Edited by RogerM on 8/12/2017, 4:52 pm
: of the current KT. Working only 2-4 days a month it would seem that all of the guys
: would have other jobs or sources of income unless Bob Shane's largess knows no
: bounds. George is an excellent arranger, Bill had a group in Phoenix for years and
: Rick works in the operatic field. It must have been a surprise to find out the job
: (albiet rather part time) was going away, but I would hazard a guess these talented
: folks have other options.
It would seem so, to a layman.
But its not as easy as you think for professional musicians to just waltz into another job in their field, whether you are a folk musician or play in a symphony. How many "arranger" jobs are out there? Ones that pay, I mean. Take a guess.
The older you get, the harder it is to find work. I use the word "work" very deliberately. I'm talking about playing professionally and it being your main source of income, as opposed to a weekend warrior at church picnics or free gigs in the library to blow off steam, then going back to your straight job on Monday. That's not to in any way denigrate folks who play non-professionally for fun. More power to them.
Do you think you can just make a left turn into a straight job where your salary is commiserate with what you've been earning on the road? Especially if you are, say, in your 50's or 60's? Or another music job that keeps you employed at the same level of compensation, or even forming a new group? Do you know how much of an investment it takes to establish a new band, and how long before you start seeing a profit (if ever)? Good luck with that.
That "rather part time" gig also includes an added, unpaid two or three days on either side just for travel. Some of those shows are two-a-day, sometimes more when you have a casino residency. Add to that all the unpaid work you do on your own time, like interviews, radio appearances, fan meet and greets, practicing to keep your chops up, working out or refining material, rehearsals, maintenance and repair on your instruments, as well as a myriad of ancillary expenses. A Calton hard shell instrument flight case costs in the neighborhood of $1000 EACH, even more for a custom-made model to accommodate something a bit unusual like a tenor guitar or long-neck banjo. You get a tax break for expenses, but only up to a point. Let's not forget MEDICAL AND DENTAL COVERAGE. You likely pay for that out of your pocket, especially given the decline of AFM membership.
30-50 dates a year is a very respectable schedule for a touring musician, especially a legacy band like the Kingston Trio. There's a certain level of comfort you get used to. I don't mean limos, hookers and blow and 5 star hotel accommodations with lobster thermidor from room service. I mean playing nice venues, like theatres and performing arts centres with comfortable, clean dressing rooms and basic amenities like meals, water, coffee, clean towels, etc., and not having to ride in the back of a dirty old Econoline van doing a string of hand to mouth one-nighters in little clubs or where ever for gas money. Kind of like what the NKT had to do when Shane was trying to reestablish the name as a viable commercial entity in the 70's. They've already paid their dues.
They are well compensated for what they do, and one gets used to a certain standard of living. I'm not talking about mansions, guitar shaped swimming pools, or gold plated toilet seats. I mean basic things like how much rent can you afford before you sign that lease, or repairing/replacing your washing machine/water heater/roof/refrigerator, or setting a mortgage based on your projected income, especially when for the last 3 or 4 decades you are handed a tour schedule at the beginning of the year that lists your work dates for the next 12-14 months.
They make it look like fun, and look easy, but that's part of the gig. Make no mistake, this is a JOB. And a good rule of thumb is never to quit your job until you have something else lined up, and this is especially crucial for working musicians. There's no "golden parachute" and rarely if ever any severance pay. Transitioning to another gig is something best done far in advance, with plenty of time to work your contacts and exploring other options. That's why, when someone decides to leave a successful gig like this one they usually give up to a year's notice. Not just out of respect to your employer, but also to give yourself a financial cushion while you explore those other options.
No matter how you slice it this was an abrupt and unwelcome shock to these guys, and there's bound to be some scrambling to readjust to suddenly finding themselves unexpectedly unemployed.