Even the best jazz musicians have a tough time making a living. Despite that, many musicians will play for nothing to help out a worthy cause. One local group that is prominent in this field is the CUPPA SOUP COMBO, a division of Souper Jazz Inc., which as been in existence for 25 years and has raised lots of money for charity.
Check them out here: myspace.com/cuppasoupcombo
The six-piece band includes some JazzWorks notables — John Mitchell on trumpet and Alf Warnock on guitar. Last year, in 18 gigs, the Dixieland band raised almost $12,000 for charities, most notably the Shepherds of Good Hope, by playing in supermarkets, streets festival and government office buildings.
Here’s the catch. CUPPA SOUP has been told that it will now have to pay a fee — one figure quoted was $125 — to perform in some government office buildings. This is in addition to filling out the usual forms in triplicate and getting insurance certificates.
The fee, according to emails received by the group, are to cover the “direct costs” of the use of government properties. What exactly those costs might be is not specified.
So there you have it. A group of musicians donating their time is told that they will only be able to perform free to raise money for charity if they pay for the right to do so. You knew being a musician was tough, you just didn’t know how tough.
John Mitchell is quick to point out that not everyone is so Scroogish out there. No fees are charged to play Business Improvement Area functions and the grocery stores are “marvelous” to work with. “I wish the whole world was in the grocery business,” Mitchell says.
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About this blog
Tune Up won't be a calendar of events — Ottawa Jazz Happenings takes care of that. But it will discuss events and issues of interest to the JazzWorks community. Journalist, author, trumpet player and a jazz camper since 1999, Charley Gordon is a former vice-president of JazzWorks.