Watford Live: Last Man Standing

Next Wednesday I’ll be playing at Watford Live, a gig in the middle of a hole bunch of art, theatre and musical activities taking place in my hometown.

At around 16:00 on the St. Mary’s stage, i’ll take my place amongst the myriad of performers who’ll be gracing the town of two week’s course.

This is taken from the main site:

“Main Stage For a full fortnight from 6 June, Watford will be staging its very own community arts festival. There will be more than seventy-five events showcasing more than two hundred performances of the very best of Watford’s art: music, dance, theatre, street art, creative writing, sculpture, painting, poetry, circus skills – and more. And workshops across Watford so everyone can “have a go”!

Venues will include the Pumphouse, the Colosseum, Watford Palace Theatre, the Horns, the Muse, the Newton Price Centre, Watford Museum, Cha Cha Cha cafe, the Harlequin, St Mary’s Square and Watford High Street. Click on the map to the left to explore the venues.

Nearly all events are free and for other events, tickets are already on sale. Click on the calendar below to find out more. The festival event is supported by Watford Borough Council, the Watford For You campaign, the Watford Observer, the Palace Theatre, Watford CVS, Inspiral Arts – and dozens of community arts groups.”

Two things interest me about this list of supporters.

1) It was Watford Borough Council who allowed the closure of Taylor’s two years ago, the only venue in Watford pushing progressive artistic talent – did they replace it with anything? No.

2) I’m amazed the Watford Observer even know about it, seeing as they are usually last to know anything.

I don’t mean these things in a negative way, purely in the way an interested onlooker would see the situation.

I believe what Marv and Jack Franks are doing is the right thing, and it’s a desperate shame that it’s taken so long for anyone from Watford to put together this sort of event.

The problem that Watford has is the lack of facilities for kids/young people to go and be expressive, I brought this up with a council worker at the time of tha last general election, who assured me that Watford had actually been doing very well in the arts. So it’s taken 4 years for this to happen? Hmm.

Any how, It’s a fantastic achievement for Marv and his gang to have put this together and I hope that it is the start of something even more remarkable.

I, on the other hand, will be playing my last live gig at the event. I am fed up with the hypocrisy of gig promoters who insist that they’ve promoted your gig, and act surprised when nobody but you and the four people you’ve cobbled together, are the last ones at the venue when you’re the last act to play at gone midnight. I do not like to use this blog as a place to vent frustration but I feel that this time, for once, it is justified.

I have been playing gigs for seven years, since I was 16. In that time i’ve been lucky enough to form a band and make some really good friends who I hope to keep for life. But, friends are not enough on a rainy night in London when you are expected to take 20 people to fill a room that will be deserted by the time you take to the stage. And what’s more, there is only so many times, those friends will go to see you play.

When friends stop going, the fun ebbs away. Playing live has not been fun for me for the last 12 months. I am disillusioned with constantly inviting people to come to gigs who then let you down.

I am fed up with constantly promoting gigs when the promoter doesn’t.

I am fed up of playing to rooms after an act with a large fanbase who then leaves the venue and takes their fans with them, and the remnants are the other acts and the barman.

I am fed up of walking home in the rain wondering what could have been if only someone with A&R clout had been there to see.

I am fed up with people taking for granted that I will play 2 hours instead of the hour because 2 other acts have pulled out, or, conversely saying that i’ve only got 15 minutes because everybody else over-ran, and I’ve been waiting to go on for four hours. It’s a half hour slot, i’ll play half an hour – no more, no less.

It’s not on, and I will not take this anymore. This might appear to you, to be extremely grandiose and particularly self-serving, especially if you’ve never listened to me or my band.

But to me, this is a small element of what is wrong with our culture. We expect everything to be done by the few. Be that politicians, or colleagues. We need to each take a role in our own development and pull together to evolve a society where everybody is treated equal and nobody is left out in the cold. It is individuals, like Marv on a local level, or like Martin Luther King on a global level, who stand up and say ‘no more’ that change the way we behave and lead our lives. This should not be the way – we should not be seeking self gratification, but a collective growth where we help each other to develop and learn for the benefit of the mass.

Music promoters are a small example of this. They take an evening of your time and don’t pay you. You are working to entertain a crowd (or not) of people and more often than not, receive no payment or gratitude. There is no value added to my time or yours by my being there, or your having to listen to me being there.

I apologise for this rather verbose piece, and normal service will be resumed forthwith. If I see you on Wednesday, I thank you, if not, you know where the Myspace is, and I have a few copies of the Cedar EP knocking around if you want one.

3 thoughts on “Watford Live: Last Man Standing

  1. I agree. As important as gigging can be to leading towards success there simply isn’t the necessary infrastructure in place to allow artists to reap the rewards they deserve.

  2. Pingback: Live Music Is Killing Live Music «

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