Saturday, June 03, 2006

Its Getting Tough on the Road

Blues singer Candye Kane made the observation about how hard it is getting to make ends meet while touring. She refers to paying the mortgage, feeding one's family, paying one's bandmembers and the costs of touring and how little she has left over. Her post led to some complain about her whining but pthers were more supportive.. Her thrust was in one sense we need the people to show up at our gigs.

Of course, her point it is not simply l,imited to blues. In his book "Is Jazz Dead", Stuart Nicholson observes that gigs for bands that command medium-level fees have dried up and that thata only the acts that get very large fees or acts strating out get low fees can afford to tour and put some money away. Summer is an exception with some good paying festival gigs, but again there are less of them (I note that Wolf Trap, whose Jazz and Blues Festival had become musically irrelevant is not even pretending to have one this year) and some of the sponsors are more interested in bodies attending than in bringing in great music and supporting teh artists who deserve it.

Revues or packaged tours may be the way to go but still with lessening amounts of radio exposure as even public NPR stations increasingly become irrelevant for exposing music, and increased costs that performers incur, the chance to see artists like Candye, except for the Festival season, will be lesser.

Europe is a different situation because venues are closer together and there is much more government subsidy of the arts, including small community venues. Nicholson discusses this in his volume and it is very illuminating why jazz may be prospering a lot more in Europe than here in its homeland.

A lot to think about and I do agree with Nicholson that there needs to be mechanisms (including some governement subsidies) to enable bands that can only command medium fees prosper.

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