‘Why we joined the union’

Volume 112, No. 11November, 2012

 I have been playing drums and percussion in pit
orchestras for touring Broadway shows for nearly 30 years. Due to a recent
prolonged period of unemployment, I resigned from the union in order to take a
nonunion gig. I’m definitely not proud of that fact, but the alternative was
literally homelessness. The pay was about 70 percent less than a full Pamphlet
“B” tour (never mind that there were no benefits of any kind), the
production values extremely poor, and the treatment of the employees abysmal. I
published an e-book about this nightmare gig entitled “WOZ A View From The
Pit.” Needless to say, upon fulfilling my six-month contractual obligation
to the nonunion employer, I immediately rejoined the AFM. I hope to be out on
the road with another show soon. This time, one covered by a union contract.
Folks, believe me when I say that your union dues are worth every penny you pay
in exchange for the salary, benefits, and superior working conditions you enjoy
while employed on a job covered by a contract negotiated by the AFM.

Mark Mulé

I recently transferred my membership to Local 802
from AFM Local 47 (Los Angeles) where I was a member for 25 years. I’m an
electric bassist and was offered a wonderful opportunity to come to New York and
play for “Leap of Faith” on Broadway. I have been working with Alan
Menken and his amazing creative team for a number of years including the first
national tour of “Little Shop of Horrors,” and other tours, including
“Sister Act.” I was more than happy to say yes. I look forward to
meeting other players here in the city and having the chance to perform all
kinds of music on this coast.

Lynn Keller

I joined Local 802 in part so I can learn from and
play with musicians who are older and more established than myself. I am new to
New York, although I have been gigging here for the past few years and commuting
from Massachusetts. I think it is important for musicians to stand together for
a common good. Music serves an important role in people’s lives and in
society. My goal is to make my living as a performer and recording artist. I
have a teaching studio, which I feel represents an essential part of being a
musician: to give back knowledge and to pass on my expertise to anyone who is
curious about music. I want to reach people, and the New York area has a
wonderful audience for the arts. I am a jazz guitarist. I also play ragtime and
early jazz on tenor banjo. In addition to my group Iron City, I get gigs in big
bands and backing vocalists.

Charlie Apicella

I moved to NYC in September and didn’t join the
union right away because I didn’t have the money and wasn’t sure it was
necessary for me just yet. But as the gigs I began to get here got progressively
better, I really saw all the benefits of joining from my coworkers. I just
decided it was time to become “official.” My musical goal in New York
City is to be a conductor on Broadway. Recently, I’ve been playing movie and
Broadway auditions through Tara Rubin’s office. I got the job through one of
their casting agents who is also the associate artistic director at a regional
theatre I have worked for the past few summers. My main instrument is piano, but
I consider myself a musical director and conductor primarily.

Logan Culwell

I joined Local 802 to start playing on Broadway. I
am a musical theater composer/lyricist. I also music direct, orchestrate,
arrange and play piano, but the long-term goal is writing. I recently subbed on
the Keyboard II book for “Sister Act.” A good friend/mentor asked if I
wanted to have a crack at it; I have loved the music since I got my hands on the
pre-Broadway London recording, so I jumped at the chance.

Sam Willmott