Posted: Jan 2, 2013 12:55 pm
I had personally stayed off this thread to answer all questions at once (unlike Facebook where I was answering a question a minute)-
Seeing as I know, personally, most of the folks who have been commenting and these comments are by far and away the least, um, shitty of all the forums this has gone up with, let me take a few minutes to explain....
Yes, the Hi-Tone itself is closing at the end of Feb. We will still be doing the same shows with the same bands- both local and national (international too) just in different locales. There are a whole host of factors that go into this decision. You've probably heard a lot of them- lease issues, ac, parking, etal. Those are true. But, there are other inherent issues that I am not fond of that are happening in midtown. It kinda seems like we have become the outliers (Goner & Hi-Tone) while the area has gotten more gentrified which is great for your house values but not so much for a rock club. Honestly, the day I started getting shit for putting up show flyers on phone polls because "it didn't make the area look pretty" (this is a literal email I got on numerous occasions), I had an inkling that midtown might be going a different direction than when it was first opened or even until I took over. The bitching was not limited to flyers.
So, you ask, what's going to happen? Well, you're going to have to get in your car (not that you didn't have to before) to get to shows. Some will be done at the Buccaneer, but most will be done downtown. This is actually exciting, at least for some of us. The rooms that I'll be working with as Hi-Tone productions will have ac, parking and are really cool. I'll make a formal announcement on the venues I'll be working with in the next day or so on this board.
Now, brass tacks-
The majority of the people who come to the Hi-Tone come maybe one or two times a month. Beyond our hardcore 30 or so regulars who come for food and cheap PBR drafts, this really doesn't affect most everyone. You will have to drive an extra 7 minutes (from the Hi-Tone) to the new venues to see shows which is next to nothing. You will have parking and there will be a lot of really cool specials hopefully around the downtown areas for people who are coming to the shows. There were a lot of things/ specials/ interesting events that I wanted to do that were not possible due to room size, lack of ac, lack of a real green room, etc. While we have a special way of dealing with bands that make them constantly want to come back to Memphis and work with the Hi-Tone, there were many bigger acts that simply said that "they loved what we do, loved us a people and absolutely hated the room" due to it's many problems we faced over the years (feel free to infer). For as many good times as the patrons had, there were also many times where we lost out on shows just because of the issues. That was a HUGE problem. In essence, we had been crossed off everyone's late June thru mid August tour schedules just because of the ac problem. That's just an example. The roof issue from a few years ago soured many as well.
But, the response I've gotten from the people I work with (agents) has been overwhelmingly positive. They still want to bring the shows to Memphis and work on the same and better stuff than we've had before.
Also, and this will be coming out in a couple of articles in the next few weeks, there needs to be a sort of "reckoning" with the Memphis music scene. Some have asked is it dying? Um, not really but it's only growing in small places and dying in others- which is fine. Memphis can only support so many genres- we're not NYC, Chicago, Portland, et al- we are just not. We don't have the demographics or the infrastructure to be throwing the shows that bigger places do and sell 400 tickets when we sell 29. The latter problem is one that I'm going to address on a city wide scale, something that I had always hoped to do but hadn't the time with the 10-12 hour workdays that it took to keep the restaurant/ bar/ venue running in all capacities. It's been needed for many years.
VERY little radio, A lot of print coverage that got lost in the wake and frankly, like Alita said, too many folks thinking that the show should be free because they are friends with the band, etc. For Memphis to truly develop as a live music town, people are going to have to get comfortable with paying for tickets or the bands won't come back. We have something wonderful with Goner Records and their name around the world, but everyone isn't coming out twice a week to support that scene- just not happening (you can argue this but you'd be wrong- you won't go see 104 shows a year). Basically, a lot of the shows we get are because of the way we treat bands (thus them telling their agent that they want to play) or because of Goner or the Hi-Tone reputation of promotion and marketing. We are, in the eyes of agents and money made, the least favorable city for 99% of the bands that play to work in. They have fun, get drunk, enjoy our company.... and make the least amount of money they would in any of the 50 major media markets. And frankly, that's not sustainable. It's why you see bands skip Memphis in order to play Nashville and Little Rock- it's not that we don't want them to play but they only have a finite number of tour dates and they are going to try and make the most money possible, which I completely understand. Now, that being said, it's also incumbent upon us to try and "sell" the music in a form that's more in line with 2013 than we have in the past. Betterthanjail is just one way and we have to be able to get music "to the masses" in this city or the same cycle will continue. Most of the folks on this board would have no idea who the Lumineers for example are but they sold out in May and to get some of those folks into, say, Ty Segall, is a job that we have to take on eventhou-gh you would hope that the media arms would be able to do that. Again, infrastructure. It's a major hurdle that needs to be lept.
We all really appreciate you coming to our shows, drinking with us, having a great time. It's been a roller coaster of emotions at times but it's been awfully fun. It will continue. You might even have MORE fun, who knows. As for the pizza, we will see if something develops on that front. But, keep checking the site for shows (we are keeping the site intact) and it'll let you know who is coming and when. Again, thank you and if you have any questions, just leave them in this thread and I'll try and answer them in a timely manner on this board.
Seriously, THANK ALL OF YOU FOR GIVING A SHIT!!!!