*originally published in Sound Waves Magazine July 2017
Summer is here finally. Time for outdoor music festivals, beach concerts, rockfests and mega jams. I run into people and they ask, “Excited for summer? You going to have lots of gigs? It’s your busy time right?” Well, not so much. You see if you’re in a band, you have to think about the “busy season” way before temps reach 70 degrees. Like way back during the “Christmas season.” If you don’t start hounding summer festival organizers, chambers of commerce, parks and rec people, vineyards and beach bar owners by Jan. 1, you are out of luck by the summer solstice.
It’s embarrassing. I’m bored to death so I go to every event there is and get the same question, or the polite ones: “Got the night off for a change huh?” Um, yeah. The whole freakin’ summer thank you.
Even if you are a good little doobie and manage to contact these purveyors of all things musically fun in the sun in the frigid winter, if you don’t check on your application or package or whatever at least 1.5 billion times, you’re not getting the gig. Most of the time, it’s impossible to find out who these leaders of the Federal Reserve-like institutions are so you can even get your stuff to the right person. It’s like when Richard Dreyfuss in that movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is thrown into a van and then into a tent with the French speaking dude and the nerd and he yells, “WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?!?!?”
WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE dictating the summer music schedules anyway? It’s this big fat Area 51 mystery to me. And asking other bands how they “got in” doesn’t help either. They say, “Oh, a guy in the band is married to a a girl who’s mother’s ex-boyfriend has a niece who interns for the chamber during the summer so that’s how we got in.” Or, “You have to send a package to the organizing committee,” or, “You have to contact the owner at his place down in Florida in the winter.”
I am not a bugger. I am not a beggar. It’s too……. Complicated!
And what’s worse is, if I do manage to have a gig in the summer at a regular bar, nobody’s there because they’re all outside at some festival! That I’m not playing at! It’s exasperating!
The one festival gig I do have this summer is because somebody canceled at the last minute! OK Fine!
One year I was asked to help book the bands for a summer festival and was guaranteed a slot. Word spread magically like wild fire that I was a member of this prestigious committee and so therefore I was ceremoniously deemed “the contact.” Well let me tell you, some people are really good at inquiries, following up, or I as I like to refer to it as: “Bugging the crap out of you.” I give the musicians the utmost respect for their persistence and tenacity, however, OMG – did I ever want THAT THING over with!
So I get it. I understand why it’s all a big secret. It’s a never ending exercise in responding to emails and chats and voicemails – or as I mastered – the art of ignoring the whole world.
You may think of this month’s column as one big pity party for me. Au contraire! It’s a call to arms! We must unite! We must demand that all festival organizers and beach concert and outdoor music people publish their names, addresses, what kind of wine they like, what their favorite sports team is, details on their family lineage, and where they spend their winters. That kind of thing. To make it fair, ya know?
But alas, I know, you’re all too busy playing your fifth night in a row under warm moonlit skies with a lovely ocean breeze blowing through your hair. That’s OK. I’ll be there cheering you on.