The Bar Business is ROUGH

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by mellowinman, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I often wonder if young people understand what they're getting themselves into when they head out into the seedy world of playing bars, clubs, whatever you want to call them. Watering Holes. Places where people drink and party.

    A lot of these places are pretty bad; some are worse than you think. I'm going to tell you about a place we have played in the past. It's called the Dupont Bar & Grill.

    The Dupont Bar & Grill is/was a sister club to a country bar here in town. They used to be owned by the same person, but they aren't anymore. You still get into either of them by paying cover at one, though.

    The Dupont Bar & Grill has certain bands that have played there for years, and get written up in all the local papers, and win local awards every year. These bands have their own following, and a good amount of their following likes to go see them at the Dupont Bar & Grill.

    The Dupont Bar & Grill doesn't put a lot of money into advertising your show. They don't really do anything to bring people in when you play there, and if you don't get a whole lot of people in there, you're done. You'll play there ONCE, and then you're fired forever. They will charge a $5.00 cover, and that's about as high as anyone charges for local bands around here.

    On January 19th, there was a shooting there. What's been said is that there was a guy by the name of Damian Miller, who had been drinking at the sister bar, and came into Dupont because a bartender was going to give him a ride home. The bouncer told him he had to leave, because it was after closing time. He argued, and there was some sort of "altercation." He ended up outside, and then the bouncer followed him outside, went and got a gun from his car, and shot him to death.

    Here's a news item about it:

    Dupont Bar Shooting Victim Identified

    Here's the story where the guy who was with Miller makes a pretty clear statement of what happened:

    Northside Bar Shooting Victim Identified

    “A scuffle ensued and the bouncer fired two shots in my friend’s chest,” Bradley said.

    OK, now here's where it gets a little odd:

    As of Sunday afternoon, police said they do not have any suspects in custody.
    The bar’s owner told NewsChannel 15 he would not comment on whether or not a bar employee was involved.

    From this point on, all press about this talks about Miller's criminal record. He robbed a Walgreens of some pharmaceuticals with a toy gun, and served some time for it. From this point on, he is always described as "troubled."

    Talented Musician's Last 6 Years Tumultous

    Now here's the thing. The bouncer shot him, but in every single story since then, there has been no shooter named. No one has said the name of the guy who was working the door that night; no one has said anything more about a bouncer's involvement. So that brings us to this article:

    Dispute at Bar Turns Fatal

    The sheriff’s department did not say whether there were any witnesses to the shooting, but there were about 12 witnesses to the fight, according to department spokesman officer Adam Griffith.
    Officers had interviewed some of them at the bar and taken some downtown. Among the people who were being questioned was the person who did the shooting, Griffith said.

    The local scene has talked about it thusly:

    Local music paper blurb (pdf)

    Life can be cruel sometimes, and we were among the many friends and fans who were saddened by the turn that Damian’s life took in the past decade and griefstricken by the tragic events that occurred this past Sunday morning. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and his many friends in and out of the local music scene.
    Looking forward, there’s much to do in and around northeast Indiana to keep yourself amused. All you have to do is look for it, and you’ve taken that all important first step by picking up this issue of whatzup.

    Facebook page for charity in name of Damian Miller

    Now, I have a lot to say about this, and I am going to refrain from doing so on this forum. I provided my version of the story, based on what I know so far, and provided links.

    I am curious about what any of you think.
  2. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I am not entirely sure why this is posted in the "Band Management" forum.:confused:
    getbent likes this.
  3. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    It is appropriate for this forum, and this forum alone. It is about managing bands, in the context of playing bars, and how rough some of them are.

    We have here a spot many local bands play, a Homicide, and the suspect not being treated as a suspect by the police or press, and the victim getting "tributes" in the local music scene that almost make it sound like its his own fault he's dead, while waxing poetic about his creative spirit.

    My band has played this club, and my band plays other clubs in this scene.

    Context will develop as the thread does.

    I plead with moderators not to move this thread to a different forum. This topic is about Band Management, specifically.
  4. Wow, so do you take a 45cal and 3 pit-bull dogs with you to work there now - or what?

    EDIT: PS, do they have a chicken wire cage around the stage - like in the blues brothers movie too, or are you all on your own?
  5. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are.

    It the bouncer still working there?
  6. funkingroovin

    funkingroovin Conquering A-D-D,and all the other notes as well!

    Apr 19, 2009
    This type of $%^& makes my blood boil. They questioned the KNOWN SHOOTER,but no arrest was made? F'n B.S. is what I think. Regardless one's recent background,or one's title of employment,last I checked it was still illegal to kill someone that isn't in the act of trying to kill you..and even then it's a big grey area. It reeks "easy misdirection and cover-up"..
  7. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    No worries.

    Most of your post read like the primary issue was the social aspect with the homicide victim's shooter not being given sufficient scrutiny. The issues with band safety came across as more of a tangent.
  8. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I don't know.

    My guess is yes, but that's only a guess.
  9. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Interesting story- Mellow- IME, I follow my mentor's words for each bar gig I approach- "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy" Most bar owners will just rip a band off but some are downright dangerous and seedy.
  10. Absolutely wretched, indeed. I don't know what I would do if a friend was murdered like that and no arrest of the shooter… with an eye witness!
    I guess if vengeance reflex can be subdued: I'd apply pressure on the DA, The Sheriff, the Mayor, City Council. Then, I'd advise the immediate family to take the murderer and the owner of the bar, manager on duty that night, etc. to civil court, suing them for damages. I'd probably organize a protest outside the bar shaming any musicians who go inside. I'd find a way to destroy the bar's business and shut it down. Likewise, I would find out where the shooter lives and set up protests there. I'd let his neighbors know that he is a cold blooded killer. I'd suggest they watch him closely as one never knew when he might snap… and it could be one of their love ones next.
    See: I'm non violent :smug:
  11. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Let me make this clear:

    I did not personally know the victim. I am not from this town, and I did not know most of the musicians here until we started to play out. Many of them were friends/bandmates/acquaintances of my wife.

    We have lost one to suicide; a few to cancer; and a few to other things I can't think of at this moment. Many of them were substantially younger than us. This victim hadn't played out for a long time. The stories are true that his life was headed downhill. He had a drinking problem. He might have been prone to violence, but there is not strong evidence of that.

    My point for bringing this story to Band Management stems from the fact that some of us who have been around for a long time feel a bit sick at the behavior of the music community in general. It is owned primarily by the bars, and their owners; also by the local music press, and press in general; and of course, businesses such as record stores and musical instrument dealers.

    As the market has declined, the bands have had to suffer greater and greater indignities, to the point where a venue thinks more of a soundman than a musician. Bouncers and bartenders are higher up on the ladder than performers. Performers still drive the business, and most places that go to 100% karaoke do not have the kind of business they had when they advertised bands, and had only quality acts.

    There are a lot of icky people in the business. That's not new; it's not unique to the area either. This case just illustrates some of my cynicism, and bad feelings in general.

    I wanted to share some of that background so people can understand some of my general hostility towards a music scene that I have experienced for many, many years. Of course I don't advocate violence; I'm just suggesting that we need to stand up for ourselves, and not act like the venues hold all the cards. Without venues, we have nowhere to play, true. But without, the venues have no one with which to entertain their clientele. They have booze, so they'll always have that card, but seriously, we are worth more than what many of us accept.
  12. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
  13. looked at one way, sure, but looked at economically we are worth a share of the additional revenues that we bring to the bar because people come to hear us. I also don't think you can generalize about venue owners. One bar around here pays the musicians 50% of the revenues after 9 pm and that is an opportunity to make some money if you have a following. Another stopped having live music entirely because it was the bar in a small hotel and the owners - nice guys who are struggling to stay afloat - found that private parties with a DJ make the most money for them, more than a band in the bar.

    I can't comment on the bar in your narrative, though, and it is certainly terrible that the guy got shot.
  14. Ironbar


    Aug 24, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    So, essentially you could have just said that gigging at bars may be rough because you could get shot. Of course I could get shot at a Safeway or a movie theater or a college classroom too.
  15. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    Guy gets shot in a bar. Fairly common occurrence worldwide.
  16. I was going to mention that incident as well, it sounds like a real tragedy. I can't recall if I had met the victim or not.
  17. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I could have said that. But I didn't say that. I pointed out that the bouncer shot the victim, and the local music press appears to be blaming the victim, and the bar is standing behind the shooter, and the police haven't arrested the shooter, and that I have experience with this bar. There's more I haven't said. I am letting the thread develop.

    Nice try dismissing my point. You can't dismiss a point you haven't understood.

    I hope if you do get shot at a Safeway or a movie theater, nobody blames you for shopping there, and talks about the downward spiral that propelled you to become some thug's victim.

    I certainly didn't say gigging at bars MAY be rough.

    I said the bar business IS rough. There are thugs aplenty who own 'em; manage 'em; bartend at 'em, and bounce 'em.

    I've had more than one bouncer brag to me about how much he likes to hurt people. I've personally witnessed a gang of bouncers and bartenders make someone pay for the sin of getting too drunk and acting like an a-hole by following them outside as a gang, and beating them half to death.

    Thugs are cowards. They need groups, blunt objects or guns to accomplish their deadly mission.

    Is every bar owner an a-hole? No, and I never said they were.

    Is every bouncer a thug? No, but an overwhelming majority of them are, because who would take a job like that?

    Bars are in the business of serving alcohol to the masses, and they don't want you to be entertainers; they want you to be salesmen.

    It's an ugly business, and most people in it complain that the laws have taken the piss out of it, by making it illegal to drive drunk, and endanger the lives of innocent people.

    If you think the point of the OP is that "you can get shot," then read it again. Repeat until my very well-crafted words sink in.

    There appears to be a bit of a CONSPIRACY here, and some of the people participating are the victim's "friends."
  18. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    And would you say your post weakens or strengthens my headline for this thread?
  19. I read this story about it.

    Seems like it's been classified as a homicide, but it does also seem like, given the criminal record of the guy who was shot, the police or prosecutors are not in a rush to arrest the guy who did the shooting. If your point is that a crime is not being prosecuted that should be, it may be a fair point. I'm not sure what it has to do with playing in bars generally, though. Not trying to argue with you. Just that I play in bars almost every weekend and this story, while tragic and infuriating if there is a wrongdoer not being prosecuted, doesn't have all that much to do with my everyday experience as a bass player.
  20. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    What city are you playing in?