Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Musicians worth--according to Frenchman Patty McGehee

Summer is going to wind down in a few weeks. It has been slow for Dan and I concerning going to see live music for several reasons. The biggest reason is the entrance into the world of out new granddaughter, Patricia June Wilson. She weighed in at 4 pounds 6 ounces and is  tiny and fragile. She is also very healthy and cute.

So, in between waiting  for the baby to come and doing household projects, I had a lot of time to think. One night in July we went down to Frenchmen Street in NOLA and walked around checking out the scene out there. While the amount of quality music emanating out of the clubs was impressive, there was a lot of garbage on the streets for a Saturday night. I began asking myself, "Why don't club owners do something about the garbage piling up?"  I know that on Bourbon street, the business owners wash down their sidewalks themselves every morning. It looks like the business owners on Frenchmen street have no clue about keeping things clean  down there. Look, I am not a big Bourbon Street Fan. Since I am basically not into drinking huge quantities of libations, I don't really enjoy going there. Hanging out with scores of drunks is disgusting to me. The only time I have been there in the  past 25 years is when I had out of state guests that HAD TO SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT. In fact, I had to do that with a visiting guest in April. One thing I noticed in comparison to the two locations is, at the start of the early evening, Bourbon Street is a lot cleaner. As the night comes on, well........I am not so sure because I don't  go there late at night.

Of course, comparing the type of music between the two streets, well, Frenchmen Street wins hands down. There is more variety and more of what I call, "THE REAL DEAL" down there. Frenchmen Street is one of the places where the creative spirit lives in NOLA. Now, I don't want to insult some of the  other venues that I respect, so I am going to make a shout out right here about my other favorite places in the NOLA area that are showing righteous music.  I don't want to hurt any feelings. This list is not going to be in any particular order, so if your venue  is listed last, it means nothing:
Mid City Lanes Rock N Bowl
The Maple Leaf
Old Point Bar

Deckbar on Jefferson Highway
Chickie Wah Wah
The Kerry Irish Pub
The Republic
Howling Wolf
The Rivershack
The Beach House in Metairie has some good shows every now and then
Monkey Hill
The Bon Ton Roule Bar on Magazine Street
Tipitina's uptown
House of Blues
Ruby's Roadhouse in Mandeville
The Beach House in Mandeville (Formerly Lucy's)
One Eyed Jacks
Louisiana Music Factory in house shows Saturday afternoons

Now, the reason I am  writing this is that I found Frenchmen Street too dirty to be pleasant. It did not help my opinion when a member of band that was performing on the street began yelling at me when I took a photo of them. I had planned on writing a blog about how good they were and post their photo, but when the young woman  began yelling at me to pay up in tips for taking photos, I told her, "NO WAY! Tip you after this  rudeness? I don't know at this point if any of the photos I have taken in this dark light are of any use, and since I do not profit off my photos, I would not pay you for them. Are you  a musician or a model?"  I sauntered off pissed.  She and a few other people followed behind me yelling at me , "Who the Fuck do you think you are stealing our images..and Pay up, bitch. Fuck you thief  ..." I kept my back to them. It was a bit frightening. The incident made me very angry.  How insolent!

Now, I am a seasoned veteran of traversing the street in NOLA at night, and that was sickening to me. But, I began to talk that night to another street person displaying and selling artwork on the street. I was impressed with his pen and ink drawings. Since I am an art teacher and artist myself, I was interested in his work. One of the things I was interested in was how was the money flow for the artists. I told him about the incident with the musicians up the street. He said, "Please don't be too hard on her or judgmental. Everyone here is scratching out a living. Most of us are basically starving. Here you are in nice clothes and being older like you are, she just saw you as a person who could afford to give and she was frustrated."  I went on to explain that I was financially stable, but not necessarily solvent enough to shell out big bucks for street musicians.(Earlier in the night, I had paid two cover charges at the club named DBA, paid a tip to a band and had no more cash to spend at that point. I had bought a coke and two bottles of water. I was financially done for the night. The tab was approximately 25 bucks. And, I still needed to pay for the parking lot yet, which turned out to be 14 dollars.Gasoline from my home north of the lake to NOLA had cost me approximately 18 dollars.Earlier in the night we had cups of coffee at Envie on Decatur Street. This meant that my foray to Frenchman Street totaled in cost of about  sixty bucks)   Plus,  I was well acquainted with many street musicians who had made their living on the street performing and I had NEVER witnessed any of them yelling at a person who possibly might tip them.

So, I began to wonder, how much money do musicians make on Frenchmen street? Why did the young street musicians feel they had the right to verbally abuse a person on the street who stopped for half of a song and snapped two photos? I repeat: I snapped two photos on a dark street and did not even  listen to a whole song, much less, a set of their music, yet the young woman began to verbally attack me for money AND follow me down the street for a half a block bullying me.I know a lot of people in my age bracket that would NEVER return to Frenchman Street if that happened to them.

It is food  for thought and I am still thinking.........
Looking in the window of The Apple Barrel on Frenchman Street

Next: What do musicians get paid for  on Frenchman Street vs Bourbon Street

No comments:

Post a Comment