Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lieutenant's Log #18

Lieutenant's Log #18
April 25, 2017

It's hard to believe that 9 weeks have passed with one more week to go. I'm feeling numb. Week 7 was the most difficult. I was feeling anxious for some reason.  

I've changed my eating habits. Since I wasn't all that nuts about the food anyway, I realized that I was quite happy eating salads.  Lunch (my breakfast) is the meal that I might indulge in something solid. I was also curious about my singing after eating something light before performing.  It dawned on me that I was used to singing later in the evening, having time for the food to digest...  but I'm singing earlier shows these days.   Anyway I've notice less phlegm for sure.  
So for me it's a late breakfast (today I had half a ham sandwich), a light salad and a piece of bread before the show and a bigger salad with pieces of chicken after the show.


I've been practicing my guitar in the day, much like the old days. Since I don't live on Facebook like I used to, I can focus better.   I'm increasingly inspired listening to Doru night after night. We're a great team.  It's music first. We both have the noble ability to listen, no inflated egos that's usually bigger than one's actual talent.  
You'd be surprise how many musicians don't listen to what's going on around them. They just play their part and stop when they're done.  Oh the stories...  
I'd imagine most cover bands really need an audience to draw inspiration from, because playing the same things, same solos night after night has to bore you after a while.  One might argue that a jazz band is a cover band as well. However, the
skilled players are rarely musically predictable. Every night something's different and that's the thrill.


Although I'd never say it myself, more than a few artists have described the cruise ship experience as "being in prison." It's not an easy life for an artist. As an artist you're mostly ignored and rarely treated with simply Kindergarten courtesy. As a staffer, true, it's isolated. Not having full internet is cruel.  The food is ok. (It was great on my last trip.) Making friends is almost pointless. No one has time. And the little free time one might have, would rather be spent sleeping or smoking cigarettes. Extroverts have an advantage. Introverts are doomed, especially old introverts. "Hey, someone ought to talk to that lonely old man." "No way, he looks mean."  I do think it's interesting that most of the staff work two weeks on and then two weeks off year round, however artists on the other hand, are on the ship for months at a time and there's not even a message parlor on board. How cruel is that?  Of course I've never asked. Maybe there's some fortnightly wenches on the 13th floor.  :)


Would I do it again?  This may surprise you, but yes. Providing it's financially 'sensible'.   As I've said before, it's work.  I'd consider other options. But there aren't that many, that I can see. 
Folks have mostly given up on music, they don't think they have, but they have. An artist can make a living if people buy their music.  Few people buy music these days.  An artist can make a living if people come to see 'them' perform. People don't go out to see 'them', if they do go out, it's to drink.  
Folks are happy to be in the comfort of their homes and vote for faux artists to be the next star on some TV show.   Blah blah blah.   
Yes, I'd play on a cruise ship again.    

Friday, April 14, 2017

Lieutenant's Log #17

April 14, 2017
Lieutenant's Log #17

I got up and out to go for an Oslo walk, but as soon as I exited the terminal, my body tugged at me. "Hey buddy, it's too cold and damp. I'd turn around if I's was you." 
I decided to listen to my body and headed back to the ship.


It's no surprise that each entertainment venue on the ship has it's own unique experiences.  Heading back to the ship in the terminal there was a troubadour (solo/singer songwriter) performing. Some of the artists on the ship perform at several locations in their daily routine. He was supplied with a nice PA system.  I was impressed at the relentless tips he was receiving. He probably makes a fortune playing in the terminal.  Later he'll be playing in the 'Donkey Pub.' 
The Pub has acoustic singerwriters in the afternoon, and louder acts in the evening. That's where King James (aka Alabama) does his thing along with a keyboardist. Interestingly, they don't do full bands in the pub. It's usually a duo or single artist acts with drum machines and prerecorded tracks. These acts are very good at what they do. The large bands play in the Disco Room.  No doubt about it, the 'Donkey Pub' and the 'Monkey Pub' (as it's named on the other ship) are the real money makers for the ship.  It's where the most beer and alcohol is consumed. Where there's alcohol, there's drunk women flashing their breast and other things for a willing accessory to partake in.  "Are you married big boy?"  "Yeah, well a lot of good that's doing me these days."  
Indeed, the musicians that play in the Pub and the Disco room do really well in tits and tips.

The Cosmopolitan Room or Manhattan Room where I play (as it's called on the other ship), is a different world.  An older clientele.  Occasionally folks are engaged in the music. Mostly it's where the blue-bloods gather and a few jazz buffs.  The women don't flash, but I've had plenty of them blow kisses at me.  Seems to me that the mating call in the pub is the smell of beer. In the Cosmopolitan room it's the smell of money.   No tips. No tits. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lieutenant's Log #16

April 12, 2017
Lieutenant's Log #16

It's already been a week on "Color Fantasy" with 3 more weeks to go.   The other ship is "Color Magic."  Color Fantasy is actually the older of the two cruise ships. They're practically identical. The folks on this ship seem friendlier, less stressed or something.  

My room is even smaller than the previous room, but I got creative with arrranging my clothes and being able to put my large suit case on one side of the clothes closet to allow for more floor space.  Unlike my other rooom, I don't have access to using the space under the bed because it's blocked by a desk. However, I'm satisfied. 


One day of voice rest helped a lot. However, the dry heat in my current room is giving me other voice issues. A humidifier would be a good idea, but it's pointless to buy one, except if there's money to burn and there isn't.  I don't have the space to take it home with me. I'd have to throw it away or give it away. And sadly, the heating vent in my room doesn't allow me the ole wet towel trick. Regarding phlegm, I guess I should try vinegar.   Blehhhh...


Since the climate is warming up, I've been taking daily walks in both Kiel and Oslo. It was always too chilly in Oslo.  I recall my British friend Simon, who played in the pub on this ship a few years ago, preferred the Oslo walks. "They're more peaceful."  He's right.  They're very peaceful.


Yesterday was a day to remember.  I had noticed that after six weeks, "Alabama's" hair was as nicely groomed as it was when I first met him.  I asked, "Do you cut your own hair?" "No man, these Turkish dudes take care of me. Next time we're in Kiel, I'll take you around and show you some things. A walk on the wild side. We'll have a drink."   

So about Alabama's hair...    Imagine a tall black dude with a natural grey Mohawk with pineapple sides, sporting white eye glasses. An artist for sure.  Alabama is professionally known as "King James." Soul, Rnb, Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.  (He's long ago given up the hard stuff.)  
We met on the other other ship.  I heard someone shout out, "Hey NY!" He was referring to me. There was also another black guy, a classical pianist from New Orleans.  We were since referred to as Alabama, NY and Nawlins.   
Alabama is an ENORMOUSLY talented vocalist, guitarist.  He started out on the "Chitlin Circuit" when he was twelve.  He's lived and still plays all over the world.

Alabama's personality is almost as big as he is.  In his presence, one has to default to either straight-man or sidekick.  I was straddling both roles.  He took me to this one little bar. The place felt like we had no business being there. But again, everyone defaulted to being straight-men and sidekicks. I didn't mention that I'm not a beer drinker, but sidekicks don't complain. I had a beer and listened to one outrageous story after another. It wasn't like he was trying to be discreet, I'm sure the whole bar could hear our conversation.  Doing gigs for and befriending a grand wizard of the KKK was particularly high on the, "You're Kidding Me" list. I really wish I could share the details of our day and the stories, but dear Alabama is not dead yet.  You'll have to wait. :) 

Then he took me a barbershop to get a haircut. I had no idea that was part of his plan. "Take care of my friend here."  The owner of the shop is a 15 year friend of his and the only one in the shop who could speak English.  He translated, "Even it and take a little off."
I must say, the guy cutting my hair was a real artist.  I could see a scimitar hanging on the wall, so I wasn't going to complain about anything. :)   Seriously, it's the best haircut I've ever had.  Alabama's treat.  COOL!
We had to rush back to the ship. It was a great day.