Music

Dire Straits: The economy suffers when music events are cancelled

Okee dokee folks… I have been languishing in Facebook detention for more than a week now, and I still have three weeks to go before I am free to speak my mind on social media once again. Then I’ll probably last 24 hours before I am shut off once more. Facebook has put me in a time out about a half dozen times already this year because they claim that I have used the platform for hate speech. Facebook’s definition of hate speech seems to be subjective; using the word “idiot” is hate speech, but trying to rally right-wing nuts with guns to shoot protesters is protected. For the record, I used the word “idiot” when referring to how Americans are handling the pandemic. I did not rally people to take up arms against protesters. 

I joined Facebook over 10 years ago mainly to promote gigs, but I’ve also used it to connect and reconnect with people. I’ve discovered many wing nuts and crazy Trumpers on my friends list, and as I find them, I block them. They are easy to spot. They are the ones who have insane conspiracy-driven memes posted all over their page. 

My grandfather used to talk for hours on a HAM radio to people near and far, most of whom he’d never met in person. Social media is the new HAM radio, but with much greater global participation. It definitely has its perks, but lately it is showing that it’s detrimental to society. Many of my FB friends are closing up their pages and quitting. There is far too much hate. I hate what is going on in this country and need to vent, so I guess I contribute to it as well. I’ve thought about closing my accounts many times, but I moderate at least eight connected pages for music that are essential to promotion.

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Right now, those pages are worthless because there really aren’t any gigs. Sure, a FEW people are playing, but in reality the music scene is dead. Venues are closing permanently. Social media seems to be the only place to safely perform. Currently some venues are offering occasional outdoor entertainment while they can, but that will dramatically change in the coming weeks as the temperature drops. Musicians will be heading back indoors to perform in front of their sterile computer screens. I am not sure if the general public truly understands how dire the situation for the music scene has become and how many jobs are reliant upon the music industry.

One local example is the Rhythm and Roots festival that was to take place this Labor Day weekend at Ninigret Park in Charlestown. Think of how many people this one festival cancellation has affected: The hotels in the surrounding area are usually sold out far in advance. The gas stations and local stores that are patronized by festival attendees. The countless food and craft booths that circle the festival grounds. The various rental companies that provide the staging, tents, tables, chairs, decorations, generators, trailers, backline (amplifiers and instruments) and golf carts. The sound company that provides the sound for four stages and the crew that sets up and runs it all. The merchandise manufacturers that make festival t-shirts, CDs and hats. The Ninigret campground. The police, fire and rescue crews that are on hand to provide medical and security. Photographers, videographers and press with nothing to shoot or write about. Then there is the obvious: the performers and festival staff. Performers, many of whom travel from afar, have no gig to go to. That means no bus rentals for transport, no car rentals, no hotels, no airfare; their stage, tech, management, and promo crews are all out of work, no merch sales for the band, no jamming, no networking, no collaboration and no chance to be seen by a new audience and garner new fans. Then there is the big one. No gathering of music fans to enjoy the sounds, meet new people, dance, jam, party and just have fun! I am sure I could go on. Now think about all this and multiply it by just about every festival and concert that has been canceled and you can see why the music industry is in dire straits. Now can you understand why I am so pessimistic and depressed about music? Wear your damn masks and social distance or this will never end! Read on…

In light of the cancellation of this year’s Rhythm and Roots festival, producer Chuck Wentworth has vowed to “Keep the R&B Vibe Alive Online” by presenting recorded sets from Rhythm & Roots festivals past. The event schedule follows the hours of the would-be live festival: 5 – 11pm on September 4, and 1 – 11pm on the 5th and 6th. “Back in May we had to refund everyone’s tickets, which put the festival in financial straits,” says Wentworth, whose Lagniappe Productions has put together the Labor Day weekend festival for the last 23 years. “In order for us  to produce the festival in 2021 in a manner that everyone’s been accustomed to, we’re soliciting donations to help us achieve that.” To experience Rhythm & Roots virtually this Labor Day weekend, go to rhythmandroots.com, Facebook.com/rhythmandroots or youtube.com/user/rhythmandrootsfest. If you have never had the fortune of attending in the past this is a good chance to check it out and make plans for (hopefully) next year!

Finally, AS220 Empire Revue’s Stuart Wilson is challenging incumbent Joseph McNamara for his House District 19 seat in the Democratic primary on September 8.  If you can, please vote for Stuart, he is one of us! That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. JohnFuzek.com #DumpTrump2020!!!

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