Tony Monaco: Master Chops T
Monaco: I’ve been very blessed to run my parents restaurant and now the construction business that my dad started back in 1950. My brother and I now own that business and are running that. I’m blessed with the fact that I have a normal income coming in and that I can play jazz and still get my kids what they deserve. And I feel terrible for the poor guys that are trying to make a living, because we’re still getting paid for gigs today that at the same rate as 20 years ago. I used to be able to go out and play a club in the early 80s, just a local three-hour gig, nothing special. You would go out and play those gigs for $100 cash in the 80s. Well the money’s not that much better now. I feel very bad for the guy who relies solely on playing gigs. My heart goes out to them.
AAJ: Do you give any thought to going out on a tour outside of Columbus and giving music more of a push?
Monaco: Absolutely. That’s what I want to do. I just came back from playing some gigs in San Francisco and LA. And they were a blast. I had standing room capacity on most of them, Once again, a bunch of youngsters really into this organ thing. I finally managed to hook up with an agent. That’s one of the toughest things to do because the money is so poor. Agents aren’t going to spend all that time trying to book you, because the rate of return is not high enough. So I have an agent. I’ve got some festivals beginning. I’ve got dates in Illinois, some in Michigan, some in Minneapolis. It’s starting to open up. Fortunately, with my brother running the business, I’m at a time in my life where my kids are getting older and I can take the risk and go out and take some gigs and have some fun. I give thanks to God every day. I’m just grateful to be playing.
AAJ: Great. Is there anybody you’d like to play with out there that you haven’t? Obviously, you’ve played with Jimmy Smith and Joey DeFrancesco. Anybody else on your wish list?
Monaco: Well, I love Dr. Lonnie Smith. I think he’s a phenomenal organ player. I love so many of these guys. I love to play with anybody, really. There’s so many great musicians out there. I just played with a monster last night that’s unknown. His name is Gene Walker. He’s a saxophonist. I had so much fun with the guy. He’s been on the road with the Beatles, he’s played with George Benson. This guy lives in Columbus and he plays like you wouldn’t believe. I love to play with anybody that’s good.
AAJ: You’d like to do more recording in the future?
Monaco: Absolutely. But I do have one long-term ultimate goal that I would like to do. This is down the road. But at some point and time in my life, I would love to have my own recording studio and actually produce youngsters and try to help them get out there. That’s my real goal. To take some enthusiastic kid, who could have been me when I was 16 years old, and recognize his talent and try to help the guy. Cause it’s so hard.
AAJ: Yeah. There’s a lot of people around that that have the talent, but nobody notices them.
Monaco: There’s not an industry big enough to afford to suck them in.
AAJ: It’s easy to get discouraged and go off and do something else.
Monaco: And I see that all the time. Great players that really have it together, but they just don’t play anymore because it’s not worth it for them to pull out their axe, you know? That’s what I would love to do. And it’s gonna happen. I believe in God and I believe that I’m doing the right thing. I try to treat people right and I try to always examine my motives for everything I do. As long as I have a clean heart and a clean slate, whatever is going to happen is going to happen. There’s a reason why I met Joey two years ago and not 12 years ago. Maybe I wasn’t ready. Maybe I had to be there for my dad when he died. Maybe I had to be there for my kids when they got on the school bus. Who knows why things happen the way they do, you know?
Visit Tony Monaco on the web at www.b3monaco.com .