Blues societies = blues nazis???

Steve Edmonson
Tue Nov 23 15:48:04 EST 2004

I couldn't agree more.  Nobody involved in booking the talent for any
festival should ever be allowed to play the festival as a paid
musician.  It's a clear conflict of interest.  As for hiring the bands
of board member's kids, I think that might be OK, as long as the band
member's relatives on the board abstain from being involved in buying
the talent, and completely take themselves out of the process.  Just
about every time that I have been on a festival on which one band stood
out as being amateurish compared to the rest, it has been a case of
nepotism, or sometimes the casting couch.

Steve Edmonson
The Jackie Payne-Steve Edmonson Band wrote:

>"The reason I used the term "Blues Nazi" is that I heard it come out of the
>mouth of someone involved in a conflict with a blues society recently. In this
>case I think they meant that someone from the society was forcing their
>outlooks on others. The outlook wasn't about musical tastes but about business. They
>felt that some blues society members were using their positions in the
>society to affect their business."
>Anyone so motivated to become active in a blues society is going to be
>passionate about their music. When you add to the mix that some of those members are
>going to be musicians, club owners, local promoters, etc. who may feel that
>they have to protect their own interests, then that passion becomes a
>minefield. Add a few out and out 'characters,' and you have headaches now and some
>really funny stories to tell years from now. I bet every Blues Society has had
>internal conflicts over business interests, and I could write a long post
>detailing the ones I know from limited experience. Ever been to a board meeting at a
>club where one of the board members has been banned for life? Ever have a
>'fired' newsletter editor start a rival newsletter? Ever have two board members
>argue over which of two bands (each of which is led by a son of a board member)
>should get a gig? Ever seen a oard member approach a touring band with his or
>her resume in hand? I have.
>I think the key thing--and a difficult one--is to draw into the society
>leadership people who don't have a professional stake. I'm not saying that every
>musician, club owner, radio DJ, fest promoter, etc. is an evil person who should
>be banned. Their knowledge and skills can be invaluable. But there should be
>a balance. If you have too many pros in the leadership, there is going to be
>at least the appearance of something fishy.
>If the society is going to hire a local band to open up a fest, for example,
>and the band hired happens to be fronted by the society president, you know
>there is going to be bitching by every other band in the area (as if any band is
>going to get rich playing blues). The people who hire bands should be people
>who are smart but don't have stakes in a band. I know that some societies
>decide in advance that that year's society representative to the IBTC is going to
>get a paying gig or two. I think that is a great idea--it makes the decision
>process transparent, and allows any band a chance. Of course, there can be
>griping about how the contest was judged.
>Likewise, a society can try to move its meetings and other events around to
>different clubs, so that one club owner doesn't appear to 'own' the society. I
>think there is always going to be some people who try to take advantage no
>matter what you do, so maybe the best thing is to keep a sense of humor and
>remember that roller coasters are more fun than merrygorounds.
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