‘Why we joined the union’

Volume 116, No. 2February, 2016

Top row from left: Ron Caswell, Marybeth Kern and Thomas Hamlin. Bottom row: Brian Muni, Eric C. Rohrbaugh and Jonathan Faiman.

Top row from left: Ron Caswell, Marybeth Kern and Thomas Hamlin. Bottom row: Brian Muni, Eric C. Rohrbaugh and Jonathan Faiman.

This opportunity to rejoin the union was bestowed uponst me once again at the end of 2014 when I let my union dues lapse. I was on the road with my band, the Stumblebum Brass Band, most of last year and wasn’t getting my mail in a timely fashion. I coughed up the Do-Re-Mi, and let me tell you – it’s good to be back doing union jobs! These are the jobs that you don’t have to think about…uh, let me rephrase that. These are the jobs you worry the least about. On union jobs I know I am going to get paid and I know that some of my earnings will go to pension and to healthcare. Right now I’m subbing on Broadway and at Radio City. Those chairs are far more comfy then playing three sets standing with a tuba. Thank you, UNION! So if you’re looking for a guy to blow the big horn you’ve got your Union Man right here. Like me on Facebook.

Ron Caswell

I joined Local 802 for the incomparable musical opportunities that New York has to offer. Being a commercial woodwind doubler, my longterm goal is to land my own Broadway show and to sub in a variety of shows along the way. I have played on national and international tours with Cirque Productions as well as a three-year residency with the American Music Theatre. I have also been heard playing saxophones, clarinet and flute on short films for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Emmy award-winning show “HitRECord on TV.” Most recently, I played clarinet in a promotional feature for a Sony Pictures movie, “The Walk.” My favorite most recent union gig was playing “The Four Seasons of New York Jazz” with the New York Jazzharmonic.

Marybeth Kern

At the beginning of 2014, I had the opportunity to work on a new musical called “Transport” at the Irish Repertory Theatre, prompting me to join Local 802. At the same time, I was coming to the end of a long run with Black 47, a band I’ve been working with almost since its inception, so I was seeking new avenues to pursue musically. In the last 25 years, Black 47 has released 19 CDs and played over 2,500 shows across the U.S. and around the world. The band has appeared on Letterman, Conan and The Tonight Show (with both Leno and Fallon) and in the film “The Saint of Fort Washington.” I’m looking forward to making some new connections and hopefully renewing some past associations as a member of Local 802. My primary instrument is drums.

Thomas Hamlin

I rejoined Local 802 because of the access that the union provides to the tri-state community of musicians, the assistance it provides for affordable housing, and because it’s the right thing to do! For the past two years, I’ve been hosting a monthly live radio broadcast called Brian Muni’s Live Song Radio on WRCR 1700 AM (, featuring live and recorded performances, conversations and call-ins. It’s the most recent of my musical endeavors which includes all aspects of my professional skill set, including songwriting, producing, scriptwriting, research, playing guitar and singing. My show has featured Tom Chapin, Bucky Pizzarelli and “From a Distance” songwriter Julie Gold, as well as many other Grammy award winners and up-and-comers. (Write me at if you’re interested in coming on!) I’ve also been accompanying and writing for the 60-voice Peace of Heart choir in performances and outreaches around town ( and continue to use music in my work as an occupational therapist in NYC public schools, which I find quite rewarding.

Brian Muni

I rejoined Local 802 after a long hiatus. Back in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, I was working as a professional keyboardist and sax player. I ended up landing a gig with the band Kleeer, who were signed with Atlantic Records at the time. I eventually left the music business to pursue other interests. Now I’ve decided to come back. I plan an array of acoustic and electric keyboards to create improvisational soundscapes and Latin-influenced rock/funk/jazz fusion music, both solo and with guest players. I call my project The Artisan Sound Experiment. I am reacquainting myself with the music business as it stands in today’s market. Being a member of Local 802 tells people I am serious about my art. This will help me continue on a path to many years of fulfillment in the arts and, hopefully, financial means. I am currently involved with assembling musicians to be involved with a number of projects I am pursuing. Being an union member has given me the confidence to continue as a professional musician once again, and I cherish that!

Eric C. Rohrbaugh

I recently joined Local 802 because I respect its mission and I was hoping to expand my experience as a keyboardist, music director and copyist. For many years, I’ve been an adjunct member of the Actors Company Theatre, where I frequently collaborated with Cynthia Harris of “Mad About You” and Simon Jones of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Recent music directing experience includes a production of Jason Robert Brown’s superbly crafted “13” with performances at Sarah Lawrence College. Although I am classically trained (with a DMA from Manhattan School of Music), I have always been connected to the theatre – on the stage, in the pit, as a Finale copyist – and have loved every production I’ve been part of…plus, I can swing!

Jonathan Faiman