House of Bummer

BB Bean
Fri Nov 29 14:45:17 EST 1996

In <>, "P.W. Fenton" <pwfenton@GATE.NET> writes:

>> I think they were making reference to the fact that Wal-Mart has gone into
>> small towns and by underselling everyone else (the local hardware store,
>> pharmacy, general store, etc.) they force these places out of business.  So
>> if you have a Blues club that's just keeping its head above water and another
>> club comes in and can take 20% to 30% of their business away, that might
>> be enough to put them over the edge.
>This logic drives me crazy.  The people who badmouth the
>WalMarts for putting the mom-n-pops out of business are the same
>folks who will buy a cordless phone at WalMart because it's 5 dollars
>cheaper there than at the mom-n-pop.

I beg to differ. Many of us put our money where our mouth is and buy
locally. However, just as the mainstream radio listener's taste
differs from mine, so do Wal-Mart critics understanding of economics
and local culture.

>We all bemoan the loss of the
>homey neighborhood business, but WE are the ones who put them out of
>business.  Likewise, the "House of Blues" can't put a small club out
>of business... WE DO IT.

What you mean "we," paleface?

FWIW - the objection to Walmart or HOB isn't just an emotional
reaction to the loss of a warm and fuzzy concept. Its also rooted
in economics, plain and simple.

Consider the situation prior to HOB - local and regional blues clubs
hire a mix of local, regional and national talent. A mid-size club in
a good location probably hires 2 or 3 local housebands, and additional
half dozen through the year to fill in, and hires regional and
national acts to fill the weekends. During the course of a year, as
many as 30 or 40 bands are hired in that club alone. Since
many metropolitan areas have more than one blues club, and major
cities have many clubs, there's a thriving scene, with active markets
for local, regional, and national acts. When you add in the non-blues
clubs that may hire a handful of blues acts in the course of a year,
you have a widespread economic base to support performing artists.

Consider a worst-case post-HOB scenario: HOB competition either
eliminates regional clubs (Grand Emporium, BB King's, et al) or
forces them to downsize, and in HOB towns, there's the HOB presenting
regional and national talent and then just the tiny jukes supporting
the local talent. The clubs in between that used to present a wide
variety of acts now skimp on their budget and present fewer bands.
Concurrently, HOB figures out that its easier and cheaper to book acts
for a week or month at a time, and simply rotate the acts between HOB
clubs. Therefore, the HOB LA, HOB N.O., and HOB Chicago end up
presenting the same acts - which don't have to be a-list acts because
the competition is much weaker than it used to be.

The result is fewer bands are working, fewer venues are available. and
the scene in general becomes much more mainstreamed and homogenized.

>The House of Blues is a success, and the smaller clubs are folding...
>BECAUSE WE MAKE IT SO.  If we preferred smaller clubs they would
>thrive, and the HOB sized place would be having a tough time paying
>their air conditioning bill.  None of this happens without us.
>Businesses are market driven, and WE are the market.

Assuming that it's this simple (which I don't believe but will
concede for the purposes of discussion) Are you content with the
current situation, or do you have a proposal for changing it?


B.B. Bean                             
Peach Orchard, MO                

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