In 2001 I was hired to compose 45 minutes of music for a Toyota event at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. The music was choreographed by Christopher Harrison, and performed by his acrobatic troupe ‘AntiGravity‘. The producers requested a Cirque Du Soleil vibe. I played all the instruments, except guitar, which was masterfully handled by my friend, the late Michael Hakes (Natalie Cole, Brenda Russell, Edgar Winter), plus samples, and sound design. I engineered, mixed and mastered the recording at my LA studio. Every track had to be approved by the producers and Mr. Harrison. So, lots of overnighting DAT tapes to NYC and Las Vegas. I even played tracks over the phone, because the digital life we enjoy today was in its infancy 21 years ago. Sending files was not an option. The project was grueling because of the deadline to write, record, mix, and master the tracks. It was 3 solid weeks of very little sleep, but in the end way worth it.
AntiGravity is composed of former olympic athletes, dancers and acrobats, who are phenomenal. I worked on several corporate events with Mr. Harrison, a great guy, and an amazing talent.
Side note: Speaking of working with amazing people and talents, that has not always been the case for me.
Independent contractors have no HR department to complain to, and today’s Musician’s Union is mostly non-existent. You’re on your own, and as a sideman you need to be both politician and psychologist, not to mention your own agent/manager. I have had wonderful experiences, and not so wonderful. It’s the biz. Learn it, and deal with it the best you can.
Part of having a successful career in music, (I eventually did), is aligning yourself with the right people. You won’t get along with everyone, and some will see niceness as weakness, be nice anyway, They may use and underestimate you, roll with it, but don’t forget it, it’s all OK, and part of the circus that is today’s music business, and one of the reasons I’m happy to be retired from it.
Music however isn’t going anywhere. You could be a part of its future, and its healing. Keep moving, keep your eyes open and on the ball, be smart, listen more than you talk, save every penny, and make connections that feel good, and are beneficial to everyone. Like any relationship, you shouldn’t waste time on those who don’t fit, and don’t appreciate you, or you may not be available for the situations that do.
Anyway, this was a great gig, and an amazing opportunity for me that once again my bro Jeffrey Davis helped facilitate. Everyone loved it.
Here is a sampler. I wish I still had the script. The opening track was played while the acrobats/dancers entered from the back of the venue (behind the audience) to the stage. The Bolero (in 7) worked perfectly for this, and was aptly titled ‘Entrance’