The Chuggalug Household

Chuggalug's front man and woman, Charlie Thomas and PJ Lee, comprise the Chuggalug Household. I was having a hard time understanding the sometimes flippant and judgmental comments from musical colleagues, both online and in person. I was also having a hard time understanding why it's hard for some clients to understand that music is my and Charlie's livelihood, not some hobby that we do a couple of times a month just for kicks. Gigging is how we, The Chuggs, put food on the table and pay our mortgage. So I asked a in a few relevant places on social media if there are any pairs/couples/partners who currently cohabitate and solely perform for a living - no teaching, no part-time side jobs whatsoever, no spouse at home with a day job, no reliance on supplemental income of any kind (retirement, etc.) It appears there may be one, but their schedule looks extremely light, so they must be older with a house paid off or something. Anyways, my loose conclusion, fwiw, is that The Chuggs as a cohabitating pair are, at a minimum, in the minority, and perhaps even unique, since gigging is our chosen sole source of income for our entire household. No wonder we're often misunderstood. Perspective, right?


What I'll attempt to explain is that gigging full-time is a risky business. When good musical things happen to The Chuggs, it happens two-fold! And when bad things in the music world happen to The Chuggs, it happens two-fold! What I hope to gain by posting my thoughts is... namely nothing. Perhaps I'll get lucky, and someone will read all of this and reconsider their thoughts about The Chuggs. At least I will have vented and lightened my subconscious a bit.


NOTE: I'll repeat again and again that The Chuggs have made our own choices. I'm not seeking sympathy or praise. Just maybe a modicum of attempt at understanding.


1st For Instance - We thank our lucky stars for every client that honors our request for the courtesy of food: When Charlie and PJ eat lunch at home at 4pm, leave our driveway at 5pm, arrive at the really awesome gig we chose to play at at 6:30 or 7pm, load-in heavy equipment just the two of us, perform and sweat our butts off from 830p-1230a, pack up, load-out with some help from the drummers, drive home and walk in the door at 3am ten hours later... WE'RE REALLY EXHAUSTED AND STARVING. There's no meal waiting for us from our lovely better half. Moreover, eating out on the ride home is a rare luxury for The Chuggs because we choose to live hand-to-mouth - we'd be paying for two to eat out, not one. (Pause to ponder that.) Bear in mind that we do this 3-5 times a week, and thank our lucky stars for every client that honors our request for the courtesy of food and drinks.


I'll repeat again and again that The Chuggs have made our own choices. I'm not seeking sympathy or praise. Just maybe a modicum of attempt at understanding.


2nd For Instance - Would you be so quick to turn down gigs if gigging were the only source of income for your household?: Many musicians, from hobbyists to amateur to pro to full-time, have lectured about "don't take less than $$$$$ pay for gigs because you're lowering the bar for the live music industry." No one should be lecturing anyone - discussion is a better tactic. But that aside, it could be reasonably argued that there is twice as much risk involved for The Chuggs with regards to the gigs I book. If I book the Chuggalug full band trio for only $$$ because the gig is close to home, only 3hrs, and give us free food and drinks, then how much of that does The Chugg household bring in? Do the math. There are two musicians's pay going into The Chugg's bank account from that gig. FTW! But gigs don't grow on trees, and are not a relatively safe fixed income source such as a spouse's day job with health insurance, or a part-time job paid at an hourly rate, or teaching even only 3 kids a week which equates to 12 lessons a month. Would you be so quick to turn down gigs if gigging were the only source of income for your household? (Pause to ponder that.)


Now. Get this... when a venue or booker cancels us within a 90-day window, meaning we're not likely to pick up decent work to replace that gig, The Chuggs's entire household gets screwed out of income. (Pause to ponder that.)


I'll repeat again and again that The Chuggs have made our own choices. I'm not seeking sympathy or praise. Just maybe a modicum of attempt at understanding.


I promise to wake up thankful every day for getting to work with Charlie, Phil, Kim and Andy, all of whom have paid a lot more dues in this business than I. I promise to remain grateful for the friendships that Chuggalug has afforded me in our other bands Face Dancer, and now Motel California. May all of you also have a job that warms your heart and fills your soul. <3 <3 <3 <3


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