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I’m starting to think that I should document my gigs, as they may be of some value to aspiring musicians in the future. I’ve been the bassist for the Daytime Emmy Awards for the past four years and my most recent performance was this past weekend.
When I tell people that I play the Emmy awards I always temper that with the fact that there are two types of Emmy awards:
-Primetime Emmys, which I don’t play… YET.
-Daytime Emmys, which I do.
The Daytime Emmy awards show is in it’s 46th year.. I also play the creative arts daytime awards show which honors the people behind the camera in Daytime television.
The Creative Arts show is never televised and is usually the Friday before the daytime Emmys on Sunday. The Daytime Emmys isn’t on syndicated television but can be watched online and on Youtube.
It’s an exciting gig every year and it’s a lot of work. Here’s a behind the scenes peak at what a gig like this is like.
Load in is at 11:30 AM but I have some gear so I show up at 11 to drop it of with production. The crew helping the band are really on task and professional. Here’s what the walk up to the stage looks like.
Then it’s time for set up. I’m using my Gallien Kruger RB 1001 head, which is my main rig. I have two Eden cabs, a 4 x 10 and a 1x15. They sound massive. I decided to bring my Musicman Stingray to this show because one of the pieces calls for slapping and the 4 string Ray sounds great with that. I also have my polytune pedal which I use as a tuning mute between cues. And of course my book. I live and die by my book.
My main priority is to make everything easier for Caleb, our musical director. Caleb wrote or arranged all of our cues. His in ear monitors communicates with the” truck”, the producers who are running the show and Caleb communicates through his talk back mic with the band, preparing the cues and counting us off as well as cutting us off before the next segment begins. It’s a lot of responsibility and the last thing he needs to worry about are bass player issues. I try my best to nail my parts and make the band sound amazing.
The band itself couldn’t be better. I get to play with world class players every year and they’re a real good hang too. Hal and I are a solid bass/drums unit . Hal has worked on music for The Greatest Showman as well as Fosse/Verdon on FX right now.
I can’t emphasize how much a show like this is comprised of many moving parts all working together to pull off the best show possible. My role is a single tooth on a gear called “the band” that gear has to work in conjunction with the entire machine that is the show. The production, camera crew, hosts, presenters, grips, sound engineers, security, everyone has to be on task. I can’t be a diva or hold up the show or rehearsals in any way. I am a tool called “bass” and I have to work or there’s no reason to keep me around.
Sound check and rehearsal for tonight’s show have begun. Our Friday opener features David Osmond, it’s a fast jazz walk written by the one and only Steve Allen. David Osmond is the nicest guy and super professional, by the way.
It’s time to put on the tux and get ready for the show. The Creative Arts awards runs from 7-11 PM. About ¾ of the way through it gets tough to maintain focus, but it’s great practice for Sunday’s show. At 11 PM we wrap up and go home.
Saturday morning. We’re going to rehearse the show opener, in memoriam and cues/transitions for Sunday. It’s a lot of “hurry up and wait” production needs about 100 things to go right before a segment can run. If anything needs fixing, we just have to wait for those things to get fixed before we continue. Once again, I am just a small part of the overall show.
For the in memoriam the band has a click track in our monitors. This is important as the tempo really shifts throughout the piece. Caleb is conducting us as well to keep us all together. I keep my peripheral vision on him as well as on my music.
Sunday’s here. There’s a lot of work to be done. We sound check right away and rehearse throughout the day.
This is the backstage area, Hall C. This is where all the presenters and nominees mingle before the show.
Our opener features Elmo and Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street. This may very well be the highlight of my musical career.
Caleb did a great arrangement of the Sesame Street theme.
We have a monitor at our feet to see the cameras view of the stage. Abby’s puppeteer, Leslie was awesome by the way. Elmo’s was too, they were both great.
Here’s the red carpet before the show
Before we perform, Caleb goes over the entire show with us so we can have a rough idea of how the night will go. We actually don’t know who the winners are before the performance. As the show is going, Caleb finds out from the truck what the winning cue will be maybe one cue before the winner is announced. We know with just enough time to find the right cue in our books before Caleb counts us off after the presenters open the envelope.
The shows about to begin. I have a pretty good system in place using my cue sheet and a pencil. I try to stay two to three cues ahead in my mind so that I’m not caught by surprise.
Yup, Amy Poehler presented Judge Judy with the lifetime achievement award. We had no idea who would be presenting the award right until “presenter X” was announced.
Overall, I can’t tell you how much of a thrill it is to have an experience like this. Part of the impetus for making this is to document a cool gig I get to do because I can’t guarantee that it will be there next time. Any number of things could happen between now and next year’s Emmy’s.producer’s may want to go another route, budget may not allow for us or someone else might get hired for the gig. For now, all I can do is be grateful for the opportunity. Thanks to Caleb, the band and the national academy of television arts and sciences for deciding to go with a live band. It’s been a blast!
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