Monday, November 28, 2011

Be Happy, make money

Be Happy, make money

It's no secret that December is the biggest money making month for professional musicians (with June weddings as a close second).

With this years holiday events abounding, I am totally booked up with great paying gigs, while many of my more talented musicians friends aren't nearly as busy.

Wonder why?

There is much more to being a professional musician than musicallity (although that is a big part).

Your overall persona is a HUGE factor when an event committee is choosing just the right form of entertainment.

1. If it's a Holiday gig, I wear FESTIVE clothing. Sometimes, it's a Santa Hat, of maybe a cheery bright red Christmas tie.

2. I arrive early at each venue THRILLED to be there! I show that I am honored to have been selected to be a part of their very special occasion. To me, every performance is a special occasion.

3. During the breaks, I mingle with the crowd and am genuinely interested in how they will be spending the holidays I really listen to them and play all requests ( even if I've already played the same songs before).

4. I am especially attentive to any kids in attendance (being an elementary teacher gives me an advantage as I can dial in on the special interests of each age group).
You would be surprised at how many children of event planners beg their folks to have me back at annual events.

5. Nobody wants a sour puss at the party!
You have an opportunity to be much more than a musician. You can be the "pied piper" leading the crowd to an evening of exciting and cherished memories.

6. Accept payment with a grateful heart and let the host know that it was the best event that you have played all year. Compliment the decor and the quality of attendees.

7. Trade their check for a bunch of your business cards. Many future gigs depend on having your contact info handy when their guests ask them about hiring you for their future events like those upcoming June wedding.

good gigging!

Larry Marra

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hostile Takeover!

Well, after forty plus years of playing professionally, I still encounter situations that educate, and yes, frustrate.

Case in point?

I was to play electric bass guitar in a combo hired to accompany a local college choir for their concert.

Like the good band mate that I am, I packed my bass and rather large (and quite heavy amp) to the music building auditorium. Although I am pushing sixty, I would rather strain myself for a few minutes before the performance, than suffer emotionally hearing my bass part played through an inferior, yet much lighter amp. I also owe it to the director, students and other band members to give it my best.

Then enter the guitar player with an amp the size of a two-slice toaster!

After the first selection, he reached over with his guitar cord in hand and said, "I can't hear myself over the band, mind if I plug into your amp?"

Before I could answer, he unplugged my bass from channel one, and reinserted me into the aux channel and plugged his ax where I was.

Instantly, the bass tone tanked, and my instrument was speaking softer than his guitar was before the switch.

But wait...............

it gets worse!

The next song was a slow ballad in which the guitarist played some really sour clunkers!

The director, horns and rest of the rhythm section glared at me as the offending tonal onslaught was coming from my amp set-up. (For those who don't play guitar or bass, the lowest notes of the guitar overlap the highest notes of the bass. Therefore, if the chord chart calls for a G chord in the first inversion (G/B), the guitar is actually playing a third lower than the bass note).


A muddy gloppy sludge of low tones a major third apart trying to be produced by the same speaker.

So what to do?

Do I suffer in silence and keep a brave face as the everyone grimaces at me?

Do I start a nasty input fight on stage which takes the focus from those college students who have worked hard all semester for this night?

What would you have done?

write me at:


I would love your opinion on this.

Back to the story.........

So what did I do?

You'll have to wait for the next post to hear that, and the summery of your responses.

good gigging!

Larry Marra

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Can you hear me now?

Last week, I was playing bass for a local gospel festival. I was the resident bass player for every gospel choir at the event. Some choirs had as few as five members while others had over sixty.

As the house PA system was rather small, so there was no direct box for me and I was to balance my instrument with the choirs by adjusting the volume of the bass amp onstage. The biggest problem with that scenario is that it's impossible to know if my bass is balanced with the mix from the back of the hall since I am onstage.


I gave the sound engineer for the vocals my cell phone number and asked him to to text me at the beginning of each group to let me know if the bass was overpowering or inaudible.

I then placed my phone on my music stand. Within 30 seconds of the first numbers, my phone would vibrate and display the text instructing me to turn up or down.

It worked like a dream.

Good gigging!

Larry Marra

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Music Teacher Power!

Music Teachers,

Ever feel helpless about the conditions in your neighborhood or workplace?

Fear not!

This Tuesday, November 8th, is the perfect opportunity to find your inner Teacher Power!


By making informed selections at the ballot box, you decide your state and local representatives and which agenda they promote.

Cut taxes or social programs?

Big business or labor?

Educational funding increases or cuts.

November 12 is Veteran's Day. Many in our armed forces made the ultimate sacrifice to insure your right vote. Please respect them and exercise your civic duty by casting your vote.

Good Gigging!

Larry Marra