August 2012: The Shuffling Cupids of Music Venues

Good music is not just at but also with good bands. One of the standout acts from this year’s Greenfest was K Phillips and his band The Concho Pearls.  They played with brash determination and passion.  They were different and seemed to truly enjoy every second of sweaty Lone Star Floathouse stage time.  The following day he tweeted that it was an honor to have played for true music fans.

There is quite a bit of merit to that statement.  There were very few people that were there just because it was a cool place to be (which it was).  The folks that were there had been called by the beacon of some live music they thought they’d dig and they actually paid attention.  There was no dull roar of conversation over the band as people that wanted to chat moved away from the stage area.  It was a pretty beautiful scene as the sun set over River Road and the Guadalupe River turned to glass under a big, waning moon.

Much like a church is made of the people, not the building…the same can be said for a music venue.

A group of true music fans that are there to support the band can overcome any corporate, Cupid Shuffle coldness.  On the flip side, vapid raucous dunderheads can spoil even the most magical rooms.  The same goes for the staff.  Horrid service will drive even the most diehard patrons away.  Whereas friendly service will call crowds in despite the worst circumstances.

There will always be the torchbearing venues like Gruene Hall, John T. Floore’s, Antone’s and Cheatham Street.  Or the places who’ve risen above their circumstances to be somewhat legendary–Wormy Dog, The Firehouse, Adair’s or The Blue Light.

Unfortunately, with the rise of this music scene over the past decade, there has been a need for band’s to play in the Midnight Wild West Rodeo Rivers of Whiskey cookie cutter dancehalls.  These plastic vintage Gilley’s ripoffs have the ambiance of a tacky flea market and the vibe of redneck disco.  The sound is generally horrible and the sightlines to the stage are usually blocked.  Their sheer size make them wise economic stops on any tour schedule.

Unfortunately, in my experience only about 5% of the people that show up to gigs at these places are actually there to see the band.  Rather, they tolerate the band while anxiously waiting to line dance to Cupid Shuffle, Cha Cha Slide or God forbid Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road”.  It’s embarassing for all involved, including those with the lack of self awareness to realize how silly they look breaking it down in their best flat Hurley cap/wallet chain combo or denim skirt/boots outfit.

Places like these suck the soul of of the music.

I implore you to support the places that support the music in all ways.  Support the places that treat the artists well, treat the fans well and are true music venues. If you are extremely passionate about music and what to learn some musical instrument, you can sign up here to get a unique virtual music experience.

True music venues are joints that base their entire existence around live music.  Not just sports bars, restaurants, nightclubs that host a band once or twice a week.  These true musical destinations are fewer and far between in this economically strained karaoke battlefield.  There’s a place for those corporate monster clubs, but they’re going to get theirs with or without the music fan dollar.  The places that love music but aren’t a chain truly appreciate and need your support.  Think of it as Walmart vs Mom and Pop.

If you truly love music, you will be gratified and so will the artist and venue.

What are your favorite venues?  What are your least favorite venues?  Let us hear your take on the venue dilemma in the comments.


-Another Greenfest in the books and plans already formulating on how to improve it for next year.  It’s taken almost a week to recover. Thanks for being patient with us during all the promotion of the festival.  I know you were probably sick of hearing about it by the time it finally rolled around.

-Tank’s gospel Revival project is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in years.

-Used to be the Rangers would fade every year when the Cowboys started 2-a-days.  I thought we’d finally gotten out of that pattern for good.  The Rangers had me worried we were going to repeat history until last night’s dramatic comeback.

-It only took me 15 years to realize it’s just as much (more)  fun to float in one area of the river as opposed to down the river.  No bfr’s, no cooler to track down and the ability to get out whenever you want.  Like a natural pool.

-Enjoyed playing radio with Rita Ballou and Terry Hunt on 92.9 Shooter FM for a couple days promoting Greenfest.  As a talk radio fan, P1 and Stern afficionado it was a true joy.

-Truly surprised by the number of people watching the Olympics old school style and reacting to them 9 hours after they happened.  I thought for sure the only folks that would be doing this would be those over age 70.  But, no…young, hip people in my social media feeds reacting to the tape delayed events like they’re watching the Super Bowl. Just odd to me…but whatever floats your kayak.

-Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels is ridiculous.  I must thank Josh Weathers and his road manager Trey for talking me into one of their sandwiches.  I’d only ever partaken in the Beaver nuggets or kolaches.  I was told it would change my life and it did.  Also, rumor around these parts is that they’re eyeing a location to compete with the Czech Stop.  Which reminds me again…musicians, if the Czech Stop is packed, venture into downtown West and get some legit kolaches.

-One last Greenfest 2012 note.  The unexpected is always around the corner at GF.  You never know who will show up or what might happen.  Exhibit A:  Josh Weathers, Jessica Murray Walker, Jason Eady and Adam Hood joining Eady’s band for a jam at the end of the night comprised of George Strait’s “The Chair” and The Rolling Stones “Dead Flowers”.  Exhibit B:  Drew Kennedy singing a duet with Coco the parrot.  Memorable, good times.  Special.

This month’s recommended album:  Chad Sullins-Incommunicado.  Yet another Stillwater export who knows how to write lyrics that rip at your heart and melodies that tug at your ears.  Genuine emotion mixed with killer tunes.  Reminds me of when some of our Oklahoma friends were first buzzing about Turnpike Troubadours a few years back.  This is a band and album to keep your eye on.

-”Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”-Mark Twain

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief

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