Music On the Cheapskate

The New York Times published a disgraceful and very short-sighted article in Friday’s paper, describing how to see live music in the city without paying for it. The writer visited great NYC music spots, clubs that I’ve seen both good friends and great stars in — the Rodeo Bar, the old-time jam at Freddy’s Bar and Backroom here in Brooklyn, Hill Country — and proudly says that he spent only $30 for 27 sets of music at 22 clubs. “Waitresses and tip jars can be avoided, if you can bear the guilt,” he says.

Read that again. This miserable little tightwad is proud of the fact that he sat down in a club whose owners are probably working their asses off trying to keep their heads above water, and are booking live bands out of the love of it, because they could make a lot more money hiring a DJ or installing a karaoke system. And he’s proud of the fact that he makes their lives a little harder, and makes it a little more possible they’ll give up and close down and we’ll lose another live music venue.

And he talks up all these great local bands, great local musicians who are playing for the love of it and hoping that the tip bucket covers a cab ride home so they don’t have to haul two guitars and an amplifier on the subway, and he’s proud that he didn’t put any money in. I wonder how all those musicians felt reading that article in Friday’s paper?

If enough people follow his advice, there will be no music to see in the city. As it is, I’ve lost count of the great live music venues that have closed down. I wonder if he got paid for his article, or if the Times has figured out how to stiff writers out of their checks?

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