Tuesday, November 09, 2010

From the mailbag...

Some reader comments on "One-Man-Band"...

Steven writes:
I appreciate the humor/sarcasm however for the most part they get the job done and save the customer lots of cash. I much prefer the 'real band' experience but most non musicians don't really care one way or another.
This is a common myth. Actually, for the going rate for a good one-man-band plus "Srully Reverb", you can have a good small live band at your affair.

"Jewish Musician" writes:

I regularly follow your blog, and generally enjoy it, but this is my first time commenting, as it just got me so enraged.

Below is your post. Underneath each point is my comments in bold.

I am a regular chassidic one man band in the NY wedding scene.

1) Two women emerge from around the mechitza and approach the "musician" with the following request. "Can you possibly turn down/off the speaker on the women's side. We understand that, for the men, its geshmak like this. By the ladies, its too loud."
The fun part was that the speaker on the women's side was already off. Gives an idea of the volume, though.

My comment - Perhaps the customer requested it "Super loud" - I don't know of any fellow musicians that enjoy playing loud, this is what the crowd wants to hear, this is what we have to do in order to get the gigs, if we don't, someone else will.

2) Carlebach's V'hayu Limshisa as a 4/4 rock song! Arranger technology can make even a one finger player sound way better than he deserves. That said, the musician still does need to be able to tell the difference between counting to three and counting to four.

My comment - You are correct, this is wrong.

3) Who said musicians need to present properly/dress up for simchas? Apparently, there's no need to shave, put on a jacket, tie, or even tuck in your shirt.

My comment - This is not Marina, its Ateres Shlomo, we are generally working for a crowd that doesn't care if we wear a tie. That being said, showing up Mentchlich is definitely the right thing to do.

4) Apparently, disco is the style of choice for "dinner" music. Who knew?

My comment - YES, out of North jersey and the Five Towns, alot of the crowd we work for prefer a slow type of disco during dinner.

5) All Am/C Major, all the time!

My comment - Not necessarily, maybe just the guy you saw. Many of the regulars in the scene are very talented musicians, despite never going to Julliard etc.

My overall comments: You can't paint an entire industry with one brush based on one musician. There are plenty of chassidim that are extremely talented musicians and true professionals. A little ahavas yisrool is in order.
Let's take a look at "Jewish Musician's" assertions.

1) I happen to know, based on past conversations with these baalei simcha, that they don't want music to be too loud at their events. The reality is that people are often busy/involved/distracted at their own affairs, and so they pay less attention to volume, as long as the guests seem to be dancing etc. There's a range between "comfortable" and "I need to stop participating in my own simcha to go over to the band." Obviously it varies from event to event.

3) When I play at Ateres Shlomo, I wear a suit and tie. This is not about whether or not someone wears a tie or not though. It's about a community where people wear their jackets to go to the grocery store, but can't be bothered to show respect to their clients/the guests at a lower budget affair. (Ateres Shlomo is a subsidized hall.) The fact that people have become used to it is a shame, not an argument for why to continue the practice. Wear a tie or not, but dressing respectfully is important.

4) I'm not talking about "lite" disco. I'm talking about busting out the full volume "Ease On Down The Road" "Ben Bag Bag" set right after a dance set. The guests have sat down, peaople are trying to socialize, and this guy is busting out That's The Way, Uh, Huh, Uh, Hu, I Like It "Zoche" at full volume!

5) The post was not meant to be a criticism of all one -man-bands. There are definitely some talented Chassidic musicians. That said, simcha-goers know that the situation I described is not an uncommon occurrence.