In the American Federation of Musicians, our purpose is to provide a way to live and WORK in the music business, to be treated with dignity and compensated fairly. Our union gives us a meaningful voice in decisions which affect us and our livelihoods because each member has a vote. We vow to treat each other with respect and dignity without regard to ethnicity, creed, gender, age, disability, citizenship, sexual orientation, marital or family status, or national origin. We oppose exploitation in any form through the force of our union solidarity. We honor the standards and expectations we set for ourselves by following the bylaws we collectively create, and we actively participate in the democratic institutions of our union.
In short, we do not tolerate bad working conditions or unfair pay, thanks to our ability to band together. We protect each other and stand up for our fellow members in times of hardship and tragedy. We are a union. And we are stronger for it.
The American Federation of Musicians was founded in 1896 to protect the interests and provide for the general welfare of musicians in this country. One year later, in 1897, the Musicians’ Protective Union #65, AFM was formed in Houston, Texas. In October 1922 the union was officially incorporated with a slight name change, as Local #65 Musicians’ Protective Association of AF of M. In 1965 an amendment to the name was voted upon and passed by the membership, and the new name of the organization officially became The Houston Professional Musicians’ Association Local #65, AF of M. As the years passed, we merged with many smaller locals (Galveston, Beaumont) but the only merger which inspired an official name change was our merger with Local 699, the fabled black local which boasted superstars like Milt Larkin, Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, Hubert Laws, and Joe Sample. Today we are proud to be officially known as the Houston Professional Musicians’ Association, Local #65-699, American Federation of Musicians!
Lovie Smith-Wright is President of Local 65-699 of the American Federation of Musicians, Houston Texas,
Secretary-Treasurer of the Southern Conference of the American Federation of Musicians, Chair of the
Diversity Committee for the AFM, Representative for the AFM on the AFL-CIO Civil & Human Constituency Group and was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the American Federation of Musicians Employer’s Pension Fund where she served from May 2006 until August 31, 2010.
She has been Principal Percussionist for Theatre Under the Stars since 1984, is the Timpanist and contractor for The Houston Latin American Philharmonic; as an active freelance musician she performs with various groups: HITS, Westbury Baptist Church, Broadway Across America and many others.
Lovie was a member of the Wichita Symphony for seven years, Principal Percussionist with the Houston Ballet Orchestra for five years and percussionist with the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra for twelve years.
She is the Adjunct Professor of Percussion at the University of St. Thomas and she returned to the High School for Performing & Visual Arts in the fall of 2017 to serve as Percussion Consultant, a position that she started in 1979 when she was a graduate student at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University.
Lovie earned a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Percussion Performance from the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University. She was a full-tuition scholarship student at the Aspen Music Festival from 1977 to 1982 and the Grand Teton Music Festival in 1983 & 84.
Sharon Montgomery is a vocalist and known penny pincher who originally joined Local 802 in 1985 as a member of the vocal trio Montgomery, Plant, & Stritch. It wasn’t her first union affiliation though—she had joined Actor’s Equity in 1980 while a member of the company at Houston’s Alley Theatre. Sharon is a member in good standing of Actor’s Equity and the American Federation of Musicians to this day. Her affiliation with the AFM was officially moved to Local 65-699 in 1996. She believes that union membership may very well be the last true shot at democracy available to the working people of this country these days.
A card carrying member of the “I was almost famous” club, she’ll happily regale you, if asked, with stories of time spent in the company of and onstage with jazz legends at festivals and performances in the US, Canada, the UK, and Europe. These days she can be found squeezing nickels on behalf of the good members of Local 65-699, Monday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, at the union hall. And loving it.
Drummer / Percussionist / Artist / Author
Sam Dinkins III has been a member of Local 65-699 since 1990. Founder and director of the Dinky Drum Company, LLC (DDC) located in Houston, Texas – DDC is a music education, performance and entertainment company since 1989, whose mission is, “To provide knowledge and experiences which promote the enjoyment of music for a lifetime.” DDC School of Music is where children and adults learn about music through private and group instruction, performances, clinics, workshops & recitals. As an educator, Mr. Dinkins’ work includes: Percussion Specialist for the Central District of the Houston ISD; music teacher at Parker Elementary School (the 2002 National GRAMMY Signature Elementary School)-an HISD Music Magnet School; and percussion instructor at many music camps around the United States. His award-winning educational programs for inner-city youth have received funding from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County; the Texas Commission for the Arts; the Evin Thayer Scholarship Fund (2002 inaugural Recipient) and numerous foundations. Mr. Dinkins is one of the Educational Artists for “DaCamera of Houston” (1998-present) performing in its “Beyond the Concert Hall” community outreach programs and the “DaCamera in the Schools-Rhythm Residency Program”. With DDC Educational Shows, he is developing, presenting, and performing at schools, libraries, churches, and community centers throughout Texas. He’s been featured on Heartbeat of America’s National Television Show, “Keeping America Strong”. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, he is an accomplished performer and producer who has worked with the NYC Metropolitan Orchestra, Howard University Bands and Ensembles, Houston Symphony, Scott Joplin Chamber Orchestra, the Gospel Music Workshop of America, and A-list artists from the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin to jazz greats Lionel Hampton and (Houston’s own) Hubert Laws and Joe Sample. He has traveled extensively through the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and China with numerous Gospel, Jazz, Latin and Rhythm & Blues artists. Mr. Dinkins is a member of Texas Music Educators of America; the Percussive Arts Society; a Life member of Kappa Kappa Psi Fraternity, Inc., NAMM, NARAS and several other professional organizations. He is also the proud father of two musical sons, Samuel, IV & Samson Lee.
Clinician / Producer
Jim McLaughlin brings a unique mix of musical talent and business acumen to his position on our board of directors. A native of Connecticut, he first joined AFM Local 186 (1973) in Waterbury where he played trombone through his high school years. He earned his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Ed at University of North Texas and taught high school band for a brief period before answering the siren call of the lights of Las Vegas and Local 369, where he played with the fabled relief band on the strip. In 1982 he headed back to Texas, joined Local 65-699 in Houston but took a trip north to get his MBA in Business at the University of Dallas.
As a former managing director for Trammel Crow, CBRE, and currently for CapRidge Partners, Jim has a nearly 40 year career in commercial real estate development with extensive experience in financial management, budgeting, and negotiating contracts making him a valuable member of our board.
As a freelance trombonist, Jim has played in bands for touring acts and headliners, top 40 cover bands, and big bands (30+ years with the Ed Gerlach Orchestra). Currently he’s the lead trombone player for the Houston Jazz Orchestra and is executive director of that organization’s non-profit 501 ( C ) (3). Their mission is educational outreach disguised as scorching jazz, and when they’re not teaching masterclasses to students around town, they burn down the house monthly at Houston’s House of Blues.
Amanda is from Friendswood, Texas. In 2012, she became the Principal Bassoonist of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Second Bassoonist of the Houston Ballet Orchestra. She received her BM at the University of Texas at Austin where she studied with Kristin Wolfe Jensen and her MM at Northwestern University where she studied with Christopher Millard. She was the Second Place winner in the 2012 Fernand Gillet-Hugo Fox Bassoon Competition. She was a founding member of the Chicago-based contemporary ensemble The City of Tomorrow, who won the Gold Medal in the Senior Wind Division of the Fischoff Competition in 2011. Other accomplishments include winning First Prize in the Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition (2010), being a semi-finalist in the Heida Hermanns International Woodwind Competition (2007), and being selected as an alternate for the Gillet-Fox International Competition for Bassoon (2010). She has been a guest artist, teacher, and speaker at universities and conferences throughout the United States, and she has played with numerous top-level orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, and the Jacksonville Symphony. Amanda is also the Vice President of the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA). She previously served ROPA as Delegate (2015-2018) and Member-at-Large on the Executive Board (2017-2018). She is a proud member of Houston Professional Musicians’ Association, Local 65-699, where she serves on the Executive Board.
M U S I C I A N
Eric Arbiter was born in Yonkers, New York in 1950 but moved with his family outside of Washington, D.C. when he was 12. He began study of the bassoon in the 7th grade and advanced quickly. He was active in local youth and community orchestras in the Northern Virginia area and played in the Northern Virginia Woodwind Quintet as well as the Fairfax County Symphony and the George Washington University Symphony. He was principal bassoon of the American Youth Performs Orchestra performing under Leopold Stokowski at Carnegie Hall in his senior year of High school.
He has played with the Houston Symphony just completing his forty-fifth season as Associate Principal bassoonist since 1974 and performed with them as soloist on several occasions. He was named Acting Principal Bassoonist for the 1999 season, and continued in that position from the 2001-2007. He again served in that role for several months in the 2011-12 season, assuming the principal bassoon chair for tours to Carnegie Hall and Moscow, Russia with the orchestra. He retired as Associate Principal Bassoonist, emeritus, from the orchestra in May of 2019.
He attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, toured with Music from Marlboro in 1973. He then received a scholarship at the Juilliard School of Music and completed his Masters of Music at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1973 where he was also on scholarship. He performed with Peter Serkin at Alice Tully Hall on a chamber music recital in New York in 1973. He toured with Music from Marlboro in 1973.
He has performed as a chamber musician with Da Camera Society Houston, the Harvard Chamber Players, the San Antonio Chamber Players, and most for over 20 years with the Greenbriar Consortium.
Orchestral experience includes the Marlboro Music Festival Orchestra under Pablo Casals and Alexander Schneider, the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the Houston Chamber Orchestra. He appearing as a soloist with that group in 2008 as well as the Houston Symphony many times during his tenure.
He served as Assistant Professor of Music at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. There he chaired of the wind department from 1975—1977, teaching Bassoon from 1974-1985 and Woodwind Repertory and Chamber Music from 1985-1996. He taught at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music while on sabbatical from the Houston Symphony in 1986. Master class appearances include the University of Texas at Austin and both lessons and master classes at the University of Houston for the American Music Festival for the past several years.
His book, The Way of Cane, a comprehensive work on reed-making and related topics for the bassoon, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in July, 2020. He also serves as a consultant for Nexus Woodwind Supply.
Eric has served on the Houston Symphony’s orchestra committee, negotiating committee several times. He represented the orchestra at the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians for ten years additionally serving as their official photographer. He received recognition during the 2014 conference in the form of a resolution honoring his years of service as a delegate and photographer for ICSOM and the Houston Symphony. He serves currently serves on the American Federation of Musician’s Local 65-699 Union board, since 2016.
Photography became a passion while at Oberlin. Mostly self-taught, he has several photographic mentors through their work and writings. He has had 9 one-man shows in Houston and one in Austin. Three recent exhibits were a wedding of music and imagery entitled A Visual Musical Offering (2006) and Songs of Light (2016) and Lyric Forms, Reflections and Visions (2019). A Visual Musical Offering was inspired by Bach’s music translating the formal aspects of fugal writing into visual images.
His photographic work has included several projects in conjunction with the Houston Symphony and he completed a project of portraits of all of the musicians for the organization’s website, programs and permanent display wall in the lobby of Jones Hall for the orchestra's centennial season in 2014. Many of his photographs were included in the Houston Symphony’s book entitled Houston Symphony 100—Celebrating a Century by the orchestra’s archive committee and written by Carl Cunningham.
He is also a transmitted Zen teacher in the Soto school.
He is ecstatically married and has 2 grown children and one grand-daughter.
BOARD MEMBER :
Erica is a native Houstonian who plays the violin with the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera orchestras. She spends her summers in western New York State where she is a member of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.
Bob McGrew, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob McGrew began his professional music career while still in high school in Houston. He then attended North Texas State University School of Music, and upon graduation, returned to Houston to play professionally. He immediately joined the Houston musicians’ union and so began the dual careers of musicianship and mentorship he has juggled deftly for decades. As a drummer, he has played with too many groups to enumerate, and led several of his own bands. He also led the “Contemporary Jazz Ensemble”, which was featured in the Young Audiences of Houston’s roster, performing in local schools to introduce jazz music to children of various ages.
In addition to his professional music work, he became an Executive Board member for Local 65-699, then went on to serve as Secretary/Treasurer for four decades. He attended 25 years of AFM national conventions as a delegate and served as chairman of the Law Committee for four of those conventions. Bob was also elected to serve as an International Executive Officer of the AFM for two terms, becoming the only delegate from the Houston local to achieve that office.
In 1980, Bob began managing the Houston Musicians’ Federal Credit Union and in 2018 stewarded the merger of this unique organization with Space City Credit Union to further serve the specific needs of musicians. It remains one of only three credit unions in the country specializing in instrument loans.
Today Bob enjoys mentoring and advising members both professionally and financially. His decades of experience have made him an invaluable asset to this local.