My Cruise Ship Drumming Ambition - As It Stands


Like many of my professional musical counterparts in their early twenties, I am broke and single. I’m not here to lie about this. However, may I redeem my lack of fame, fortune, and feminine company by saying that I am fantastically skilled on my instrument, and can drum up a storm that would woo any woman to fully forget my paper-thin pocketbook…at least until I ask to split the check at dinner.

Luckily, there is a job that suits my type perfectly, and that is to be a show-band musician on a cruise line. While on the high seas, musicians enjoy rent-free (although petit) living accommodations, free food, travel, heavily discounted booze, and a full cast of young, talented individuals all cooped up on a boat together with very little to do but work, drink, and sexually disappoint one another.

I’ve been after this job for months…and I’ve been gabbing about it to my poor friends and family for about the same amount of time, although I have had little confidence in my abilities to take proper action to obtain this job. This isn’t necessarily because my abilities aren’t admirable…they are, but a cruise gig is no piña colada on the beach. Drummers especially must be laser-sharp on their sight-reading, have a huge repertoire of popular music, and be able to seamlessly lead a big band through every worldly groove under the sun.


From a gig at the California Institute of Abnormalarts in 2018

Lately I’ve been much more confident that I can do this. I’ve been putting together my promotional materials in the past weeks in preparation for an audition, and I’ve surprised myself. Since early 2017 I’ve been gigging with bar/party bands as well as a college pop band and I’ve accumulated a repertoire of about 300 songs. I’m comfortable with most world grooves. Afro-cuban beats? No sweat. Smooth, sexy R&B? Get ready to dance. I’ve written so many drum charts that my sight-reading is up to par. My only weak spots are my brushwork and my knowledge of jazz standards, which I haven’t had much opportunity to gig with.

I have the added motivation that presently, I’m completely without work, and in a bit of a do-or-die situation. My residency gig at Six Flags Magic Mountain, that I’ve been blessed and honored to have for the past 5 years, seasonally fizzles out from January through May. My plan was to use the month of December to put together my promo package and apply to agencies that contract musicians with cruise lines, but in the first days of that month, life through me a sizable curveball and smashed my transportation (and my savings account) to bits. I was living in Hollywood and my beloved Mitsubishi Eclipse - my first car and my only means of getting to and from the rehearsal space that housed my drum set and recording equipment - was hit hard while parked on the street. In typical insurance company fashion, I received no assistance or compensation, and spend most of December mitigating my damages and test driving used cars. The whole fiasco nearly bankrupted me and I had to move back in with my parents.

To be honest, I don’t mind the change of pace (my folks live in small-town NorCal) and it’s a blessing to live rent-free while I regain my financial footing. It’s been exceedingly stressful, however, and I’ve plunged into deep existential crisis more than once since making the move. Most contracts in this line of work last around 4-6 months, and I need to get on a ship fast if I’m going to be back in Los Angeles when work at Six Flags resumes. Progress is slow but certain, and by the grace of the greater forces in the universe, I know I can do it. All that needs to be done to complete my EPK and apply for an audition is a professional photoshoot, which I have scheduled for this Thursday, and the filming of a pre-audition video that showcases my abilities. Once I have that completed, I can launch a complete website and apply with confidence and style.

Wish me luck internet! I’ll update as progress continues.


Love as always,


Mark

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Mark De La O was here xoxo 2020