Why do you call yourself a “Vibe Elevator,” as opposed to a trumpet-player?
When I play a venue I watch the crowd and analyze the energy in the room. When the time is right, I jump up onto something (bar, speaker, etc.) and start going off with my trumpet. Instantaneously, the vibe in the room goes up as people realize that what they are hearing is live and not what the DJ is spinning. Before I appear there is a vibe set and once the horn sounds in conjunction with the DJ, the vibe is elevated. I could simply say that I play the trumpet with DJs, but I don't think that fully encompasses what I do. Plus, Vibe Elevator is much more alluring...
Compared to years past, are you finding that clubs are now hiring fewer live musicians in clubs?
Absolutely. We are a cost above and beyond DJs, and venues are simply trying to cut costs where they can due to the ebb and flow of the economy. Some would say we're a "nice to have" and not a "need to have," so we're usually the item the clubs can live without.
What excuses have you heard from nightclubs as to why they are no longer booking live singers, violinists, percussionists and trumpet-players such as yourself anymore?
The reason I'm turned away most is for a "Live Performer Tax." I haven't researched this enough, but basically if any venue has a live instrument, they must pay something like 10 percent of their income to the casino for that night. I can see where this tax makes sense for a short concert in a club or something like a Kenny G performance, but what I do is "Vibe Elevation." I enhance the ambiance in a room both visually and audibly. I'm wondering if they would have to apply the tax if a go-go dancer comes out with a whistle?
Are you hurting for work?
In Vegas, yes. Outside of Vegas, no. Luckily, I have built a name for myself in other cities, such as Phoenix, Santa Barbara, San Diego and El Paso. I work a hell of a lot more out[side] of my homebase city (which is the "Entertainment Capitol of the World") than within it. Ironic.
Why should the clubs embrace live vibe elevation? What do live musicians bring to the table that the club would be missing without?
Vibe elevation is the future of nightclub entertainment. You can no longer serve booze and play music in a venue and expect it to last. As people become more savvy to nightclubs and attend them into their 30s, they thirst for something more. We now have video DJs mixing videos with music, Cirque [du Soleil] elements and performance art inside nightclubs: DJ AM with Travis Barker and DJ Scribble with Dave Navarro.
The live element that musicians bring to the table is something that will always draw attention. How many times in a night do you actually watch the DJ spin? Throw a live musician on the bar rocking out to the music in the same venue and I guarantee you everyone in the room will look at least a couple times. This creates a memorable experience for the patrons, making the likelihood of their return much greater.