Pictures and thoughts from a Memphis Musician's Wife

Archive for September, 2012

Observations

It seems to me that Beale Street is losing its luster. Most of the musicians who work down here regularly every week seem to grumble about the working conditions. The pay is never stable (quite a few musicians work for ONLY TIPS and a small percentage of what is sold at the bar.) There is not enough tourist traffic, and the street really isn’t appealing after certain hours. The music is quite often not what people expect to hear on this street. The economy has been extremely rough, and people don’t seem to want to tip the musicians. These guys go out every night and play their hearts out. People come in and watch them for hours, most of the time for no cover charge and without putting even a dollar in the tip bucket for the band entertaining them. They talk about how just a couple of years ago, it was nothing for them to go home on a nightly basis with $200-$300 in their pocket. Now the financial state of the economy is not good enough for people to pay that extra money for something they are getting for free. What people don’t realize is that these people train and practice, and this is their career. They are musicians by trade. They provide a service to all who come in contact with the sound of their instruments. They deserve to get paid just like anyone else does. Most of us could probably not do what these guys and ladies do. If you are in Memphis, TN and on Beale Street, please tip the bands you see if you think they are doing a good job, especially if you didn’t pay any cover charge to get into the venue where you are enjoying this entertainment. A dollar never hurt anyone.

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Beale Street Blues- the modern version

It seems these days that many people do not come to Beale Street and get to see what it is known for, musicians playing the Blues. Sure, there is live music everywhere, but there are very few who stick totally to the Blues. Now, given, there are many types of Blues that span many generations. Not everyone has a knowledge or appreciation of all different types. Not all people give respect to some of the younger musicians who are composing their own blues, jazz, and many other types of music or to the older ones who paved the way for the younger ones to come along. I agree that Memphis and Beale Street are the home of the Blues, and the Blues should be played on Beale Street, but so many different genres of music came from the Blues. Why not learn to appreciate all types of music that are played. However, I do think that all of the bands should at least learn a few blues tunes for their repertoire when they play down here. It is just a respectable thing to do when you are in the company of the spirit of such great musicians who have played on this historical street.

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