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Is This Too Harsh???


Paul K

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Ladies and Gentlemen

 

We played a gig last month at a new small place. We played very well, but I wasn't pleased on the drive home. Here's the letter I sent the owner. Is it too harsh? FWIW, the band before us was an old-timey jazz band: Satin Doll with a lady vocalist. We do Steely Dan.

-----------------------------------------------

 

Greeting Robert

 

It's about time I gave you a little update on our Wildfire gig last month; if we "Do It Again", we'd need some things done differently. We certainly kicked some Wildfire Butt, and the crowd that was there was very receptive. I trust that these issues are just teething pains for a new establishment, but it's important to discuss them to avoid repeating repeating.

 

The paper listed a 9:00pm downbeat. You told us 9:30 'cause you had another band scheduled. But that band ended up being scheduled to play till 10:00pm. Then, the band had to break down their stuff (lots of it!...) before we could set up ours. We had a lot of disappointed people poke their heads in the door, look left and right, and leave. That left us with a crazy-late downbeat that our older clientele aren't keen on. And so we started with two people in the room. At mid-set, we had at twenty or more in the room, but only 9 paid the cover charge. It's hard for me to tell what happened at the door since I was on stage, but it was a little disappointing. If you're interested in having us back (and I hope you are), we'd need to do a bit better at scheduling and the like. That way everyone can do well.

 

FWIW, You said there was a PA system there, but that's not really the case. The two Mackie powered speakers are very are nice, but still need a mixing board and the appropriate cables and such. The other Peavey speakers are unpowered. We're OK with it now, since we now know what to bring to augment the provided gear. But it was a bit of an unexpected stress to have to jury-rig together a working vocal PA using just what we brought. When you book other bands for the first time, you'd be better served by telling them exactly what you've got. The Mackie's are very wonderful, but we clearly needed more than just mic's, mic cables, and mic stands.

 

I hope this correspondence didn't appear too harsh; my plan is to do it again, but do it better cause were pros.

We'll be at The Haunt Friday Jan 22, and Castaways Friday Feb 5 if you'd like to catch us in the flesh.

 

Best,

Paul K

"Do It Again"

 

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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Nah, you went out of your way to be nice, and you said things that needed to be said. Even if you don't play there again, maybe it will be better for the next bunch that comes through there.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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I don't think you'll get called back. It's an ego thing, and you stepped on his seriously, whether intentional or not.

 

If you DO get called back, bravo to the owner for wanting to actually listen to people who know what they are doing.

 

And yes, it was too harsh. Remember it's email, so you can never pussy it down enough to make it non-offensive.

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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Well, I don't really ever want to play there again if it's going to be a repeat performance; I'd rather let the other hundred bands play the gig for $35. I want to be on one side of the fence or the other.

 

I agree with J.C.'s advice that a phone call would have been smarter. Now that I think about it, it's what my wife would have suggested had I consulted her. She is also smart.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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Well, snafus seem to be normal in a lot of places.

Try most church gigs.....

Of course, if you're doing it for money, things are different.

 

Unfortunately, most bar owners and pastors know very little about music, and don't care much about our notions of artistic excellence. And the practicalities of doing a good job don't much interest them, either... it's our problem, not theirs!

 

I'm struggling with it right now - last Sunday they were still deciding what songs we were going to play 15 minutes AFTER the service started... making it hard to do a quick run through with people to make sure we're thinking the same key and same tempo.....

 

Except it IS their problem... if they'd ever think things through! Do you expect them to do so?? Good luck!

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What was the point of your note?

 

1. If it was to vent and present your dissatisfaction, you accomplished that.

 

2. If it was to try to change the practices of the owner, you failed.

 

3. If it was to make a case that you should be invited back AND the conditions/practices of the venue/owner should be different, you failed.

 

If I'm wrong about 2 and 3, then the owner is a nicer man than I am or not the brightest bulb in the tree.

 

"Too harsh" -- I don't think so. I think it was presumptuous about status, and suggestive that you and your bandmates carry the ball. This is untrue. The owner carries the ball, for better or worse. And is the referee. And gets to decide who plays on his field. Maybe his rules and playing style will result in him losing the business -- oh well.

 

BUT, in general, most of us who post here need more small venues to be successful offering live music and staying in business. And to do things that ideally make our experience playing there better. I would've advised you to adopt a strategy that builds the confidence of the owner while also allowing the owner to hear some constructive criticism in a way that might improve how he handles gigs and audiences, etc.

 

You wrote: "Well, I don't really ever want to play there again if it's going to be a repeat performance." Does this mean you'd want to play there if the experience were better? That's what you suggest in your initial post and email above. That said, your note should've paid more careful attention to:

 

1. How do I stay in the good graces of the owner/booker of the club?

 

2. How do I influence changes in the club in ways that will make the next performance more enjoyable for everyone involved?

 

I'm not trying to bust your balls, but I think the tone was wrong. It wasn't harsh. It reads as whiny. Ain't no riders for local club gigs...ya feel me?

 

I agree with JC's initial post about handling this through a personal, verbal communication, and not writing. Seems like you now agree with this perspective, too.

 

Peace.

--SW

 

 

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Unfortunately, most bar owners and pastors know very little about music, and don't care much about our notions of artistic excellence.

 

Yeah, no joke. I walked in Sunday night to find a new bass amp on the stage -- a GK RB400 with a 115Neo cab. Not a bad little rig, to be sure, but way underpowered for the room (seats 900).

 

The sound guy was all excited about it, but I said "Yeah...no" and set up my Eden rig instead.

 

This thing just appeared out of nowhere, purchased by the staff, and nobody bothered to ask -- oh, I don't know -- a BASS PLAYER what they should buy.

"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
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Unfortunately, most bar owners and pastors know very little about music, and don't care much about our notions of artistic excellence.

 

Yeah, no joke. I walked in Sunday night to find a new bass amp on the stage -- a GK RB400 with a 115Neo cab. Not a bad little rig, to be sure, but way underpowered for the room (seats 900).

 

The sound guy was all excited about it, but I said "Yeah...no" and set up my Eden rig instead.

 

This thing just appeared out of nowhere, purchased by the staff, and nobody bothered to ask -- oh, I don't know -- a BASS PLAYER what they should buy.

 

But why on earth would they want the opinion of someone who knows what they are talking about? LOL

Especially nowadays, when they take online polls on everything. Maybe the bar owner just went by a poll.

 

Seriously, I'm all for free speech, but isn't a little discretion called for in who we LISTEN to?? As in, do you they have any idea what they are talking about?

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But why on earth would they want the opinion of someone who knows what they are talking about?

 

They might have because a venue that seats 900 should have great FOH support. The house rig sound perfect for such a situation.

 

If a venue that seats 900 does not have great FOH support, you are screwed, so what does it matter in the end?

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Now that we are aging gracefully, we should make sure that we are the opening act so our fans can come hear us. Let a band of 20 somethings be the headliner and they can start at 1 am on a weekday.

 

Unless they've got like a national rep and a legion of fans, "headliner" who goes on last can count on half the audience having had enough and leaving well before they even get to the stage, and then ones who are left are usually so gooned out that they can't move, or they would have gone home already too.

Yep, it's the middle band that gets the best placement.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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I would have done it something like this:

_________________________________________________________

 

Robert,

 

Thanks for the opportunity to play at you place last month, we enjoyed it and I believe the crowd did as well. Unfotunately I think we lost some people who were under the understanding, per the paper, that we would be starting at 9pm. In the future, if we'll be starting after another band, we'll need to coordinate setup and teardown times a little better. Generally it takes us about [insert time here] minutes to set up. We pride ourselves on being very professional and punctual, and like to make sure we start when our fans expect.

 

I'd like to discuss the opportunity for future dates there, please email me back or give me a call to discuss.

 

Best,

Paul K

"Do It Again"

 

__________________________________________________________

 

I'd leave out the PA because at this point there's really nothing to be gained by bringing it up - that's a conversation to have BEFORE the gig. If someone said they had a PA, I'd ask them what they had before I just showed up and expected it to be adequate.

 

Always phrase any of your concerns in terms of what you can do to improve their business. Otherwise, they don't care. Their business exists to make money, and you are hired by them to bring people in the door.

 

$35? Really?

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I would have done it something like this:

_________________________________________________________

 

Robert,

 

Thanks for the opportunity to play at you place last month, we enjoyed it and I believe the crowd did as well. Unfotunately I think we lost some people who were under the understanding, per the paper, that we would be starting at 9pm. In the future, if we'll be starting after another band, we'll need to coordinate setup and teardown times a little better. Generally it takes us about [insert time here] minutes to set up. We pride ourselves on being very professional and punctual, and like to make sure we start when our fans expect.

 

I'd like to discuss the opportunity for future dates there, please email me back or give me a call to discuss.

 

Best,

Paul K

"Do It Again"

 

__________________________________________________________

 

I'd leave out the PA because at this point there's really nothing to be gained by bringing it up - that's a conversation to have BEFORE the gig. If someone said they had a PA, I'd ask them what they had before I just showed up and expected it to be adequate.

 

Always phrase any of your concerns in terms of what you can do to improve their business. Otherwise, they don't care. Their business exists to make money, and you are hired by them to bring people in the door.

 

$35? Really?

 

My bar owners can't /don't read. Just do what it takes to be succesful. you can't train the world... Oh yea.... $35 is slim.... I didn't want to mention it but jeezz...

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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I would have done it something like this:

_________________________________________________________

 

Robert,

 

Thanks for the opportunity to play at you place last month, we enjoyed it and I believe the crowd did as well. Unfotunately I think we lost some people who were under the understanding, per the paper, that we would be starting at 9pm. In the future, if we'll be starting after another band, we'll need to coordinate setup and teardown times a little better. Generally it takes us about [insert time here] minutes to set up. We pride ourselves on being very professional and punctual, and like to make sure we start when our fans expect.

 

I'd like to discuss the opportunity for future dates there, please email me back or give me a call to discuss.

 

Best,

Paul K

"Do It Again"

 

__________________________________________________________

 

I'd leave out the PA because at this point there's really nothing to be gained by bringing it up - that's a conversation to have BEFORE the gig. If someone said they had a PA, I'd ask them what they had before I just showed up and expected it to be adequate.

 

Always phrase any of your concerns in terms of what you can do to improve their business. Otherwise, they don't care. Their business exists to make money, and you are hired by them to bring people in the door.

 

$35? Really?

 

My bar owners can't /don't read. Just do what it takes to be succesful. you can't train the world... Oh yea.... $35 is slim.... I didn't want to mention it but jeezz...

 

I like 8o's letter better than mine. Phone call still would have been better. And yes, this guy does read. Our whole relationship has been via e-mail. Never met the guy, even at the gig.

 

In the end, after a day of "holy crap did I do the right thing" anxiety, although I'd make some changes, I feel OK about my approach. Bar owner/musician thing is a symbiotic relationship. I'm not gonna let myself be treated like an amoeba without speaking up. The bar owner will either change (to his and my benefit), or I will stop pissing away my Friday nights at his establishment.

 

Of course, that's easy for me to say. Me and the other guitar players have great day jobs. Only the drummer plays to augment his daily bread, and if I keep booking gigs that give him no bread I won't have a drummer for long.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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