Point of View
We asked Australian
Ian Beddows to answer the following question...
What is success for a jazz musician?
Response by Ian Beddows
The obvious answer to this question is fame and fortune but the
majority of jazz musicians can only dream of this kind of success. When
you are 60 years old and love playing and singing jazz, it's more about
just playing what you love with the best available musicians. To keep
one's musical integrity and still have a roof over your head and some
food in your belly is difficult from the earnings of jazz gigs, to say
On the Gold Coast, where I live, there are some outstanding musicians
who I have the great and good fortune to work with. None of these
players can make a living purely out of playing jazz. Some have teaching
jobs or private students, others take gigs playing in rock/pop/funk or
country and western bands or playing along with sequenced backings.
I gave up playing anything but jazz at least 15 years ago except for one
moment of madness when I was offered $300.00 cash to dep for the bass
player in a rock band. The band was dreadful and far too loud and my amp
blew up half way through the gig. It was more or less telling me that
although I was prepared to do the gig, the amp wasn't. Then I waited two
weeks to get paid and it was with a cheque.
I've supplemented my music income over the years, by selling insurance,
(a very shonky business), driving a taxi, ( average income about $8.00
per hour unless you drive Friday and Saturday night shifts which are the
most likely nights to get a gig), and now I work in a banana plantation
(which is quite appealing). I live in Tallebudgera Valley and work in
the bananas for my landlord. It's hard physical work and only earns
$17.00 an hour but it keeps me fit and healthy and I can choose when I
want to work. It goes a fair way in supporting my jazz habit.
I have a number of ways of saving myself money. I enjoy beer and have
perfected brewing my own.
It's become somewhat legendary along with the Meetings of The Dead Cow
Society that happen regularly at my place, where we drink copious
amounts of the said amber fluid, while cooking the dead cow on the BBQ.
It costs about 30 cents for a schooner of home brew. I also grow my own.
(veggies and fruit of course).
The irony of my life as a jazz musician, who has to bend bananas, is
that whenever I'm on the gig, people come up to me and tell me how
amazing it is to hear me playing the double bass and singing songs like
Spain and Take five etc. Accolades are very nice for massaging the ego,
but I feel that my success is that I get to play with all of the very
best jazz musicians between Brisbane and Byron Bay, and beyond.
The music is the important thing.
© 2009 Ian Beddows
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