“Never go on an adventure without a hat.” — Indiana Jones
Good ol’ Craigslist. You just never know what you’re going to find there. Well okay, we all know that you’re going to find some really strange and often ridiculous, creepy, or outrageous things. But there are moments when it all comes together.
For those aspiring to do gig-related work of any type, don’t overlook CL as a place to find gigs. I have a search routine that I do every single day and while it doesn’t yield a lot of work, it can hook you up with some good gigs and it’s a great (and free) way to acquire contact information for places you might want to approach down the road.
A handy tip: If you don’t already know how to write a good search query, learn how. CL’s signal-to-noise ratio is very poor, and you can save yourself a lot of hassle by targeting the stuff you want to find. Without going into it in detail, I’ll just say that CL’s search boxes now support negative terms, such as -porn or -telemarketing. Use this feature to your advantage. Unfortunately the search field is limited in length so you can’t get rid of everything, but you can help your cause a lot even with a few search terms. Be careful not to filter too aggressively, though. Remember that CL is a public forum so there’s no telling what posters will be thinking when they write their ads. If you’re a musician and you only search for ‘music’, you will miss 80% of the ads that are actually looking for musicians.
…but back to the story. I recently saw an ad on CL that said “we need a band tonight because our other band bailed.” I’ve taken gigs like this before, and it always results in me throwing everything together and making a mad dash for the bus to get there on time. But hey, work’s work, right? But this particular time was a little different. The request came from The Elusive Trout Pub, which happens to be about six miles from the end of the Portland transit system. And while the fee they offered was fair, it wasn’t going to be a good idea to grab a cab or Uber to get there and have much left.
I was in the process of composing an email saying that I couldn’t make it but would they consider me for a future gig, when an idea came to me: I picked up the phone and called a former bandmate to see if he’d be willing to play the gig with me. Remember that this is about 3 hours before we’re supposed to go on. He said yes, so I changed my email and sent a link to my site, figuring they’d probably found someone by this time. Nope. Within about 20 minutes, I got a phone call saying they’d love to have us. So I got back to my bandmate, we put it together, he picked me up at the train station, and away we went.
The Elusive Trout (I absolutely love the name) is a very friendly, intimate place with a great atmosphere, good food, and a fun staff. I had the fish & chips, which was just awesome. They also helped me pick out a wonderful beer to go with it. And of course they paid us to play there, so how can you lose? Better still, they want us to come back and play some more. We don’t know when that will be just yet, but hopefully soon.
While we were in the middle of our second set, I had one of those moments that I get at some point during every show: the absolute joy of making music. It washes away all the transportation hassles, all the time spent reading CL ads, all the hours spent on the business of being a musician instead of actually playing music. I’ve been working in the performing arts since I was 15 years old, and it’s that feeling that keeps me in show business. I recently told someone that you don’t work in the arts for the money, you do it because you love it. And unfortunately for our society, that’s the way it’ll probably always be.
The moral of this story? There are two:
1. Don’t be afraid to try a crazy idea. It might work anyway.
2. Be ready for anything–an opportunity missed is an opportunity lost.