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L5Larry

Letter To Bar Owners

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This was found on St. Louis Craigslist. For those of you who have, or do, play in a bar band, I think you will relate. For those of you who aspire to play in a bar band, her's what you have to look forward to.

 

Enjoy the read.

 

Letter to bar owners; As musicians who get all the glory, we feel it’s time to thank those whom we rely upon for the opportunity to showcase our talent and express our creative faculty to the local community. Because, as everyone knows, musicians don't really need the money.. We do it all for beer and blow jobs. We're artists. We have no time for such trivialities as kids, mortgages, or car payments.

 

Some of the things we love:

 

When you send us home early and pro-rate our pay for the night when it's slow. This gives us a special thrill, since we know that you'll one day give us a big bonus when it's packed. Plus, by leaving early, we can now go watch our friends play at real bars and spend our night's wages..

 

When trying to book dates, we love when you ask us if we're “free on “the 17th.” Sure, let us check our ****ing calendar. Yeah, we're open that night. Oh…you meant of November. Of this year? We also love when you say, “Well, we might be doing something next month for Thursdays.” Yeah, we might also be doing something next month. Foreclosing.

 

One of our fave questions is, “Do you have a following?” Of course we do! We firmly believe club owners shouldn't have to concern themselves with such banalities as advertising. Or promotions. Or drink specials. The responsibility for attracting customers must fall solely with the band. We have no doubt whatsoever the people who saw us regularly at that bar in Islamorada will charter a bus and trek up to Margate to hear us play Smoke on the Water. Put your minds at rest, o’ troubled bar proprietors.

 

Just a few of the things we'd like to thank you for:

 

For canceling us forty minutes prior to our arrival at your bar, because as everyone knows, babysitters are free, and frankly, we have nothing better to do on a Saturday night.

 

For replacing our four-piece band with the clove cigarette-smoking guy and his $129 Fender acoustic guitar, paisley button-down shirt and soul patch. There’s a reason he works for a hundred bucks.

 

For paying the exact same wage for a duo that you paid in 1986. So now, we have to work six jobs a week instead of four to make a living.

 

Thanks for not cashing your own checks. We realize how this complicates your accountant's life, and his happiness is all that matters.

 

And for having the house music set to the local oldies radio station, we salute you.. We love following "Unchained Melody" with "Rock the Casbah.."

 

For not having a stage. It’s a real treat to stand on your wing sauce-saturated carpet. And being on the same level as your patrons makes it much easier for drunken assholes to approach us and fall into our equipment while spewing a three-foot stream of vomit onto the drum kit. Thank you.

 

Thanks for the track lighting above the stage. Makes us feel like rock stars. Especially when they're colored.

 

Also, thanks for the break on food and drinks. Fifty percent is such a gift. It’s our distinct pleasure to shell out $3.25 for a shot of Jack that costs you twenty-two cents. Grazie. Merci. Domo. Danke.

 

Thanks for hiring the three laid-off bus mechanics who threw a band together after the economy **** the bed and will now play for $75 a man. Enjoy their ripping 11-minute rendition of “Cocaine,” complete with 64-bar bass solo and fudged lyrics.

 

Thanks for canceling us on a Thursday night for the Browns-Lions game on NFL Network.

 

Thanks for putting TVs directly over our heads, so people can watch “World’s Scariest Videos” while we play. It’s always a thrill to hear such expletives as “WHOA!”, “HOLY ****ING ****!” while navigating the soliloquy from “Nights in White Satin.”

 

And let us not forget the bartenders, who listen to us all night without once clapping (if for no other reason than to induce the comatose people at the bar to clap).

 

And thanks so much for cutting off the jukebox 10 seconds into "Sweet Home Alabama," so that we can hear that collective "AWWWWWW...." from the audience as we hit the stage. Most inspiring.

 

Thanks for waiting until you've served all drinks, lit every cigarette, wiped off the bar, stocked the coolers and done your side work before moping toward the cash register with the quickness of a tai chi instructor to give us our meager salary while muttering, “They make as much as me, and only worked four ****in’ hours.” Yes, it’s a travesty, but most high-level universities no longer give out bartending scholarships. And please note that it took us slightly longer to learn our instrument than it took for you to make it through Billy Bob’s Bartending School. And we doubt seriously that you sit at home practicing bartending in your spare time. So thanks for handing over the dough and shutting the **** up.

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Thanks for putting TVs directly over our heads, so people can watch “World’s Scariest Videos” while we play. It’s always a thrill to hear such expletives as “WHOA!”, “HOLY ****ING ****!” while navigating the soliloquy from “Nights in White Satin.”

 

 

 

I peed!! [lol]

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This is why I don't play in cover bands. You get *** raped on so many levels. Play your own stuff and only get shanked by the club owner or booking agent.

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Larry...

 

Ah, yes...

 

Luckily when I played a lotta saloons it was before 99-inch flatscreen televisions.

 

But the rest... as the saying goes, been there, done that.

 

Although I'll never forget one bar owner I appreciated, but who overdid the hospitality. <grin> I don't drink alcohol when I'm playing. Hadn't since I was 21. Hmmmm.

 

Anyway, as we're closing the gig about 1:30 and had about 15 minutes to go, the barkeep/owner asked if I'd finally like a "real" drink 'stedda the straight OJ I was downing. Sure. Whatta yah want? Scotch. On the rocks? No, just some Scotch.

 

Well, I got my Scotch - Johnny Walker red in a 16-ounce tumbler.

 

Whoooeeeee..... Yes I did, no I didn't drive back to the home town on the ice. But that's yet another tale.

 

m

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Yeah, this is a tuffy. Anymore most clubs have enough going on that the band isn't the only entertainment in the bar. I would much rather watch a band at the club than Operation Repo, but I don't speak for everyone. People just don't have the appreciation for live music like they used to have.

Use facebook, local entertainment websites, and word of mouth to get the word out on your gig. You don't have to stand downtown and hand out fliers anymore. I don't see why a band wouldn't just try to promote themselves to have a bigger crowd anyway. You can piss about whose responsibility promotion is, or you can just do what you can to bring people in.

This guy can piss on himself. If he isn't making enough money playing gigs, time to get a day-job. Its always nice to get a couple bucks for playing, but if your miserable because you aren't making enough to pay the bills, than time to make the band your weekend project.

This guy sounds like hes getting out what he puts into it.

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I play in a couple touring bands, and I have friends who own clubs here in Nashville. Both businesses are tough. But I do side with the bands on most everything when I hear the club owner's complaints.

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Oh boy is that stuff true! Although I will say I've met some pretty good bar owners that know how to run their palce an treat the Bands right. They usually keep their bars longer than the clown who run it like they do in that letter.

 

Ya know what works great when they ask if you have a following that will bring them business, "We may not be the band you're looking for."

 

If a Bar is looking for a Band to bring them business, that's their way of saying, "My Bar is on the brink of closing, I couldn't pay myself to play here." It's not worth your time unless you're a "johnny come lately" garage band that wants some experience playing live so you can get into the real bars without looking like Untested Amateures.

 

I've discovered that playing at these low class places can actually hurt your reputation. "Oh they played at the "Crap Hole? They must not be very good." And by Low Class I don't mean "Small" or even "Stageless", I mean "Stupid. Miney Pinching, Back Stabbing, People users" that thinks taking advantage of people is a solid business plan. Here's an instance....without mentioning names....

 

Last Fall we played a Huge Place with a Great Big Stage and Lights. It was about the size of "Bobs Country Bunker" from Blues Brothers. They asked us the same thing, "How many people will you bring? We never make enough at the bar to pay the band, you should Pity this poor Bar Owner 'cause my Overhead is so high." We get there, and there's no Pool Table, No Dart Board, No Juke Box [confused], Nothing but a Huge Bar, Big tables, Waitresses showing cleavage, and Us. Now, I'll be the first to say, we're a pretty good band. But if your joint doesn't even have a Pool table, there's not a cover band in the Free World that could hold the crowds attention.

 

Now fast forward to a couple weeks ago. Small place, the size of a Mobile Home. Happy Bartender (showing no cleavage), Dart Boards and a Pool table, freindly Security guy. We show up, the regulars are digging the first set, the place starts to fill, no one leaves, the bar is making sick money. They had to kick everyone out well after last call. They pay us promptly, hang out with us and actually helped carry stuff tot he vehicles. When we called back for more bookings, they told us "We had such a great night with you guys, can't wait to have you back." then booked us for three more dates in the spring and summer. Now that's a truthful, class act that knows how to run a bar and understands the Synergy between bar and Band.

 

Finding a decent Venue is just as hard as finding a decent Band [glare] .

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Thanks for putting TVs directly over our heads, so people can watch “World’s Scariest Videos” while we play. It’s always a thrill to hear such expletives as “WHOA!”, “HOLY ****ING ****!” while navigating the soliloquy from “Nights in White Satin.”

 

 

I know how that feels but it was the Ravens game instead of Worlds Scariest Videos [rolleyes]

 

Sandbaggers006.jpg

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Firstmeasure...

 

I think your point also is excellent. The well run saloon and the well-run live entertainment can work well together. If either is somewhat less professional, so also will be the results.

 

m

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This is why I don't play in cover bands. You get *** raped on so many levels. Play your own stuff and only get shanked by the club owner or booking agent.

 

I have to agree, there are often times better money in being a good cover band, but so much BS you have to put up with... that's why I decided to do my own stuff

 

Sometimes, very rarely, Craigslist has some real gems around [thumbup]

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Thanks Milod, the same could be said for any Business relationship. But it seems musicians have the hardest time being taken seriously at any level of success.

 

Fuzzy Fred, don't go fooling yourself. The question isn't, "Which avenue has the least crap?" The question is, "What are the results I want after dealing with all this crap?" The list of Crap you have to put up with may look a little different, but it's just as long. And you have more to loose, your material. If you're any good your stuff Will Get Ripped Off! As with any Art, the best stuff gets stolen before the rest get sold.

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Thanks Milod, the same could be said for any Business relationship. But it seems musicians have the hardest time being taken seriously at any level of success.

 

Fuzzy Fred, don't go fooling yourself. The question isn't, "Which avenue has the least crap?" The question is, "What are the results I want after dealing with all this crap?" The list of Crap you have to put up with may look a little different, but it's just as long. And you have more to loose, your material. If you're any good your stuff Will Get Ripped Off! As with any Art, the best stuff gets stolen before the rest get sold.

 

Well yeah, but its mainly that I just can't stand to play that many covers [lol]

 

I'm more willing to deal with the crap from doing my own stuff than from covering over songs. just my stupid opinion

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Well yeah, but its mainly that I just can't stand to play that many covers [lol]

 

I'm more willing to deal with the crap from doing my own stuff than from covering over songs. just my stupid opinion

That is the most legitimate reason not to do covers I've ever heard. [thumbup]

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Oh boy is that stuff true! Although I will say I've met some pretty good bar owners that know how to run their palce an treat the Bands right. They usually keep their bars longer than the clown who run it like they do in that letter.

 

Ya know what works great when they ask if you have a following that will bring them business, "We may not be the band you're looking for."

 

If a Bar is looking for a Band to bring them business, that's their way of saying, "My Bar is on the brink of closing, I couldn't pay myself to play here." It's not worth your time unless you're a "johnny come lately" garage band that wants some experience playing live so you can get into the real bars without looking like Untested Amateures.

 

I've discovered that playing at these low class places can actually hurt your reputation. "Oh they played at the "Crap Hole? They must not be very good." And by Low Class I don't mean "Small" or even "Stageless", I mean "Stupid. Miney Pinching, Back Stabbing, People users" that thinks taking advantage of people is a solid business plan. Here's an instance....without mentioning names....

 

Last Fall we played a Huge Place with a Great Big Stage and Lights. It was about the size of "Bobs Country Bunker" from Blues Brothers. They asked us the same thing, "How many people will you bring? We never make enough at the bar to pay the band, you should Pity this poor Bar Owner 'cause my Overhead is so high." We get there, and there's no Pool Table, No Dart Board, No Juke Box [confused], Nothing but a Huge Bar, Big tables, Waitresses showing cleavage, and Us. Now, I'll be the first to say, we're a pretty good band. But if your joint doesn't even have a Pool table, there's not a cover band in the Free World that could hold the crowds attention.

 

Now fast forward to a couple weeks ago. Small place, the size of a Mobile Home. Happy Bartender (showing no cleavage), Dart Boards and a Pool table, freindly Security guy. We show up, the regulars are digging the first set, the place starts to fill, no one leaves, the bar is making sick money. They had to kick everyone out well after last call. They pay us promptly, hang out with us and actually helped carry stuff tot he vehicles. When we called back for more bookings, they told us "We had such a great night with you guys, can't wait to have you back." then booked us for three more dates in the spring and summer. Now that's a truthful, class act that knows how to run a bar and understands the Synergy between bar and Band.

 

Finding a decent Venue is just as hard as finding a decent Band [glare] .

 

Sounds to me like this bar is not interested in how many people the band will bring in. But rather, will your band run people OUT of the bar? If his clientele expects live music, but say, "These guys S**k!", down their PBR, then bolt... that's the last time you'll play his place.

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Why thank you. I doff my cap [biggrin]

 

I am weird I guess, in that manner

I wouldn't call it weird, writing is what's fueling your engine. It would be weird if you tried to be the player everyone else expects you to be. Gool ol' Shakespeare again, "To thine own self be true"

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Sounds to me like this bar is not interested in how many people the band will bring in. But rather, will your band run people OUT of the bar? If his clientele expects live music, but say, "These guys S**k!", down their PBR, then bolt... that's the last time you'll play his place.

Exactly! And if you ask me that's the mark of a good bar Owner. If you have people who regularly check out the scene at your bar, you're doing your job as a Bar Owner. If you can keep the audience there you're doing your job as a cover artist.

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Sounds like everyone is trying to bite the hands that feed. I guess I'm alone in thinking the guy that posted this is a total d*ck cheese. For the record, every bar gig that I have played has been for fun. Yes, its nice to get a few $ or free beers out of the deal, but the treat is playing for people and the prospect of attracting new fans (and of course, landing a bigger gig). However, I have to disagree with many of the comments made:

 

1) Operating a bar is tough business. Between dealing with beverage reps, trying to keep your employees from robbing you blind, and keeping competitive with every other bar on the strip without loosing your shirt, keeping the dime-a-dozen cover band happy is pretty far down on the list.

2) The majority of patrons are more interested in the local college/pro sports team's game than hearing your Wild Horses cover. Its not the bar's fault.

3) Bars hire bands to draw crowds to buy food and drinks. If no one gives a sh*t about your band, hiring you is a waste of money. Yes, if people see a new band is playing at their fav spot, they are likely to come see you even if they have not heard of you. But if no one shows up for the second gig, don't blame the bar. Time for a reality check.

4) Its in every band's interest to have as large of turnout as possible. Don't piss about whose job it is to get the word out about the show. Get on the interweb machine and start telling people about it.

5) Don't b*tch because you have to play 5-6 nights a week to keep the lights on. Most people have to work that many hours to pay the bills. You are one of 10 million guitar players that can play the Sweet Child solo note for note, which makes you less valuable than the 5 million people that can design a decent web page.

6) Some of the best (most fun/entertaining) gigs I have played/attended have been at sh*t bars that "hurt your rep". People go to crappy bars to get drunk. You don't have to compete with huge TVs and patrons that are glued to whatever crappy program is on the tube. They are into the booze and the music.

 

No one bothered to think, "hey, maybe this guy's band just isn't very good?" I love live music. I love playing live, and seeing other people play live. Personally, I would rather see a band that is stoked about playing a show for next to nothing than another cover band that is playing their fifth gig that week, but are sore that they don't get free beers.

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Sorry Jnastynebr but gotta disagree with most of what you said - Not everybody plays music as a hobby, it's been decades since I played bars for free. and I'm glad you like playing for the bars full of power drunks and the heavily chemically enhanced that are usually partying with them I would pretty much rather have dental work done than play at those kind of bars anymore. I like bars where people are having fun and enjoying the music and there friends. Major drunks just piss me off anymore, and whole rooms full of major drunks just make me want to do bad things.

 

That said;

 

I don't have much sympathy for bar owners that don't appreciate the music and ***** about paying. It's a lot bigger draw than a jukebox and people that are having fun buy more booze and that's where the profit is.

 

The guy forgot two of my personal favorites though.

 

When they do raise a stage - I especially appreciate leaving the F%^^$ng ceiling fans in the same place, so there a foot over my head. I love the extra Mojo I invariably end up with on my guitar before the nights over.

 

and

 

I also really appreciate the totally overloaded electrical circuits they so often have in smaller bars. Sure my amp sounds great plugged into the same circuit as three video games and an ice machine that cycles on every four minutes.

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Sounds like everyone is trying to bite the hands that feed. I guess I'm alone in thinking the guy that posted this is a total d*ck cheese. For the record, every bar gig that I have played has been for fun. Yes, its nice to get a few $ or free beers out of the deal, but the treat is playing for people and the prospect of attracting new fans (and of course, landing a bigger gig). However, I have to disagree with many of the comments made:

 

1) Operating a bar is tough business. Between dealing with beverage reps, trying to keep your employees from robbing you blind, and keeping competitive with every other bar on the strip without loosing your shirt, keeping the dime-a-dozen cover band happy is pretty far down on the list.

2) The majority of patrons are more interested in the local college/pro sports team's game than hearing your Wild Horses cover. Its not the bar's fault.

3) Bars hire bands to draw crowds to buy food and drinks. If no one gives a sh*t about your band, hiring you is a waste of money. Yes, if people see a new band is playing at their fav spot, they are likely to come see you even if they have not heard of you. But if no one shows up for the second gig, don't blame the bar. Time for a reality check.

4) Its in every band's interest to have as large of turnout as possible. Don't piss about whose job it is to get the word out about the show. Get on the interweb machine and start telling people about it.

5) Don't b*tch because you have to play 5-6 nights a week to keep the lights on. Most people have to work that many hours to pay the bills. You are one of 10 million guitar players that can play the Sweet Child solo note for note, which makes you less valuable than the 5 million people that can design a decent web page.

6) Some of the best (most fun/entertaining) gigs I have played/attended have been at sh*t bars that "hurt your rep". People go to crappy bars to get drunk. You don't have to compete with huge TVs and patrons that are glued to whatever crappy program is on the tube. They are into the booze and the music.

 

No one bothered to think, "hey, maybe this guy's band just isn't very good?" I love live music. I love playing live, and seeing other people play live. Personally, I would rather see a band that is stoked about playing a show for next to nothing than another cover band that is playing their fifth gig that week, but are sore that they don't get free beers.

 

I must take exception to you remark about bands that get paid and play regularly don't do it for the Love of it. If it weren't for the posted forum rules I'd tell you exactly how much "exception" I'm talking about!

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I guess, after thinking about this a while, that there are some combinations of things to consider on the topic.

 

When I was playing saloons, it tended to be good experiences, even when there was no stage and we'd have an occasional concern about the typical thing of dancers getting too close when the floor was crowded, etc. On the other hand, except for a few occasions when somebody was angered about a spouse dancing too intimately with someone else, in which case we cranked the amps, no problems. It does create an "intimacy" I personally kinda like most of the time.

 

I do get a kick out of the term "security." Never saw anybody but the bar owner and/or a few of his/her friends suggesting someone cool it or leave. Once in a while that became ... emphatic ... but what the heck.

 

But that's here in the boonies.

 

OTOH, in the old days I did hear of some saloons that were kinda informally blacklisted by bands, mostly "country," because they didn't always pay as promised. Unfortunately that was as the musicians union was dropping dead and the grapevine didn't always have details.

 

Now? Yeah, I think the televisions likely are a problem.

 

Honestly I've concluded from my own experience that folks in the band shouldn't be drinking liquor or beer during a performance with the possible exception of a drink as closing time nears. Luckily my experience with band mates who overdid it was with guys who still picked or drummed with good timing until they couldn't stand up - but it surely ain't very professional and I don't like having to see them somewhere safely for an overnight. Were I a bar owner, I'd question whether I wanted them back whether they paid for the booze or not.

 

As to bartenders etc., if he/she hasn't had much experience with bands, and many don't, I can see how some wouldn't know how to react and would treat band members as they would a supplier or co-worker. That's not always "nice." Ditto shutting off televisions, juke boxes, etc.

 

I've never had the question, "do you have a following" raised. I think that's likely a more urban situation, probably more especially in various rock genres.

 

m

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I could care less about another cover band of old guys that play the same classic rock songs. Neither does anyone else.

So now you're the spokesman for "Everyone", 'Cause "Everyone" didn't get the message.

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