NEWS OF THE CORONA VIRUS SPREAD FASTER THAN THE HANDLE CLUB JACKPOT DOWN AT THE CLUB ON A FRIDAY NIGHT!
Never in my lifetime did I ever think we would all be sent to our rooms and told not to come out until we were allowed. What an interesting situation we are all in as a result of this terrible virus. Before we go any further lets acknowledge the essential workers. I know much has been spoken about the emergency services, food distributors and grocery retailers, but I have heard little about the amazing job the caregivers are doing for the elderly. This virus is most vicious on our elderly, our treasures of the world. I have a few friends that are tasked with the job of looking after them and I salute you and your colleagues. I have made sure I have phoned all my senior friends and checked up on them and I’m sure you have too. Friends have checked up on me as well. Does that make me a senior???
Many jobs have been affected by this, some more than others at this stage. My thoughts go out to those who have been given notice. The concern is the unknown about the whole situation, but be assured that the unknown is not just concerning, it can also be very very exciting.
The lead up to Covid-19 was an interesting one for me. As many of you know, besides being an entertainer I also do promotional work in one way or another. April 2020 would have marked my 9th year promoting China as a travel destination so we were the first business to be affected by this dreadful disease. We received many wonderful messages of sympathy and I never imagined that just months later we would all be in the same boat. My colleagues at work were very concerned about the outbreak and I even felt they were overreacting as we were safe here in Aotearoa. My Chinese colleagues were telling me stories about their families back home being confined to their houses and only one person per family being allowed out to get groceries. All very interesting I thought, never dreaming we wouldn’t be far behind them. I’m proud most people are complying and I have loved doing my social distancing walks and seeing whole families out walking together. Usually its just a couple or individuals as parents come home after a long day and prepare dinner in usual circumstances. This lock-down has certainly brought out many positive changes in our day to day life.
I have a new day job now presenting and promoting activities to a much younger audience. Mainly primary and intermediate children and I am really looking forward to it. Lock-down hasn’t allowed me to check out my new office or desk yet but they are certainly keeping me busy while at home preparing for what is to come.
As I was on my walk it got me pondering about something I have deliberated on since I was a teenager. What are the pros and cons of being a fully professional entertainer versus one that spreads the risk and has some form of day job as well?
I can remember pondering in the early 80’s when I left school holding down a job in the menswear department at Farmers Department Store in St Luke’s. Should I try going full time in the entertainment industry? My mother thought it was a great idea. My conservative father said “don’t do it”. We engaged the advice of two gentleman we really respected. The first was Keith Leggett. My entertainment agent , tutor and mentor at the time. He had just one piece of advice. “If you don’t go for it and give it a try, you will wonder how far you could have gone for the rest of your life”. Advice I never forgot. He was so right.
The next advice I sourced was from my Uncle Neil McGough. At the time he was a fully professional trombone player. His advice was if you are going to make a profession out of it make sure you can do it all! He told me he always made sure that if the part on the top of the sheet music said trombone, he practiced until he was the best person for the job. Didn’t matter if it was classical music, jazz, easy listening or Bollywood. To get the gigs you have to be the best at playing it all! He was also right.
I took on that advice and tried to make sure I diversified. I’ve never mastered Bollywood, trombone or jazz for that matter, but made sure I worked on my skills as a DJ and MC so that I could add extra opportunities as an all round entertainer. The next bit of advice my Uncle Neil gave me was…”don’t go pro John”. This news came as a delight to my Dad. I wonder if they conferred before my Uncle and I talked? He said “do you enjoy your holiday, sick pay and guaranteed work at the Farmers”? My reply was “yes but I make $97 a week at the Farmers and $350 for half an hour doing a floor show”! His reply was “well kiss all those day job benefits and security goodbye if you are a professional trumpeter. That was also good advice. The thought of no steady pay cheque ensured I never chucked in the day job.
I’ve always weighed up the pros and cons of that decision. For me, these were the main differences.
Positives of having a day job as well as being an entertainer –
Some form of financial security
Not having to accept every gig that comes your way because you need to pay the bills that week. For me, there would be nothing worse than saying yes to a gig that you didn’t feel you were equipped for, or felt safe doing
Doing both, provides a variety and balance in your life. That ability to play your music in the weekend, then return to the day job all refreshed and vice versa is a real benefit I think
Positives of being a fully professional entertainer-
Being totally committed to your craft
Time to work on it a lot more than a non professional
Being available for EVERYTHING
One thing that is for sure, if you are a popular entertainer you never know what is around the corner. I remember a friend of mine, Benny Award winner Jim Joll telling me that as soon as the diary starts to look a bit quiet and your feeling a little concerned, something else exciting turns up out of nowhere. That is so true. It’s happened to me for nearly forty years and I love the entertainment industry for that.
During lock-down I have really enjoyed the live feeds a lot of my entertainment colleagues have posted both full time and semi professional. I have done a couple myself that you can view on YouTube or join me on my face book page at
I would like to thank the venues that had me booked over this time but had to cancel because they needed to close their business. This included wedding venues, shopping malls and chartered clubs. There wasn’t one of them that hasn’t been so gracious. We all know everything is shut so none of them really needed to contact me and say “it’s off”. However every one of them wrote to me saying how sorry they were to have to cancel, assuring me all will be OK and will re book once things are back to normal. All this while struggling with their own internal issues worrying about their own family and business. I thought it was so nice of them. Once this is over lets get out and support them. I know I’ll be ready for a party!
In conclusion I’ve been looking at some live performances of New Zealand entertainers on YouTube while having spare nights at home. Last night I watched the 2019 Edinburgh Tattoo featuring military bands from all over the world. This included the Lochiel Marching Team and the New Zealand Army Band from gods own. I’m usually pretty bias thinking NZ is always the best, but the acts from England, Ireland, Trinidad & Tobago, France, Germany and many others footed it with the best of what New Zealand had to offer. To finish the show, Dave Fiu, a kiwi brass musician, singer, conductor and MC whom I have always respected, sung a solo finale. He was backed by what looked like at least 600 musicians and dancers from around the world in front of the castle and the massive tattoo crowd. My heart jumped appreciating what Dave must have been experiencing singing a solo at such an amazing occasion. Respect to you bro, but you didn’t help me! You just opened the debate again about professional versus semi professional. A dilemma I’m sure many a skilled entertainer deliberates often.
Until next time…
Bye Bye from the TRUMPETGUY.