Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's a win/win, right?!  Not so fast, pal...

The Preachers played a gig a couple of weeks ago at a well known, but struggling nightclub in Seattle's downtown Pioneer Square neighborhood.  Pioneer Square used to be a smokin' hot location for live music clubs, as noted elsewhere on this blog.  The club's long time owner passed away last year, and the joint is now owned by one of the former owner's relatives and a new manager is responsible for booking the bands. 

This club featured live music six nights a week for over 20 years.  Local mainstream and trad jazz bands played Monday through Thursday, and blues or blues rock bands played on Friday and Saturday.  Back in the day, the same band would usually play both Friday and Saturday, but for quite a while now the blues has only been featured on Saturday nights.  This is pretty typical of the Seattle area these days - it is very unusual for a band to play anywhere for more than one night.

The club would also occasionally feature national touring acts.  I recall seeing Charles Brown, Jimmy Rogers, Larry Davis, and Mark Hummel there.  Those were the days!

One nice thing about playing at this place was that the pay was always decent, usually $100 a player, plus tips from the crowd.  However, when the economy crashed in 2008, it hit this place (and all other clubs in the neighborhood) hard.  Our five-piece band was getting paid $400 an night (plus tips) at the time the owner passed.  When the new owner sorted out the remaining bookings, we were told that the new pay for all bands would now be $200 a night.

Say WHAT?!  As much as we want to keep playing at this place, we can't do it at that price.  So we came up with what we thought was a great idea - we would accept the club's $200 dollar guarantee if they would let us charge a cover and add that money to the kitty.  The manager agreed.  One of my siblings agreed to collect the low $5.00 cover charge (note: never let the club collect cover charges for you, for obvious reasons), and lo and behold!  At the end of the night, we all made over $100 a player, just like the old days!

We thought it was all good.  The club paid $200 for a rockin' band, the place was full, for a change, of happy customers buying booze and food, and having fun on purpose, and the band got paid decently.  I did notice though, that it seemed to be breaking the owner's heart when he handed that $200 over to me at the end of the night.

The Boneyard Preachers, left to right: Tim Sherman guitar), Patty Mey (bass), Steve Yonck (guitar), Conrad Ormsby (drums), and Mike Lynch (harp and vocals).  Photo by Marta Smith.

Sure enough, we couldn't get the manager to respond to e-mails or calls regarding another booking.  So I dropped in there tonight and cornered her before she took off for the evening.  She told me that she would be happy to book the Preachers into the joint practically any Saturday we wanted as long as we didn't charge a cover and accepted the $200 in pay.  Well, that was a no-brainer, so I declined, of course.

We are just the most recent band to bail on this club.  Most of the other regular performers have moved on also.  I wish the new owner luck with this business that he as inherited.  Hopefully, he will figure out how to make a go of it or sell the place before he loses his shirt!

Check out the Boneyard Preachers here: http://www.reverbnation.com/boneyardpreachers

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Orleans Creole Restaurant - 1/19 Gig

As I mentioned yesterday, the Preachers will be playing at the New Orleans Creole Restaurant this coming Saturday, January 19th.  I dropped in there last night to put up some posters and watched the Joseph Barton Trio play a few songs.  WBS award-winning harp blower Jeff Herzog was sitting with the band for a few tunes when I arrived.  I can't say that I know much about guitarist Barton, except that I have seen him playing a couple of times at the Salmon Bay Eagles in Ballard, always with a trio.

The good news is that there were some people at the club dancing, drinking and eating.  There was no cover charge last night, but if you come out to see the Preachers next Saturday, there will be a five dollar cover.  The band pay at the New Orleans has been reduced so low, that we are going to try this one gig with the cover to see how it goes. 

This club is really struggling and needs all of our support.  Five bucks ain't gonna kill ya!

So, see you at the nightclub, right?!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I'm back. I think...

Wow, has it really been over a year and a half since I posted here on Jet City Blues?

My bad!  A couple of my pals have been threatening to take over here for a long time, but I don't think that it's gonna happen any time soon. 

I am going to start posting here again, mostly about the adventures of the band I'm currently playing in, the Boneyard Preachers.  We have been playing for over a year now and keep finding new gigs - so far, so good!  Our next gig will be at the floundering New Orleans Creole Restaurant in downtown Seattle, and I will follow up afterwards with a full report and some photos.

Frankly, the Seattle blues "scene" isn't all that interesting to me right now.  There are a few (very few) really good bands dedicated to playing the blues with a feeling, and lots of bands that play blues songs.  We'll concentrate on the former here.

Talk to you again soon!