This is a series I wrote in 2007 about the trials and tribulations of hauling an awkward and delicate piece of carpentry around the world. We bass players often have to get creative when transporting ourselves to gigs and locales, and this series documents experiences on all sorts of forms transportation.
Part 1 – Cabs – As I watch my violinist, flutist, and clarinetist colleagues getting off of the train outside of a gig while I circle frantically for a parking spot (legal or illegal—anything! I’m running late!), my eyes narrow and my jealousy burns. Why on Earth did I pick this big, awkward, delicate, oddly shaped transportation nightmare of an instrument as my means of livelihood?
Part 2 – Trains – Cabs are definitely out for me, although I do seem to have become a train guy in recent years, however. I can frequently be found perched on rickety platforms of the Chicago Transit Authority system, waiting for my chance to cram myself into a crowded train car, trying to simultaneously protect the bass, hold on to something, and let the withered old lady with crumpled-newspaper-filled shopping bags squeeze by me.
Part 3 – Planes – Plane trips with basses are fun… if fun for you is getting attacked by rabid weasels!
Part 4 – Flight Mishaps – I knew something was wrong as I stood in the baggage claim area of Chicago’s Midway Airport (the one with the cheapo flights that most poor music students take to auditions). I had just returned from an unsuccessful Seattle Symphony audition, my weathered ATA “vacation pass” (that’s what ATA called their boarding passes a few years ago), covered in drawings of palm trees, stuffed into my pocket.
Part 5 – All-Night Drives – As I neared the graduation date for my masters degree, I happened to land two orchestra jobs–one in Memphis, Tennessee and one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The two schedules magically coincided, with nary a conflict between the two, and I was overjoyed at this, certain of at least 14 weeks of orchestral employment that first year out of school.