[Dixielandjazz] Re: Bad Bands & Agents

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 4 15:49:07 PST 2003

> <mikedurham_jazz at hotmail.com> wrote
> Bad bands! Tell me about it: we used to do a  lot of work for an agent in
> the wilds of Northumbria, from house-parties to Hunt Balls. Then she stopped
> booking us. When I asked her why, she said she'd found another band that
> charged half what we did - she admitted they weren't very good, but she
> could still charge her clients the same AND NOBODY NOTICED THE DIFFERENCE IN

Ha Ha, Right on. Those "wonderful" agents told me 10 years ago when I started to
play again and formed Barbone Street that: We charged too much; We were too old;
That our refusal to wear funny hats and stripped shirts/blazers would inhibit
bookings; that there was little demand for OKOM, etc., etc., etc. And they would
hire cheaper, inferior bands. Quality was undetectable by the client so they said.
The bastards, they were greedy. Take a gig for $3000, pay the band $1200 and
pocket the rest. Take a gig and then shop 6 bands to see who would take it for the
least amount of money. Hire that one.

So I became our booking agent. Now I book us locally160 times a year, at prices
well in excess of what the agent's wanted us to play for per man, dressing as we
please, in tremendous venues, alongside the TOP JAZZ NAMES IN THE WORLD. Not bad
for a group of washed up old men who don't rehearse, ever.

And yes, some of our competitors think we suck. (maybe they are right) To them I
always say, "let's meet head to head in an old fashioned cutting duel in front of
a large audience and let them decide." No takers so far so I guess we don't suck
too very much.

Noiw, after 10 years, we are now taking jobs away from the agents in those venues
where they used to book those cheap, bad , stupidly uniformed, Dixieland bands.
Not on purpose, because we no longer call out for gigs, they call in for us. Just
on reputation. If you do it long enough in your territory, and are perceived by
the audience to be something special, the venues will demand you.

"Agents? Agents? We don't need no stinkin agents."

Living well is the best revenge.

> Also like to compliment John Petters on his tireless work to keep promoting
> and playing OKOM in the UK, not just with his own band(s) but also providing
> work for many others: now he DOES know the difference between good bands and
> bad!

Yep agree here too. We've seen John's CDs reviewed in the USA and they always get
top marks as does he for his excellent work on the drums. I hope you and he
forgive me for saying, in error, that Van Morrison was a Brit.

Steve Barbone

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list