GOING MOBILE

This blog entry actually has nothing to do with iPhones or working from home and delivering content to an FTP site.  It’s about committing yourself to a lifestyle that accommodates your craft as a composer/musician.

My parents wanted me to become a plumber.  “No matter where you live, you’ll have a valuable skill,” they reasoned.  Although they had a valid point, I was stubborn enough to cling to the notion of making music my career.  But along the way, I learned that whether you want to perform in live shows or work as a composer, you have to go where the work is.  “Phoning it in” is definitely not an option.  You need to be face to face and create relationships with people.  Most often, people hire their friends.  They know that they can get along with you and trust that you will do an incredible job.  While it is possible, (I’ll cover my experience with Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution in another blog), those situations are very few and far between.

As a high school and college student, I thought I had it made, living in beautiful San Diego and having an abundance of places to play music, at frat parties, the military bases, nightclubs and so on.  While performing a solo act called Mr. Christopher, I was spotted by some members of a touring band called Madame Beast. When their keyboard player quit, they invited me to join them and I moved to Hollywood for this new adventure.  I’m sure that sounds glamorous, but we didn’t live in the nice part of Hollywood, and as much as L.A. is a mecca for people who want to make it in the entertainment industry, the competition there is cut-throat.  If you are used to being a big fish in a small pond, you’ll get a rude awakening when you move to someplace like L.A. with the thought of pursuing stardom.

My stint with Madame Beast, as well as the time I spent in other touring bands such as Reign and Lois Lane and my Duane Decker solo act,  took me all over the U.S. and Canada.  Some music scenes were better than others.  For every inspiring big-city gig, there were plenty of shows in not-so-great locations.

Later, working as a product specialist and clinician for various musical instrument manufacturers, I continued to tour the U.S., Canada and Europe.  Again, there were good times and bad times.  I particularly have fond memories of cities like Vancouver, Montreal, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Cologne and of course, Chicago.  But what can I say about some stops in towns that were reminiscent of the cheesy Patrick Swayze movie “Roadhouse?”

Since college, I’ve played in every major city in the U.S. and Canada and had 12 permanent addresses on my driver’s license throughout 6 states.

My point is that in this business, as well as being open to new work opportunities, you really do need to be flexible and “go where the work is,” as my dad used to say.  I’ve made a lot of difficult choices, with the support of my family, to move frequently and landed in places that were not always my ideal destination.  I hope that young people aspiring to music careers will heed this advice and consider whether they have the drive, determination and the disposition to relocate not just once, but many times throughout the long haul that is defined by a professional music career.  You will be much better off by deciding what you are willing to sacrifice if you are honest with yourself up-front.

“Mr. Christopher” was my first solo act. I played piano, synthesizer (which I designed and co-built in college), drums and flute. I had support from a mind-bending light show created by Greg and Catherine Lloyd, Rex Reese, and a host of supporting cast members. The act was inspired by a college project in which I unexpectedly received an entire semester’s credit for performing one show. Photo courtesy of Greg Lloyd – http://www.greglloydstudios.com.

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