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The Contract Musician
Sometimes luck does play a role in success.
Two months had passed since Robb Gunderson had landed a studio gig. Fortunately for him, he still lived at home so his expenses weren’t a lot. His parents knew what he was trying to do, but it was a tough industry for someone without connections.
And it wasn’t for lack of knocking on doors either. Gunderson was calling and visiting every known studio within 50 miles of his home every week. Every time he had a lead, the gig was taken before he could return the call. While there were only a handful of saxophonist studio artists in the area, they, too, were beating the streets and offering their musical talents and wares.
It was feast or famine, but Robb was largely in the famine column these months.
To make ends meet, he took on an evening pizza delivery job. He couldn’t see a career in it, but it staved off the debt collectors still hassling him weekly.
When the call finally came for a one-week job 2 miles away, Gunderson dropped everything and shined up his sax for the occasion. As he practiced long into the evening the night before, he realized that two corks needed to be replaced. They were functional, but only barely. Unfortunately, 11 pm the night before a gig was not the time to replace a cork. He made a mental note to buy extra corks when he had the cash, but that wouldn’t help him now. Like all musicians experience from time to time, he knew his instrument and the work-arounds that would get him by for the session.
Gunderson also knew that he was one or two gigs away from making it big, of getting noticed. Was this the gig? If he impressed, was there more work on the horizon? Would he be jeopardizing his career by not replacing an inexpensive cork? And where could he possibly find a cork at this late hour?
The session started the next day and would last up to a week depending on how much they accomplished. Gunderson would be paid for a finished product so if it took the studio musicians a day or a week, it didn’t matter.
The session began like most sessions with warm ups and jamming together. Since most had never worked together as a team, they were feeling each other out for rhythms, vibes, and general cohesiveness.
The musical key for the piece they were recording was F sharp minor, an unusual key to be sure, but one that brought a smile to Gunderson’s face.
Four days later, when the session ended with a final cut, the studio boss handed out checks as the musicians exited.
Robb Gunderson said only two words to the studio boss, “Good key” for he knew it was the only full key he could play without having to make adjustments on his sax based on his decaying cork.
Good key indeed.
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