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
How'd you get the gig? Any pointers for other aspiring musicians and entertainers on what to expect in the process?
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
That's guaranteed to get you fired immediately. There's cameras everywhere, I already know people who have
No I have a girlfriend back home. Though that doesn't seem to stop a lot of the crew
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.
Is it fun or soul crushing? How often do you go home/see your family? Who's your best friend?
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
What song can you no longer listen to because a fellow performer butchered it so hard it left you wanting to van gogh yourself?
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
What's your fav song? Which is the one most requested by the cruising crowd?
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
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?
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
I had never heard of Malta before we went there. Super beautiful country with a rich history
Do the boat staff party a lot. Is there of action going on below deck?
Yes. I have heard the crew bars sell more alcohol than most of the guest bars on board
How many guitars do you have on board? What does your rig look like?
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
Do you get to fraternize with the passengers when not working?
You can sometimes. Most of the time, it's people recognizing you as a musician and chatting with them a bit.
I'm going to take a wild guess and ask if you are on the Celebrity Solstice?
I will neither confirm nor deny this guess
Also will not confirm or deny these either
Paid well enough. Especially seeing as I don't pay rent and have certain bills. Yes food is free
Unlimited pizza did it to me. I'm in the process of working out more often and eating better though
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?
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.
Do you read about sinkings like the MV Estonia and plan your escape route, should your vessel start to capsize?
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
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?
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
When you were growing up did you ever imagine yourself doing this?
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
As a drummer, what you do is kind of a dream job for me. Care to explain how you got the position?
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
A crew member so drunk he started throwing wheelchairs over the side of the ship
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.
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
I hear a lot about outbreaks of illness on cruise ships, how bad is it?
The cold tends to go around sometimes. I haven't seen anything bad yet luckily
How many times do you have to play "smooth" by rob Thomas/Santana?
Actually never so far. Though I used to do it every weekend with my cover band
$1 beers every night
Yup and it sucks balls
What's your favorite performance guitar?
What's your favorite personal guitar?
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
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
Do you have a fixed salary or does it depends on tips?
How much can you make?
No tips. We get a flat monthly wage. Paid twice a month