North at 3.5 MPH (3 KT)'
Play or starve. That’s the motto for most musicians.
“It’s much more important now to tour than it’s ever been,” Kalmia Traver, lead vocalist for the Brooklyn-based band Rubblebucket, said. “So much of the music industry is focused on touring, now.”
For touring musicians, s Sunday gig in Baton Rouge was not an option. Rather, those shows ended up in the Big Easy.
“I’ve lost a lot of big shows to New Orleans because of us not being able to open on Sundays,” Alex Bowen, talent buyer for the Varsity Theatre, explained.
But the Blue Laws that forced bars to close on Sundays were repealed by the Baton Rouge Metro Council on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Now, bar owners can open from 11:00 a.m. until midnight within city limits, creating new opportunities for musicians, as well as the venues hosting them.
“I am happy because many friends travel through and ask for Sunday shows, which made things difficult before,” Billy Thompson, local musician, said. “Problem solved.”
Getting the word out will be crucial to gaining traffic into the city from touring acts.
“We’ve informed all of our booking agencies that we can now book shows on Sunday,” Shane Courrege, co-owner of The Spanish Moon, said.
Many anticipate that word of mouth will do most of the work for them.
“The more shows you start doing on Sunday, the more bands start talking and start getting in touch with venues to try and book shows,” Dave Remmetter, owner of Chelsea’s Café, said.
However, most of the live music venues agree that they don’t think it will be a regular occurance.
“We don’t anticipate holding shows every Sunday, but we will periodically book shows – maybe once a month,” Courrege noted. “We’re going to try it out and see how it goes.”
Shows on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday are the highest grossing nights for musicians. Local performers working in cover bands, or small acoustic sets, will find a benefit.
“There is a lot more money in playing covers,” Drew Reilley, local musician, noted. “You can play an acoustic set by yourself and make a few hundred bucks as opposed to having to make the same amount of money and split it with the rest of the band.”
For now, bar owners, promoters and musicians are playing it by ear.
“We haven’t really decided what we’re doing to do yet,” Courrege admitted. “We are actively looking for Sunday shows, but that wouldn’t really happen for two or three months out.”
There is one point everyone in the industry shares, however.
“I’m excited just to have the option, Remmetter said. “It’s a big step for Baton Rouge, and I’m proud of the council for doing this.”
Mayor Kip Holden has 12 days from when the initiative was approved to sign it. Today he told us that he has not yet received the paperwork, but he does plan to sign it as soon as it arrives on his desk. For now, bars in Baton Rouge will remain closed for Sunday, Oct. 28.