The Soapbox Archives:
I've been mulling over that for a couple of weeks now.
On one hand, bands are usually full of musicians who don't get paid much, particularly for the public gigs where they might be willing to sacrifice a little gain to get a lot of exposure. I know of musicians who were asking around trying to find health insurance that they could afford. Certainly, they're just trying to make an honest living.
On the other hand, as a dance "customer", I like being able to go and dance to different bands every time I go out. If a band plays regularly and I have something to do, I skip dancing that week because I could catch them next week or next month. I think this had a lot to do with the discontinuation of the monthly venues hosted by Irwin Spivak's Little Big Band and Dom V's Swing Out Big Band. One of the things I liked about both the Boston Swing Dance Network's dance and Uptown Swing is that they both have different bands every month and I try to schedule my real life around their dance dates.
On the other hand, having the same band play two different venues cuts out one variable in determining which venue is "better". If a venue gets a lot of customers with a band and another venue doesn't with the same band, it might make you stop and wonder.
At the same time, having to have the same band playing local competing events during the same month tells a fairly sad story that our community doesn't have enough decent bands to hire for a swing dance.
I think that some bands are played too often. I think that the weekly dance venues need to cast their net further out for bands who want to play in Boston. From a dancer's point of view, if there are two or three dancing opportunities on the same night, I'm probably going to go to the one where I haven't heard the band before or where I haven't hear that band recently, even if it's my favorite band.
What do you think? Would you normally go dancing at a venue who's using a band that played at another local venue the week before? Do you think your dance friends might go? Or would they think, "Gee, I can hear them next week. Let's go do something else tonight?" Or do you think that the venues are so different and have such a different clientele that it really doesn't matter?
On an entirely different topic, I think everyone who runs a band that wants to play at a local swing dance should learn how to dance. I can only think of three bands where at least some of the people in the band have attended a swing dance (as a dancer). There are too many bands out there who have no idea what swing music is, even if they think they do.
And the night I was dreading is here: This Friday, *all* three Friday dance venues have bands that I want to see:
For those of you who knew him, there will be a memorial service on Saturday, October 18 (that's next month), at 2:00 pm at the First Parish in Lexington, 7 Harrington Road, in Lexington.
I guess I'll never get him to teach me his signature move now.
Interesting questions, Benson.
One thing to consider, if the goal is to cast the net wider, you have to think about this question from the financial point of view of the band. I remember when I was trying to get Ray Gelato Giants to Boston. The first thing they asked me was for some tips on other venues they can play. The band of course has to maximize the playing time or rather paying time when they leave their core area. To the band, playing multiple gigs is a given. They don't and likely shouldn't consider the local politics of the area where they are play. If they have a manager who is checking out and booking the area, this may be something they consider if they plan on a return visit. You may note that I never got Ray Gelato to Boston, this is because they would have played my venue, but no other venue I approached was interested in having them play because it was too close to gig at my place, as a result, No one say Ray Gelato because I couldn't afford to pay them what they needed to make the trip, without securing additional gigs. So lets not put too much of this burden on the bands. Their job is to play. If Boston wants to see out of town bands, the venues have got to cut them some slack and the dancers have to let the tour market make the trip possible. I understand the debate however. One of the problems in the Boston area is the size of the community. Changes in customer patterns are easily felt by competing venues.
To directly answer your question... Lets say I normally dance on Saturday at Venue A and on Tuesday at Venue A1. If Ray Getlato were playing opposite either of these A Venues, lets say B or B1, I would most definitely skip A or A1 that week. If Ray got two gigs, lets say at B or B1 that week, its very likely I'd see them twice, because I normally don't get the chance to see them at all. However, my decision to see them twice would depend on what Band A or A1 has as well. Maybe there is another band I want to see equally. The more gigs both bands have in town, the more likely I can see both and the competition between venues will likely be good for both venues.
This comes down to consumer choice, and the minute you try to artificially control that choice with gentlemanly agreements and the such, the more likely you are to continue to support venues that are losing their mojo or take away that choice that the consumer demands.
I'd say, let the bands do what bands do. If you prohibit them from multiple gigs on a tour, its very unlikely that you'll get them to the area at all.
On your last topic, Yeah, I think its very obvious when a band doesn't really swing, however, I wouldn't make the connection between dancing and knowing how to swing muscially. I would agree however, that swing dancers who are musicians understand what a dancer looks for in a good swing dance,,, 3 minute tunes an no drum solos for starters. This is largely something the band leader needs to figure out. Bands are not a democracy. Someone is deciding on the arrangements.
I can tell if a band swings in 2 notes. I never take for granted that a band billing themselves as a swing band actual is a swing band. I wouldn't be surprised if 9 out of 10 are them are really motown. As they once said about porn.. I know it when I see it. Well I know swing when I hear it.
My last thought. If a band's bread and butter is to play for dancers, then they should take it upon themselves to find out what dancers want. Not all bands have dancers as their primary concern. They're musicians first and their reasons for being so are as varied as there are bands. There is no absolute rule for how they should conduct their gig schedules etc. Another problem in Boston is the size of the dance community and the calibar of musicians in this area. It does surprise me that more local bands do not have exposure in the dance community and perhaps this is more the fault of the dance promoters and not the bands. A little risk may be just what Boston needs.
I think this reinforces my point. Most, if not all, of the dance venues, particularly the three Friday venues, are in competition for the dance customers. While it'd be wonderfully altruistic of them to cooperate to bring in an awesome band, they're not going to do anything that risks their revenue stream. As far as I can tell, none of the Friday night venues are doing spectacularly (actually, I heard they're not doing well at all), so no one is in a position to allow their competitors any slack. They can't risk their own survival to be nice to their competition.
The trick to bringing in interesting bands is to find non-competing venues for them to play. For instance, the bands could play at non-dance venues in the area or in a place that required an hour or two ride to see them (i.e., a different market) so a majority of the local dancers would probably attend the local venue instead of going to see the band elsewhere.
Is there anyone else who thinks it's ironically funny that after I finish paying for my groceries at the supermarket that the automated coupon printer spits out a coupon for Rolaids®?