Monday, 23 April 2012


Anyone who has ever organised an event I‘m sure has a story or two to tell about stress. Generally I’m a very relaxed person, it takes a lot to get me pacing. Since setting up The Medicine Sessions, my yearly stress levels have elevated considerably though. The single most stressful moment of the entire operation, is the wait. The moment when doors open (9pm), to when the first act is due to go on (9.30pm). It’s an excruciating time when the streets are void of footfall, there is no noise of humans ascending stairs, the air hangs heavy in the cosy room, with expectant bands, ready to entertain, with a room not yet bustling with audience. My worst nightmare, is having no crowd. Luckily, the last sessions swiftly filled up once it got nearer to time, allowing me to relax and breathe and smile again.
It’s important to me that performers are almost guaranteed a crowd to play to. I don’t think it should be the job of the performer to ‘bring their own crowd’, which often seems to be the way at the moment. The point in organising something, is that you provide a service for the artist and the audience. Performers work hard enough travelling about playing for nothing, never mind expecting them to advertise the gig for you! There is a huge imbalance at the moment in the Irish and UK music ‘scene’. It is almost a given that bands will be happy to play for free and bring their own crowd and bizarrely, in some cases, even be expected to ’pay to play!’ Only recently there was outrage when it was reported that musicians in the UK were being expected to play for free as part of the Olympics celebrations, to ‘showcase’ themselves. It’s understandable that small, local venues can only offer bands a token gesture, but when large International events start expecting bands to give their time for nothing, then someone needs to shout hard!
Most performers who I’ve met are miffed that ‘money’ is not part of the deal, but at the same time accept the fact and so long as there is some effort made towards fair treatment, they are more than happy to entertain, particularly if you can gather a nice respectful, interactive crowd. As organisers, we need to keep in mind the fact that anyone currently out gigging, particularly their own material, have sacrificed a small lifetimes worth of hours in creating their art. They have honed their skills, so that we might be touched by something. Ask anyone on the street “do you love music” and a typical reply would be “I couldn’t live without it.” Now, more than ever, original music needs support, not just in buying albums instead of illegally downloading, but by actually going into a pub and experience it being performed. If we cannot pay our musicians hard cash, the least we can do is open up our souls for them… just make sure you all arrive before 9pm, to help save the organiser from her panic attacks.

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