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MusicIAmA guitarist in a show band on a cruise ship currently in the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand! AMA!

Dec 26th 2016 by inbloom27 • 50 Questions • 5148 Points

I play guitar is a 7 piece band which acts as the pit band for the production shows on board, backing up all the guest entertainers that come through and doing big band jazz sets all over the ship. AMA

Proof: https://imgur.com/gallery/A45Rh

Q:

How'd you get the gig? Any pointers for other aspiring musicians and entertainers on what to expect in the process?

A:

I found a Craigslist ad for my agent. The audition was 5 pieces of sight reading in different genres and both chords and a notation. Also there was improvising over a blues track and a jazz standard. Just be well versed in many genres and be able to play and blend well with a band


Q:

Have you plucked any passengers yet?

A:

That's guaranteed to get you fired immediately. There's cameras everywhere, I already know people who have


Q:

You still didn't answer the question...

A:

No I have a girlfriend back home. Though that doesn't seem to stop a lot of the crew


Q:

What are you living quarters like?

A:

A small room with bunk beds and a tv mounted at the foot of the bed (I have the bottom thank god), a desk, cabinets and closet type thing. Then a small bathroom.


Q:

Without windows, I assume?

A:

Of course, what are we humans?


Q:

Is this royal Caribbean?

A:

I'm not gonna say either way


Q:

Is it fun or soul crushing? How often do you go home/see your family? Who's your best friend?

A:

I really enjoy it. Sometimes the music we have to play is slightly soul crushing but I find ways to enjoy myself no matter what. I have a lot of time to practice and work on things that interest me. This is my second contract. My first only being 7 weeks this past summer. Then I was home for 2.5 months. This time I am 1.5 months into a 6 month contract. Then I will be home but I get to talk to my family and girlfriend all the time. My best friend is my roommate and sax player in the orchestra


Q:

Can you make those towel animals on the bed?

A:

I wish


Q:

What song can you no longer listen to because a fellow performer butchered it so hard it left you wanting to van gogh yourself?

A:

Well a few that too many guest entertainers have done are You Raise Me Up, Sway and New York New York. I could go the rest of my life without hearing them again. But I probably will have to play them next week haha. We just played for a sax player tonight who opened with Kenny G though, hurts my soul


Q:

Would you go down with the ship?

A:

Fuck no


Q:

What's your fav song? Which is the one most requested by the cruising crowd?

A:

My favorite I've played is the note for note parts of bohemian rhapsody with a Freddie Mercury impersonator. In the position I'm in, we don't have opportunity guests to request songs


Q:

How does working, work. Do you guys have 3 months on 3 months off? Do you guys switch between ships often or stick with the same one? What's the craziest thing you witnessed?

A:

People typically do 6 month contracts then home for a month to 3, depending on how good your agent is and if you can find work. Most switch ships but I have met a few people who like to stay on one. I will get back to you on craziest. I haven't been around for long to see much but I have heard stories


Q:

Favorite unheralded destination?

A:

I had never heard of Malta before we went there. Super beautiful country with a rich history


Q:

I heard about Malta somewhere with game of thrones production news or somewhere. I don't know

A:

We went to a port in Croatia that is kings landing and I got to see black water bay!


Q:

Do the boat staff party a lot. Is there of action going on below deck?

A:

Yes. I have heard the crew bars sell more alcohol than most of the guest bars on board


Q:

How many guitars do you have on board? What does your rig look like?

A:

I came with one and bought another while I was here in New Zealand. My pedal board I brought which has a korg pitchblack tuner, CAE wah wah, EHX soul food, fulltone plimsoul, Dunlop volume pedal, Moore mod factory, tc electronics hall of fame reverb all powered by a voodoo labs iso5. On board, they have a Roland jazz chorus in every venue which is wonderful to play on


Q:

Nice! What kind of guitars?

A:

A 335 copy with Seymour Duncan P-rails and an Aria Pro II


Q:

Do you get to fraternize with the passengers when not working?

A:

You can sometimes. Most of the time, it's people recognizing you as a musician and chatting with them a bit.


Q:

You find a decoy snail in your living quarters, you realise that the real one's nearby, what do you do?

A:

Run


Q:

Do you get time ashore at each port?

A:

Every day!


Q:

I'm going to take a wild guess and ask if you are on the Celebrity Solstice?

A:

I will neither confirm nor deny this guess


Q:

Or Radiance of the Seas, or Sea Princess, or P&O.

A:

Also will not confirm or deny these either


Q:

You're on the Gilded Lady. I know it.

A:

You got me


Q:

Are you paid well? Do they give you free food?

A:

Paid well enough. Especially seeing as I don't pay rent and have certain bills. Yes food is free


Q:

How do you maintain your place back home?

A:

I lived with my parents before I left so I have no rent to pay back home


Q:

Have you gained weight? I know I would.

A:

Unlimited pizza did it to me. I'm in the process of working out more often and eating better though


Q:

Im an audio engineer and have considered working on cruise ships, but my friends that have done it say the enviornment is extremely strict and limited, do you feel this way?

A:

It can be but as far as audio engineers, I love dudes who like what they do. if you do stuff for the theaters, you have some freedom on mixing and working with different settings and shows.


Q:

Do you read about sinkings like the MV Estonia and plan your escape route, should your vessel start to capsize?

A:

I don't but we do crew drills once a week so we all know what to do in case of the need to abandon ship


Q:

Can you play free bird?

A:

Of course but I won't


Q:

How are you treated on ship? Decent food, as in the same that the passengers get? Accommodations? Any relaxing off-hours activities, or are you constantly working the whole time?

A:

Crew is treated fairly well. The crew mess can be shitty but as musicians, we are able to eat in the guest buffet and visit the restaurants when we have the chance. Room is small but liveable. We only work evenings so our whole afternoon is ours. The company puts on crew events too which are nice


Q:

When you were growing up did you ever imagine yourself doing this?

A:

It's something I have wanted to do since I took my first cruise when I was 14, 10 years later it's a reality


Q:

That's actually pretty awesome. Following your dreams and such.

A:

Indeed it is! It's only a temporary gig but its excellent to cross this off my bucket list


Q:

How's the weather?

A:

It's been pretty windy and cooler than I packed for. But I'm from the states so no snow this time of year is good enough for me


Q:

most hated song frequently requested?

A:

We played New York New York for two or three different guest entertainers in the span on a week. So I could do without that song again. The group I'm in isn't really in venues or a position to ever take requests


Q:

What are your long-term professional goals? Do you enjoy these types of gigs?

A:

I do but I hope to start teaching more full time when I go back home. Possibly try to work as a music director for theatres and such. And also continue performing as a singer and guitarist in original and cover bands


Q:

As a drummer, what you do is kind of a dream job for me. Care to explain how you got the position?

A:

I found an agent who was accept auditions. The audition for me consisted of sight reading 5 different pieces, all different genres then improvisation over a blues track and a jazz standard


Q:

Craziest story you have?

A:

A crew member so drunk he started throwing wheelchairs over the side of the ship


Q:

Is ther much comradre among the fellow band mates and other staff aboard in general?

Quick second question: how do the kitchen folks keep their sanity? I imagine breaking eggs or peeling potatoes all day every day has to get to you after a while.

A:

There is, the whole entertainment department here and on my last ship where all very friendly and open.

I would imagine so, I dunno though. Don't know any kitchen staff


Q:

I hear a lot about outbreaks of illness on cruise ships, how bad is it?

A:

The cold tends to go around sometimes. I haven't seen anything bad yet luckily


Q:

How many times do you have to play "smooth" by rob Thomas/Santana?

A:

Actually never so far. Though I used to do it every weekend with my cover band


Q:

I recently auditioned as a bassist for Proship entertainment. They offered me a contract, but I had to turn it down due to various obligations at home. What is the likelihood they'll offer me another contract?

I spoke with my agent about the audition, and they said that I had some problems with my audition on electric bass, but the contract they offered me was for a double bass position in a combo - which I'm totally okay with and would prefer. I guess my second question is: how good is your bassist?

Is tone or reading more of an issue for the bass spot in the show band?

I've got a ton of experience as a pit musician for many local theaters, have two degrees in Music (both in Composition), and have a pretty kick-ass Performance CV for my age. I think it was just a bad audition on my part... What are some other agencies you know of and would recommend?

Finally, does anyone on board play Magic: The Gathering, or any other games for that matter?

Sorry for so many questions! I'm just trying to figure out if I should really hit this hard or not.

A:

Reading is the biggest part of it all. Our bass player right now is a bad ass. Great at all styles and is able to change his tone depending on the style. Message me if you have any questions about agencies. I haven't seen anyone playing magic. Doesn't mean people dont though


Q:

Do you ever just wanna light it up on that fretboard and go full on steve vai?

A:

Fuck yes


Q:

How crazy do the top secret staff bars get? $1 drinks?

A:

$1 beers every night


Q:

Have you had to deal with being sea sick?

A:

Yup and it sucks balls


Q:

What's your favorite performance guitar?

What's your favorite personal guitar?

A:

Well I brought a 335 copy with Seymour Duncan p-rails in it with me which is my favorite. But the electronics are screwed up (currently at a shop in Sydney getting fixed) so I bought an Aria Pro II which I am quickly falling in love with. My baby though is a 1979 Electra les Paul with custom paf style pups that my uncle gave to me when I first started playing. That axe stays home and will never come on the road


Q:

What's the most fun you've ever had playing with the band?

A:

For a Freddie Mercury impersonator or for a piano and guitar player who did some country/blues music then also some pseudo pop classical medleys


Q:

Do you have a fixed salary or does it depends on tips?
How much can you make?

A:

No tips. We get a flat monthly wage. Paid twice a month


Q:

Do your fingers ever get sore or any other injuries? How many hours of play time do you have back to back?

A:

Yes they do but there is rest time. We play for a max of 4 hours a day, minimum 1. Then my own practice on top of that from 30 min-2 hours


Q:

How difficult (reading-wise) would you rate the charts you have to read? For example, when they stick a chart in front of you, is it mostly slashes and changes, or do you see a lot of lines that you need to play?

A:

Honestly, it varies. I've had the simplest shit with just major and minor chords to full on jazz charts to crazy 16th note runs that even threw me for a loop


Q:

[deleted]

A:

1) See an above comment for my whole rig. I just took the essentials from my personal pedal board with me. Though didn't have to leave too much behind. 2)it's something I have always wanted to do and knew some people who had done it who had given me contacts. But I finally ended up finding my agent through Craigslist, submitting my audition and a month later, I was on a plane on the way to my first contract. You have to be a really really good sight reader of all genres and be able to improvise. 3)most people have a university degree in music. I am one of the few people I met that does not have one. I have played in bands all my life and some pit bands around as well. I also played saxophone all through middle and high school so I have formal music training that I have applied to guitar and studied on my own