Hamilton Musicians Guild
This past June Secretary Treasurer Brent Malseed and I served as delegates to the Canadian Conference of Musicians and the AFM Convention held in Las Vegas. Also attending as an observer was 2nd Vice President Janna Malseed. I am pleased to report that this convention was the most positive of the past three that I’ve attended. The AFM is on a more solid financial footing and I’m pleased to announce that no membership dues increases were asked for.
At the Canadian Conference I served on the Standards Committee which is a standing committee struck three years ago. I also served once again on the Resolutions Committee which evaluates the merits of resolutions brought before the Canadian Conference of Musicians and was appointed to serve on the Elections Committee for the AFM Convention.
Perhaps one of the most positive outcomes of the AFM Convention was that Alan Willaert was re-elected as Vice-President from Canada after his opponent dropped out of the race. This was a great relief to us all as his opponent had no prior experience as a Local officer and didn’t have the wealth of experience, knowledge or leadership credentials Alan Willaert has. So concerning was his lack of experience as an AFM member that an emergency resolution was presented to the delegates that would require anyone running for office to have two years of AFM membership in good standing. Unfortunately this resolution was defeated and we hope there isn’t a repeat of this situation in the future.
On a more positive note, we received word that the International Executive Board granted Local 293 some debt relief for a year after which the terms of the agreement would be revisited. At present we owe the AFM roughly $42,000 over non-payment of the per-capita under Neil Murrays’ tenure as President of Local 293. Under the terms of the agreement the principal is waived but the interest will still accrue. This will free up some funds for the Local to expand our projects for the membership and to pursue more opportunities for the Local to grow the membership.
It goes without saying that this agreement would not have happened were it not for the fact that we have more than doubled our membership in the past three years and have posted the highest membership growth in the AFM. I am very proud of the efforts that we as a board have put forth to achieve this feat.
I’d like to thank all our members who participated in the Labour Day Parade this year. We had 28 members march this year and virtually the entire board was present as well. Local 293 t-shirts were specially made for this event which was in part funded by the AFM Freelance Co-Funding Program. We also accessed MPTF funding for the Andre Bisson Band and Steve Fuller who were hired by the Hamilton and District Labour Council. The event was a real show of solidarity for Hamilton’s labour community and the benefits of collectivism. We cannot stress enough the importance of building ties to the community and the politicians that represent our community. We also had an information booth staffed by Cathy Lee from the CFM office alongside our board members. Stopping by to say hello and chat with us were Andrea Horvath M.P.P. leader of the Opposition, Monique Taylor Hamilton Mountain M.P.P., Scott Duvall M.P. and Bob Bratina M.P.
Finally, I’d like to re-affirm our commitment to advocate, promote and safeguard the best interests of our members. Those of our long-time members can attest to the benefits of loyal membership. This past year we’ve gotten two Lester Petrillo grants from the AFM for members who due to illness and injury could not work. For the price of less than fifty cents a day our members can count on our support and guidance and the knowledge that when the chips are down we’ve got their backs.
Larry Feudo, President
Local 293 President Larry Feudo, 2nd Vice-President Janna Malseed and I attended the Canadian Conference of Musicians and the 100th AFM Convention in June 2016 held at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada . I was appointed as Chair the Canadian Conference Diversity Committee and Larry Feudo is a standing member of the Standards Committee. At the AFM Convention, President Feudo was appointed to sit on the AFM Elections Committee (photo below) and I was appointed as a standing member of the AFM Organizing Committee (photo below). It was an honour for us to represent the membership of Local 293 at the Canadian Conference and AFM Convention.
In the past few months, we lost a couple of well known life members of the Hamilton Musicians Guild, drummer Bob Wright and saxophonist Libby Ferrelli. Also, a very good friend of Local 293 members, booking agent Harold Kudlets, passed away in September. They will be forever remembered by many in the Hamilton area.
Bob Wright and his twin brother Bill came to Canada from Grangemouth, Scotland, in 1948 and, eventually opened Wright’s Music Store and Banquet Centre on Concession St. in the late 1960s. Bob played in numerous Hamilton-area bands from the 1950’s through the early 2000’s and taught hundreds of drum students in the Hamilton area. His passion for music continued after his retirement, creating a music studio and rehearsal space in his basement in Ancaster where he practised and recorded until shortly before his death. A lover of jazz, Bob mastered many styles. He also played in various pipe bands and orchestras, including the Hamilton Theatre Inc., and, with brother Bill, led the band at the Hamilton Tiger-Cat games for several decades. I had the pleasure of playing many gigs with Bob over the years including a 26 week television variety show performed in front of a live studio audience called “Vince Hill at the Club” which aired in 1970 on CHCH TV. Another memorable gig with Bob Wright was playing with Tiny Tim at Diamond Jim’s Tavern in 1971 (note: Harold Kudlets was the booking agent that brought Tiny Tim to Hamilton shortly after his marriage to Miss Vicki on the Johnny Carson Show). Bob Wright was a true gentleman and a friend that I will always remember.
Libby Ferrelli played with the George Arnone Big Band, the Hamilton Italo-Canadian Band and many others over the years. Libby was performing with the Italo-Canadian Band at an event in Brantford, Ontario in August when he collapsed and passed away later in hospital. Libby as former conductor of the Italo-Canadian Band was very passionate about his music and all the groups he was affiliated with over his career in music. He will be very sorely missed by the music community in Hamilton.
Booking Agent Harold Kudlets was well respected by musicians from the Hamilton area as well as others from across Canada and the United States. Please see the article by Paul Panchezak in “Local 293 StreatBeat” regarding Harold and his influence and lasting memory on many musicians.
The Hamilton Labour Day Parade and Picnic was a great success this year. I would like to thank the MPTF for co-funding the Live Music at the Labour Day Event and Paul Sharpe, Director of AFM Freelance Services & Membership Development for his help and advice from the Freelance Program to provide Local 293 with AFM cofunding. This enabled us to promote benefits and services of the AFM to musicians and the general public in the Hamilton Area. Cathy Lee, Administrative Assistant, from the CFM office joined us in the parade and staffed the CFM Booth at the after parade picnic.. Many visitors and local politicians stopped by and were informed of the importance of the AFM, CFM and Local 293 in our community. Check out Director Brenda Brown’s article and photos from Labour Day on pages 12 and 13. Music is a Business and, as a member, you can benefit by gathering knowledge and understanding of how your AFM/CFM membership can benefit you. You are only a click away from gaining knowledge and support in your musical career. Set up your Username and Password at the AFM.org to access the members only sections of the AFM/CFM and Hamilton Musicians’ Guild websites. Play it right & get in touch with MyAFM. It’s yours to discover. Time to get involved. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the Local 293 office by phone at 905- 525-4040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in solidarity,
Local 293 StreetBeat
Since our last issue of the Libretto we are sorry to report the loss of a colourful and influential character who played a major part in the Hamilton music scene for decades – Harold Kudlets. Mr Kudlets (actually born as Kudlats) passed away at Shalom Village just short of his one hundredth birthday. As an agent, manager and promoter he booked generations of Local 293 musicians into venues near and far. Born in Glasgow, Scotland Mr. Kudlets emigrated to Hamilton when he was eight. He was a graduate of Westdale Collegiate and for a brief period an employee of Stelco. His first venture into running his own business came when he set up a hot dog stand on the Beach Strip. Before getting involved with the music business some of his first adventures as an entertainment promoter were in the sports world. In the days before professional baseball was integrated Mr. Kudlets was known for bringing teams from the Negro Baseball League, including the Cleveland Buckeyes and the Kansas City Monarchs with stars like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, to Hamilton’s Scott Park in the city’s east end.
His introduction to the world of music came about accidentally. In 1947,while managing the Forum Palace roller rink on Barton Street he was approached by two men who had booked the venue for a concert with the Glenn Miller Band. After some negotiations they turned the contract over to Kudlets and from that moment he never looked back. He was bitten by the show business bug like many before him. Using the Forum Palace as a base he brought many of the greatest stars of the big band era to Hamilton – Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa and many more. In 1951 Duke Ellington opened the Dundas Arena for him.
Aside from larger venues Mr. Kudlets dominated a thriving club scene in Hamilton that included The Flamingo, the Golden Rail, Fischer’s Hotel, Diamond Jim’s and the Grange. It was through clubs such as these that he introduced Canada to the world of rockabilly and rock and roll music. After an initial success booking the young Conway Twitty (then known as Harold Jenkins) into the Flamingo, he asked Twitty’s advice regarding other southern acts that might be suitable. One of the names Conway recommended was Ronnie Hawkins and the rest, as they say, is history. It was Hawkins who first gave Kudlets the nickname “Colonel”, after Elvis’s manager Colonel Tom Parker. It was also Ronnie Hawkins who was responsible for Mr. Kudlets long and renowned association with The Band, a group that grew out of The Hawks into Bob Dylan’s backup band and international stars in their own right.
Over his long career, the number of musicians and venues Harold Kudlets worked with are way too numerous to mention. From his Harold Kudlets Agency office in the Connaught Hotel he booked more than local clubs. He also sent Canadian musicians as far a field as the world famous Peppermint Lounge in New York City and The Freemont Hotel in Las Vegas among others. He also boasted of his ability to land his acts on some of the biggest television shows over the years – The Arthur Godfrey Show in the 50’s, American Bandstand in the 60’s, Ed Sullivan in the 70’s and David Letterman in the 80’s.
There aren’t many people in the music business that can look back with pride on a career that crossed paths with everyone from The Band and Conway Twitty to Tiny Tim and Bill Haley; from Nat King Cole and Billie Holiday to Chesty Morgan. It is no understatement to say that with the loss of “Colonel” Harold Kudlets after a long and eventful life we have truly seen the “end of an era” in Hamilton music.
On other notes, another Downtown Supercrawl has come and gone – a success despite inclement weather. And once again Local 293 members were well represented among the many musical acts. As in past years a contingent of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra took part in the festivities. Other noteworthy participants included Thompson Wilson, Darcy Hepner with his celebrated Jazz Orchestra and world music exponent, sitarist Neeraj Prem. One of the most anticipated headliners was Hamilton’s Dirty Nil whose high energy shows are a hit right across the continent. In the midst of promoting their latest release on Dine Alone Records, “Higher Power”, group members Luke Bentham, Dave Nardi and Kyle Fisher have just finished a Canadian tour and are now working south of the border hitting concert halls and clubs from Atlanta, Georgia and Nashville, Tennessee to San Francisco and New Orleans bringing Hamilton music to the world.
Paul Panchezak, Seargent-at-arms
The Acoustic Room: A Reputable Owner and Stellar Collection of Fine Guitars
My first guitar came to me as a Christmas present when I was twelve and since then I have owned and played many guitar types and rising qualities. My introduction to Pongetti as a Hamilton music source came with the purchase of my Korg PA1x-Pro arranger keyboard and later, a 12-string guitar. After the Upper James store closed, I thought Mark Pongetti was a name I wouldn’t hear much again but when Mark opened The Acoustic Room at 144 James Street South in the spring of 2015 I knew I had to check it out ASAP.
That was a good decision. I walked into the most exclusive looking guitar showroom I’ve seen and I’ve seen many, from Victoria, B.C to New Brunswick in my years involved with the musical instrument business. My first impression of the ambience brought to mind a royal wine cellar. That’s fitting when you consider that exposure of the guitar finishes to sunlight is minimal and the expert climate control and humidity level are optimal for guitar health and longevity.
In The Acoustic Room I found guitars for all skill levels with names that have well-earned respect, made in many countries. Mark’s reputation and his collection have drawn buyers from all over the province and even the USA so if you are a Hamilton musician, you owe it to yourself to see it and become a friend and a fan. I’ve found his pricing competitive, service unmatched, and business integrity refreshing. Even his wide variety of strings come at the best prices in the area so make your next string and pick run local and drink in the atmosphere as you compose your wish list of your next guitar acquisition.
Make sure you get on his online mailing list because he regularly hosts presentations by awesome musicians who are in the highest strata of professional guitar players. I have enjoyed several concerts at The Acoustic Room (yes seating is limited so sign up quickly) which have humbled me while simultaneously inspiring me to press on in woodshedding to excellence.
Make a Saturday visit with your guitar and Garren Dakessian, Loucin guitar maker and Acoustic Room’s resident luthier and guitar tech will make the adjustments, repairs and intonation setup you have been putting off. He’s expert, fair and easy to talk to. So, fellow Guild Members, get to know your city’s celebrated musical resources and start with Mark Pongetti and The Acoustic Room.
Submitted by Kim Gardner, Member of Local 293
Solidarity on Labour Day
On September 5th, members of the Hamilton Musicians Guild joined with organized labour groups from all across the Hamilton region to participate in the annual Labour Day Parade. It was a sunny and warm day. We gathered on York Boulevard along with a diverse and energetic mass of steelworkers, teachers, electricians, firefighters, social service workers, healthcare workers and dozens of other groups, and their families. The parade moved off at 10:30 AM. Our group of more than two dozen members were proudly sporting the AFM logo on our blue t-shirts, and we carried the flag of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) and the banner of the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF). Members sang a few songs of solidarity while walking along. Many opportunities arose to greet members of the public along the parade route, which took us through the core of downtown Hamilton and finished up in Dundurn Park with a picnic. We took time to take a group photo near our booth, which was staffed by Brent Malseed and Cathy Lee, staff member from the Canadian Federation of Musicians office. Thank-you Cathy for joining us for the day! Guild member Andre Bisson had his band ready to entertain the masses with a variety of up-beat, popular songs. Local labour leaders were in attendance and took their turns addressing the crowd, along with a few local, provincial and federal political representatives. Participation in the Labour Day Parade was a great day to show our connection with the various labour groups and organized professions in the city. We were encouraged that even more members joined the Labour Day Parade in comparison to last year, which helped make sure that musicians are visibly represented as the professionals they are. Imagine what it will be like next year if we can bring out our entire membership of over 600 people!
By Brenda Brown, Director
We are the American Federation of Musicians
of the United States and Canada
Professional musicians united through our Locals so that:
We can live and work in dignity;
Our work will be fulfilling and compensated fairly;
We will have a meaningful voice in decisions that affect us;
We will have the opportunity to develop our talents and skills;
Our collective voice and power will be realized in a democratic and progressive union;
We can oppose the forces of exploitation through our union solidarity.
We must commit to:
Treating each other with respect and dignity without regard to ethnicity, creed, sex, age,
disability, citizenship, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or national origin;
Honouring the standards and expectations we collectively set for ourselves
in pursuit of that vision, supporting and following the Bylaws that we adopt for ourselves;
Actively participating in the democratic institutions of our union.
With that unity and resolve, we must engage in direct action
that demonstrates our power and determination to:
Organize unorganized musicians, extending to them the gains of unionism
while securing control over our industry sectors and labor markets;
Bargain contracts and otherwise exercise collective power to improve wages
and working conditions, expand the role of musicians in work place
decision-making, and build a stronger union;
Build political power to ensure that musicians’ voices are heard at every level of government
to create economic opportunity and foster social justice;
Provide meaningful paths for member involvement and participation
in strong, democratic unions;
Develop highly trained and motivated leaders at every level of the union
who reflect the membership in all its diversity;
Build coalitions and act in solidarity with other organizations that share
our concern for social and economic justice.
GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING
October 17, 2016 – 7:00 pm
The Admiral Inn
York & Dundurn Streets, Hamilton
Is Pay-to-Play Ever Acceptable?
Live music is tough business for artists & venues alike, but should artists be expected to cover costs?
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Canadian Musician magazine
Back in May, Canadian Musician received an email from Hamilton, ON-based independent singer-songwriter Piper Hayes detailing a recent experience she had with an unnamed venue owner. Recounting their email conversation, Hayes told CM the venue owner said she, the artist, would need to cover the cost of the doorperson. “When I asked if I could have my own door person,” Hayes continued in her initial message, “I was told, ‘I can’t due to the neighbourhood. We need bag checks and the front watched closely as people like to take booze outside.’ This indicates to me that the door person needs to be an employee and therefore covered by the venue itself.”
Though covering the doorperson’s wage is unusual, the expectation that musicians cover costs – either by paying a fee to the venue for the “privilege” of playing, or covering costs directly by, say, paying the sound tech – is unfortunately a not-too-uncommon occurrence. The practice of “pay to play” is decades old and online complaints from musicians continue to pop up with regularity. “I have been taking it upon myself as of late to challenge music venues on how they treat musicians,” Hayes said in her email, “Over and over again, I approach venues to set up shows and I am met with pay-to-play standards.”
‘‘I find there’s a trend in paying for the sound person and it’s anywhere from $40 to $100,” Hayes later says by phone. In another example, she recalls, “I was part of this festival this year and then it got cancelled. I was supposed to be playing at [a venue in Toronto’s Kensington Market] and they contacted me and said, ‘Would you still come? Would you still fill the spot?’ I said, ‘Yeah, great. What are the terms?’ The terms of the festival were I was offered a guarantee and we were playing with two other bands. It was in Toronto and I live in Hamilton and even transportation and all that factor in, and they said, ‘Well, it’s the same thing, we’ll do this at the door and you pay $60 for a sound person.’ Well, that’s not the same thing. She called it a ‘nominal fee of $60’ and I’m like, ‘Well if it’s so nominal, why don’t you pay it? I don’t understand.’”
Hayes messaged the other two artists on the bill and explained why she was going to say no to the gig. A little surprisingly, “One of them wrote me back and sent a really long message about why I should do it – that the $60 isn’t that much and ‘if we get this many people, then we’ll make this much,’” Hayes recalls, “and the reality is, too, that it’s not true for me. I will make more money if I go across the street and play at the old coffee shop I used to work at, do a pass the hat or whatever I want, and not have that loss of $60. But it is ethical, as well. I don’t want to encourage that system anymore. It’s an old, broken system.”
Shawn Creamer couldn’t agree more. Creamer owns the Dakota Tavern, a staple of Toronto’s roots music scene, as well as the Hayloft Dancehall in Prince Albert County and the Whippoorwill Restaurant and Tavern in Toronto, in addition to being a guitarist and singer with highly regarded alt-country band The Beauties.
“Totally would never happen… I’ve got two venues and there would never be an occasion at either of those venues where we would have an artist pay to play,” Creamer tells CM emphatically. “For one, it’s an ethical decision, and being a musician, I would just never do that to another musician. But I think it is also a business decision, too. I own music venues and we have a place where we need, sort of, a farm system for young bands to be able to come up and go through. So for us to be only thinking about the bottom line and having bands pay to play would not be good for business for us at all. It would tarnish our reputation as being a reputable place for bands to get their start. The Dakota only holds 130 people, so it’s a great place, that sort of venue where a band really cuts their teeth and is a good stepping-stone from our venue to bigger venues. I think if you’re paying to play, you wouldn’t last too long.”
What is acceptable, Creamer says, is for the venue to expect the band/artist to hold up their end of the bargain, which means promoting their show. “It should be an agreement between the venue and the band that they’re going to promote this together,” he says. As far as payment, an artist should expect a guarantee, which can vary, and likely also a split of the door. An 80/20 split of the door revenue is common, with the band getting the majority share, and the smaller percentage going to the venue to pay for the PA rental, sound tech, security, and/or other costs. The venue, Creamer says, makes its profits from food and drink sales.
“For The Beauties, my band, if someone told me they were taking 50 per cent of the door or we were only getting paid if they made X amount of dollars at the bar, I would go, ‘Forget it, I’m out.’ As a musician, I wouldn’t play for it and as a bar owner, I would never put that on a musician to make them feel like that was their responsibility,” Creamer adds.
What is considered an acceptable offer for their services is up to the artists to determine, but the basic message from both Hayes and Creamer is just that – that the artist/band is providing a service and deserves compensation. It’s the same as if they were the server, security, sound tech, or any other employee or hired hand. It is also about self-respect.
“I think my tipping point just became, ‘I need money because this is my income now and I need to value myself,’” says Hayes, noting how tiring it has become for her – working as her own promoter and manager – to reach out to venues and nearly half of the time receive a pay-to-play offer in return.
If, in some quarters of the live music industry, pay-to-play is prevalent to a degree, then it must be working for someone. It’s unlikely that person is the musician. Pay-to-play would not exist if it didn’t succeed on some level for the venue owners; therefore, are artists who accept these conditions undermining their fellow musicians? Hayes is fairly diplomatic on the question; Creamer, not so much.
“I don’t necessarily inherently feel that,” says Hayes. “The problem is, there are so many categories of musicians, and that’s not a bad thing. It just means there’s going to be some people who don’t need it for the finances; they’re doing it as a hobby. There’s going to be bands of people’s parents who have been playing for 30 years and that’s just what they do. I think that’s great and I don’t really feel undermined. It’s a really hard road to walk and I would never want to judge somebody or feel poorly about some of the choices they make. It’s so hard at the end of the day and, if anything, if people are doing that, I might just say, ‘Here’s why that’s maybe not a good idea.’”
Creamer, on the other hand, responds with an instant “100 per cent” when the question is flipped to him. “If someone is willing to play for free, then these [venues] are going to grab those people. And it’s unfortunate because if you’re going to try and make a career or make a go of it, you have to have respect for yourself in the first place,” he says. “If you are willing to play for free, you’ve already devalued yourself and it’s hurtful, I think, to the music community as a whole and as to what musicians consider to be the standard.”
Running a music venue, bar, or restaurant is not an easy business. In fact, it’s extremely stressful and tough to turn a profit. Musicians should be sympathetic to that, but that sympathy shouldn’t come at the expense of their own livelihood and self-value. As Creamer advises, “I always say the same thing to young bands. I tell them, ‘Tell me what you’re worth, and then show up and be worth it.”
By Michael Raine, Assistant Editor of Canadian Musician; article printed by permission.
RESIGNED IN GOOD STANDING:
KRISTAL L VANDERKRUK
Bob Wright, Drums
Libby Ferrelli, Saxophone
Harold Kudlets, Booking Agent
Ian Thomas, Life Membership
John Bebbington, Life Membership
Carmen Nemeth, Life Membership
Neil Nickafor, Life Membership
Glenn Mallory, 50 Year Membership
Bill Wright, 25 Year Membership
Helen Beese, 25 Year Membership
Sterling Stead, 25 Year Membership
Ginger Graham, 25 Year Membership