Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Peeps Keep Rolling In

Ron Benvenisti sends in the following:
"The Agent"

He lurks around you as you're setting up, while your schlepping hundreds of pounds worth of stuff, lifting 60 pound speakers onto stands, praying you and your equipment don't get fried from the outlet with the grounds painted over that's connected to the wall by the wallpaper. He's "supervising" and inspecting your whole setup commenting like, "Oh Sennheiser Wireless, Nice", "Mackies, good stuff", "Wow, you really use all those pedals?", etc. Once you start up, he's very attentive, overflowing smorg plate in hand with blue colored drink. Eventually he saunters over and smugly states he is an exclusive booking agent for Neginah as he waits for your supposed to be impressed face. You then recognize him as a roadie from a gig a long time ago and playing along you ask him for his card and phone number. Neither is forthcoming. "Don't call us, we'll call you." Next time I think I'll offer him 10 bucks to pack up my stuff... or maybe a green colored drink with a guitar cookie.
Psachya contributes some "Renegotiators.
I liked your "Renegotiator". Actually, as with Terminators, there are several versions of Renegotiators (or sequels, if you will).

To wit:

Renegotiator I is yours - the guy who wants you to donate part of your salary back to charity. (A variant is the guy who phones you from an organization expecting you to donate half your Sundays of the year for free, but that's a whole 'nother Peep.)

Renegotiator II - the guy who says that the band didn't start on time, so he wants a discount. When you point out that you own a lithium watch, and you started on time to the millisecond, he either a) calls you a liar, or b) changes tack 180 degrees, and says, "So who told you to start so early?"

Renegotiator III is like the last part of Reno II. "You saw there were no guests here," he might say. "How dare you start at the time the contract actually says you are supposed to start?! We want an extra half hour free!"

Renegotiator IV is the guy who just booked you yesterday, so there isn't actually a written contract. (Be worried...be very worried...)

Renegotiator V shows up at the interminable dinner/dances. "I know you were set up and ready to play for seven hours," he (or she) might say. "But there were six and a half hours of speeches, so we should only be paying you for a half hour of actual playing." (This tends to happen most often at the dinners where they actually force the band to stay on the bandstand through the speeches.)

Renegotiator VI is similar to the Ambassador from my last e-mail. "The bride and groom want you to play an extra two hours," she (or he) might say. (Most savvy bandleaders know enough to ignore this person, who is probably that most famous of Peeps, a Wedding Crasher.)

Renegotiator VII - this was only one guy, but he deserves his own category. (A friend told me this one.) The whole wedding, Dad was begging the bandleader to allow the groom's younger brother to sit in on drums. "He's very good," he said. So the bandleader graciously gave the kid the last 15 minutes on drums, & he played pretty decently. Afterwards, Dad demanded a discount because "your drummer sat out the last 15 minutes of the wedding." Incredible.

Then there is the Un-Negotiator. This guy booked you for a seven hour Bar Mitzvah. His guests (including the Bar Mitzvah boy himself) all left in disgust after four and a half hours. But Dad wants his money's worth, so he insists that you play music to accompany the workers stacking chairs & tables, the janitor mopping the floor, and the maitre-d' begging the guy to go home. And G-d help you if you stop one minute early!!
Along these lines, here's one from the archives. A number of years back, we got a call to lead a job for a band out on the island. The gig was an event aimed at unnafilliated teens. The organization running the event had never run any programming for teens. They were actually a singles organization and that featured prominiently in their name, which was something along the lines of "Commitee For To Make Marriages Between Religious Persian Singles".* (*not their real name.) In other words, barring a massive grassroots promotional campaign AND an act of God, there was no way any self-respecting teen would be caught dead at one of their events.

So, when we get to the venue, there's a nice spread, and exactly five people there; the two adults who were running the event and their three teen coordinators. After about an hour, two more teens show up. Throughout the event, one of the coordinators is on our case, refusing us breaks, and when we took one short break 1 & 1/2 hours in, starts yelling at us to get back to playing ASAP. It was a very unpleasant experience. We played the whole gig with almost no breaks. Whenever we stopped, he'd be on our heads yelling about how the kids won't stay if there's no music, etc.

At the end of the gig... you guessed it... he turns into a Renegotiator, trotting out many of the above listed excuses. As well, he threw out this line: "But you see the event was unsuccesful, we're losing money, so why should we have to pay you?" Gah!!!!

On the flip-side, we once had the ultimate "Un-Negotiator" who, after his engagement party ended and all the guests had gone, paid us an additional hour overtime (the party had already gone an hour OT) to play while he and his parents sat and relaxed.

Incidentally, if you're unfortunate enough to have booked a dinner with Renegotiator # 5, he/she is the kind of person who will tell people who are considering booking you that the band "barely played anything the entire night" or "there was no dancing" without adding that the reason is because there were six hours of speeches.

Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz, (The guitarist formerly of the Jewish Blues) writes:
The off tempo clapper and off key singer (and yes for some reason they sing loudly) also brought to mind the "where's the fire" guy who can't wait for the few extended beats or a rest at the end of a verse and immediatly jumps to the next verse dragging half the congregation with him and leaving the baal tefila and the other half of the oilam in the dust. I finally explained that the rests were as much a part of the niggun as the notes.
Lets not forget "Bilvavi Harmony Guy". This is the guy who ALWAYS has to harmonize melodies resting on the dominant with a iii major-V cadence. For instance, in Bilvavi, (assuming a key of Dm, naturally) , he'll harmonize the A melody in bars seven and eight with an F to E (the chordal movement is F to A). It's a nice harmony, but we think it's time for a moratorium on this particular harmonization in shul. Another similar example is the guy who sings the D to C# harmony halfway through the B section on Lev Tahor. Slightly different chord function, but the harmonic movement is the same.