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Our Love Affairs with Club Owners.....


HammondDave

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Never met a club owner I liked.... and we are talking about a LOT of clubs over 40 years!... They were usually a-holes, psychotic, or both!

 

My favorite story was about a club owner in Southern California whose club we played at once a month. The club would always be packed with our fans when we played. One night before we started playing we were at the bar chatting. There was no place to sit as everyone was eating, drinking, and getting ready for the show. This jerk says, "I wish you guys would pull in as large a crowd as the tribute bands I hire".

 

This is the same guy who had the balls to charge our fans a $30 cover and a minimum food and drink order... and charged our wives as well... I told my wife never to come see us there.

 

Finally, when we announced our breakup, the guy has the nerve to advertise our upcoming gig at his club as our "last show", even though we had two more shows at other venues booked after it.

 

Guys like that make me glad I retired....

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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I hear ya. I was having a similar discussion with a bandmate last night. I'm just sick and tired of dealing with club owners. I fully understand and appreciate that they are operating a business, etc., but it appears none of them actually know how to properly run a business. I'm about fed up and quite close to calling it quits (unless someone ELSE wants to do the leg work with club ownwers).

 

There are too many ridiculous stories. The one that immediately comes to mind is the guy who, after we agreed on a price and played the gig, wanted to pay us in chicken wings!!! I like wings probably more than the next guy....but, my arteries would be plugged solid if I ate THAT many.

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I was fortunate to never have to actually deal with the booking of any of the bands I was in. Which is a good thing as I would probably be in prison if I had to deal with the club owners/managers personally...

 

One guy chased our guitar player out of his bar with a shotgun. Apparently the owner asked him why we were leaving, and he said "Cause I am sick!".. The owner replied: "You called me a Prick?" and got his shotgun out from behind the bar. The next thing we see is 105 lb Leo running out the front door of the club carrying his twin reverb and guitar! Talk about adrenaline taking over!!!!

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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There are too many ridiculous stories. The one that immediately comes to mind is the guy who, after we agreed on a price and played the gig, wanted to pay us in chicken wings!!! I like wings probably more than the next guy....but, my arteries would be plugged solid if I ate THAT many.

 

One guy wanted to pay us off with the Hookers he pimped! Our girlfriends appreciated that!

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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I was fortunate to never have to actually deal with the booking of any of the bands I was in. Which is a good thing as I would probably be in prison if I had to deal with the club owners/managers personally...

 

One guy chased our guitar player out of his bar with a shotgun. Apparently the owner asked him why we were leaving, and he said "Cause I am sick!".. The owner replied: "You called me a Prick?" and got his shotgun out from behind the bar. The next thing we see is 105 lb Leo running out the front door of the club carrying his twin reverb and guitar! Talk about adrenaline taking over!!!!

 

Damn! Bet he flew like the wind.

 

"The purple piper plays his tune, The choir softly sing; Three lullabies in an ancient tongue, For the court of the crimson king"
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Club owners are the main reason we don't play clubs. I have had much better luck with:

1) Private Organizations - Kiwanis, Moose, Elks, Legion etc.

2) Corporate Parties

3) Weddings (most times)

 

Many of these book at least 6-12 months in advance and there is never much of a hassle. Weddings seem to be the only area that is hit or miss. Some people are just nuts.

 

We are currently booked gigs averaging about 3-6 a month through February 2013. And we will fill in more as the New Year progresses.

Every time we play a charity event we end up with new customers.

None of the clubs around here will pay for a 6 piece band.

Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12

Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell

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Our favorites were summer concerts in the park. We used to play about 15 a summer, sometimes two a week... No hassles, good stage volumes, great PA's, and very nice people all around.
'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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I guess we've got it really good -- pretty much everyone that has booked us has been nice, generous, dependable, and helpful.

 

There were a couple that weren't so great, but not horrible. One was inexperienced and unprofessional, so he wouldn't pay well, renege on free food & drink, double-book a night, or cancel us at the last minute. Another one, after our booking agent joked that we'd play for free to show the club we could draw a crowd weekly, took advantage and actually expected two free shows (the booking guy was canned for this 'misunderstanding', and we no longer play at that venue).

 

Everyone else, though, has been great to deal with, and every show ends with us getting comp'd food/drinks, more money, and several more dates.

 

It helps that one of the guys in our band has been playing the Delta/Gulf Coast circuit for several years with several different bands, and is a pro at booking and negotiation. It also doesn't hurt that his day job is selling advertising space in the local alternative weekly, so he's got good relationships with all the club owners and booking guys.

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I had a club owner declare he didn't make any money could only pay half the agreed upon pay. The bar was nearly full and he charged $10 dollars a head at the door!

 

He did this to several other bands, he bragged to several patrons that he was using the door money to buy flat screens to turn it into a sports pub.

Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12

Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell

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Eons ago during the great late 70's I played keyboards in a punk band in Philly. To be exact a Yamaha YC45D. Loved it! Anyway our guitarist's best friend was a member of a local motorcycle club. We always sent the friend in at the end of the night to collect the money. Needless to say we always got paid. Good times.

http://bigfun3.bandcamp.com

www.facebook.com/BigFunThree

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He did this to several other bands, he bragged to several patrons that he was using the door money to buy flat screens to turn it into a sports pub.

 

A week after those flatscreens "DISAPPEARED", I'd be bragging to other bands how we were using that money to reimburse for the no-lube-screwing we got from the douchebag.

 

Homey. Dont. Play. That. (When I was much much younger, for a brief time, our motto was "the band that takes things"; we never got screwed more than once by any club owner, and we never subscribed to the adage that 'vengeance is best served cold'. We preferred fresh.

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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He did this to several other bands, he bragged to several patrons that he was using the door money to buy flat screens to turn it into a sports pub.

 

A week after those flatscreens "DISAPPEARED", I'd be bragging to other bands how we were using that money to reimburse for the no-lube-screwing we got from the douchebag.

 

Homey. Dont. Play. That. (When I was much much younger, for a brief time, our motto was "the band that takes things"; we never got screwed more than once by any club owner, and we never subscribed to the adage that 'vengeance is best served cold'. We preferred fresh.

 

Love it...

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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He got what he deserved. His club closed down very quickly after nobody would play there and the customers started realizing how much of a douche he was. That and a lawsuit for unpaid ASCAP fees!

Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12

Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell

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Never met a club owner I liked....
+1000. They're mostly pricks. I've done more than my share of booking clubs over the years and, well, they're pricks. I have been fortunate to play in bands that usually get paid a premium as compared with other bands in the club, but unfortunate in that the screwing is more predominant.

 

".. if we book you how many patrons will your band be bringing"

".. you didn't do that well tonight so we can't pay you the fully agreed amount"

".. the owner left and forgot to leave the money. stop by tomorrow when he's in so that he can pay you then"

".. sorry, we double/(triple) booked bands this weekend so we'll have to cancel you tonight " This just happened this past weekend BTW

.. we have to cancel the band this weekend. Call us Monday and reschedule You call on Monday and the booking agent is not working

.. I was expecting a bigger crowd ($5 cover and over 100 people in the bar)

 

The list goes on and on ..

 

I usually try the were here to entertain your crowd but that one hasnt been going over as well as it use to. We also had a similar situation years ago where our band opened up for Johnny Neel and we played for free so that we could get into the club. While were playing the bouncers collected a $15 cover charge from our bands wives/girlfriends and charged us full price for drinks. Also, in terms of price we play at many clubs that pay the same price that they paid in 1990. We must be a sadistic bunch to continue taking the punishment ..

 

57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil PC3; M-Audio Code 61; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini & Burn

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Back in the day, I used to play at this club and it was owned by this gorgeous woman. No matter what I tried, she...

 

Oh wait, I see what you're talking about.

 

Nevermind.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Also, in terms of price we play at many clubs that pay the same price that they paid in 1990. We must be a sadistic bunch to continue taking the punishment ..

 

I figured it out... adjusted for inflation, I made four times the amount in 1970 than I made in 2011... Most clubs owners think that they are doing you a favor allowing you to play for them.

 

I was fortunate that my last band was very popular and we got "top dollar" for clubs... This meant about $250 a member. But most working club bands in LA and So Cal make about $125 a night per member. When you figure that the cover charge is at least $20 per patron, then it only takes about 30 patrons to pay the band. And that is before any liquor or food... This simple math seems to escape most club owners.

 

So we started demanding 1/2 of the door. Well, that became a real sticking point with these bastards. We said: "Well, you are complaining about how many people we bring into the club, there seems to be about 300 people here, and if they are paying $25 a head, then we will be happy with $3750.

 

Club owners and managers are a breed among the lowest slime on earth. But as artists we have always been taken advantaged of. In fact, the only time I ever felt taken care of was when I was a member of the musicians union in the 70's. We got very good money and never got shafted. But that's another story...

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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Our favorites were summer concerts in the park. We used to play about 15 a summer, sometimes two a week... No hassles, good stage volumes, great PA's, and very nice people all around.

 

Yeah, that's basically the funnest part of the Santana Tribute that I play with. Love those summer outdoor gigs!

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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Counter example:

 

I played at a rock club regularly in the mid 70s that became our home club. We played several times a month, rehearsed there any time we wanted, and the club owner loaned me $500 to buy a Baldwin Electropro when I was without a piano.

 

Oh, and he never complained when we fired our cannons and flashpots onstage...

 

Nice guy.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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Counter example:

 

Oh, and he never complained when we fired our cannons and flashpots onstage...

 

Nice guy.

 

How about The Station night club fire...

 

This is what happens when you have idiotic slime-ball club managers. The club manager and owner were both charged with 200 counts of manslaughter.(They got off lightly, only spending months in prison...)

 

I just watched the complete video of that horrible disaster, and it is extremely disturbing. Even after this tragedy, I have been in clubs that were fire hazards... Chained exit doors, bad insulation, overcrowding, etc... We refused to play when we saw this... The band would tell the club manager to unchain the fire doors or we would not go on. We lost several jobs because of this...

 

For those who think it does not matter... watch the entire video... it will change your mind.

 

 

 

 

 

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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Many years ago, we once had a club owner "fail" to pay the agreed upon amount and stiffed us by half, because he expected a bigger crowd and didn't expect it to snow that night.

 

Karma is a bitch.

 

Can you believe that very same night, some thoughtless vandals left the bar with two broken toilets and three smashed urinals and a very expensive plumbing bill and no one heard or saw a thing?

 

We were so sympathetic for his loss.

 

 

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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I've gotta admit - my experience with club owners out here in the PNW has been mostly positive. It's a tough business, with razor thin margins. I have yet to meet a clubowner who got rich off his club business - with the exception of one guy who ran a string of strip joints combined with live bands.

 

I have become friends with several clubowners over the years, and the ones who have been in business for awhile always treat the the bands that are important to them very well - and the others at least fairly. There's always a few newbies to the business who are idiots - but you learn to stay away from those guys. They never last anyway - so you don't want to deal with them at any rate.

 

Seeing both sides of the business, I also have come to the realization that most bands think they're doing a lot better in a room than they really are. It can be full - but if they're all sippin' PBR it may not be a profitable night for the owner. Many rooms need to be at capacity for practically the whole night in order to be in the black. An hour or two doesn't cut it - but that's all the band sees when they remember the gig.

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A lot of it comes down to whether the band is considered: (a) entertainment for the crowd; or (b) the "hook" the brings the crowd in. Most club owners seem to opt for (b); they don't care if your a kazoo band or clam all night as long as people are coming in the door. It's a sad situation, although I can understand their viewpoint.

 

At the outdoor festivals, weddings, corporate gigs, etc., you are the entertainment, so it's a totally different (and in my opinion, much better) vibe. Being able to be an entertainer is why we are here. We didn't become musicians to become a marketing program for someone else's business.

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The tragic part of dealing with club owners is that we are dependent on them. It is because of that that i retired from active gigging. I pick & chose where i play, & they're usually fundraisers of some kind. the booking agents i have known were, if anything, even worse . you felt contaminated being in the same room as them : imagine playing LUSH LIFE in the key of 'B' while accompaning Don Rickles at a Shecky Greene roast in front of an audience of ex-Mansonites .
robert w nuckels
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