originally published in Sound Waves Magazine May 2019
There’s a dreaded question in the cybersphere from venue owners and booking contacts that we band leaders are posed from time to time and, every time, it makes my skin crawl, my blood boil, and gives me a hot flash. The question just isn’t fair, due to the many variables involved with the answer to the question. When I am asked the question, I usually just completely ignore it and give up on the potential gig, because I don’t think the person asking the question will appreciate my answer. I know what they want to hear, but I’ve never been a very good liar. I’m like our first president George Washington – I cannot tell a lie.
The question is: “What’s your draw?” In other words, how many people are going to show up if I book you?
“Well, let’s explore that. You want me to say hundreds or thousands, am I right? Here’s my answer:
Well, if we haven’t played for five years and it’s more like a reunion show, it could be hundreds, unless of course, Netflix has released Season 3 of Stranger Things, then it’s 0.
Is your bar kind of a decent place? Then it could be around 20, unless of course the final chapter of a super heroes movie is being released that night, then it will be 0.
Are you a sports bar? Well, if it’s the World Series, the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Final Four, or the Superbowl, it could be hundreds, but your patrons won’t be there for us and their hootin’ and hollerin’ will drive us nuts.
Is snow predicted? 0. Is a hurricane expected? 0. Is it a heatwave? Maybe 5, if your A/C is working. Is it -9 degrees outside? 0.
Do we have a year’s notice? Maybe 10, but that could vary. Things come up for people, you know? Babysitters and such.
Is it a food festival? Thousands, but they’re not there for us.
What is your venue’s marketing strategy? Do you plan to advertise the event, throw out some specials and cater to my band’s every whim so we’re nice and happy and entertaining? Probably 10.
Is it flu season? 0.
Has there recently been a bar fight or a stabbing at your establishment? 0.
Is the event outside? If it’s raining – 0. If it’s too hot – 0. If it’s too cold – 0.
What else is happening in your locale the day of the event? Arts Festival? 0. Barret Jackson car show? 0. Is somebody like Elton John or Kiss playing their last show ever at a local casino? 0.
How are your acoustics inside the venue? Does every band sound like they’re in a muddled box of mud? 0.
Are we playing during a biker poker run? Hundreds, but they’re only there for five minutes to pick up their card.
So essentially, my dear booking contact person, our draw, is the luck of the draw.”