Oklahoma native Jason Cadamy is living his dream of getting paid to play the guitar, even if it’s not the most ideal situation: spending long stretches as a musician-for-hire on cruise ships.
In January 2000, Cadamy found himself at sea working as a cruise ship musician. Although he was thrilled to have a chance to play music for actual money, he said the job wasn’t easy and the cruise line expected more out of its musicians than riffing on old John Coltrane tunes.
“Sight reading is a big part of what they’re looking for,” he said. “You show up, and as soon as your jacket’s off, you’re in the middle of your rehearsal, and as soon as you’re settled in, it’s time to play this piece of music you may have never seen before.”
Cadamy said the schedule typically involves learning up to six sets of material on any given day.
“They throw a piece of music in front of your face and tell you, ‘We play this in an hour in front of 2,000 people. Make sure that you don’t screw up, or you’re fired,'” he said.
The job is stressful, but he said the hard work is worth it.
“I guess first and foremost, the greatest thing is getting to play music for a living,” Cadamy said. “But after playing music for a living, having a pizza in a café in Venice by the Rialto Bridge doesn’t suck.” “Mike Robertson