Someone one another site had raised some questions concerning the possibility of making a living playing music, in Worcester, in a band.
In the eighties, that was possible for me. We had a 80’s pop cover band “FAME” that focused upon mostly black eighties dance ( Prince, Morris Day and the Time, Rick James and so on, mixed with tunes by REM and Romantics, and other top 40. We booked nearly every week, 5-6 days a week in addition to double hitters on most Saturdays with gigs on Sundays. We played the hotel circuit, weddings, proms, lounges, some clubs ( only ones that paid well). We made a full time living , the majority of the income came from about a 10-40 minute radius of downtown Worcester. A full time back then,each band member could earn between 20-30K. In todays $’s that would be equal to a number much higher. Today, actually since the end of the 80’s, it is quite different. The professionals I worked with then have either left for other careers or stuck with music but found other ways to supplement other financial needs. As I mentioned to the person who first raised the question about performing in Worcester and making a living at it, I see no proof that making a living by performing live music, as I described above, is happening in Worcester or really many other cities. Although, I would hope, that as Worcester is not a small city, there would be more opportunity for professional musicians to support their families. I am very privileged to work with some of the best musicians in Worcester. These guys, at one time or another, did make a living performing music in Worcester and the surrounding area. They made a good solid living at it too. I miss those days where clubs offered a tuned piano, a full sized raised stage, and reasonable pay for a band. Music, as a local enterprise, was a business then and it was fun, we loved it, and it did more than just pay the rent or break even. None of this “play for the door”, bring a crowd or “pay to play” silliness. Back then, the music union reps used to pester us to join, and we would laugh because we were raking in 3times more than the going union rate at the time. We had contracts for an average of 46 weeks ( some of those contracts with lounges were two years in advance) every year and we had to actually schedule vacation times. Today, sadly, things are different. Today, the pros I know have to teach music, work other “day” jobs. Making solid cash playing live and only locally in the Worcester radius is now a rare opportunity. I mentioned to the person who raised the question that the scary thing for me is to read how accepting the younger music community is today of seeming to take music as more of a hobby rather than a real job. I am not sure why things have changed. It is not that the caliber of musician is any less and there has been a decline long before the failing economy.
Anyways, some of the pros play still today. Here is a clip a couple of local bloggers shot last Saturday night in Southbridge. There was a stage, the music was not rehearsed, but the joy is obvious:
When Sunny Gets Blue