Getting Your Phil: Welcome to the ‘gig economy’

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By Phil Colpas

The powers that be are calling our current state of affairs a “gig economy,” which means many people now work several part-time jobs with no benefits rather than a single full-time job with ever-decreasing benefits.

The choice of the term “gig economy” is amusing to me as a musician. If my band books a show or performance, for example, it is referred to as “a gig.” 

Now, a lot more people are getting paid like musicians.

At any rate, in this so-called gig economy, I must wear many hats. In no particular order, I am: a freelance content creator in the healthcare IT space; a reporter and columnist for this newspaper; and a musician (guitar instructor, bandleader, singer/songwriter). 

And thanks to my endless predilection for self-delusion, I still entertain rock and roll fantasies. 

Politically incorrect

In writing this column, I have to abide by certain rules. For example: Don’t be overtly political. But as a contrarian, I hear that and immediately begin thinking of ways to be subversively apolitical. (Not that I would do that here. I mean that would be… deceptive.)

Here are some other curated tidbits of information about yours truly:

● I’ve looked into the face of death and laughed. It was a Woody Allen-sounding laugh. But I think the important thing here is the laughter. 

● I have the appetites of Henry VIII but lack his infrastructure. 

● I owe my salty, makes-a-sailor-look-like-a-choirboy vocabulary to the late great comedian Richard Pryor, and his streetwise philosopher character Mudbone. 

● Not raised with organized religion (thank God), I thought the title character of the long-running Broadway hit “Jesus Christ Superstar” was “the King of the Juice.”

● And finally: I’m old enough to know better. But young enough to try it one more time.

Get your stream on

In these days of streaming content, one not only has to find something to watch, but also how to watch it. It’s the modern version of channel surfing, except instead of a hundred or so channels with nothing on, now there are countless streams of content. Good luck finding something worthwhile.

To that end, I recently discovered, located and watched the 2019 PBS Ken Burns documentary, “Country Music” – all eight parts (yes, eight, and each is close to two hours long).

So, while the 2019 doc is quite lengthy, it’s so well paced and packed with music and entertaining anecdotes that it doesn’t drag. And it is chock full of interesting information.

For instance: Hank Williams, the “Hillbilly Shakespeare” himself, learned from an African-American bluesman named Rufus “Tee Tot” Payne, while Jimmie Rodgers, known as “the Father of Country Music,” had bluesmen mentors of his own.

Employing the KISS philosophy (“Keep It Simple Stupid”), bluegrass performers were fond of saying, “Keep it close to the ground boys!” And as a reminder to never forget where you came from: “Don’t get above your raisin’,” which is also a tune by Ricky Scaggs.

And finally, before enjoying his long successful career, Willie Nelson had money trouble. He said, “I pawned my guitar so many times, the pawnbroker played it better than I did!”

Phil Colpas
Author: Phil Colpas

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