There was once a time when musicians playing the club circuit thrived. The money was good and the audience paid attention to the music. This was happening in the 60’s and 70’s, even into the 80’s even. I know it because it was still happening to some extent when I entered the scene 30 years ago, but many things have happened to alter the club scene since.
The first thing that happened in the late 80’s and early 90’s was an important thing in saving lives, but not so much for saving music. We grew increasingly stricter about drinking and driving. Today, it is rare for me to get through a weekend without passing through at least one road block. Our law enforcement agencies are hard at work each weekend in an effort to keep us safe. That has hurt bar owners who thrive on the sale and consumption of alcohol. It cut into their bottom line and the first thing to go was the expendable income…entertainment and the bands, took the hardest hit. after the bar owners were affected.
In around the time new laws were gaining popularity with MADD and SADD; bar owners had to figure out a way to keep crowds entertained and still afford their mortgage. Enter, if you will Karaoke. A friend of mine once said when we discussed this topic, “Video killed the radio star and karaoke killed the live band.”
It was in and around this time that I was a band manager on a professional level. I reviewed contracts, I promoted gigs, I negotiated studio deals and I booked shows for the band I represented. When we first started working together in 1994, I was still able to get $600-$900 per show without much of an issue, enter karaoke and I was lucky to get the promise of $100 per player per gig. I worked with a three-piece so we stayed employed. But it was very hard work for very little pay. I went from making $100 to sometimes $10 for gas. The change on the music scene was drastic in the 90’s.
From the business stand point of the clubs and bars, I understood why things were happening. I just thought it was unfortunate and mostly for the many thriving artists. Nowadays music is making a come back slowly and there is a greater demand for it today. Due to everyday venues that never much catered to the music crowd are now they are working it into their weekly selections and features. You can find more artists playing solo shows in restaurants during the week for example.
You can also find a lot more solo and duos out gigging on weekends. This is still the affordable set up for many artists. Like with anything else this business of music comes with expenses like any other business and let me just say the equipment is not cheap. The hours spent practicing are not few and the hours spent traveling and setting up and tearing down are many and often times uncompensated.
Fact is, this might very well be the most underappreciated way to make a living. I am pretty sure toilet bowl scrubbers are paid better and are more appreciated. And I don’t know a single one of those that can make you dance. Nowadays many players have a tip jar at the front of the stage and your support is appreciated. If every person added a dollar to the tip jar, it would not be necessary for others who know the deal, to break out the $10’s and $20’s just so they know the band is paid.
True story, FREE music is never free. It is a hard way to make a living and most musicians have families to support. Please recognize and take notice of these tip jars and stuff them with all the love and goodness you can afford. If you stay all night and dance to the music, please support the band that helped you enjoy the night. Buy their merchandise to remember the good time or simply share some love and give them some green for gas money. It is appreciated and always welcome.
Along the way, venues also figured out creative ways to bring music to the stage without paying a whole bunch of money. And on any off music night you can find open mics going on. A majority of them seem to fall on Wednesday and Thursday. However you can find one somewhere any night of the week.
Open Mic Nights are the nights that venues open their stage and invite the local talent to come play. These events are generally hosted by a local player who kicks things off and then introduces those that follow. There are open jams and open mics. Both have the same objective, to hear the new talent. With jams it is band oriented and there are usually drums incorporated in the stage set. Open mics offer a platform for poets and comedians, magicians as well as musicians.
Fact is, you can find an open mic/open jam event every night of the week, somewhere. They even happen on the big music nights, Friday and Saturday. Those are generally once a month events, not weekly like the weekday featured ones. Since we are on that subject I might as well let you know about a few that happen each and every Wednesday night.
First up City Soul Cafe Open Mic is the hottest spoken word open mic in the triangle! Join the city soul team for a night of poetry, music, comedy, networking opportunities and much more.
With musical backdrop provided by DJ Supreme!
Come see what everyone is talking about this Wednesday Night!
44 Soul Cafe 7361 Six Forks Road Raleigh, NC 27615
food and drink specials
Get there between 8:30 and 9:00 to make sure you get on the open mic list!
Come join the City Soul Team, Dasan, Church Da’Poet, Lavar, Erica “E”, Simply Poetic and Dylan this Wednesday Night
for a night of music, spoken word, fun and memories you can’t get
Visit their website www.citysoulcafe.com
You can also find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
Lincoln Brewing Company hosts an open mic event each Wednesday night. They are located at 2912 N Main St. Fuquay-Varina, NC .Here is what the venue says on their event page:
“What’s up my fellow open mic’ers! If you live in or around the Raleigh/Fuquay Varina area and are looking for a cool spot for your music to be heard, then come join us on Wednesdays from 7PM-10PM at the Lincoln Brewing Company for Open Mic. Lincoln Brewery has 24 taps, a full bar, NYC Style Pizza, huge TVs for all your favorite games, and a sweet game room with pool tables, air hockey, cornhole, and arcade games. It’s a great place to meet other local musicians and get your jam on!
Drink specials include: $4 Lincoln Beers and $4 House Liquor!
Butterbean Graphics and Music opens the stage for Tommy Redd as he host the open mic most weeks. All players are invited to bring their talent and instrument and jam. Located at 4 E 3rd St. Wendell, NC, they open the stage from 7-10 pm for local talent to come have fun.
There is a weekly Wednesday open mic night that happens at The Red Rooster, located behind the Silo’s Restaurant right there at 1111 Broad St. Oriental, NC. Come on out for a great meal early and stay for the jam. Owner Chris Daniels hosts the open jam and when he is not jamming there you can catch him with his band Saltwater Gold. Jammers are welcome to participate from 7-10 pm.
There is a weekly open mic event that happens each week at Mesh Sports Lounge, located at 2500 Trent Rd. New Bern, NC. That is where lots of the local talent comes out to jam and enjoy making music. Sign up starts at 8 pm and the jam lasts til midnight or later if everyone is lost in the groove and carrying on.
SPAZZ FEST VIII: THE OFFICIAL PRE-PARTY* ft. Horse Lords (Baltimore, MD), Talons.
@ Trollingwood Taproom & Brewery
707 Dickinson Ave, Greenville, NC
7PM – 11PM / *FREE FOR ALL*
Horse Lords (Baltimore, MD)
A quartet combining their shared experiences in experimental music with popular forms, they craft long form pieces that are at once trance inducing, ecstatic, and rhythmically compelling. Their inventive ability to confound what listeners have come to expect from the combination of drums, bass and guitar (along with alto saxophone, electronics and other instruments) makes for a truly mesmerizing live experience. They’ve developed a funky, danceable sound that pulls from many directions — drone music, krautrock, Afro-beat, rap, rock ‘n’ roll and more — but is wholly theirs! The group consists of members of the groups Teeth Mountain, Black Vatican, and Needle Gun, and touring members of The Dan Deacon Ensemble and Matmos.
Layers of hypnotic guitar loops and improvisations summon images of cosmic specialities.
Official Spazz Fest VIII FB event page listing ALL the good stuff:
BROUGHT TO YOU WITH ♥ BY SPAZZ PRESENTS:
The Blue Eyed Betty’s and Kate Rhudy are on the bill to entertain those in attendance at Pour House Music Hall located at 224 S Blount St. Raleigh, NC. Doors open at 9 and the show starts soon after. Tickets at $10 and available at the door. Here is what else I learned about the acts from the Facebook event page:
“THE BLUE EYED BETTYS: With Daniel Emond on banjo, Sarah Hund on fiddle, and Ben Mackel on guitar, The Blue Eyed Bettys delight with their folky-bluegrass sound. But what always seems to grab audiences immediately are their powerful vocals in three-part harmony. All actors by trade, The Blue Eyed Bettys met while doing a new play together at the Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, FL. “Their theater-influenced performances and immaculate harmonies have earned them the admiration of local musicians and showgoers alike,” says journalist Nick Friedman of thisweekinsarasota.com.
They are singers and storytellers first; therein lies their ability to turn boisterous bars into attentive listening rooms and sleepy pubs into raucous parties as they weave stories with their exuberant performances.
KATE RHUDY plays sad river music in the best way possible.
For anyone out around Greensboro looking for a blues fix I have just the show for you. Abe Reid & The Spikedrivers will be live tonight at The Blind Tiger. Located at 1819 Spring Garden St. Greensboro, NC; they open at 7:00 pm and music starts at 9 pm. Tickets are $8.00 and available at the door.
Live tonight in The Torpedo Lounge, located at 8921 Crew Dr. Emerald Isle, NC ,you can enjoy the tropical island sounds of Barefoot Wade ,who will be offering his grooves to the dinner crowd at Carib-Sea Restaurant. He will be jamming from 6-9 pm
Live tonight in the lounge of The Icehouse Waterfront Restaurant, located at 103 W Moore St. Swansboro, NC, you can get rocked by Pure T Mommicked. They deliver the rock you love from 7-10 pm in the bar this evening.
That is all my news and all of the gigs that I found for your dancing pleasure for the evening. I hope you get out and enjoy the sounds of live music sometime soon. I am dedicated to making sure you know where to go to find it. If you like this blog please sign up and get an email each time we publish. I appreciate my readers, the musicians and the venues who all do a part in keeping live music alive! Thanks for keeping me informed!
Please take kindness with you today and hug strangers. Don’t forget that life is short and could end in a moment, so make sure you take time to enjoy the dance.
Send all of your event invites to me on Facebook and you will end up in the list of options in the days ahead. I can be found on Facebook by following this link:
I also read emails daily. You can send those to:
Please include the day, the date, the time of the event, the time of your scheduled performance, what time doors open and the price of tickets. Pictures are also helpful. I share links to band websites, so send those along as well. Thanks so much for taking the time to fill me in on the details, together we will reach the people!