Blood Witch Tour Day 7: Velvet Jones and The Funk Zone
Good vibes seemed to permeate day 7 of the #bloodwitchtour with Vajra. Other than getting to do some epic sight seeing coming up the PCH (see yesterday's blog), we also played the coolest venue of the tour so far: Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara, CA. It's a great (and sometimes rare) thing to have good vibes on tour; the music business is in a tough spot, and doesn't look to be getting better anytime soon. Personally I have felt skeptical of this fact, and chalked it up to perpetual unsatisfaction (again, see yesterday's blog) You know the whole, "KIDS THESE DAYS" syndrome. I am also aware that there are nuances to the industry I don't understand, but I'm starting to see some patterns that are convincing me there is validity to the pessimism.
Here is some personal and practical evidence of the industries decline. The first venue we played on this tour didn't even give us water, much less free drinks or a soundcheck. The bartender literally told me I could only get water from her if I payed $4. The second venue we played wanted to charge us $35 to soundcheck (AGAIN, see yesterday's blog for that rant). Velvet Jones? Velvet Jones was different. We were greeted by an instantly friendly staff across the board, and treated with respect throughout the night. We were given a cooler with beer and water, and even extra drink tickets when the beer ran out. The bartender was adamant that we not pay for drinks, which is a form of payment in my mind, albeit a small one. These amenities may seem irrelevant, but this sort of treatment for musicians may just be the difference between life and death for the music industry.* Why were we treated better at this venue? It came from the top: some human who owns the venue put a lot of thought into how they want things to go, and that thought manifested itself into a good experience for everyone involved. This gives me hope. I could go on ad nauseam about the cause of the industry's decline (streaming services, torrents, pop culture etc), but I think it's more important to focus on the thing we still have, and that thing is humanity.
Enter Ted Mills. Ted is the creator and host of the FunkZone* podcast which features interviews with artists of all types from the Southern California region, as well as people from the "outside world" that come through on tour. We obviously fit into the latter category, and had the pleasure of recording an episode of the FunkZone with Ted yesterday. I am a huge podcast fan as I find them to be an extremely educational and intimate format that can be great at shedding light on certain aspects of art or life that might otherwise be overlooked. This is the sort of medium that has the potential to bolster the music industry, bringing lesser known artists into the public eye. Ted is an extremely informed individual who seems to have a real passion for the artistic process, and it's guys like Ted that have the potential to be our saving grace in music. Most podcasts, including the FunkZone, rely heavily on donations to support their content, as it is technically free content. You can subscribe to the podcast, and support Ted (as well as be in the know when the Vajra episode is released) here: http://www.funkzonepodcast.com; it's also on Stitcher and iTunes.
I'm going to leave you with the chorus to the TLC song "Waterfalls," which I coincidentally covered at the Blue Smoke NYC holiday party a few weeks ago, but also literally heard on three separate occasions the other day in LA. Seemed like somebody was trying to tell me something! Thanks for reading.
"Don't go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to. I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all. But I think you're moving too fast."
*If you're wondering why good treatment has anything to do with the success of the industry, consider this: musicians have to love to make music, but are also "normal" people with normal needs. There are probably more people trying to be musicians out there than ever before, but don't take that as a sign that the industry is thriving. There is also less money for musicians than ever before, which means less incentive for good artists to push their craft as much a possible. Good treatment actually promotes good art, as it keeps good artists in the game, and keeps them pushing.
*A "hip" neighborhood in Santa Barbara