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Unemployment Blues...

PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 3:32 pm
by bosco
Well, the poor state of the economy in Michigan has trickled down to performance arts and there is literally no place left to play here in my metropolitan area of 100,000 people. Here's the latest stats from AOL-

Top Twenty U.S. Cities with Highest Unemployment rates (9-19-06)

20. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas: 7.8

20. Muskegon-Norton Shores, Mich.: 7.8

16. Battle Creek, Mich.: 7.9

16. Hanford-Corcoran, Calif.: 7.9

16. Modesto, Calif.: 7.9

16. Niles-Benton Harbor, Mich.: 7.9

14. Jackson, Mich.: 8

14. Sumter, S.C.: 8

13. Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich.: 8.1

12. Yuba City, Calif.: 8.2

11. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.: 8.4

10. Monroe, Mich.: 8.5

9. Pine Bluff, Ark.: 8.6

8. Saginaw-Saginaw Township North, Mich.: 8.7

7. Kokomo, Ind.: 8.9

6. Merced, Calif.: 9.2

5. Pascagoula, Miss.: 9.4

4. Flint, Mich.: 10

3. Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss.: 11.6

2. El Centro, Calif.: 17.3

1. Yuma, Ariz.:21.4

EIGHT of the top 20 cities listed are in Michigan, with my hometown of Battle Creek falling in at a tie for # 16.

Bedford Steakhouse, Bailey Park Grill and 17 West are all closed and out of business. All three used to be regular venues on the blues performance circuit where we were in the rotation. Our steady outdoor summer gig at the lake ended on Labor Day and they are going with the DJ indoors for now.

We are trying to focus on private events instead of bars, but having said that, no one has any funding to hire us. Even the Tampa Bay affiliated minor league baseball team where we played several times a year has left town for greener pastures.

For the first time in six years, we have no gigs on the books for the rest of the calendar year. I have booked two gigs for next year, a class reunion in June and an Anniversary party in August. At this rate, I'm concerned about keeping the band together until next year. I play with four other 30+ year pros and they're not going to be content with rehearsing. For now, we're working on original material and planning some recording.

I'm not looking for any suggestions here...just blowing off some ever increasing steam. On the facetious side, gas is down to $2.29 a gallon from a high water mark of $3.29. Swell. Driving becomes more feasible at the same time there is no where left to go.

Ain't it great.


PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 3:53 pm
by jeffl
I feel yer pain,brother. Hang in there; adversity brings personal growth; I think it sounds like a great time to write some tunes. I haven't gigged for 3 months now. At first it drove me nuts,and I resisted the temptation to sit in with rock bands,just to scratch my itch. Now,I feel like I'm more at peace,and ready to get back to work on my music,and see what turns up. Maybe you should plan somethin' fun to do with your band, like a freakin' field trip. My river bunch used to rent a van once a year,with a designated driver,and we'd head out to a music store ,or stores, in a town a few hours away,partyin' our way over and back. It built more comraderie,and got us away from the same old routine. One time we went a coupla hundred miles to Duluth,to shop for accordians at this lady music professor's house (she's got hundreds of old accordians), and when we got there, we were so loaded that she wouldn't let us inside,lol!

PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 4:14 pm
by stumblin
Yep. Don't despair.
There'll be light at the end of the tunnel.

PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 4:30 pm
by bluejay
Geez, Bosco, I knew my old home-state was in tough shape, but that's worse than I thought! I can't imagine that Kalamazoo, Lansing and Grand Rapids are doing that much better than the metro areas listed, either.

The "up side," of course, as Bubba notes, is the time for working on original tunes, and it would seem Michigan must be a seething cauldron of the events and emotions needed for good blues tunes. No need to go very far to find the very literal images of hard times folks can relate to when you put them in your lyrics.

So don't worry about venting, just vent in a verse-chorus-bridge structure! :wink: Good luck and my best to you and yours, as well.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:32 am
Hard to believe so many songs, especially in country, were written about going to Michigan (down that hillbilly highway) to escape the unemployment and land a good manufacturing job.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:21 pm
by maxx england
Just a question here. Winter is coming, so outdoor events might not be a good idea, but isn't there anywhere you can put your own show on? Perhaps not "Let's do it here in the barn" sort of stuff, but are there any premises in good order that can be used on an intermittent basis?

My reasoning is that if there are less shows in town, then what audience that is available will come to the ones that still survive. I do accept it is probably faulty logic, but it's an attempt at a positive outlook.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:55 pm
by bosco

That's a fair question and one we have considered, thanks.

I have a friend that owns a suitable restaurant/bar and we are currently discussing the possiblities of Holloween and Christmas parties and maybe something over the Thanksgiving break.

Advertising is the key when you set up a gig at a venue that normally doesn't host music. If we base it around a benefit (we did one last Christmas for the local Rescue Mission) we can get free radio and paper spots. Problem there though is that the band doesn't get paid for a benefit.

decisions, decisions.

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 10:29 am
by maxx england
Charity laws vary around the world, but here we have reasonable allowances for expenses, so there's probably something similar where you are. This allows organisers to raise money for those that need it at the same time as not losing out themselves due to their own income being neglected. Have you inspected the small print?

PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:17 pm
by bosco
Well, 'ol Battle Creek just took another severe hit.

Champs Sports Bar & Grill, virtually the last venue in this community of 100,000 that hosted blues, has whacked live entertainment altogether. The place just changed hands and the new owners have been restaraunteers in this town for several generations. They said the Texas Hold-em poker tourney in the basement is pulling in 120 people every Saturday night and they drink like fish. They can't see paying a band upstairs to play for 50 people. You can't argue with their logic.

What next? DJs and Karaoke have been eating a hole in our shorts for years and now POKER? Anybody else experienced this?

Performance Arts in this Community are at a 40 year low, it's just pathetic and it's not for a lack of talented people. I don't see it getting any better until the economy improves, no matter how creative we try to get with gig ideas. I'm glad it's hunting season so I have a diversion, but dammit...we wanna play!


PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:36 pm
by jeffl
Bosco: the open mic that I hit occasionally on Wednesday nites (NOT my Wed. nite jam) has discontinued for the same reason: poker. They turn their pool room into a poker room on Wednesday nites, and they fill it up. The trend for bands who don't wanna make it BIG is not good. The aspiring bands have jus' been hitting the studios and then hittin' MY SPACE, hopin' to get enough interest to attract some label's attention. The bar scene around here sucks for money. If you're a solo or duo act,there's plenty of places to play though. I've got a friend who plays guitar well, and he and a buddy are playin' steady, usin' sampled drums,bass,etc. They're playin' alotta restaurant/bar gigs,from 7-10 PM. I have never gotten accustomed to playin' with sampled accompaniments. I guess I'm old fashioned.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:53 pm
by stumblin
I'll try to encourage tonight's audience to eat more corn flakes.
That might help boost your local economy a little ;)
Really though, it's hard on musicians when local venues start doing badly.
Keep your spirits up Bosco, the sun is bound to shine in your back door some day.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 4:31 pm
by jeffl
Stumblin',the market trends are headin' YOUR way...heads up,lol!

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 1:53 pm
by bosco
Bedford Steakhouse, Bailey Park Grill, 17 West, Champs...

Well, we got the farewell gig at Champs by default Friday Night. The usual house band was opening for Anthony Gomes at the State Theatre. In a fitting, seemingly scripted ending, we played in the dark. The house lighting system was a hybrid of equipment from a couple different bands. The lights and truss bar were still hanging from the ceiling, but the owner of the DMX control box took it knowing full well that we were playing the last gig there Friday night. Thanks guy. Of course we didn't bring our lights knowing there was a house lighting system.

As I mentioned, the minor league baseball team where we gigged has left town.

Now another big hit- We had played live in-studio four times in the last year on the local classic rock radio station promoting various events. The station just got bought out and our favorite DJ/connection has been let go.

Man, there has to be a brighter day ahead. Virtually every contact/connection we have made in the last two years has evaporated.

I'm normally a fairly positive person, but the chain of negative events in the last year, paralleling the economy, have just been plain cruel. Well, sometimes things go in cycles and as they say, "If it don't kill you, it'll just make you stronger."


PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 1:56 pm
by ricochet
Bosco, that's a tough place to play.

You might think about moving down here. It's still tough playing here, but at least the weather's better.