Saturday, September 17, 2005

For those of you that don't know me, my name is Cesareo Garasa. I've been a professional musician for the last 17 years and I've been making a living by just playing and teaching music for the last two years. I've played in a lot of different bands, played a lot of different styles and played with a lot of different musicians.

I've been keeping up with a lot of the bloggers here in Bakersfield and I've been entertained by stories, perspectives, rants and ruminations. But I felt compelled to start my own blog for the sole reason that after reading about myself and the rest of my local music scene (that I've cherished and respected since the late eighties) I have never given myself the chance to really reflect and respond to the synchronicity of the twists and turns in my career and experiences that have led me to this keyboard and these words that you're reading.

This is actually my second attempt at this. My computer froze up after typing away for an hour, and out of sheer frustration I decided to give myself a while before trying again. So I thought I would try to talk about a perspective I've often shared to friends and colleagues.
There are two main types of professional musicians in general:
1. The Cat
2. The Band Guy
All aspiring musicians with the idealistic dream of "MAKING IT BIG" will eventually become one of these two creatures. Let me describe them both to you.

This is the type of player that is a kind of musical chameleon. Generally, they can play in most situations and can be found playing on weekends with different bands and GETTING PAID FOR IT ( which, more often than not, is not the case with The Band Guy). The Cat isn't always necessarily a trained musician, but more than likely was in school band/s or whose musical foundation is a bit more evolved (private lessons, music classes,etc...) . Most Cats can read music or have a rudimentary knowledge of theory and chords. Some musicians start as The Band Guys, but sometimes fate and/or egos (really, ANY amount of reasons) have a way of cutting the unique type of ties a band has short. So,due to talent/connections/training/starvation or some other X factor, certain musicians will find themselves getting involved with certain musical situations that they didn't expect. Usually, if they don't fuck it up, they get hired for more gigs/tours/sessions/etc... and after that they become: THE CAT. Musical groups that are comprised of mostly Cats are smooth, professional and generally very good musicially. But, honestly, what would you expect from people that play music ALL THE FREAKING TIME? Most of the time, the members are past their twenties.

The Band Guy isn't too far removed from The Cat. No musician is too far removed from all others. Usually The Band Guy is mainly interested in playing THEIR KIND OF MUSIC (whatever that particular type is) and will align themselves with other like-minded musical souls. The main difference between The Cat and The Band Guy is that The Band Guy is part of his or her BAND. It's usually THEM against the MOTHERFUCKING WORLD ( although I know some bands are themselves against their MOTHERFUCKING SELVES. ROCK!) and The Cat is in it for his or her self and career. The Band Guy will shell out his own money to play The Roxy on a Thursday night if THE BAND thinks it's worth it or there is a chance of SOMETHING HAPPENING ( whatever that "something" is, varies by gig). The Band Guy will do ANYTHING IT TAKES FOR THE BAND. Usually when a band's members are all Band Guys, the arguments are more personal, sometimes there's a lot more internal clicks formed and the songwriting process becomes a lot heavier. It's usually not the vision of just one guy, It's ALL OF THEM. Break ups are more volatile/viscious/emotional because it's hard for them to separate the personal from the professional.

I know generalizing is considered bad form, but these are the two general mind-sets most working musicians have. I have tried to keep a balance between both of these identities for YEARS and I can assure you that these two viewpoints don't cancel each other out but sometimes STRENGHTEN each other. It all depends on the musical situation and the chemistry of the musicians involved.

A forty year old keyboard player may have been a Band Guy once. Now, He's relegated to playing on weekends at a local bar making extra money to feed his family. Or maybe, that same keyboardist has no family and he's making some extra scratch for himself. He doesn't dream of stadium tours or the "big deal" anymore. Maybe he's been there, done that or maybe he has his own definition of "success." I realize that to some Band Guys (or girls, I am describing genders as mostly male scrictly on the basis of expediency not chauvanism) this might seem like a depressing sort of hell. That the dream didn't come true, so they have to resort to hanging it up and that music would become a "hobby."

Reality has a way of making ideals become either smoke or steel.

Imagine a twenty-five year old guitarist being A Cat. After a few gigs playing while fucked-up or being late, playing too loud (or just being generally unprofessional) or having a real problem with his ego, he develops a reputation as "unreliable." So the guitarist decides to finally get serious and start up his own group.

"Fuck covers," he thinks. "I've always wanted to play fusion!"

Thus, A Band Guy is born from the ashes of a Pheonix disguised as A Cat.

I'm not using any particular individuals in the aforementioned examples, but these are very common templates for a lot of the roles that most musicians have played/are playing/or will play.
Musicians playing a role? That's rich...

My point is: these two types are not only interchangeable, but NECESSARY.

Do musicians have a shelf life? Some do. Some make their own.

If A Band Guy or A Cat makes it to his dream, getting success for the music he had a part in creating, then he becomes a different type of Band Guy and Cat. He's not just playing on weekends, he's playing EVERYDAY. he's not just persuing a dream, he's WORKING IN IT. His entire life will be dependant on the fiscal success, popularity,momentum and fans his music has. If attention to finances is in place, then that musician will get paid through publishing, performing, etc...etc...

Think about the actor that works on the stage and occasionally does a commercial. Now think of the actor that makes a living playing bit parts or as an extra. Now think of the actor that has dreams of being a "star."
This is what happens when you combine the art and the commerce. The ideal and the ideas.
The reality of filming a video as opposed to imagining (aspiring to) being in one.

I'm playing a wedding tomorrow. The next day I'm playing a benefit. There's only one commonality that both those gigs have (besides the bands involved):
That's enough for me.


Blogger n.l. said...

oh man--welcome to the Bakersfield Blogger Universe...

10:07 AM  
Blogger JR said...

Good stuff man!!

11:18 AM  
Blogger Matildakay said...

This is great! I love it! Can't wait to read more and more... :)

3:05 PM  
Blogger Bake Town said...

Right on Ceserio! You rock!

2:33 PM  
Blogger jenny angel said...

you got it, brother. this is the sad truth.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your blog about the days of Jumping Trains brought back some great memories. Keep writing, its really good stuff.

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool blog, interesting information... Keep it UP »

12:07 AM  

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