Not too many years ago Deptford was a hive of musical activity. Although many of the pubs were really struggling and some were pretty run down, they recognised the need and benefit of hosting live entertainment. Those musicians just starting up could cut their teeth performing in the pubs for slightly lower fees while those established musicians could earn a good fee for a good performance. Some of the pubs would do a deal paying 10% of the till. However, a fixed fee or percentage of the till both types of gig were profitable and worthwhile.
Tonight I was in Deptford and in a very positive mood so thought I would get myself a solo Tuesday night slot. Most of the old pubs are no longer pubs but been converted into flats or boarded up, but a whole new type of establishment has opened, gentrification has brought investment that has allowed the renovation buildings/spaces and the opening of trendy bars. With the extra money so apparent I was so confident that it was going to be no trouble to secure my Tuesday night solo slot.
My M.O is that if I have not got an introduction to the venue, I volunteer to turn up on a quiet night, I will play an acoustic 20 minutes set. At any time if the manager does not like what he is hearing he can stop me and call it a day with no hard feelings, but if we get to the end of the 20 minutes and he likes what he is hearing he can pay me to continue or we can book another series of dates. This method of getting new venues works for me almost everytime.
Tonight was so different, the conversations went as expected with the mgt teams, all was agreeable and seemed good until we got to the part where at “if we get to the end of the 20 minutes and he likes what he is hearing he can pay me to continue”
At this point of the conversation each of the managers looked really surprised/shocked/horrified/mortified and told me that, if they like me performing they would allow me to continue to perform, but….. they could not pay me anything because “we don’t pay musicians we allow them to showcase their music”. One of the venues actually had 1 band setting up and another band waiting for the opportunity to “showcase”. I explained that I am dependent upon gigging to pay my bills to which one of them replied that if I brought 20 people with me he would give me a couple of drinks.
I still have warm memories of performing in Deptford, sadly they are going to remain just that ……memories.