At the Left Bank

I thought we were in for another dragged out evening when I got to the Left Bank for the appointed time and found a play in full swing, complete with audience, in the hall where I had expected our first spot to be starting.  That’s been so typical of the last few live dates I’ve done that I didn’t get too worked up, just went and met Nelson and retired to the Elephant House.

We discussed the various interpersonal strains that appear in bands, and the turmoil they can cause that undermines the simple act of turning up at the same time in the same place to play music for people. We touched on a topic that Lynsey and I had talked about earlier, namely the question of sharing the costs of band membership.

For example when a rehearsal room is booked, in my experience, there are several approaches band members take to paying:

  • ‘everyone splits the cost equally’
  • ‘it’s your band so you pay’ or ‘it’s your band so you pay most of it; I’ll chip in a pound or two’
  • ‘I can’t afford anything this week’
  • ‘I’m off to the pub, see you’

Rehearsal rooms are relatively small change – what about pressing and artwork and distribution for CDs? My CD was a solo effort, and entirely my responsibility by choice, but if the CD is a band one, in a band’s name, who pays?  In the rare event of a gig being paid, how is the income split? We don’t hear a lot of ‘it’s your band so you can keep most of the dosh’.  There are no right and wrong answers to the above, and it’s never easy when some members have more income than others, but these things are best thrashed out before they become the source of bad feeling or confusion.

My spot, following an excellent set by Andy H and Chris Duncan (Afraid of the Up must be one of the best songs written by anyone in these parts), went like a dream. The looper/guitar synth rehearsal I mentioned yesterday paid off and the feet hit all the right pedals at the right times with the exception of the encore where discretion was the better part of valour. As well as djembe Nelson contributed harmonica, which added  warmth and spontaneity to the machine rhythms. My friends who had turned up were full of praise during and after the set and I left with a spring in my step (and, for once, all the equipment I had arrived with!). And I got paid! (It’s in the post, Nelson!)

Set list:

  • A Forest Trail in Autumn
  • Nicole
  • Damn Grey
  • Ballad of Bob Dylan
  • Hungry Ghosts

3 thoughts on “At the Left Bank”

  1. I’m surprised (but pleased) that your Left Bank experience ended on a happy note: you got paid! I heard one of the worst gig night stories I’ve ever heard about that place and someone who played there on Friday night and they DIDN’t Get paid. They were told after the gig, after bringing 30 people for their band alone on a Friday night that it had been ‘an audition’ and they would get no money.. and when they kicked up a fuss.. the guy, ‘Jamie’ told them they were barred. I know these fellow who were ‘barred’ and they are probably the best rock indi band in the surrounds with a professional history in the business.. so.. this story has decided me to boycott the Left Bank. You don’t treat musicians like sh*t, at least not until you’re absolutely sure they are.

  2. First of all id like to apologise to you Norman for using your site to post this reply as it something i have been getting hassle and rubbish about all week and ive just about had enough with the amount of sheer lies that have appeared on the internet this week.
    Nearly all of what you said in that post Delta Dawn is plain and simply not true.
    1. “bringing 30 people for their band alone”, when they left the stage the number of people who had paid to get in the venue was lurking just under 30. I know for a fact that at least 5 of the people paid were for another band that was playing and at least another 2 were friends of mine who id invited to come see the headline band.Not to mention the regulars who had paid to get in. The best guess i can give on how many this band brought were 15 and that in my mind is still a bit high.
    2. “‘Jamie’ told them they were barred”- they were infact told they were barred but was it wasnt my choice and it certainly wasnt for “kicking up a fuss”. They had brought cans of beer into the venue and were caught by one of the head bar staff. When asked to leave they were in his words not mine “acting like dicks” and he told me to let them know they were barred.
    3.In the email i had sent them before the gig id asked if they would like to do a slot and then we would see about a headline slot in the coming months. At no point in any coorespondence before the gig was money even brought up. I’ll admit i was quite impressed with the band and when their lead singer was going on about the money i told him i would like to talk about future paid headline dates but he wasnt having any of it. In the end he was given £10 for his expenses and that was the end of it.
    It wasnt the greatest night and ill admit I could of probably made it clearer about the money for the gig but as i have told them since the gig money was never mentioned and they never spoke to me about it on the night before they played. Im putting the situation down to both parties assuming the wrong thing.
    Id like to end by saying that the great threads of the Edinburgh music scene which have been saying I dont pay any bands and that I am a promoter only intrested in making money for myself are completley not true. I take no money from the door, giving normans gig as an example £24 was taken at the door each of the three performers was paid £15. If anyone wants to hassle me more here is my mobile number 07876132944 and ill be happy to hear any more queries about the venue but id appreciate it if people who dont know all the facts would stop filling the net with useless spam. And as a muscian ocasionally myself who has been treated like *H*T by every “decent” venue in Edinburgh i dont intend to keep the great chain up.

  3. Fair Enough Mr Jamie
    I can see your side of it so eloquently detailed after-the-fact and I was not there, so it’s all hearsay. But, I do understand that artists are extremely sensitive when they are playing and even moreso about money, which they aren’t often offered and don’t often receive. At the same time that you have vindicated yourself on the money and ‘booze brought in’ front (what’s wrong with a coupla cans? Do bands get a free bar tab?) I heard other details.. a nasty attitude when they were setting up kind of setting the tone.
    As it stands, you’ve both got your sides of the story… as with most things (having been married a coupla times) I know there are two sides. Perhaps it’s safe to say again, artists are ‘extremely sensitive’ to any vibes around them, especially when senses are at 11 on the dial when performing.

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