Friday, April 15, 2011

Which Side Are You On?

I asked myself that musical question today when I resigned from the local musicians' union, Local 65-699 of the AFM. (Sigh!) I paid my last half-year's dues (and some late fees... oops) so as to be able to resign in good standing, just in case my disabilities all vanish and I am able someday to perform again. But let's face it, if my doc's are right (and they've seldom been wrong), I'll never play for an audience again. Damn!

I was a union musician for well over two decades. During that time, I duly filed my contracts, worked only through union contractors, certainly didn't scab, showed up timely for rehearsals and jobs and delivered suitably professional performances. That's not because I'm such a great guy, but because I genuinely believe in unions as an organizing force for the benefit of labor of just about any sort... if there had been an IT professionals' union, I'd have joined that, too.

The thing is, union membership has obligations that come with it, and in the performing arts, those obligations include delivering consistently high quality performances every time you show up for a job. You have to perform well, or at least well enough, even on those nights when you feel like crap, and Dog knows I've played my share of those jobs. But I am physically unable to provide the dependable quality performances I used to, so it's time for me to retire as a musician. I am happy to say that Houston is full of young musicians who do what I used to do, and probably even better... life goes on.

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