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"Getting Paid"

Musicians often have a hard time getting paid,
especially when they're on  the road.
If you get a 50% deposit with the contract,
you at least have half of your pay, if the check doesn't bounce.

If you don't get the other half before the first show,
you have a better chance playing the state lottery.
If you give them the music before they give you the money,
they are prone to get buyers remorse,
and decide the cash means more to them than your friendship.

Some money guys have a way of disappearing into thin air,
when you go looking for them.
I've even checked the toilet tank.
Others just get the bouncers to throw you out.
I prefer getting stiffed by the disappearing kind.

One dumpy nightclub called The Comic Book in Jacksonville Beach
staged a phony robbery to get out of paying us.
They ran around in a false panic,
like a chicken with its hat off.
(Thanks to Misty for that line.)
They showed us the empty safe with the door wide open,
and promised to meet us the next afternoon with the money.
We waited, we called, and waited some more.
We went home wanting to stomp a bunny.

The next time we saw these scumbags,
they walked into an Orlando club where we were playing,
sat in the back row, and laughed about not paying us.
I couldn't kill them. Too many witnesses.

Up in the Midwest corn country,
we were booked into a small county fair.
There were no dressing rooms on the fairgrounds,
and they had a room across the street for us to change,
in a small Mom and Pop Motel.
They said we should relax and when the fiddle contest was over,
they'd send somebody to get us.
They came for us twenty minutes later than the contracted starting time.

When we arrived, they said the fiddle contest ran overtime,
and seeing that we were not there exactly at the assigned 7PM,
they felt they were entitled to a discount.
They suggested 50%.
Our rough looking band closed in on them,
and we proposed that we get 100% and they get to keep their teeth.

There were many times we didn't get paid,
but I like to talk about the times we did.

It was at the huge Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
On the show with is were Jerry Reed, B. J. Thomas,
The Flying Wallendas (a famous high wire act), and T. G. Sheppard.
I said this to Misty:
"If the Wallendas fall just before we go on,
it'll take some of the fun out of our act."

Behind us on stage was a 35 foot high wall of speakers,
and the sound was operated from a tower built for the occasion
in the center of the football field.
The lighting and stage crew were first class.
They had spared no expense.

We went on right after the Wallendas,
and before Jerry Reed and his band.
During Jerry's show I made a bee line for the office,
and got our money.
I had checked out its location beforehand.
A few minutes later T. G. Sheppard came up to us,
and asked us if we knew where the guy with the money was.
We didn't.
He had that lost look. I know it because I've worn it a lot.

A number of years later a young man came up to us,
and told us that his father had put on that Citrus Bowl show,
and that we were the only act that got paid.
He sort of apologized for his dad,
who apparently had a habit of going underground with the payroll.
He said he didn't know where the old man was.
Hadn't heard from him in years.

We had gotten lucky that day,
but there are many dozens of times we got the silly end of the stick.
Some time I'll tell you about them.

Copyright  September 11, 2007 Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission.

 

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