, she couldnít give us our cash. She had to write a check, which she hadnít told me.
No good for me, a Norwegian without a bank in America. We tried to convince her to give us cash, since we were leaving before the banks opened the next morning. She said she didnít have cash as all was on credit card, but Jeff was nice and asked her to put it in his name so he can give me the cash later.
Also, right after the gig, just as I put down my instrument, this guy from Texas came up, saying it sounded great and wanted to play a bit of piano. We said, sure, and told him how badly the piano sounded. He just took over playing honky tonk piano exclaiming, ďI donít know what you are talking about, the piano sounds good to me.Ē And he continued to play and getting singers up as the whole situation quickly became absurd. We were all shocked as he showed us no respect. However, Iím sure weíll soon laugh about it. Maybe weíll make jokes about a lot of the things that happened this unforgettable eveningÖwho knows!
We got back to the hotel around 1:30 AM, slept for 4-5 hours and hit the road again 6 oíclock in the morning. This way, we avoided traffic jams in Washington D.C, New York and Boston. It took us nine hours to get to Cambridge, but we had great fun in the car.
It seems like I have found very open minded musicians. Jeff and Michael are both modern men, who donít mind having a female bandleader. I believe most musicians donít care about what sex you are but rather about how you play. However, itís a fact that most musicians play with their friends and people they know.
And since guys tend to hang with other guys, it is sometimes difficult for girls to enter that male clique. In the States itís much more common with female players and I remember it was really inspiring for me to hear all the great players at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival in 2001.
In my country, there are very few female players but itís getting better. Iím used to being the only girl in most of the bands I play with, and Iím so happy to have another girl in the band on this tour. I have never been on the road with an equal number of each sex and I think itís ideal because then you get a nice social balance in the group.
DAY NINE: Lily Pad, Cambridge, Boston Deal: Room rental: $135. 100% of the donations. No food or drinks. Admission: suggested donations $10. Audience: 25. CD sales: 0. Concert length: Two sets at 50 min. We made $ 200.
We got to the hotel at 4 P.M. and managed to have a nap before heading off to the venue. The Lily Pad is just a room. No bar and no alcohol served. They have a great Yamaha grand piano, which was tuned yesterday and they didnít charge me for it (normally costs $40). Phew!
It was so nice in comparison with Twins Jazz. We are a part of the festival ďJazz Week 2008Ē in Boston and are even featured in the program WITH A PHOTO!!!! Hooray!!! When the concert started there were 25 people there, which is half full since the venue is small. I was happy so many people came, the band that played before us had an audience of five people.
The audience was fantastic, quiet, involved and attentive. It was a great sounding room and no one talked through our concert. Itís much easier to explore the softer dynamics when the audience is listening, and thatís what we did. The dynamic range here was tremendously different from Twins Jazz, where we were very loud and aggressive. It obviously made a big difference to have a decent piano. And a huge relief!!!
The band sounded great, organic and the improvisations had many nice and unexpected turns. To me, this was the best concert so far. They really know the tunes now and so we are able to play around with them. Also it helps to be able to hear each other, having decent equipment and a listening audience.
After the concert this shy guy came up wanting me to sign the Lily-Pad program, since he couldnít afford the CD. He seemed very humble, and was nervous talking to me. I thought it was so charming, so I gave him a promo CD for free and signed it. He was overwhelmed and so thankful, and didnít know what to say. So perhaps I have got one fan in Cambridge now...
This blog entry posted by FrÝy Aagre. Click here for the third and final installment of FrÝy Aagreís tour diary.