Anyone who has ever been in a band with me knows I try to hold to certain rules about scheduling shows.
1. Don’t play too often. No more than one show every four to six weeks per market.
2. Make every show an event. It’s got to be something worth telling the world about.
3. Try to play as small a room as possible, not as big a room. A small room packed wall-to-wall with fans is a lot more exciting than a big empty hall with the same amount of people.
4. When you have a big show—like a CD release—make the most of it. This is your night to take advantage of all the work you’ve done to grow a crowd. Tell the club how much you are going to get paid (within reason). Choose your opener, then dictate when they go on and how long the set will be. Fill the club and spaces around town with huge posters promoting YOU and only YOU. Don’t let any band or music fan in town be ignorant that for one night, you are the king of the town. Get as long a sound check as you want. This is your night. Be a bit of a rock star. The next day you can go back to being just another guy or gal in a band.
The CD release night is a touchstone evening. A local band will sell 80 percent of their CDs in the first six months after that show. So a big night is what everyone wants.
That’s just me. It’s worked to varying degrees for the six CD releases I’ve performed. But it is not the only way.
This Saturday, three bands are going to do the opposite of what I’d suggest, and they hope it helps them reach new people. This weekend, Ryan Bonner...
...and Guilt Ridden Troubadour...
...are each having a CD release show at the Charleston Music Hall.
Three headliners. Three brand-new CDs. Three loyal fan bases. One huge, wonderful, classy, venue.
How did this collaboration come about? Reid Stone from Guilt Ridden Troubadour originally came up with the idea of a multi-band CD release party when it looked like another local act, Truth and Salvage Co., was going to have a CD done at the same time. They brought in Ryan Bonner and approached Charles Carmody of the Charleston Music Hall about the idea. Unfortunately, the timing did not work out for Truth and Salvage Co.’s release.
Reid explained, “But by then we were aware that [Gaslight Street’s] album would be out in time, which made a great local three-band lineup. I have also toured with Gaslight Street as well and Ryan tours with me. We share best friends and players between the bands, especially Whitt Algar who will be behind the keys for every song that night.”
This is clearly a night driven by mutual admiration. Each band could have booked a night at the The Pour House or Tin Roof. Bonner explains, “We love those places, but it's rare in this town that we get to play a show that is artistically driven and not alcohol driven. We really wanted the new music to be showcased more than the party. The Music Hall was the best place to do that and we knew we'd need to team up to make that work.”
Campbell Brown of Gaslight Street echoed Bonner’s words. “This was an opportunity to play at the Hall and do something different... A little ambitious, but this opportunity doesn't come often.”
This makes me think back to a conversation I had with a Grit editor. Devin Grant and I were asked to submit a list of best venues to see live music. When we did, I got a response that went along the lines of, “I’ve never even heard of most of those places.” That surprised me. In the short five years I’ve been in town, some of those venues feel like second homes. For the members of the bands playing Saturday, some of those places may be more familiar to them than their own homes.
Perhaps the bands playing Saturday are on to something. There are people who appreciate good music, but find the Tin Roof a little intimidating. Or fear the Royal American located in a scary part of town. But the Charleston Music Hall, with its history, its impeccable sound that won’t hurt your ears, the comfortable seating, relaxed lobby, ushers helping ticket holders to their seats... Perhaps this is the kind of venue that would appeal to those potential fans.
Or how about this: with an 8 p.m. start time, you could see three headliners before the headliner might take the stage at another club. For anyone who feels that they are “too old” to stay up and see a band in the late hours most perform, this night eliminated that excuse.
Look, if you’re a fan of any of these bands, you’re going to go see them on this special night no matter what. These bands are going to give up a big payday in exchange for the chance to play on the best stage with the best sound in town. By the way, a big payday for many local bands means each guy might take home double what I pay a babysitter for a night out.
If you’re a casual music fan, curious about what a local band might sound like on a big stage, even if you simply like listening to 105.5 the Bridge and getting to a Spoleto show or two, you should consider taking a chance and buy a ticket to the Music Hall for this event.
They’re planning on pulling out all the stops for this night. Bonner, for one, believes that once you see them live, you’ll want to again. He wrote me, “Our live show has always been the keystone of what we do, so we plan to bring it to the fullest extent. I'm also working on my backflips.” Good luck with that, Ryan.
Gaslight Street * Guilt Ridden Troubadour * Ryan Bonner & The Dearly Beloved
Saturday, October 12
Charleston Music Hall – 37 John St.
$10 Advance Tix, $13 Day of Show
Find more information about these bands, and samples of their music at:
Southern fried soul music.
Guilt Ridden Troubadour
Lyrically driven southern rock
Ryan Bonner & the Dearly Beloved
Intelligent Singer Songwriter with a terrific backing band