pennsicdance: Suggestions

Maugorn at Maugorn at
Thu Aug 25 20:29:05 PDT 2005

catherinedean at writes:

> >What other ideas do people have ....
This is a slight tangent, but I think, a very important one.  Before anyone 
claims I'm biased one way or another, I want to say that I've been on BOTH 
sides of the issue at Pennsic & elsewhere.  It concerns what to do about music.

Twice at this war I was turned away when I wanted to play for y'all because 
you had already arranged for a "band" for the evening.  I'm not so sure that 
you want to make this the status quo.

The problem lies when a party organiser says "Oh, I'm just hiring them for 
*my* party, the rest of the musicians can play all the other nights." 
Because.... it's very easy for everybody to think that, & for every night to be special &
, next thing ya know, no open band nights.  Or limited.

Hiring a band may *seem* like a good idea, but if it's over done, it's 
actually pretty exclusive to a whole spectrum of musicians at Pennsic- who are there 
to play just like you & deserve a chance to do so.  ALSO These musicians that 
you reject now, you may someday need to rely on at another event, or back at 
home, or on some night when your favorite band dies in a plane crash on their 
way to war, & you want to hold a dance in their honor.

That's not to say I'm against "hiring" musicians for a special event.  I make 
my living as a musician at Pennsic as well as in Mundania. Gigs are a 
necessary part of that. On those occasions when you need professionals, you should be 
free to hire them.  (BTW, I *am* for hire)

HOWEVER.  One of the great joys of being a musician at Pennsic for a lot of 
us musicians is playing for the dancing. That opportunity, in the interest of 
being inclusive, should not simply be there for when you can't get anyone else. 
 It is a tremendous snub to the professionals who want to GIVE you their 
time, & it's really mean to the novices to deny them the opportunity to grow that 
playing in the band can afford.  When I've found myself in the position of <
herding the cats>, I mean  facilitating, helping, or even running the band for 
dancing, I make a POINT that there's room for everyone willing to contribute at 
ANY skill level.   I may not recommend that the beginning recorder player be 
the only one sightreading the melody on a fast, complicated dance, but I make 
it my business to FIND ways to make them welcome & useful.  

Doing this is how your pool of talent will grow, mature, and ripen.

Just saying "Oh, you can go play in the barn" ain't gonna cut it, guys.   
When some dance event is obviously a lot of fun, that's where most of the people 
are.  On one of those nights, when I was turned away from the tent, I went to 
the barn, where I was practically napping until that night's ball was over.

And there was one night some folk who DID want to dance in the barn instead 
of the tent really needed me and my guitar to anchor the music there.  I sadly 
left, because I went where I was needed more and took the compliments very 
kindly that the music in the tent that night lost some oompf when it lost me and 
my guitar.

So I'm suggesting a compromise. It's not as attractive as simply splitting up 
the talent pool but I strongly recommend that you consider it anyway.

If you want to hire or otherwise engage a particular group for your event in 
the dance tent, by all means do so (and BTW I *am* for hire!), BUT try to also 
have room for an open band as well.  You don't have to force your Band of 
Choice to play with just anyone, but you CAN arrange for there to be sets.   BoC 
early OB late or vice versa, or like we've had on several times in the barn, 
OB/set from Volgemut/back to OB.  Announce this , post it on a sign in the 
Dance tent, do whatever it takes to make musicians welcome to play for you, & you 
WILL have them.  (well, me at least)

If you facilitate the egalitarian treatment of musicians, trust me, they WILL 
reward you.   If you don't, the long term risk is losing them, and that would 
just be sad for everyone, and unneccessary too.

Thanks for listening
(who *IS* for hire as a musician, BTW)

PS.  On a completely shameless mercenary note, I'd like to add that my new CD 
_Patches_ is available by mail if you couldn't afford it at war.  It's fab if 
I do say so myself, & only costs $10.00.  Email me to get yours now!!!   A 
hearty Thanks to all of the dancers here who have already!!   XXXOOOO.!!!

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