Celebrating Juneteenth

June 19 is now Juneteenth National Independence Day, a U.S. federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. 

The bipartisan bill was signed into law on Thursday by President Biden, making Juneteenth is the first holiday to be approved since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983. Continue reading

#WhyUnion? John Clayton

“As a jazz musician, I’ve spent my life watching my heroes and colleagues being cheated and taken advantage of in professional situations. We’ve all got stories. I believe that organized solidarity and unity is key to battling these very real and negative elements. That’s where a union comes in. If the people we work for perform dishonest acts, we need to hold them accountable. Our combined voices and numbers are our strength. The stronger our union, the stronger our voice. That’s the way it’s supposed to work and we should all find ways to create as strong a union as we can.”

– John Clayton, Bassist
Member since 1976

Final Note: Pat Rizzo

Life Member. Flute
11/30/1941 – 4/15/2021

by Carl Rigoli

I met Pat Rizzo at JHS 141 Astoria, Queens, NYC in the 7th grade and he formed his first band which included Pat on tenor sax, Andre Simone on guitar and myself, Carl Rigoli, on drums. We were all 12 years old and rehearsed at Andre’s house. I remember playing our first performance for our school’s student and faculty assembly. We played “Blue Suede Shoes” and everyone loved it. Pat was our leader and he started booking gigs for local functions such as the Moose Lodge, weddings, etc. We all attended Bryant High School and added another sax and trumpet, plus a bass player named Wally Capone Puschmann to our rhythm section. He named the band the Cavilers and we performed for all the school dances, proms and many local gigs. We played rock, standards, and jazz. Continue reading

#WhyUnion? Kathleen Robertson

“The Musicians Union protects its members in that it sets the standard of pay and allows for the benefit of health care and pension. History has shown that without these standards it is extremely difficult if not impossible to maintain a safe working environment and a fair working wage.”

– Kathleen Robertson, Violinist
Member since 1991

#WhyUnion? John Lofton

“Regardless of background or socio-economics, or diversity of the genres music performed, the Union strives through our contracts to create a working environment for all musicians to thrive.”

– John Lofton, Bass Trombonist
Member since 2008

#WhyUnion? Gina Kronstadt

“Why Union? I’ve remained a union member since 1976 because the jobs are more professionally run, musicians are shown more respect (proper breaks and environment), access to rehearsal rooms, and we receive our benefits and back-end payments. No brainer. #winwinwinwinwin”

– Gina Kronstadt, Violinist
Member since 1976

#WhyUnion? Siddhartha Khosla

“Now more than ever, the musicians that bring our scores to life need us. With the challenging times we’re in, unions become even more important in supporting our fellow players and collaborators. It’s important for musicians to know that a union, and we composers have their back.”

– Siddhartha Khosla, Composer
Member since 2013

#WhyUnion? Beate & Chris Walden

“It seems to me that especially during a time of great instability, people need community and support. These valid forms of human need are met through the union’s support systems which keep musician’s pay and health benefits steady. Nothing could be more crucial for an artist.”

– Beate Walden, Violinist
Member since 2021


“The most important aspect of our union to me is solidarity. We watch out for each other, and stand up together for our rights and adequate pay.”

– Chris Walden, Arranger
Member since 1996