New Orleans
LOCAL 174-496

New Orleans
LOCAL 174-496


Pay Dues

Why I Joined

Al 'Carnival Time' JohnsonAl  “Carnival Time”  Johnson

“I wanted to be part of a professional musician’s organization and to be supportive of as many musicians as possible.”

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Germaine-Bazzle-#2BBGermaine Bazzle

“I joined the Union because of the professional regard and respect one receives from employers plus the benefits available to Union members.”

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Mayumi-#4---Copy-(2)Mayumi Shara

“I am a transplant from Japan, so being a member of the union helps me to connect with professional musicians in New Orleans and the United States. It is also good to receive and share information from the local and the national AFM.  I use the rehearsal hall very often, and the staff at the office is very helpful and kind.”

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MC-Debbie-FagnanoDebbie Fagnano

“To follow in my Dad’s footsteps, of course! He and my uncles performed together for years and I wanted to be just like them! It was a rite of passage for me into the professional world of music.”

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swingaroux-4929Bill Robeson/ Kathy DeRouen

“We joined the American Federation of Musicians, Local 174-496 New Orleans to learn more about the business side of music and to network with musicians who were still in the city and looking for a way to fulfill their creative musical talents.”

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joe-krownJoe Krown

“The Musicians Union is a community for musicians. People think it’s supposed to be something that you use on a weekly, monthly basis and that will find work for you. It doesn’t work like that. The musician’s union is not a booking agency, although there are times that traveling groups call the union for musicians, especially for horn sections. The musician’s union has services that come in handy over the long haul. For example, it has a free to union members’ rehearsal space. Plus it has drums, amps and a p.a. That alone has saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the years. Being in the union has always been helpful for French Quarter Festival. FQF started small, but is now a major music festival and it is union supported. If you should get injured or something catastrophic happens like a severe health issue or something like Hurricane Katrina happens, the union provides emergency aid. The union has retirement and death benefits. Every once in a while something comes up like a recording session or a tv spot where it’s very helpful to be in the union. It’s not a requirement to be in the union to play these sessions, but being in the union makes sure we get paid correctly. The union also has regular activities and events that are always fun.

So to sum it up, being in the union is not something that I use on a daily basis, but over time, I’ve had needs that it’s provided for. Over time I’ve easily benefited way beyond the annual dues. I’ve been in the union for over 20 years and I plan on staying in the union for life.”

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Katja Toivola-Jones

“In today’s economy, it is more important than ever that musicians hold to a higher professional standard and demand fair compensation for their talent and expertise. Seeing the massive income being generated in New Orleans by music, musicians and music related events, it is high time for musicians to organize and stand together as a united front to promote a fairer distribution of profits.”

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John “Jay” Weigel Jay Wiegel

“There are many reasons I joined the AFM and many reasons that I maintain my membership. For me, the first and foremost reason would have to be the opportunities that have come my way in the film and TV industry. There are many financial benefits that the AFM has fought for with the recording industry that truly make a difference. For instance, pension fund payments, H&W payments, residuals, secondary use payments, etc.  If you are not familiar with these, take the time to look them up and see how beneficial economically your membership can be.  If you visit the AFM website you will also find many group insurance offerings including instrument, health, dental, car insurance programs that are available to members. I take advantage of many of these programs”.

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David Batiste, Sr.David Batiste, Sr.

“Because it made me feel like a highly professional musician and being a part of a strong musical family. I had my sons to join the musicians union as well!”

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Jamal Batiste

“There are several advantages: Whenever many major filmmakers look for musicians in N.O., they come to the union. The union lets us know when programs, such as the Louisiana State Tourism Office’s “Music Ambassador Project” is available for musicians and how to register. The rehearsal facility is a big plus for members and the fact that the union is connected to the NO Musicians Clinic and hosts MusiCares free dental cleanings (Smiles Program) shows that the union cares about its members.”

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Ernie VincentErnie Vincent

“As a former longshoreman, I know the value of the union. When I began performing with Tommy Ridgley, he insisted I join the union, which I did and learned about being musically connected with professionals. You had to be in the union to get the good gigs, especially out of town.”

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Sarah Gromko

Sarah-Gromko“The union can be a great resource for hard-working performing musicians in contract negotiations and publicity. By being members, we can make sure our voices are heard and educate each other on the new trends in the music industry.”

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Dennis Butch Mudboneimg91

“I joined the Union because it supports fair wages for all members, sets scales and standards, and has ironclad contracts.”


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Banu Gibson

banu-gibson“I truly believe in strength in numbers. Artists tend to work as individuals, but need to stand together for their individual rights. The union isn’t a “they”- the union is “us.”


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Joe Lastiejoe-lastie-1

“I was in high school when I joined the union. It’s simply that you are a professional musician and a part of New Orleans and the musical experience.”

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Gina Forsyth

Photo courtesy Philip Gould.

Photo courtesy Philip Gould.

“I joined the AFM Union in June of 2005, at the request of the late Jimmy C. Newman. He was playing a show in New Iberia, and I was booked to play fiddle. Jimmy was a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and of the AFM in Nashville, and he required that all the musicians who played with him join the union. So I did. I have been a member ever since.

Not long after joining the union, Katrina hit, and I was displaced from New Orleans. I received help through the AFM’s Altruist Fund, in 2005, and again in 2010, when I was hospitalized for 11 days, and had major emergency surgery. The Altruist Fund helped me get through my recovery. My union membership has all but paid for itself in these two instances, and in the Free Dental Clinics that are housed in the Union building, that were sponsored by MusicCares. In addition, the AFM Local 174-496 is a great group of folks, and in its meetings, it does many things to inform its members of possibilities that will benefit us, everything from MACCNO to funeral planning to signing up for the Affordable Care Act. The Union also has information on how to get instrument insurance, and many other benefits. If you’re a musician here in New Orleans, union membership can benefit you!”

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Check out Gina Forsyth’s Musician’s Corner feature

Danny O’Flaherty

danny-oflaherty“There are many reasons I joined the Union. My family members in Boston have been very strong in the union for years, some serving in leadership positions. As an immigrant to this country, to get a decent job and pay, the unions were there for the common person to protect their rights so they could experience the American dream. That dream took me from working on the top of the tallest building in the world (at that time), the Sears Tower (Chicago), to singing to the largest crowd on Solidarity Day on the Capitol steps in Washington D.C., to performing for the President’s Inaugural Ball. There were other major gigs that could have never happened without the backing of the Musicians Union. For that I am eternally grateful.”

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Leroy JonesLeroy Jones

“I am in the Union because it was the proper thing to do the time when I wanted to become a professional musician. When I first joined the Union in 1976, before the right to work act, it seemed to function to my benefit more efficiently. I still feel that being a Union member often provides opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable.”

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John Rankin

john-rankin-postcard-2-12-3“I joined the Union many years ago because I wanted to be a professional musician. Many of the best musicians are in the Union and I appreciate being part of that community and the good people running things there work to provide benefits and reasonable wages. And I love the Musicians Directory- so helpful!”

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Jim AtwoodJim Atwood

“My goal was always to be a professional musician so there was never any doubt in my mind that I should be a member of the A.F. of M. That decision I made so many years ago as an undergraduate student has led to many opportunities throughout my career. It was the right decision for me and I think it’s still the right decision for young musicians seeking a career in music.”

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Kat Walker1-mb-kat-walker

“I first joined the Union after Hurricane Katrina. They helped fund my band’s performance at French Quarter Fest. I have been a member ever since. They helped me with guidelines and protection when I made my cd. My most important reason now, that I love being a member of the Union, is because I can reach out and get a hold of or discuss things with any union member. I wanted to apply for a grant that required me to have a mentor. I reached out to Germaine Bazzle in the union who I admire so much as a jazz and scat singer. While she was only teaching children at the time, she gave me the name of a couple of other people who she thought might work , and proceeded to speak to me on the phone about jazz and scat singing for 25 minutes! I felt so blessed!”

Check out Kat Walker’s Musician’s Corner feature

Michael NotoMichael Noto

“I joined the union because there is strength in numbers. Unionized workers have more power as a cohesive group than by acting individually. I have used the Musicians Directory to find subs for my band when needed and I have also taken advantage of the great prices on equipment insurance!”

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Peter Cho

pter-cho-2“The main reason I am in the Musicians Union is that I believe in fair working conditions for all of the cultural workers in New Orleans, fair play, and the development of human capital.  I also believe that membership in our local helps us stand apart as serious, working professionals, with a standard of conduct, ethics and skill.  I originally joined the union in 1990 to play with the New Orleans Saints Band, but found the values and work ethic that our Union stands for are applicable to all of my gigs, and other facets of my life.  I am also proud to have served as an Executive Board member for the local, and am most proud with the job that we did in helping bring back music and musicians back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and am also proud at the job that we have done in advocating for the rights of all working musicians.”

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Patti Adams & Jim AtwoodJim Atwood and Patti Adams

“Jim has been a lifelong member of the A.F. of M., first joining while still a student. “My goal was always to be a professional musician so there was never any doubt in my mind that I should be a member of the A.F. of M. That decision I made so many years ago has an undergraduate student has led to many opportunities throughout my career. It was the right decision for me and I think it’s still the right decision for young musicians seeking a career in music.”

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Check out Patti Adams and Jim Atwood’s Musician’s Corner feature

David Hansen9201493043_b3279d41af_b1

“When I joined the Musicians Union, most professional musicians were members. The AFM is a resourceful organization that offers many benefits and has a multitude of services, such as instrument insurance. They bring together an amazing community of talented professionals and anyone who is serious about being a music professional should not hesitate to join. If you are fortunate enough to be involved in corporate level studio, television, radio or film projects the AFM has established very beneficial contracts that take care of business. In general, the basic gigging musician to full time studio professional can benefit from being a member. I am proud to be a member.”

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Gary HulettGary Hullettee

“The reason I am in the Union is simple, the Musicians Union has many helpful resources, discounts and protection benefits. I am receiving a small pension and I have a CD on the market which I feel is being protected. In Las Vegas, the union saw to it that you had work, also in Nashville.”

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