Here is one of Dan’s tunes called Fragile being played at the same Jazz Central gig last month. Brian Courage on Bass, Evan Montgomery on Guitar, Zach Schmidt on drums, and special guest, Chicago saxophonist Dan Meinhardt.
Here’s my tune Pittsburgh’s Song being played at a show with guest Chicago saxophonist Dan Meinhardt last month. Me, Dan, Evan Montgomery, Brian Courage and Zach Schmidt in the band. It was a fun night. Might post one more from the night in a bit…
Well…Last year felt different for me than previous years. There were a multitude of reasons, but essentially it comes down to me being in the musician work force full-time, for the first time. I’ve had to take the final step in “growing up.” No more student loans to help pay bills. Now, it’s pay down existing bills enough this year so that we have enough money to pay down the ridiculous amount of money I’ve racked up in student loan billsnextyear.
2013: Pay me my money down
In the words of every rapper, ever…”I gots to get paid!” So this brings me to the real motivation behind writing such an end-of-the-year (world?) post: The music business has changed, but it’s pretty much the same.
Let that one sink in…
In my studies at the University of Minnesota, and before that, Lawrence University, I learned a few things about music. Indeed! I did learn a few things! One of the things I learned was that successful musicians, ones that made their entire living with music as Jana and I are currently doing with varying degrees of success, diversify. That’s right, diversify.
I’m in Appleton for an old friend’s wedding this weekend and decided I’d wake up early and hit the Lawrence University practice rooms. It’s amazing how a place can have so much effect on your current levels of motivation. LU just has this vibe like everyone who walks through these halls wants to be the greatest. It’s how I felt the whole time I went to school here, and it’s how I feel now, visiting more than five years later. I went to school at two other universities and it never felt like this. I’ve always been a motivated person, so getting to the practice room to perfect my art has never been a problem, but here there is a certain urgency and focus; an energy that fills you up when you walk through the conservatory doors. As far as I know, I’m the only one here right now, so it isn’t necessarily the other people around me pushing me to do better and to get better, it’s just this place. Discovery. It’s a beautiful and rare thing. Unfortunately it’s a thing that is unattainable to most due to the rising cost in tuition to attend LU. They run the risk of becoming a place where people who are not well-off (my mom was a teacher and dad was unemployed/self-employed while I was in high school preparing for college) can not attend here. And dare I say that those who grow up in a wealthy home often don’t understand the meaning of work; real, back breaking work to pay the bills. Their parents might understand, but often that life lesson is glossed over in favor of spoiling the young ones. I fear LU will lose this driven student body and ultimately the amazing vibe here in favor of entitled college kids who expect everything to be handed to them. That’s the cost of a private institution, I suppose, but it’s hard for me to understand how tuition could have been raised close to $16,000/year* since I attended school here. Slippery slope. Don’t lose what you’ve got, LU. You will regret it.
*Update: According to LU’s website, current tuition is $48,270/year, which is over $16,000 more than where I started in 2004 (approx $32K).
You get out what you put in. Plain and simple. Work hard and whatever you’re working toward will happen. It will. It has to. There is no other option. The idea that anything is attainable really excites me. With enough work and dedication to your goal, anything is possible. It’s the very thing that keeps me pushing forward in my progression as a trumpet player and as a composer.
Six months ago I started a big band I call the “Adam Meckler Orchestra.” It consists of young, relatively inexperienced players and seasoned Twin Cities veterans. It looks like a traditional Jazz Big Band. It isn’t.
It is staggering the amount of time and effort I’ve put in to making this happen. Apart from booking the gigs, putting the band together, finding ways to get 18 musicians in the same room at the same time, there are the ridiculous amount of hours I’ve spent composing and arranging the music. Thinking about what that means in terms of money makes my whole body hurt. But it’s a labor of love, and one that will hopefully land me a position at a university someday (I have a Masters degree! hint, hint).
I’m so thankful for such an amazing group of musicians and friends who’ve generously given their time and energies to play my music. I could never have imagined I’d be where I am when I moved to the Twin Cities four years ago. It’s a testament to my opening statement that anything is possible with the right amount of conviction and work.
It gives me great pleasure to show off my awesome band by posting this track. The song is Beautiful Beatrice. It is a re-composition of Sam Rivers’ Beatrice. So basically I stole a bunch of little ideas and wrote my own piece. You probably won’t hear many similarities.
The Adam Meckler Orchestra played at Jazz Central May 29th, 2012.
Adam Meckler: Composer, Soloist, Conductor
Trumpets: Zack Lozier, Tom Krochock, Sten Johnson, Cameron Kinghorn, Noah Ophoven-Baldwin
Trombones: Keith Hilson, Mason Hemmer, Nathan Berry, DJ Clovis
Saxophones: Ben Doherty, Nelson Devereaux (soloist): Tenor, Jason Fabus, David Hirsch: Alto, Angie Hirsch: Bari
Drums: Peter Hennig (Soloist)
Guitar: Evan Montgomery
Piano: Joe Strachan
Bass: Chris Bates
We opened up the Festival on Friday night and played right before our good friends, the Stooges Brass band (video of Stooges playing Sir Duke below). Mike, Tom, and Matt are looking and listening after we all went back and changed out of our gig clothes.
We woke up early this morning and were the final act in the Festival’s parade. Stooges jumped in the van to drive to another gig, and we stick around to headline tonight’s main stage right after Doc Severnson and Allen Vizzutti destroy things together. Seriously, not cool that I have to follow those guys.
Anyways, we’re now all chilling on the porch of this awesomely southern Frat house, waiting for a ride to a BBQ for lunch. Word is they’ve been smoking that pig for 8hrs. Boom!
They put us up in a very nice old Fraternity house here on campus. The Great American Brass Band Fest is treating us right! #jackbrasstour
I’ve been in this situation before, but it’s rare. I’m on the road, sleeping less and driving more, and I’ve got a nasty persistent cough from a previous illness. Being sick and being on the road is absolutely awful. Couldn’t sleep last night, and up early and in the van today. Can’t sleep in the van because of the coughing. What a mess!
I guess all I can do is wait until I get so exhausted that I can’t do anything but fall asleep while one of the Mikes drives.
Just bought some medicine to see if that will do the trick. I always avoid using meds, but this is too much this time. We hit tonight at the Great American Brass band Festival and I gotta sound great!
Olander is now at the helm, finishing off a 14hr drive. 3 and a half left, almost nothing.