I love performing but I don’t get many gigs these days, not like back in the days when I was playing with the Cornell Middle Eastern Music Ensemble and I got opportunities to perform (sometimes even for pay) rather regularly.  So I’m always on the lookout now for gig opportunities.  Sometime back in June I noticed a music ad that was unusual.  The poster of the ad was looking for a percussionist who had a knowledge of traditional Greek percussion.  Although these days I’m more of a flutist, I’ve played percussion quite a bit over the years and I actually have some knowledge and experience in Greek percussion.  Although I thought it was a bit of a long shot for me to actually get this gig, I responded to the ad anyway out of curiosity.  Soon I had made arrangements with the guy to meet with him and talk about the gig and demonstrate some Greek percussion.  The gig in question involved playing music for a musical-theater production for kids, to be performed in Auburn NY.  The address where we were supposed to meet was on Genessee St.  I live in Cazenovia which is kind of a suburb of Syracuse, and from my experience driving in downtown Syracuse I am used to associating “Genesee St.” with Syracuse since that’s one of the major streets in downtown and I’ve had to go there many times to find a particular store or government office or something.  I loaded up my RAV4 with a few percussion instruments and put in the address (as I mistakenly understood it, in Syracuse) into my GPS, and off I went.  After I got onto Genesee St. in Syracuse I ended up driving back and forth trying to find this place.  Out of desperation I finally parked in a public parking garage and got out and figured I would find it just by walking.  I was carrying my drums, and getting worried that I was going to be late for the appointment (I HATE being late for anything, I’ve always been super-punctual).

After walking around for a while in the hot sun carrying this stuff I finally had to admit that I was stumped.  I called the phone number for my contact, Brian.  After some clumsy back-and-forthing with the two of us each trying to call each other, I finally got him on the line and he asked me what city I was in.  Well, Syracuse naturally.  He said we’re in AUBURN.  Oh shit.  I had totally forgotten that there is a Genesee St. in Auburn (actually it turns out that almost every town in upstate NY has a Genesee St. in it).  So I gave him my profuse apologies and told him I’d drive to Auburn and get there as soon as I possibly could.  I headed out on the highway intending to drive like hell all the way to Auburn and I soon got bogged down in an incredibly frustrating and mind-boggling mess of road construction on highway 5 out of Syracuse.  Mile after mile after mile of dense traffic that had slowed to a crawl, and was even stopped completely for long periods while big yellow tractor-like machines went chugging back and forth.  I have never seen such a large-scale, and so totally screwed-up of a road construction mess in my life.  It was so huge and so fucked up it was like science fiction.  If I hadn’t been in such a bloody hurry and frantically trying to get somewhere ASAP it probably would have been an awe-inspiring sight.  Finally after a long time I got through this road-construction ordeal.  Eventually I got onto the road that leads to Auburn but found that my GPS seemed to be taking me farther and farther away.  I ended up driving through a poor rural neighborhood and wondering where the hell I was.  Eventually the GPS took me down to a lake and I couldn’t go any further.

Well, I had really THOUGHT that I’d been extremely careful to put in the address correctly (with Auburn as the city this time) into the GPS, but now I was stumped.  I had to stop and think.  The only thing I could figure out was that I must have put in the address incorrectly somehow, so I tried putting in the address again.  This time the GPS instructions took me in the other direction, towards town.  I ended up in downtown Auburn and parked on the street.  I found the place, and staggered in carrying my drums and percussion paraphernalia, exhausted, sweaty, and feeling manic with the stress and frustration I’d experienced in trying to get there.  It was now almost three hours later than our originally agreed-upon meeting time.

I met Brian and his wife Erin.  Erin was directing a musical-theater production that was to have a cast consisting of kids (ages 5 to 15) and there was to be a small band of musicians to provide the music.  Brian was the musical director and composer.  They needed a percussion player.  This musical was based on Greek mythology and Brian had been thinking of trying to use some traditional Greek percussion in the music.   I tried to explain to them what I knew about Greek percussion and Greek rhythms and demonstrated some examples, on the frame drum and the doumbek, of traditional Greek rhythms like Chiftetelli, Zembekiko, Kalamatiano, etc.  I’m not sure I was making much sense or that I was even able to demonstrate the rhythms properly.  I felt like maybe I was just babbling.  I was still a bit crazy-all-wound-up-with-stress from my experiences of earlier in the day although I was trying to calm myself down.

I was rather expecting them to tell me “OK thanks for coming in, we’ll call you if we need you,” and hustle me out the door, but to my surprise they didn’t.  We had a good thorough talk and Brian and Erin asked me a lot of questions about Greek rhythms, and they talked a little bit about the plan for the show.  Brian had some suggestions for the particular combination of percussion instruments to be used (e.g., he wanted a much larger frame drum than the one I had).  I told him I’d be glad to look into it.  He played me a recording of an excerpt from one of the songs he’d written for the show, which I thought was beautiful.  I still was not quite expecting them to actually hire me for this gig since I believed I must have appeared them as a first-rate jackass, what with getting the DESTINATION CITY wrong for the meeting (!), and then showing up almost 3 hours late exhausted and sweaty and with the general demeanor of a maniac.  I figured they must have had other applicants besides me, right?  But in fact they never actually explicitly offered me the gig. or even asked me if I wanted it.  But, oddly, from the very first they talked about it as if it were already understood that I would be playing in the show.   And eventually I was.