6 Top Live Music Peeves
Just in time for April, the month of the French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest, here’s my list of “Six Top Live Music Peeves.” Just to be dramatic, they’re listed in descending order from No. 6 to No. 1.
6. Performers who introduce one their standards by saying, “this next song goes something like this.” We like what Frankie Ford said at Jazz Fest one year before performing “Sea Cruise,” his biggest hit: “This next song does not go something like this, it goes exactly like this.”
5. Staging the fake walk-off. You’ve seen it before. The performer finishes his last number than walks off the stage to wait for the crowd’s applause to bring him back for an encore he had already planned to perform. Audiences deserve more respect.
4. Big name performers who don’t sing the songs that got them there. Sure they’ve performed the song a zillion times and they’re tired of it, but it’s the song we’ve come to hear. We’ll endure the occasional, “something new I wrote for my next CD,” but give us what we’re there for; otherwise we could be home listening to the old CD.
3. Acts that have too long of a warm-up before the person you paid to see begins. My suggestion is that the drinks should be free during the preamble, until the main attraction takes the stage.
2. Acts that don’t start on time. OK, so they’re musicians and they’re supposed to be free spirits whose days begin at 3 p.m., but for those of us who are acclimated to conventional hours (and who are conditioned to being punctual for appointments), it’s no fun waiting for musicians to futz around past the announced time. I was once at a concert that was supposed to begin at midnight on the Sunday before Mardi Gras. At 12:45 a.m., the musicians started tuning their instruments. Somewhere after 1 that morning, the performance began. I wasn’t there for the end. A few weeks later I saw the musician. When I told him how late his show had started, he hadn’t even realized it. Attention musicians! Your audiences live in the real world.
1. Smoke. Some people think that cigarette smoke and nightclubs go together. They do, in the same way that fish and mercury poison go together. The political expression, “smoke-filled room,” originated at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. James Garfield became the compromise choice for his party’s presidential nomination after hours of meetings in a Blackstone room where the dealmakers were puffing on stogies. Several years ago I visited the jazz club in the hotel’s lobby. A sign announced that smoking wasn’t allowed. If they’re prohibiting smoking at the original home of the smoke-filled room, you can sense a trend. Smokeless nightclubs are coming sooner or later. Let’s go for sooner.
OK, enough being grumpy. It’s time to relax and listen to good, live music. I just hope the amplifiers aren’t too loud.