Pictures and thoughts from a Memphis Musician's Wife

Posts tagged ‘TN beale street’

Exhaustion

Many people think that it is a great and easy life to be a working musician. They think that all musicians get paid $100 or more every time they play. Being the wife of a musician has shown me so much. 

When I met Jeremy, the only gigs he played were for tips. There were always good days and bad days, of course. It is near impossible to prove income with a job where you get paid cash on a consistent basis, so many people did not respect what he did because it was not a “real job.” Honestly, those people are stupid. Jeremy uses a skill that he has practiced and developed for 14 years to provide entertainment to the masses that come to hear the Blues on Beale Street and throughout the country. He works pretty much 7 days a week, sometimes up to 12 hours a day trying to earn a living. It’s funny that people want to come hear the music on Beale, but sometimes it seems as if it is hard to get even a $1 tip from most people. Last Thursday, my husband played for 4 hours and made only $5. This is not just something he does for fun. This is how he takes care of his family. Many of the bars don’t guarantee any money, and it is usually no more than $200, so the musicians really depend on merchandise sales and tips to actually make the gig profitable. Why is it that music is in such high demand, but people don’t see a reason to support local musicians who are not travelling the world and superstars? It is hard to comprehend how people go on vacation or come to Memphis on business amd come to Beale Street looking for a unique sound but would rather spend $40 on a 100 oz drink rather than tip the band providing their entertainment $1. It is truly crazy watching how things progress. 

You would also think that travelling would pay more than staying at home. Not really. Most places don’t pay a whole lot more than here when you factor in travelling expenses. Don’t think that just because a band travels they are rich. That is not the case. Most times they come back with the same amount they would have made here without travelling. It’s also exhausting and makes a person with a family miss out on things much more valuable than money, like family and sleep. 

My husband just got back from two days on the road. He drove 12 hours overnight to make it to church this morning to play. Then rehearsal right after church. He is in bed exhausted from a three day whirlwind. Is it worth it? I guess we will see in the future. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it.

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International Blues Challenge Memphis, TN

GTBB at Newby's

The last week of January/ first week of February every year in Memphis, Downtown Memphis is transformed into a Blues lovers’ paradise. There are somewhere around 200 blues artists and bands from all the world who make the trek to Memphis every year for the International Blues Challenge. It has evolved into probably the largest culmination of Blues musicians in the world, and I have had the honor of having a husband who was in it for the past two years.

This year, the competition to see who would represent the hometown Memphis Blues Society at the IBC this year saw a few different faces. At the last minute, Suavo Jones (trombonist) and my husband, Jeremy, were asked to play in the competition with the Ghost Town Blues Band. This was the band that came in second to the band Jeremy and Suavo played with the past two years in the competition. They were most definitely a crowd favorite, but they ended up losing by a fraction of a point. Sadly, we thought we would not participating in the 2013 IBC.

A week or so later, Matt Isbell, lead singer for GTBB, texted us to let us know that GTBB would, in fact, be representing Rosedale, MS in the 2013 IBC. The decision was made to turn the 3 piece Ghost Town Blues Band into a 6 piece (two horns and a keyboard added to the trio), and the guys have been the Ghost Town Explosion ever since.

So, the 2013 IBC is around the corner now, and I am getting very excited about seeing this band perform in the competition. I think they have a great energy and spirit. They are true musicians in their bones. They were born with music pumping through their bones. I feel truly blessed to be able to spend so much time and be so involved with all of these guys. They make my night every time I hear them play.

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