the state of the blues
I was talking to Bill Stuve last night at my gig in long beach. My bassist and I had a falling out and he isn’t playing with me anymore. Bill was there to check out my gig and consider joining me for some tours. I am worried about the state of the blues, as is Bill. After 30 years in the Mighty Flyers, Bill was let go because Rod and Honey want to tour without a bassist to cut back on expenses. Gigs are paying less and less. When someone like Rod Piazza who is at the top of the blues heap, has to cut corners, I worry about the rest of us small fry's trying to eke out an existence.
Bill said he hasn’t seen it this bad since 1976. I was in junior high then so I don’t have a point of reference but I wonder how bad it was? Is this as bad as then? I was just offered some dates in Alabama for my upcoming tour. Two of them were $500 on a friday and saturday. That’s okay money for a local band, but to drive from city to city for $500, with gas at $2.75 a gallon is insane. I can’t afford to run a business that way. Fridays and Saturdays are supposed to be the nights we make the big money to float the lower paying weekday nights. If the big money (which was only $1000 to $1500 anyway) is reduced to $500 on weekends, it will seriously limit the amount of touring national acts can do. Only solo acts can afford to tour at those prices. What is the state of the blues? Is it getting worse? Is there hope? I haven’t been offered one blues festival this summer and I'm one of those artists who is blessed with a great and reputable agency. I am noticing more and more that gigs are drying up. My crowds are still there, when I do tour but I am deeply worried about what lies ahead.
I know that the economy is suffering even though our beloved George Bush keeps telling us how great things are. The first thing to go when money gets tight is entertainment. People can drink and smoke weed at home and they can watch music on television. They don’t need to spend $10 to go out and see a live band.
I am lucky to play other music besides blues. I have many gay pride festivals to subsidize some of my touring and thankfully, the gay community has been wonderful and supportive for years. At least I have some options. For many blues musicians, the state of the blues is really getting bluesier every day and that will trickle down to all musicians on the road, eventually.
For $500 on a Saturday, I don’t think I will be driving out south from San Diego any time soon. That’s a real shame for me, my band members, my fans in the south and for the business in general. What’s happening elsewhere in this blues world? Should we be scared? The state of the blues seems to be a third world state. I’ve heard the proclamation again and again that the blues is dead. Now, I am really worried that they are right.