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THE LIFE OF A GIGGING MUSICIAN
BY RICHARD FITTON-PERKINS
Thankfully, most of the jobs I get hired to play for are on Saturday evenings, so that fits in quite well with my other Saturday activities. Getting up early on a Saturday morning, I usually load up the car before going to work at one of our local Music Centres for the morning, where I conduct the Jazz Band, Full Orchestra & String Orchestra. My main car has to be very long in order to accommodate all of the equipment and instruments I have to carry.
The amplification for my Electric Basses is pretty heavy to move around, but thankfully has a built in trolley and wheels to help out a bit. I also need a microphone stand, instrument stands, a box of leads & microphones and usually, two Electric Basses in hard cases.
My suit carrier is the final item I need for professional playing jobs, usually carrying a black suit, a couple of black shirts and some black shoes.
I also have to make sure I choose the right instruments for the job – I can often be playing for 1950’s and 60’s shows, so I have to be careful to choose the correct vintage period instruments for these particular jobs.
Turning up to a 50’s show with a modern, headless, carbon graphite bass wouldn’t look quite right.
After finishing my three hours’ work at Music Centre on the Saturday morning, I will often leave straight away and get on the road, depending on where in the country I have been booked to play. I like to set off early, as I don’t like to rush, always sticking to the speed limits and saving fuel. Travelling is much nicer if it’s done in a relaxed manner.
I usually get to the venue about an hour before I’m due, so I have time for a cup of coffee and then a leisurely unload & setup before the teatime sound check. This is where the sound engineers plug in and test all the equipment, and we test whether everything is balanced.
There is usually then a couple of hours’ tea break before getting changed and going on stage to perform.
Last year, I did six months’ touring with “The McCoys” and these jobs were all over the country, at times three to four times a week. Nowadays I play for show called, “The Everleys & Friends.” This comprises of an Everley Brothers tribute, a Buddy Holly Tribute and a Gerry Lee Lewis tribute, complete with a white electric grand piano.
This show gets booked all over the country, mainly by Warners Hotels, so I can be travelling to the Isle of Wight, North Wales, Suffolk, etc.
We will usually perform for two 45 minute “spots” with a small break in the middle. By the time we finish and pack down all of the equipment, it is usually around 1 o’clock in the morning and time to head for home. As you can imagine, getting home between 3 & 4am on a Sunday morning is quite hard, but at least I get to sleep in on a Sunday.I still often get booked for small jazz jobs where I get to play my Double Bass. Here it is complete with Reindeer Antlers back in 2016 at Christmas time.