Monday, June 13, 2011

Guest Author : Nemo James

A Musician Unknown

Musicians have always been with us. Amongst the original cave dwellers you can be sure there was always some show off who had discovered a way of knocking out a tune on a blade of grass or laying down a beat on an empty skull. Some would have been so good that they would have gone from cave to cave entertaining others in return for a hog's head and a jug of whatever constituted special brew in those days.

When emperors sat in the Coliseum with thumbs poised deciding whether an unfortunate gladiator should live or die what would they have used to increase the suspense…. a drum roll of course. Some soldiers marched off to war armed with nothing more deadly than a bugle or a snare drum to motivate their comrades whilst at home music was played to help a terrorised public deal with the daily bombing raids. Some conspiracy theorists even maintain that The Birdie Song was written and promoted by the KGB in order to bring about the downfall of western civilisation and some might argue it succeeded.

Like it or not, music plays a major part of our lives and although I have actually met one of the few people on the planet that claim they don't like music even they admit that to be condemned to watch films or television in total silence would be unthinkable. So while music is taken so much for granted it is not surprising that the people who play that music are also overlooked. There is no shortage of autobiographies written by famous musicians that generally follow the well trodden road of boy meets band, band gets famous, boy overindulges, boy loses band but in writing my autobiography "Just A Few Seconds" I wanted to tell what life is like for most working musicians who although never becomes famous still have stories to tell.

Contrary to popular belief not all musicians spend half their lives playing in seedy bars and the other half waiting to be serviced in soup kitchens. I made a very good living as a musician and so did most of my colleagues and let's face it, who wouldn't prefer to work 2 or 3 hours a night playing music rather than 8 hours a day behind a desk or shop counter. {Jenai - agree! I wanna be like you!} I also got to travel the world and meet some amazing characters as well as backing lots of famous artists in concert. There was an abundance of work in a large variety of venues. {Jenai - Now, now...  uhum, I can sing you know?}

One night I would be working in a small jazz club and the next in the orchestra pit at Jesus Christ Superstar. One day in a well paid studio session and the next at the Grosvenor House supporting Petula Clark. Some mornings I woke up to find an envelope on my doormat containing a cheque for repeat fees for a BBC radio session I had done years earlier. 

Trying to make a living as a composer however is a very different story and one I will tell in my next post.


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