Here’s a fun group of examples as to how being in constant networking / marketing mode, as most professional musicians seem to be, can occasionally work out with unexpected career progress. For the flipside – the low rate of return meaning it’s necessary to keep on at that relentless drive – I’ll just state that the last time I bought business cards, I got 500. And that I have a spreadsheet of musicians’ contact details, but have lately run out of time to keep adding the details of people I meet / correspond with … Anyway, back to the story:
8th March: Iain Cooper, director in a family interior design firm, sees me busking in Victoria station. He takes my contact details and gets in touch to discuss music for promotional purposes; is sufficiently impressed with what he’s heard of me and what I put forward as a business proposition that he hires me to put together a trio and play upbeat, instrumental, acoustic music out on the (semi-pedestrianised) street for a total of 12 hours over 3 days during the Clerkenwell Design Week event, to ‘draw people in’ to his company’s exhibition / sales room.
22nd April: We’re doing the Clerkenwell job when one of my business cards is picked up by passer-by Francesco Asaro. He emails later that day to say he was impressed by my playing and improvising, and ask if I would be interested in playing with his gypsy swing band – busking or perhaps later gigging.
9th June: It took a while to get our diaries to synchronise, but I finally go out for a busking session with Caravan Circus. It turns out I don’t know much of their repertoire, but can fudge a lot of it with knowing the key, listening, lead guitar taking the head melodies if the numbers aren’t vocal, and the good old trick of looking like I meant to do everything I did. Anyway it seems a viable start.
21st June: after two rehearsals, and a fair bit of poring over lead sheets trying to memorise chord progressions and some elements of melodies to a 20-song set list, I play my first gig as a band member! A corporate social for the risk department at French bank BNP Paribas (no connection to the former British Nasty Party). It goes down very well and, while I know which bits I was most fudging, the audience members I speak to seem genuinely surprised that I’m a recent and little-rehearsed addition to the group.
Next chapter still to take place …