‘Why we joined the union’

Volume 113, No. 8September, 2013

Clockwise from top left: Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi, Nick Grinder, Ilana Faibish, Danielle Eva Schwob

Clockwise from top left: Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi, Nick Grinder, Ilana Faibish, Danielle Eva Schwob

Since the start of my career as a player and composer, the goal of my music has always been to communicate with people. Like African griots, I want to tell people things they need to know. I also want to express my love and passion to people. Music is eternal; it touches people’s hearts instantly. Music is also a social force, a voice which wants to help and support others. Music can even give advice and teach people about culture and the things that matter the most in life.

I joined the union because I care for my musician brothers and sisters. We musicians are like other people, with all kinds of problems that we can’t solve alone. The union’s job is to protect our rights, especially at times when we don’t have the chance to speak for ourselves. That’s one reason why I’ve been an active promoter and supporter of the union’s Justice for Jazz Artists campaign. I’m also the editor of an online music magazine called
DooBeeDooBeeDoo NY (to subscribe, see

Many people still think badly of musicians. They call us dreamers, they say we can’t live a normal life, they think we are addicts or wanderers and that we don’t know anything other than music. Our job – and the union’s job – is to fight these stereotypes.

I came to NYC in 2008, but I’ve lived in many different worlds. I grew up in Switzerland and Germany, and moved to Japan when I was 19. I gave up everything I had in Japan at age 55 to come here because I felt it was my last chance to do something I really believe in, through my horn. I thought maybe there would be a niche for me here, after 9/11, as a Muslim who is also a good person.

My main goal as a musician and activist is to let New Yorkers know that there other perspectives and values in life from the ones they know.

Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi

I joined Local 802 after I experienced some shady business dealings that left musicians holding the short end of the stick. I thought it would be best to be a part of the union in the hopes that it could help deal with this sort of thing in the future. Also, I was offered a union gig that gave me a good excuse to join. I came to New York to stretch and push myself musically as much as possible. I wanted to be around the best musicians possible, and this is the perfect place to do that. I most recently brought a quintet out to California for a series of gigs. I have a friend who owns a restaurant out there that we converted into a concert space. We contacted local media and it ended up being pretty successful. My principal instrument is tenor trombone.

Nick Grinder

I joined Local 802 because I got a gig as a sideline musician on NBC’s “Smash” and needed to become a member. My musical goal in NYC is to keep making a living by writing, recording and performing while working with people who inspire and challenge me. One of my noteworthy gigs was playing with my band and a host of other musicians at an “alt-classical” Hurricane Sandy benefit at Le Poisson Rouge. I put it together with composer Sxip Shirey when the orchestral concert we’d been planning got postponed because of the storm. It got featured in the New York Times, TimeOut, The New Yorker and NY1 as well as a bunch of other places, and was a very special evening. My principal instrument is guitar.

Danielle Eva Schwob

I joined Local 802 to seek the networking opportunities that being a member of a professional organization can offer. My wife’s co-workers at United Airlines voted last spring to join the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union. It was a hard-fought battle, and it reminded me how important the labor movement was to America’s post-WWII ascendency to becoming the greatest nation on the planet and how the decline of labor’s fortunes has been related to much decline in our society. I am a senior department manager at Sam Ash here in New York, and my musical goal in NYC to is to appear on as many recordings as possible and to perform with as many bands as I can join or start. My genres include blues, funk, soul, country, rockabilly, gospel and rock. One of my longest-running gigs was with the Brian Bellew Band. I also enjoyed playing with Souled Out, a Staten Island vintage soul and classic rock band; there were three NYC firefighters and three police officers in the group! I’ve also enjoyed playing with Tones of Joy (a Bronx gospel act), and Jessie Thomas and the Gin Mill Kings. My principal instrument is keyboards.

John Keim

I joined Local 802 to discover new opportunities. The union provides me with not only audition announcements but also many useful tips necessary to prepare myself for making it in this competitive business. I am glad to be joining early in the game, at 18 years old, because it gives me that much more time to grow and network myself through the events and meetings that Local 802 hosts. Not only that, the union gives me the confidence to continue pursuing my passion knowing my rights will be protected. One of my recent gigs was playing horn in a community production of “Into the Woods.” My teacher had recommended me to someone who had approached her in need of a horn player. Performing as an orchestra pit musician is so rewarding and such a lovely experience that I’d love to have the opportunity to play on Broadway. But I would also be delighted to perform with orchestras, record studio sessions, play on film recordings, or gig with bands. Doing what I love in the greatest city is enough of an accomplishment for me. My principal instrument is the French horn.

Ilana Faibish