Why Did You Join the Union?

Volume CVIII, No. 6June, 2008

From time to time, as space permits, Allegro will spotlight some new or readmitted members.

Paul Heaney
My principal instrument is guitar. I joined Local 802 because I want to sub on Broadway, get on a Broadway tour and eventually — after my dues have been paid — get a chair on a show. Ten years from now, after a lot of practice and study, I would like to be a conductor and musical director. I would also like to play some jazz gigs in the city.  

David J. Hahn
I transferred to Local 802 from Local 10-208 (Chicago) to be more marketable to Broadway producers and contractors as a keyboard player in Broadway pits. I worked in theatre for many years in Chicago and more recently in regional theatre and national and international tours. It eventually became clear that my next step would be to move to New York, transfer to Local 802 and network with other theatre musicians. I’m here, I’m available, and I’m looking forward to paying dues!

John Thomakos
I play drum set along with a variety of hand percussion instruments. I have been a full-time working musician, primarily in the Baltimore/Washington area, since the early 1990’s. The bulk of the jobs in which I’ve been involved through the years have not been union based, therefore I’ve had no reason to join. I was much busier than I wanted to be and I honestly could not see any benefit in joining a musicians’ union. Last year, however, I was on a short tour which included several television dates. Among these dates were the Jay Leno Show, and the Regis and Kelly Show. I was unable to get paid for my performance on both of these shows without joining the union. So here I am. At the moment, I’m playing drums and percussion on a show with Cirque du Soleil. This too is a union-based position. My run with this show will likely end in the early part of 2009. I feel blessed and very fortunate to be able to support and create music with so many excellent musicians. As a new resident of New York, I would ideally like to continue playing on a show, as well as freelance. I can be contacted at or

Robb Smith
My main instrument is drums. My goal in New York is to continue gigging and recording and not compromise myself for others at my expense. As for me rejoining the union, my first recording contract with J-Bird Records (an Internet label) was so unfair to us; if we had all been in the union, things would have never happened the way they did.

Ray Gonzalez
I am principally a trumpet player. I have been a lead player and soloist, appearing on Grammy-winning albums with Tito Puente, as well as classic albums with Dizzy Gillespie, the Machito Orchestra and Ray Barretto. I toured all 50 states as well as Canada, Europe, Central and South America with many, many legendary performers. I have recently retired from a career with the government and wish to return to my passion. I re joined Local 802 because I saw it as the first step to re-entry into the New York music scene. My first love, however, is studio work and I plan to put my heart and soul into making more great Latin, jazz and classical music.