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September 2014

September 2014
Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.

I play five nights a week in a restaurant, and there's a sign right at the entrance that says "Restrooms are for Customer Use Only."

My problem is that it's a four-hour gig, and sometimes I have to go really bad by the end. Would it be out of line for me to ask the management if I could use the restroom once a night?


Dear John:

The problem is all the uncertainties it would create. For example: If you don't use the restroom one night, can you use it twice the next? On the nights when you use it, should you help mop it down afterwards? If there's just one urinal and another customer comes in, should you clench your bladder, sputter to a stop, and offer him your place?

Who's going to set those policies, John—what managerial committee or corporate office? And how will they be enforced? You see, it's not so simple.

So what can you do? First of all, stay away from fluids before and during the gig; that's a no-brainer. Then, whenever you feel bladder urgency, quickly order some food. Why? Because that way you can enter the restroom as if you are a customer; of course you're really still just a musician, but at least you have an alibi.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

I find myself getting jealous a lot when other guys get gigs. Not just guys that play my instrument, though that's the worst. But pretty much anyone who gets a nice gig. I find myself asking "Why not me?" I know that's petty and doesn't help anything, but I can't seem to stop myself.

—Will Work for Money

Dear Will:

I know you think you're asking me about gigging. But underneath it all, it's the rejection itself that's killing you. You're not looking for work, Will, you're looking for love. And, frankly, the jazz world is the wrong place for that. I'm so sorry.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

I have a steady at a club, and now they want to cut our pay, which is already too low. They say they aren't making ends meet and I believe them, but how little should I be willing to make?

—Pay Is Slowly Sinking, Ever Diminished


When the money goes below a certain point, it's almost demeaning, isn't it? So let's keep your pride intact and think outside the box... Hey, I know: how about a little bartering? Why not offer to wash dishes during your break—or better yet, during the drum solos? With a long-winded drummer, you could do a little of everything—bartending, waiting tables, and working the door—and save the owner enough money to leave your salary completely untouched!

I can already hear your objection: "P.C., won't that take work away from the other employees?" What you don't realize is that they're just as eager to play music as you are to wash dishes—maybe even more so. If you let them sit in for a few tunes, they'll be thrilled, and you'll get even more time to sit in on their jobs! True, they might not know how to play at first, but you're not much of a dish washer yet either, are you?

Heck, let's just take this to its rightful conclusion: Everyone does a little bit of everything, and you split your wages down the middle! It's a new paradigm that just happens to mesh perfectly with the communal spirit of jazz—teamwork, cooperation and selflessness.

How can we encourage jazz artists around the world to follow your daring lead? The logical place to start would be at university jazz programs. All they have to do is replace their improv and theory classes with more relevant skills: hospitality, mixology and kitchen hygiene. Voila: A new breed of jazz artist, highly marketable and fully committed to social equality!
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