Our band, Standard Deviation, has been barred from any further performances at Ten Depot Street, a sophisticated, highly-coveted local venue for bands here in La Grande. The reason? We hear it is because we tend to play TOO LOUD.
I can understand where Ten Depot Street is coming from. They are not only a nitespot, but they are also a restaurant. If a band begins playing at 8:30 p.m., there are usually still some people there enjoying their dinner. If the music is TOO LOUD, people might not want to stay and finish their dinner. If this happens, the restaurant loses money and possibly future customers. We were asked by the owner to TURN IT DOWN the last time we played there. We did TURN IT DOWN, but apparently not enough and a few customers left. Oops.
On the other hand, what are people doing still eating dinner at 8:30 or 9:00 p.m.? Don't they know that if they eat dinner that late, it serves to put more pounds onto their frames? 8-)>
One major problem I have with our band being barred is THIS: other local bands who are more established than us, such as the Alibis, and Jimmy Lloyd Ray and the Switchmasters, play just as loud or louder than we do... and they are still being allowed to play there. There is even a really cool local fellow who bills himself as Al "Too Loud" McLeod who has played there before (but probably quietly, being the professional that he is). I guess this must be because those people are local music GODS (no insult intended, that is just how locals view those bands/musicians), and we haven't yet achieved such deity status. But maybe our banishment is due to something else...
Our dismissal can't be because of us drawing small crowds. It is true we have drawn small crowds there a couple of times... but Ten Depot Street has done very little to promote our appearances in the past. I always thought that if an establishment wanted to draw crowds, which would equal more money in their pockets, they would advertise aggressively. I don't think it's our responsibility as a band, to advertise aggressively, when we are being paid a flat amount of $300 to play there for an evening. If we were going to be making a certain percentage of the take for the evening, heck yeah, we would be out advertising ourselves, aggressively. But that isn't the case... So if we do draw a small crowd, it may be due to some lack of effort on our part, but I have to say the establishment hasn't shown desire to bring in large numbers of people for our shows.
Our banishment can't be because people don't like us personally. We all have good personal hygiene, we don't swear, we don't fart or belch into the microphones when we play, and we don't do any "Jim Morrison Onstage in Miami" stuff.
Have we been banned because we SUCK? I don't think that's the reason, either. Lots of our friends come out to hear us play and to dance to our music. Sometimes our band sounds pretty good, other times not... but people just about always like to DANCE to what we are playing, especially when they get good and OILED UP. That's why playing in a bar can be so much FUN at times.
My theory is that the owner of the restaurant simply prefers more sedate acts that rely on at least SOME original material (of which we do none, we just play rough "classic rock" that is apparently TOO LOUD)... She seems to lean toward bands that play acoustic rock or folk rock, and maybe blues, because those are her preferences. She is the owner of a nice restaurant and nitespot, so that's fine, because she needs to run her business as she sees fit.
I am sure that on the night we were TOO LOUD, if several customers left because of the noise, the establishment more than made up for any lost money by selling more drinks than usual at the bar... because WE were playing that night. Even given that, I think it must be due to the owner having a certain image she wants her place to portray. One of mellow sophistication, I think.
And when we get behind our instruments and start playing, we say SCREW mellow sophistication. We play our music the way we feel at the time, and that's what the customers get. The crowd doesn't just get what some musicians think the crowd (and the bar's owner, I guess) wants to hear, the crowd gets US. We are honest, and we are genuine about what we do. And those who come to hear us play seem to appreciate that.
So thanks, Ten Depot Street, for all the good memories we will have of our times spent there. The members of our band will all probably continue to go eat dinner at your place, have a drink or two there, and go listen to live music there too! Not just because yours is one of the few places in town that provides a good meal and that has a nice bar, but because it is a place of high QUALITY! I only wish you the best. But just don't expect us to become a sophisticated, mellow acoustic band solely for the purpose of being allowed to play at your place. I'm not sure that kind of thing is in our genes.
Ten Depot Street always strives for QUALITY, and it tends to succeed most of the time. Maybe we need to TURN IT DOWN, but maybe Ten Depot Street could also remember that QUALITY can be a RELATIVE THING. Appealing to as many kinds of people as possible can be good for business, but I suppose if the proprietor wishes to cater to a specific kind of clientele (in this case, mellow, sophisticated, and probably middle-to-upper-middle class), monetary sacrifices will likely be made in the name of maintaining an image.
So I guess it all must boil down to this: Standard Deviation is viewed as being BAD FOR BUSINESS at Ten Depot Street.
If we are basically being told we don't belong, playing in a nice bar, and that we instead belong in taverns because of our lack of mellow sophistication, then I say "Bring on the taverns!" We simply enjoy playing, and I think it is always best to play in places where you are genuinely appreciated. So we will look around and find those places.
That's o.k. with me... I always kind of wanted to be a Bad Boy when it comes to playing music.