Ted O'Reilly

Sweatin' In The Summer

18 posts in this topic

Today is a drippy, sultry, baked-hot day in my city, and it seems to be much the same across most of the eastern side of North America.  So, how does that affect working musicians?

Steve Wallace is a veteran Toronto-based jazz bassist, and a great one, and has over the last decade shown that he writes as well about the music as he plays it.  Steve has a terrific blog that he doesn't update often enough for my needs (c'mon, Steve!!!:  https://wallacebass.com/) but that may be because he's also a contributor to The Wholenote, a music magazine here in Toronto.

The summer issue of the usually-monthly mag has one of Steve's slightly off-centre-yet-dead-on musings about life as a working musician in the summer... It has to be universal.  Can others add their experiences with the seasons?

https://www.thewholenote.com/index.php/newsroom/beatcolumns-sp-2121861476/choral-jazznotes

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Great piece.  The man certainly paints pictures of the heat, sweat, mosquitoes, and over-imbibed fans. 

 

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1 hour ago, Milestones said:

Great piece.  The man certainly paints pictures of the heat, sweat, mosquitoes, and over-imbibed fans. 

 

Yep. Quite humorous, too. Well worth reading. 

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I've been playing the entire summer with a big band that plays outdoors, and a touring theater company, whose shows are either outdoors, or in theaters.

Last night with the big band, the wind was the biggest problem, blowing our music from our stands, because some genius forgot to bring the see-through, plastic, rectangle-shaped  music holders that prevent the music from being blown away. It was all worth it, because the lousy lead trumpet player, and the equally lousy lead alto player couldn't make it, and the subs they sent made the band swing like mad.

With the numerous shows I've played this summer, there are so many problems that it would take a book to list them all. Here are a few:

1) One bass player decided to drive through Manhattan to get to Jersey, and the traffic was so bad, he called from the entrance of the Holland Tunnel telling the MD that he was turning back to drive back home, and he was cancelling next week too, just out of frustration.

2) At a park show, there were thousand of people in attendance, and two families decided to camp out on the grass and let their little children run around the band area, where one kid knocked over some of the percussionists equipment. Then they started screaming at each other during the most quiet, dramatic moments of the show, creating a feeling that there were two shows going on at once.

3) Thursday night it started to drizzle at the show, and the MD had to play and conduct with a huge blue tarp covering his electronic keyboard, and protecting himself and the score from the rain. He looked like some creature from a horror movie. At the same show, one of the leads slipped and fell on the wet show-mobile metal floor, went straight down, but popped up like a true trooper in a second. The audience let out a collective gasp. They had to add an extra intermission before the end of the first act, so the park's crew could dry off the stage floor.

4) The humidity causes the wood instruments to go out of tune on the outdoor gigs, and i had to re-tune after every number one night.

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You guys crack me up.

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Ted, thanks for sharing Steve's writing. I am a bit late getting to read it, but enjoyed it just as I do reading his blog.

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Very good article, seeing summer playing from the musician’s perspective. 

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You guys make me laugh even harder!

Those Canadian summers are killer!!!

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I bet the guys playing in Paris where it was 108 yesterday or the day before are not having too much fun. 

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 Ha ha, I had a summer partly in Toronto and partly in Ottawa, Ted. I well remember the humidity. That fall, I started a new job at Carleton University in Ottawa and we moved there in the summer. At times, we retreated to the basement and ordered takeout pizzas.

Sgcim: Playing outdoors can be a nightmare. If it's not warm, a saxophone goes real flat unless you keep fingering low Bb and puffing through it, to keep it warm. It only takes a few minutes of not being blown for it to go out-of-tune. Just as bad is the clash indoors between a clarinet and a piano in a cold room. A clarinet goes flat if it's cold, even with the mouthpiece and barrel pushed in all the way, while the piano strings tighten and make the piano sharp. It is common to have a quarter-tone gap. I had my clarinet barrel shortened because of that, but, unlike with the saxophone or flute, if you move the clarinet barrel, the intervals between the notes get messed up and you have to do a lot of lipping to keep things in line. You can slide the flute mouthpiece out a long way without serious problems, changing the key by a half-note.

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20 hours ago, JSngry said:

You guys make me laugh even harder!

Those Canadian summers are killer!!!

On the East - for sure. I found Toronto Summers a bit of a struggle. The municipal outdoor pools (free at the time - not sure if still the case) helped.

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18 minutes ago, sidewinder said:

On the East - for sure. I found Toronto Summers a bit of a struggle. The municipal outdoor pools (free at the time - not sure if still the case) helped.

...still the case.  There are 58 outdoor pools around the city, 60 indoor pools...

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Ok, it's hot and there's some humidity.

But seriously...

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14 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Ok, it's hot and there's some humidity.

But seriously...

Seriously, I don't know what you're referring to. 

If it's about the pools, butt out.  My remarks were a response to sidewinder's musing, not requiring your participation.  Or do you just think that sometimes you simply MUST make a remark?:rolleyes:

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Pools? I'm  talking about summer heat, dude. 100+ degree heat, plenty of humidity, no clouds in the sky, no breeze, and playing either on a flatbed trailer or some other makeshift bandstand that has no cover, or else under a tent with the circulation at least partially blocked off, you just sit there and bake for 4 + hours and drink all the water you can find for as long as it lasts.

People who do not live in a warm weather climate do not understand the effect it has on your music. Complaining is useless, because a complaint is based on the notion that the current situation is just in need of a fix.

Well, in some places there ain't no fix, and you got a gig tomorrow too. So, complaining about the weather is for other people, people who want to look for pools and shit.

Hell, here I' am talking about four hours...I spent three summers doing roustabout work in the oil field, eight hours of that shit (and worse) I've gotten soft!!!!

You guys don't know about living hot, just like I don't know about living cold.

And then there's  Houston...

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JSngry croons: "Nobody know the troubles I've seen..."

There are other places that get hot, other places that get cold.  Some of those places without air conditioning, without central heat.  I think Houston has both, as does Toronto.

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Oh, millions of plenty of people know these troubles I've seen. They're  called, neighbors and bandmates. Those other millions, I call them clueless. :g

First time I went to NYC was summer of 1979. We were in the throes of a then-record heat wave here, 20+ days of 100÷, some of them over 110 ()which is really too damn hot, period). With humidity, of course. And the house I was renting did not have AC (btw, buildings have air-conditioning, not cities. Just sayin'...), so when the opportunity to travel arose, yeah, let's go.

Well, I get to Manhattan, and people are moaning about the heat wave and all this shit, it was 93 yesterday jesus, and I'm, like, damn, this is refreshing! Heat off the streets and shit, yeah, that's annoying, sure. But still, exponentially more comfortable than where I've just left. But the locals were convinced that they were burning up. Just goes to show that all weather is local, and so are most people when it comes time to sweat.

I'm glad I'm don't live in an Equatorial zone, though. This heat here, I can manage most of the time. Yard work at 3 PM in August used to be fun. But that real tropical shit, uh...I don't think so.

Oh, BTW - warm-weather people don't  croon. We do, however, work a note half to death. Better it than us!

It's all a moot point now, though. We done fucked up the planet and the planet is gonna have it's way with us, so...enjoy the nostalgia!

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3 hours ago, Ted O'Reilly said:

...still the case.  There are 58 outdoor pools around the city, 60 indoor pools...

Good to hear that. :tup

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