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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

“You live the other way around the world”: This is how it is played in summer in an orchestra or a tribute band

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Rubén Abellán (34 years old) is a great connoisseur of Spanish geography. “There were days when I played in Huelva and the next day in Teruel. I’ve eaten in a van a few rides like this. You spend weeks away from home,” says the singer, who recalls his days singing in an orchestra. He now leads a tribute band with three identities: countercurrentwhen he covers El Canto del Loco; Animals, when he plays sloth; and Marcha back, a mixture of pop and rock in Spanish. On Sunday July 24 he sang sneakers, Joseph’s mother either kisses in Valdeavero, a Madrid city of 1,500 inhabitants on the border with Guadalajara. “The audience gives up, they know all the songs”. This summer they also cheered him in El Tiemblo (Ávila), Novallas (Zaragoza) or Tudela (Navarre). “You travel so much that it’s normal to misunderstand the name of the city on stage. It’s happened to me before and you don’t see them getting mad,” adds José Cereijo (31 years old), singer of the Super Hollywood Orchestra.

The distance between the cities where they perform is not the only problem for these artists. Also, they work almost every day. “I had months of 25 gigs. Cities always have something to celebrate,” explains Maribel Olmedo, 28 years old. sing now in a tribute to Van Gogh’s ear, in which the rhythm has slowed down, “but I spent eight years in a verbena orchestra, where I didn’t stop working during the summer. It’s very, very, very exhausting.” “These performances involve a tremendous amount of physical exertion. Build and disassemble the team in each city with the heat that is every day, then spend hours on stage giving it your all. There are tours where I lost weight,” adds Abellán.

The performances of the orchestras are long, sometimes six or seven hours. It gives “some people in public, a select few, time to get drunk more than they need to,” Olmedo continues. “With so many in the morning, they have no control. I have experienced very uncomfortable situations, very sexist. It’s not common, but it happened to me.” José Manuel Esteban (45 years old), member of the Orchestra Nuevo CompasHe’s seen similar situations: “I’ve seen men overdo it with female colleagues, sexist drunks messing with them.” It’s not the only conflict that Esteban has experienced with his orchestra: “Things happen at night, without protection. Some drunks once asked us for our instruments and since we didn’t give them them, they kicked us off the stage.”

Participants in the concert of A contracorriente in Valdeavero.bare elm

Abellán and Olmedo changed the orchestras for the tribute bands, with fewer dates and shorter concerts. “In the end you need it for your private life. You miss too much: meeting friends, family, holidays…” says Abellán, a romantic partner from Olmedo. “I started in the orchestra when I was 17, the age at which you most want to party. I did it because I like singing and going on stage, but at the same time I wanted to go with my friends. You don’t see your family because you sleep during the day, when you wake up your mood isn’t the best, you can’t sleep at night… Your rhythm changes,” adds Olmedo. “You live backwards than the rest of the world. While they rest, we work. It’s hard to take when you have a family and you want to live a reasonably normal life. And in summer it is more noticeable, ”says Fernando Ramos (49 years old), who is performing in Cádiz the night he visits this newspaper. “The next day we go to Jerez and the next to Quintana de la Serena (Badajoz),” says the person in charge of the Retroversion Orchestra. “Usually we move within a radius of about 200 kilometers, but if they call us, we go to Oviedo. Little happens because they have to pay you for gas.” They also perform at private events such as weddings.

This summer is particularly stressful for these artists. For various reasons: “The municipalities want to catch up on what they were unable to do during the pandemic. It’s crazy. Between August 1st and 17th we have 14 performances,” says Isidoro López (73 years old), leader of the Super Hollywood Orchestra. “I’ve been doing this for many years and this summer I’m working harder than ever.” “Also,” he continues, “there’s local elections next year. All mayors want to leave a good taste in the mouths of voters after two years without parties. The one who spent 10 now spends 12″. “Municipalities pay best, but if you can’t rely on the general public, all the better. Everyone pays instantly except themselves, which takes 60 days and sometimes even longer. It’s embarrassing,” adds Ramos. “Now there’s a lot to do in winter too: if not the patron saint’s festivals, then the chestnut festival in November,” says Esteban. According to López, the surge in demand coincides with a drop in supply: “Many orchestras have closed during the pandemic. Members have been looking for other jobs and that means those of us who have persevered have a lot more work to do.”

At the moment, according to López, this does not affect the price that the orchestra asks. “We were scared after the pandemic [el 75% de los músicos de España experimentó una contracción del 90% de su actividad en 2020, según la Unión de Músicos Profesionales], so we closed almost all dates in November 2021 at a lower price than we could charge now. Thus, changing the situation does not improve musicians’ salaries either. The artists interviewed for this report speak of a range between 100 and 250 euros per concert. “In the summer we earn 60% of the annual salary,” adds Cereijo.

Rubén Abellán, in the foreground during his performance in Valdeavero.
Rubén Abellán, in the foreground during his performance in Valdeavero.bare elm

For some, music is a complement, as for Olmedo and Abellán, teachers between September and June. For others, like Javier Estrugo (41 years old), it is the only source of income. “To survive, you have to be able to do everything,” explains the drummer, who plays in eight different bands and teaches this instrument. “It’s difficult to fit in, but you can do it with substitutes. Sometimes I have to do two concerts on the same day,” he explains. “It’s an uncertain life, you don’t have the stability of other jobs. These years of the pandemic have been very tough, but others deserve a lot more. You learn to live with it and it makes up for it. We all like to have everything clear in the long run, but then I think about how much I love my job, traveling every day delivery trucks from side to side and I congratulate myself”.

The optimal contract scenario for these types of artists, Estrugo explains, is that “they sign you, they sign you on the day of the performance; but it is the least common”. Esteban enumerates the remaining options: “You can be self-employed and charge for the day, which doesn’t compensate you for many months because the fee is so high. It may also be that the power comes to you through an intermediary that stays at around 20%. Another option is to join an artist co-op so you don’t have to be self-employed (they charge you around 7%). And another possibility, more common than it should be, is that you get paid in b. A lot happened to town halls 15 or 20 years ago, now it’s not common anymore”.

“The world of music is very beautiful, you enjoy it very much, but for artists like us it has a very complicated part,” continues Esteban, who distinguishes between the “famous” who have “even the fruit of their choice” in their wardrobe. have’ and ‘that we have no towels or food or anything; if you don’t have time to eat dinner, you seek life”. This is how imaginative solutions emerge, like those of Abellán and his companions from the homage to El Canto del Loco. They changed in the plenary hall of the Valdeavero Town Hall.

This is the fifth chapter in the Precarious Summer series, which features testimonies from workers in stressed or particularly tough sectors in July and August. If you would like to share your testimony, you can do so by mail [email protected].

The members of A contracorriente pose with the audience in the background.
The members of A contracorriente pose with the audience in the background.
bare elm

Source elpais.com

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