Newsletter by Greg Henry Waters April 2008

 Do Musicians Have Fun?


Well, I cannot get this phrase out of my head so I thought I would send you a few thoughts on the subject.


“Paul Litrenta said that there isn’t anything greater in life then playing with a great band.  It is the greatest feeling in the world.”


Now for the working musician in NYC, well the music work is so difficult and so demanding on so many different levels that for a musician to have fun Is almost impossible!  He has to practice, which to me is the biggest problem for how do you practice if so few gigs, besides earning a living and keeping a high standard.  For this is what NYC is all about having the standards of the world here.  Do the club owners or politicians care about us? I hardly think so.  Can musicians have fun in this atmosphere?  Having returned from my ‘Marco Polo’ trip to Mexico and China which was about 5 years, I decided no matter what is going on in NYC the musicians here are having fun because they have a chance to play real music where in others places I have been it is only a dream.  I love NY with all its ups and downs. For if you want to make a project, new group here, you can, and the NY musician will come out and help you if they have the time whether new music or traditional music!


Steve Little said to me one day many years ago, play music, “I haven’t played music in 25 years.”  Steve is and was a very busy studio percussionist.  Being a composer I have always had this same feeling when do I get a chance to play real music created for that purpose only?  I gave up my performing career to compose music and be creative in the purest since for the music only and not for a job or assignment. Well, now I can listen to my music on my mp3 player which I could never do many years ago. But will my music ever reach the public?


It has been my experience many musicians have been into drugs and drinking.  This has hurt my career for example because if you do not join the power group you do not get work.  Whether it is a working group of musicians or a drug click of some kind!  I experience this both in Toronto and New York City. When I went to the hospital to visit a friend who had bone cancer he asked me for drugs and I wonder what got him in that bed when he asked me that?  It was very sad. Plus, musicians have personal problems, sickness, career choices etc. I asked myself do musicians have fun?  I had a musician come over to my apartment to do music one day and what he really wanted to do was drink beer and get high.  Do musicians have fun? Now this may have been fun for him, but I was completely insulted.  Do musicians have fun? Everybody’s idea is different to some degree.  We must learn to enjoy life no matter what others do or say if you want to have fun.  I wasted much time on musicians who were drunks and tried to help them.  But now I have learned not to have expectations from such people. People can have minds of drunks without drinking.  This I have recently observed with a few friends too.


In China, the musicians had such a distorted view of western music I could not believe it when it came to western music.  Their own music is great by the way.  When I was at jam session, fun for them was playing a jam session and getting drunk with a few horrible Broadway singers sitting in who were trying to sing jazz. You know Frank Sinatra was a pop singer who sang in a jazz style for example, but these singers didn’t have a clue. Another jazz club there had a small group playing and then they had a rock guitar player sing a few tunes after their set.  Jazz Lester Lanin Style!  For me this wasn’t fun and I asked myself, why was I there? And could I change any thing?  I knew I could not.


Do musicians have fun? Ask yourself this. How about showing up on a gig with the piano in one key on the top end of the piano and the lower part at another pitch!  Do musicians have fun?  And the owner of the club cannot understand why you cannot use the piano.


I was speaking with another saxophone player after the rehearsal and in the middle of my sentence he says he has to check out the piano.  Why was I speaking to him was my question?  Social customs are sometimes forgotten when one deals with musicians.  I was working at a hotel and the band leader said I could bring my family up on the week-end so I did.  But what he forgot to tell me that lunch was 50 dollars.  So I packed up my things and went home with my wife and kids..  By the way I think I was only making 50 dollars plus I had breakfast and lunch to pay for.  What a way to get free music!


When I was in Shenzhen, China having coffee at Starbucks a man asked me if I was an American.  I said yes, he then proceeded to insult me and attack me for I was responsible for destroying Iraq.  I even got a little worried.  I said I haven’t been in the USA for five years how can it be my fault? Do musicians have fun? You know we really did destroy Iraq. Bush should pay for it not the people of America. American people, we are blamed for the mistakes of our leaders!


All we try to do is create joy and happiness for others and all we get in return is very little except what Paul Litrenta said.  “Music can be the greatest joy in the world when playing with a great group.”  Sometimes when we are young we do not appreciate what we already have!


I am speaking almost mostly about the free lance musician who plays jazz, studio music and club dates.  Drugs are kind of out of style now and not apart of the life like I experienced in the 70’s and 80’s when I was a very active performer. 


Topic Two: Health


I am 65 now an at retirement age.  Now we have to take extra care of ourselves because of health problems.  I can no longer run around like I use to.  I have to be careful and get plenty of rest.  Also I take a lot of vitamins and medicine everyday which I really do not like.


So if you are 40 or older you have to take a good look at your eating habits and health issues because the body does not grow at the same rate as it did.  It is almost like the body is going into reverse and our health is moving backwards into a negative direction.


What really worries me is the control our medical system has over us and the money they charge for their service and the cost of medicine.  I really do not understand how musicians were kept out of the loop when it comes to quality music and quality pay.  I ran into an old President of Local 802 and I asked him if he was still performing and he said, “no, I am working on health care.”


Anyway, My wife and I are selling vitamins now and there are three basic vitamins which are C, Multi-Vitamin. And Aloe Vera which is to clean your stomach and intestines! Plus, plus many more!  These are all powdered or liquid style intake for easy access to the blood stream.


With so much research now about our bodies science has a much better access to the needs of our body.  Remember, that the body and the soul are two different things and function on two levels, one the physical and the other spiritual.  One can have a spiritual body with a very poor physical presents and vice versa.  So we have to take care of both sides of the equation not just one or the other.


Anyway, please go to Market America Website and review the products there which can be delivered directly to your home or place of business. You too can be a selling agent in fact this is how this systems works.  One on one marketing, earn extra money my becoming a part of Market America Group. if you would like me to answer any questions!


Well, folks, to conclude this newsletter I would like to say.  I am so sick of the Presidential election.

Are we really this stupid in our country?  How can we listen to this day after day?


Bush is the biggest self promoter I know.  We destroyed Iraq.  Who is going to take responsibility for this?  We are in deep trouble with that part of the world. 


Sex and politics, it is a natural drive we all have to deal with.  When are we going to grow up as a nation?  Lincoln and Franklyn both went to prostitutes, what hypocrites we are when it comes to this subject.


Anyway, just a few thoughts: Sincerely, Greg Henry Waters