Saturday, April 22, 2006

Support Your Local Musicians

Back in 1976 at Dirty Jack’s Theater we all knew that Doc Holt, the bandleader, was a regular performer at the Club Manhattan in Salt Lake City, a downtown club locally known as “The Hat.” We all whispered this with a degree of reverence because the Hat had a rep for showcasing the top piano jazz acts in the SLC area. It was a smooth old jazz club; a walk-down cavern in the heart of downtown with pink puffy booths lining a big dance floor that fronted the stage. It oozed cool, and Doc Holt was part of it.

That was then. Now, the Hat is one of those soulless dance clubs with a bad sound system and a snotty staff. Instead of live performers it hosts a series of lame DJs who play various recordings, depending on the night of the week. One night is Latin, another is disco, or house or trance or techno. The big night is for hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It is all recordings played by smug DJ’s and it all sucks. With the bass tones cartoonishly boosted, the music sounds a lot like the overdriven drivel the pretentious patrons listened to on cheap speakers as they drove to the club in their econo cars.

A few years ago, a guy with some talent and a lot of hard work could make a modest living playing live music. Not now. Too many venues that once hosted live performers and catered to a sophisticated crowd now chase the easy buck and the lowest common denominator. There are too few venues now, and that has driven the price of live music – what you get paid for playing – down to ridiculous levels. From where will the next Doc Holt come?

If you care about music, you should never spend a nickel in a club that does not feature live performers.