The wanna-be rock star basking in the spotlight at Washington Square or Cactus Cantina or Churchill's Hideaway might get up the next morning to deliver pizza, handle retail customers at a record store, go to school, or program computers. (Those four occupations seem most common among local musicians with day jobs.) In a perfect world, people would earn a living doing what they're good at. The world, as you may have noticed, is not perfect.
In fact, there are only three ways local bands can survive without toiling in another field: 1) play enough gigs, which is lots of gigs; 2) be wealthy to begin with; or 3) be discovered by a major record label with the resources to finance recording, tours, videos, and promotion. Nuclear Valdez is one of the few Miami rock bands to achieve such status, having signed to Epic Records a little more than two years ago. The Nukes have been much celebrated for their landmark deal with Epic. They released an album, I Am I, to high critical praise and marginal sales. Epic stuck with their boys, and a second Valdez album, Dream Another Dream, came out a few months ago. Between the releases of the two albums, band members Juan Diaz and Froilan Sosa could be found working in local record stores. Guitarist Jorge Barcala taught music lessons (another staple for accomplished musicians who need extra dough). And drummer Robert Slade LeMont whipped out his trusty scissors and returned to hair styling. Toward the end of their touring hiatus, Sosa, perhaps the closest thing Miami has to a nationally known rock star, changed second professions, leaving retail to work on automobile transmissions with his father in Hialeah. Here's a look at what some of the others do during daylight hours:
THE ROACH THOMPSON BLUES BAND: After winning major awards and receiving serious recognition, you'd think this veteran outfit would be done paying dues. Harmonica player Jack Bluni sells real estate and teaches disabled children. Bassist Willie Jackson is a water-meter reader. Drummer Freddy Scott delivers spools of wire by truck. Tenor saxophonist Vernon "Piggy" Teague is an accountant, alto sax player Denvil "Demp" Liptrott runs a car wash. Roach himself is a big-truck driver. "But," notes Bluni, "he's out of work right now."
FORGET THE NAME: Singer Rene Alvarez and bassist Jose Tillan are considered sex symbols, partly because of their long, flowing hair. Both are substitute teachers in the Dade County school system. "As a cover band you can make a lot of money," Alvarez says. "But with originals you don't."
ACTION THEORY: That's the name of Claude Roatta's cool rock band. It's also the name of his landscaping business.
FLEET STARBUCK: A top local blues player. A teacher of blues at Miami-Dade Community College. And sometimes, a tree cutter. "We're feeding their souls," Starbuck says of the public. "What about our stomachs?"
BILLY MANN: The popular crooner from Philadelphia sells classified advertising for New Times.
ROOSTER HEAD: The endlessly talented singer-songwriter-guitarist Michael Kennedy works as a psychiatric counselor at a hospital. "I do counseling, psychiatric charting, and I clean shit, too," says Kennedy. Bob Wlos, pedal-steel specialist, owns a recording studio (L-7 in Deerfield Beach), which he supports by selling auto parts for a dealer. Multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Pete Moss is a janitor.
THE GOODS: Guitarist Tony Oms pumps gas. Keyboardist John Camacho delivers sub sandwiches and plays as a pit musician at the Colony Theatre. Drummer Kasmir Kujawa delivers subs. And bassist Jim Camacho shelves volumes at a bookstore. "We're eating roaches to get by," Jim Camacho reports.
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MARILYN MANSON AND THE SPOOKY KIDS: Marilyn himself is a former journalist. In fact, only two members currently work day jobs: Daisy Berkowitz, as a printer, and Madonna Wayne Gacy, as an engineer. "We're supported by women," explains Marilyn.
QUIT: Drummer Andre Serafini breeds birds, bassist Tony Rocha works at a travel agency, and vocalist-guitarist Addy Burns doesn't have a regular job, but often picks up roadie-type gigs and other free-lance work.
PICASSO TRIGGER: Vocalist Oscar Herrera, once of the vital local band Sleep of Reason, is a graphic designer in the advertising-art department of the Miami Herald. Bassist Joe Dante is a manager at an automobile dealership. Guitarist Alejandro Sanchez is a student, drummer Alex Hernandez a free-lance house painter.
RBT: Bassist Rick Llamas is a recording engineer, guitarist Steve Behil is employed by a record distributor, drummer Turk Darden is a locksmith at FIU. And front man Chip Shane is the head stage manager at Limelight, a large production facility where he works with clients such as ZZ Top, the Bee Gees, Miami Sound Machine, Biz Markie, Flavor Flav, Erasure, Cameo, and Julio Iglesias.