Preparation

I’m always making sure that everything is all set and ready to go for every performance. Being a side musician is pretty simple. You bring your instrument and maybe a mic or music stand and you’re good. Of course you still have to play your butt off but as a professional that goes without saying. When it’s your name on the “marquis” it’s a different story. All of a sudden your concern is about the other people in your group getting there on time. Are all your charts in order? Did you think out a set-list in advance. I believe the performance is more than just the music you’re performing. The audience needs a chance to breath and process what they’ve just heard. They also have to be prepared for what they will be hearing next. I never like to fit all the music I can into a set or two. My way of communicating with an audience is with music as well as with speech. If you have merchandise to sell make sure you don’t have too few or too many. I’ve been in front of a few hundred people and sold 5 cd’s. There have also been shows in front of a small audience where I’ve sold out of the box of cd’s I had with me. There’s no telling how many you may sell at any particular gig. I usually bring thirty and hope to go home with none. Believe it or not people still ask for business cards. They haven’t developed an app that can exchange info by aiming your phone at a person yet. Perhaps the I phone 8 will be able to do that. It’s not a good look if somebody asks for a card and you don’t have any. It shows that you’re not ready to do business. Now a days as artists we always have to be ready to do business. There’s not enough side work to fall back on if we don’t have our act together when our name is in flashing lights on the old “marquis”. I will be posting soon about a few performances coming up in the near future. I hope I read this blog before I leave for the gig!!!

Families Reconnect

I am always fascinated by how things were for our past generations. Some things were easier and others more difficult. For people in the music business there were more opportunities a few generations ago.  Of course long before synthesizers and dj’s, people had to rely on actual live musicians to fulfill their entertainment needs. My grandfather Jack was a prime example of the demand for high caliber musicianship years ago. Remember, before movies had sound they used to have live bands in the theaters. He played the silent film pits as well as the Yiddish Theater. This was in addition to the late night Jewish nightclubs on the lower east side and the wedding circuit. There were others who were just as busy. Another family of musicians were the Grupps. I had always heard about the violinist Louis Grupp. He held a post with the musician’s union for many years. Both he and my grandfather were members of the Progressive Musical Society. This society was founded in 1911 and you needed to be a member if you wanted to get your foot in the door of the Jewish music scene at the time. Louis Grupp also had brothers who were musicians as well. I have a song in my Klezmer repertoire that I was always told was from Louis Grupp. We don’t know for sure if he wrote it but apparently it was in his repertoire. Another reason why I know the name Grupp is because every time I’d visit the cemetery where my family is laid to rest, I’d see the name Grupp on a few of the monuments. Turns out Louis is 2 stones away from my grandfather!! I was recently contacted by Grupp’s granddaughter Marcy. She came upon a past post where I had mentioned her grandfather. For all I know the last time a Levitt spoke with a Grupp could have been 40-50 years ago!! It’s nice to have connected with Marcy and re-establish an old family friendship. I know our grandfathers are playing music together on the lower east side of heaven.