Another Gig Story – Please Don’t Hurt My Bass!!

Why do conductors change things at the gig? I don’t mean just  musical aspects, but perhaps location for players or the choreography – entering and exiting or setting up.

While in graduate school I was playing with a chamber ensemble. It was a great gig with awesome musicians and decent pay.

The church we rehearsed at was well air conditioned. Actually it was cold! Very cold! At first it was refreshing with the Midwestern summer temperature hovering around 95 degrees!

I had just bought a new bass (the one I have now) and was a little concerned about the temperature and humidity changes. But I figure going from an air conditioned car quickly to an air conditioned room it would be fine. And it was.

The day of the concert I’m unpacking and begin warming up. I see the conductor walking towards me. Uh oh. He was an excellent conductor but a bit awkward when not wielding a baton.

“I think it would be very cool if you and some of  the other members play outside during intermission.”
“What???!!!” I felt both the adrenaline and instrument loan hitting me hard.
“Play that jazz thing we rehearsed. Outside.”
Great. Not only am I wearing concert attire it’s extremely uncomfortable out there. Hmmm…. Take my unpacked and brand new bass from 65 degrees to 95 and back to 65 in the span of 15 minutes? I don’t think so.
“I can’t.” I said firmly yet with a mild plead.
“Huh?” Conductors aren’t used to having their requests denied.
“I just bought this bass and the temperature change isn’t good for it.”
Now it was his turn:
“What?” he asked
I proceeded to explain to him some of the dynamics of string instruments and weather changes. He seemed a little perplexed but also felt my adamance.

The impromptu session proceeded…indoors!

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