This one time at band camp…
Every year I have been asked to write a letter to the roustabout jazz-a-muffins who attend Mel Brown’s Summer Jazz Camp. I am honored that the great Mel Brown trusts me. I love the idea of shaping and molding these young minds with my superior, more experienced SUPER-BRAIN. Here is the letter that Mrs. B., the jazz camp den mother, will post in the jazz barracks of this year’s battalion of future hepcats.
My name is Tony Starlight and I am a singer and comedian who also owns a live music club called Tony Starlight’s Supperclub and Lounge. I am a great fan of jazz and am glad to know there are still young folks like yourselves carrying on the tradition of jazz music.
There are many aspects of being a professional or amateur jazz musician. I see many different musicians in my club and I hear people of all skill levels. The people I hire to play in my show, or at my venue all have two things in common: RESPECT and GRATITUDE.
Respect the music: Realize that most of what you are playing was written by other people. This music is treasure. Be thankful. Give credit to the songwriters when you perform their music.
Respect your fellow musicians: Whenever possible play with musicians who are better than you. Elevate those around you on stage. Make them shine. When you get better, help mentor younger players by sharing the stage with them. Be thankful for the opportunities you have to play with one another. Develop a team attitude and you will always find people who want to play with you.
Respect your audience: Sometimes musicians get caught up in being too hip for their own good. If you want to share jazz with people, hit them with great music, not attitude. Thank them for listening. They don’t have to be there. Don’t get caught up in the praise from your family and friends who tell you how great you are. You’ll know you’re good when strangers want to pay their hard earned money to hear you play.
Respect the venue: When you are invited to a venue to play, treat it better than you would your own home. Respect their rules, equipment and sensibilities. Show up early. Have your charts organized. Dress like a professional. Jeans and a T-shirt tell an audience you are not very serious or that you are lazy. Dress like you belong on stage, not in the audience. Be thankful you have a stage on which to share your music.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope someday I’ll see many of you in the audience listening to some great music, or better still, hear you playing in my club.
June 25, 2013