No dear readers, I'm still very much deeply involved with Scene Pensacola....
This article is about what happens when a musician loses an opportunity that they worked hard to achieve, but alas gets fired for reasons unknown. This is more about my own personal experience than may be the norm for most.
For purposes of anonymity, names of musicians and bands have been omitted.. Please understand and note that regardless of how I have been treated by band leaders/musicians in the past, I honestly and truly bear no malice toward ANYONE. The Beatman loves everyone, even those that have treated me poorly.
Any musician that has been in this business for any time at all understands just what it feels like to be fired from a band. Its no fun, no sir, not at all. What's worse is the manner in which bands and band leaders choose to inform us when that day arrives, when you think everything is going well, you're on an upward swing, the near future looks bright then...you get a text. A text, on your phone that reads something like, "Hey man, you're a great drummer and a hell of a guy but, we're moving on with someone else".
WHAT? What did I do? What did I say? Played the music too fast? Too slow? WHAT!? Sang out of key? Wrong lyrics? Too loud? Too soft? WHAT!?
You see, this is what I have a problem with in these days we live in. I'm used to old school, shoot from the hip, straight talk honest and forthright communication, you know, like Dad did. Our lives have been glossed over by the ease in which we can terminate relationships. With just a mere touch of a button you can literally cancel someone. Its just too damn easy, and for what? Is it really worth burning a bridge over such a thing?
My first real, steady foray into the Pensacola music scene took place shortly after Covid devastated the entertainment industry, and my wife and I moved to Pensacola Florida. After some searching, trying out different venues and seeing a huge variety of bands, an open mic at a venue on the beach hosted local musicians in an intimate, but apparently popular atmosphere. I signed up to sit on the kit, and for the better part of an entire year, my wife and I were steady weekly regulars.
I made myself available to the host and indicated I was not looking for compensation, but an opportunity to play, meet other musicians and perhaps, one day, find a band that would have the likes of me. Week after week, different players would join the fun. Some completely blew me away with their talent and I had the chance to stretch my chops, hone my skills, and play with all of them.
We had so much fun! Meeting new people and making friends that to this day are still very close to me. Week after week, I brought my kit and we jammed. Through rain storms, short crowds in the off season, and weird out of towners. We had a blast! Relationships were built, friendships established, and... opportunity!
A well known local musician with an established working band came into the venue one night. Being a drummer, I naturally asked him to sit behind my kit. After few numbers, we had the occasion to talk. I said I was looking for a band to play out with. I reached out to the band leader, auditioned, and got the job. Unfortunately, we couldn't see eye to eye on how to communicate on stage and after three shows, my time with them ended. Out of all the bands I've played with since, this is the only one I left voluntarily.
Weeks passed, we continued to jam and have wonderful experiences with many musicians, some local, some from out of town. One particular night, I met another musician, a guitar player who told me a band he just had joined was seeking a drummer. I made a connection, scheduled an audition, and joined the band. We rehearsed for several weeks and decided to show our stuff at an open mic in northwest Pensacola. We were well received and when we finished the bar owner inquired as to our schedule and availability. Our one, and only, paid show came to us from this venue owner when a band cancelled a party and needed a quick fill in. I booked the gig with the bands approval and everyone had a wonderful evening.
Two days later, I got a text message that made my jaw hit the floor. Rather than approaching me personally, the band leader chose to have his wife send the lead guitar player and yours truly a text message that basically read "you two are no longer in the band." This of course was perplexing as the show was a hit and we were asked to come back to play another show in the future. No explanation, no details what so ever just "you're fired". Any attempts at settling this were not an option as no contact was allowed directly thereafter.
I don't know about you, but I think after a musician puts the time in, drives 30 minutes one way to rehearse and hauls his kit in the process deserves a bit more than a text message. Am I wrong? Haven't seen, or spoken to anyone from that band except the lead player that got the axe the same day I did.
I continued my weekly involvement at the open mic. After making contacts with many bands and inviting them to come play, my influence grew along with a little popularity and the open got bigger and broader. Whole bands came to play at our little open mic as well as several individual singers, players, and instrumentalists.
Through a mutual friend, I was introduced to another local band who had recently lost their drummer and had booked shows to play. An originals act with new music for me to learn and play, wow! I worked on the play list hard and hauled the kit to rehearsals. From the very first note I knew we had something special. Both the band leader and the bass player told me I was what they were looking for. I was geeked to say the very least! After three rehearsals it was time for the first, of three booked shows I was to play. WE KILLED! All throughout the show I received multiple accolades and compliments on my skill and timing as a drummer. A $30 tip at the end of the night along with my pay gave me a huge thrill knowing I was sincerely appreciated for my efforts and for driving 2 hours to Biloxi to play the show. All while playing original music! I was floating on a cloud after that night. I had so much excess energy that my wife and I decided to go try our luck at The Hard Rock Cafe. I won $20!
The next day was quite a different scenario. You see, the statement I made earlier came from this band leader. "Hey man, your a great guy, and an awesome drummer but.....", well, you know the rest. I was devastated. I couldn't actually believe what I was reading in this most abrupt and disturbing text. Surely not this band? No! But, alas it was true. No explanation, no details, nothing, nada, zip.
What in the living hell did I do wrong?, I asked myself over and over struggling with an announcement that cut me deep to the core. For God's sake, at least tell me what I did, or didn't do to deserve such a cold, patronizing message, especially after all the hard work and dedication I gave these guys. I mean, I certainly didn't wish to make the same mistakes over and over again. Talk about the definition of insanity! It took weeks to get over that one, let me tell you.
Now dear readers, please allow me to tell you about the last I'll write here, but not the last I experienced firing at the hands of a text message. Unfortunately, though its not at all my intention to bring things more down than they are at present, this one took the prize hands down.
The day arrived when the host of the weekly open mic got notice that the bar owner wished to try something different on our special night. After almost a whole year of bringing musical joy to those who participated, we witnessed our brand of open mic meet its demise to progress.
I was encouraged when the next day, the host said he'd scored a new venue for our open mic. It was great! We had an actual stage! The venue was nice, they served decent bar fare and sported an open room with lots of seating. We reopened at the new venue with a very nice crowd. Players came from new areas to play on our stage each week. After just three weeks and a buttload of promotion, I thought we were on our way to building this show to knew heights! More and more players and patrons showed up, all talking about how we were producing one of, if not, the best open mic show in the Pensacola/Gulf breeze area! I was zoomin!
Then, it happened, again.
After a silly dispute over pay promised to me, just before I was to play the next open mic, the host sent me a text, he said, you guessed it, "I'm moving on with someone else."
So, ok then, I had been his drummer for nearly a year, I figured maybe it was time for a change, though I was the only one replaced. After promoting the weekly event, posting clips and pics from performances past the next day, talking it up, and inviting tons of players, my time was at an end with a text message being the hammer that pounded the nail into my bleeding, broken heart. No explanation, no details, nothing, nada, zip. It was over and I thought my playing around here anywhere was also. Not only did I get fired, but I was ghosted and blocked on social media. Really? Did I deserve that after all I gave? Well, apparently so according to the host, whom I haven't spoken to since.
As I stated earlier, I'm not angry, or upset, just very disappointed that musicians can't seem to summon the courage to simply tell a player what prompted such an action. Before I join a band for any purpose, I make a point to let the band know that when it comes to the music, I have no ego to stroke. Of course it feels fantastic when you're playing, and it's sounding sweet. Who doesn't like a little appreciation from the crowd for a job well done? You've most likely been there before yourself, however I am a stickler for the music. It must be right and tight! Anything less for me just won't do! So I let my bandmates know to tell me straight up if its not working, too fast, to slow, too loud, too soft, just tell me what you want. You can't hurt my feelings! I can change! Ever felt like that before?
Lastly, just let me say how much I've learned from getting fired. I've learned I'm not the only one dealing with rejection. It happens to players all over, every single day. I've learned not to dwell on the past, but to look to the future. Bands come and go but after all of it, a musician must keep playing or it feels like one loses part of their soul. Its life, breath, and food to a musician. Also, some of you, no doubt, may recognize the scenarios I outlined in this article. I've not mentioned any names here. It is not at all my wish or intent to cast disparaging remarks upon those that have treated me with disrespect in the past, rather my intent is to voice what I am sure is more common than most wish to admit. I mean, who likes getting fired right? Nobody is the answer, however it is an inevitable experience we all have faced, and will face again.
If you are a band leader and responsible for letting your talent go when you feel its right, then at the very least, talk to that individual, for their benefit and edification if nothing else. All musicians aspire to improve and be an integral part of a musical concern and no one appreciates being let go with absolutely no reason or explanation. Its just plain cruel in my opinion. Do the right thing and show some minimal respect for their time and efforts supporting your concern and making YOU money. Its my sincere desire to see our music community come together as we endeavor to spread the word of live music here in Pensacola and the surrounding environs. Show some compassion and leave on good terms. You never know when you may need that side person again some day when you're in a spot and have no one left to call.
I sincerely hope you've enjoyed my article and I'm looking forward to new and interesting subject matter in the future. Got an idea for an article of interest? Just email it to email@example.com. I'm most eager and happy to connect with you! For now, this is The Beatman, Rich Navarre, your Entertainment Ambassador wishing you the very best life has to offer and hoping you'll SUPPORT YOUR SCENE! Bye now!