Longform

Musicians Day Jobs

Page 4 of 4

It's the latest in a long line of jobs Sorter has held. He was an armored reconnaisance specialist in the army's 24th Infantry Division from 1977 to 1980, then gave over three years as a reserve. He drove a truck for four years, laid tile for a while, and sprayed poison for the State of Florida (he quit when he realized that he was "killing everything" and not doing his own health much good). At one point, he says, he was hired as a bodyguard to Sheik Al-Fassi, when the Saudi Arabian lived in South Florida. Ironically, Mr. Twister is a band that can earn enough to get by without side work. "I'm not the type to sit behind a desk," Sorter says, "or sit around being lazy and hanging out."

Steve Levy
Harmonica player
While John Sorter is diving for pearls, so to speak, Steve Levy deals in diamonds and other jewelry. He's been involved in a number of enterprises, but buying gems from estates and pawn shops and reselling them is, he says, "what I know best." About three years ago, Levy recalls, he was under the stress and strain of a crumbling marriage, and, being a fan of blues music, particularly harmonica players, he picked up the harp himself. "It was my escape," says Levy.

He quickly developed his blowing abilities, impressing a friend within a week of beginning to learn the instrument. After nine months, he was playing out live, and soon had the chance to work with Harps and Chords and Blue Hurricane. "Playing is the only thing with any continuity in my life the past few years," Levy says. "It took over, changed my life, my whole direction, my perception, my psyche. You escape the daily realities. It's an amazing thing." He also notes that blues music is about life experiences, not necessarily negative ones.

Just back from a buying trip to Las Vegas, Levy says his view of blues explains how even a wealthy person, a happy person, can bring emotional fire to the venerable genre. To him, playing the blues is about reaching audiences. "There's nothing more rewarding," the harpist says, "than the feeling you get when you look into the faces of the people listening, the chance to affect a thousand people at once." And therefore, Levy says, nothing would make him happier than the chance to give up his day job. "I don't need a fortune to live on," he says. "I'd drop everything to play music full time.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Greg Baker