In one of my first blogs called ‘When Sparks Fly’, I wrote about a moment that occurs when musicians capture the collective imaginations of an otherwise inattentive audience. When performers rise above the noise of daily club activity and become the focal point, they begin to be recognized for their artistry. But, when musical talent gains a following and performs in a setting of mostly exhilarant repeat fans, something else entirely occurs.
The other night I returned to ‘The Moonshine Café’ in Oakville, Ontario to see a group called ‘The Beat Heathens’ for the second time. The band’s leader, guitarist Wayne DeAdder, created a three part series of gigs involving a different featured artist for each performance. On this their third offering, their special guest was a guitar virtuoso named Mike Branton. On the heels of their previous two performances, this night sold out fairly quickly. Those fortunate enough to witness the jam session between these seasoned players, was nothing short of electrifying.
With brilliant simplicity DeAdder had created an event that would attract returning fans to ‘The Moonshine’, in anticipation of familiar sounds from an act they already knew, and the band did not disappoint. ‘The Beat Heathens’ played numbers from the past two shows, rearranged to feature their guest soloist’s unique talents. Mike added blues riffs from his own repertoire, including a tribute to Peter Green; founding member of Fleetwood Mac. The culmination was a whole new show, made all the more memorable by an appreciative audience. Primed and ready for more of The Beat Heathens’ unique style, an entire room of music lovers riveted their attention to the stage the entire night. Each successive offering was met with more encouragement from a music hungry crowd.
Fans were now insiders; part of the show, and anyone unaware of what was occurring on this night were outside, unable to get a seat. Imagine; a sellout show performed in front of returning fans. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Everyone left ‘The Moonshine Café’ happy that night. Live music lovers were delighted with the repeat performance from a band they love to follow. The club’s owner, John Marlatt enjoyed a packed house for his terrific venue, and each of the band’s members walked away stoked by the knowledge that loyalties were consummated in recognition of their craft. As people filed out that evening, it seemed more like the end of a family reunion than a club closing for the night.
None of this occurred by accident, of course. It’s not likely to happen at your local sports bar either, unless management is willing to shut off the televisions and focus on the music. The fun starts with an opportunity created in unison by the club, the band, and their initial followers. It grows into a lovefest for the best reason of all; GREAT LIVE MUSIC!
Live music lovers remind yourselves you have an equal and vital part in making special events like the one described happen. Let your club owners and your favourite bands know when they are on the right track. Done well, and with love for the event, everyone will benefit. From a spark comes a flame. You know what happens from there.
LOCAL LIVE MUSIC DOES MATTER!
Let’s make it happen more often.