Current status of the Panache Orchestra: Grounded due to inclement weather… 

 

Listen while you read to “Kuta Beach” from the “red side” of “10 Strings”, the dual album released by the Panache Orchestra in 2008.

 

ca. mid-November 2012

 

So what’s going on with TPO now? The short answer is: “We’re in the Doldrums”. There is some movement in the background though.

Given the xenophobic, risk-averse booking culture we’ve faced for the past couple years (I spent an enormous amount of time and effort and a fair bit of money submitting to all sorts of regional and local festivals a year ago and got absolutely fuck-all for it, so I pretty much gave up in 2012, preferring to use my time and energy and money for more rewarding purposes, so that left us with a dead-empty calendar save for a couple engagements for existing clients. I didn’t miss the hairy-scary scheduling, and in fact, rather needed the downtime after running myself into the ground playing everything we got offered over the past couple years and ending up with precious little to show for it.

Nevertheless, Chi has been very unhappy about the lack of performance dates and constantly hounds me to get some in place. I’ve actually begun considering busking on the boardwalk at Venice Beach. 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica is rather more of a hassle than I am willing to bother with, given their permit requirements and what a melée it usually looks like. Honestly, I do not care for busking. It feels too much like panhandling since I do have a day job, and playing in the street for handouts alongside the homeless people who have few other practical options and having to scrum for airspace amidst the throngs and hordes of aspiring rock stars eager to “get their music out there” reeks a little too much of desperation to me that I do not actually have, given my employment status.

Flipping that argument over, I am even less interested in working my ass off for free to drum up business for another business (read: “bar”, “coffee shop”, “restaurant”, etc.) only to get next to fuck-all for my trouble. Apparently the operators of such venues have decided that it is no longer necessary or appropriate to financially compensate musicians for their service of providing entertainment and ambiance. Looking at it logically, providing entertainment and ambiance is every bit as much of a service as preparing and serving food/drinks and washing the dishes is, so that is bullshit and I am not willing to waste any more of my time and energy rolling around in that particular heap of it.

Even if they did actually pay us, we’ll still have to slog through rush hour traffic when I am knackered from working the day job and they’ll still want us to play “covers” and “popular favorites”, and the (reasonable) amount they would pay us still would not be sufficient to compensate me for giving up my time and energy to prepare music I don’t care about, plus that would consume our rehearsal time and displace working on our own material which is the reason why we’re still doing music in the first place. That’s before we even get into me having to suffer with sleepwalking through the day job with dirty hair and no clean clothes and having to eat crap food out of the vending machine and live in a squalid, chaotic pile of shit since I’ll have no time or energy left over to prepare food, bathe, do laundry or keep the house in order. It should be noted that these types of gigs will never provide enough income consistently enough to cover our overhead, so quitting the day job is not a viable option under this scenario, unless we’re willing to move out of our reasonable sized ghetto duplex and cram ourselves and our instruments and the cats into a dinky shit dive weekly rental on skid row, which needless to say, is out of the question and might in fact even cost about as much as we’re paying for our current place! Obviously that is not a winning strategy.

This reframes the concept of busking for me. We can do it whenever the hell we feel like, play whatever the hell we damn well please, and if people feel moved to express their gratitude by dropping some of their hard-earned cashola into the tip box, then we’ll have money to pay for the gas to get home, and buy new strings to replace the ones we’re wearing out by playing, and maybe even stop off and have a beer on our way out and listen to the band playing in the bar for “exposure” (read: “nothing”). If people buy CDs, then that helps recoup what we spent producing the CDs. This is starting to look like a win-win all around, when before it was just looking like another thankless, time- and energy-consuming pain in the ass to me. If Chi is booked on an acting job any given weekend, then we don’t busk that day, and I get the golden opportunity to get shit done. Unfortunately I thought this through a little too late in the year and now it’s finally getting cold, but we usually get warm spells throughout the cool season here in L.A., and if it’s really miserable out, we don’t have to do it since thankfully I have a job, so we have the option to opt out available.

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