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Monday, August 20, 2012

'Take the Money and Run' Gigs

aka The Corrimal Leagues Club Syndrome

One day I got a call from ah...Mr S, offering me a gig at a leagues club down the South Coast of NSW. Mr S's regular singer had a family function on this particular night so he needed a replacement and a friend of a friend had recommended me.  The gig would be a duo gig - I'd be singing along to backing tracks with some guitar strumming courtesy of Mr S, most likely surrounded by poker machines and disinterested punters. I said yes to the gig, even though it was far from the type of work I wanted to do. At this time, I was in the middle of recording my first album and I was doing lots of wonderful band gigs with talented musos in great Sydney venues. But as a freelance singer relying on the ups and downs of work in the music world, I sometimes filled the gaps with what I called 'take the money and run' gigs like this one.

Anyway, a month later - two days before the gig - Mr S calls me to say his regular singer could do the gig after all so I would no longer be needed. Now to describe how I felt at this... I didn't really ever want to do the gig, but I wanted to be the one to say no! I thought I was above the gig - yes arrogant I know - yet I was the one being rejected. Mr S actually said, 'look I'm sorry, but this is not just any gig, it's Corrimal Leagues Club you know. I don't want to lose the gig by using just any singer.'

Now I'm going to name drop here but I need to put this into perspective. At this time, I had just performed with Powderfinger at the ARIA Awards at The Entertainment Centre and was about to go on tour with Wendy Matthews. I was speechless when Mr S made it clear he didn't think I was good enough for his corner-of-the-pokie-room gig. But I did manage to regain my voice in time to spit out the most impressive parts of my musical cv down the phone line. And I do remember finishing with something like: 'so I think I could probably handle Corrimal Leagues Club don't you?'

I didn't handle the situation with much grace, and I know it was my fault I was in the situation at all. Mr S didn't know me from Adam and he was only protecting his turf. He shouldn't have cancelled me last minute but if I thought I was so good, what was I doing accepting a gig that I considered so far beneath me? I would have been better off leaving myself free in case another, 'better' gig came along.

In a similar situation a few months later I took a gig with a Mr H. He didn't cancel me last minute - unfortunately. I did the gig with my eyes on the door the whole time - worried someone I knew might walk in and see me. After the gig, I got in my car to head the hour and a quarter home. Ten minutes into the drive my car broke down. I sat by the side of the road waiting for the NRMA for over an hour. Did I mention the torrential rain? I had to be towed to a mechanic near my home and the towing charge cost me $20 more than my gig earnings that night.

I did eventually learn my lesson and I now call this the Corrimal Leagues Syndrome. And whenever I get asked to do something that doesn't feel right for me, but I'm tempted to do just for the money, I remember Mr S!

Disclaimer: Corrimal is a nice place and I'm sure they've got some great entertainment at their local Leagues Club :)