Oakland, Berkeley, And East Bay News, Events, Restaurants, Music, & Arts
brother Eric Lowen,
Yes, that was when the city closed our social club in August 2011. We will gladly refund your $20 and apologize. Thanks for reaching out. Birdman Mike
I have mixed feelings about Birdland. My wife and I, having heard about the place, we induced to buy an annual membership one week before the joint closed and it left a bitter taste.
The best thing next to Alexeis having an incredible mind for understanding her demographics is that she is super hot...
I think street festivals like the Union St Fair should be a separate issue from the Fillmore Jazz festival. I would expect that the level of talent and pay for something with the history/name of the Fillmore Jazz Festival should be taken seriously and professionally - if you want the heavy hitters, then yes, they should be paid their due.
However, something like the Union St fair is different to me. Folks aren't going there to listen to music - they're going to drink and eat and enjoy the sun (if we're lucky enough to get it in SF :). If there is good music discovered there - then yes, what a plus! That's what turned me off to this whole thing in the first place. I happen to have a band that is doing very well right now that was booked via our agent (not a cattle call) and we happily took the gig because the band wants to play in front of as many summer crowds as they possibly can (in fact they had two gigs that day). Was it the best guarantee we've received all summer? No. But this particular band is averaging about $500-$1K per show for most of the stuff they do - they are gigging constantly, getting press and radio play. As they grow, the guarantees grow. The implication that they were 'lesser' talent because they accepted the gig alienated me right away.
I have been working as an advocate for bands for over sixteen years and have seen the dramatic changes to the industry at large, yet all of my bands are all doing quite well. Bottom line is - your name and draw means everything in this business and I do think pay should be commensurate with that. However, I think in a case like Union St fair, the bands don't have to put in the kind of work they normally would because they know that it's a built-in crowd. It would be nice if you were paid based on your musical talent and years of study, but it's all about the numbers in this business just like any other. Many do not know how to promote themselves and do not realize how important this aspect of your career truly is. If you are bringing in the numbers, then absolutely you should and will get paid accordingly. But why would the Union St fair even bother with this when they know that folks are going to come out no matter what? Why would they opt to pay a band, let's say $1K when there are a bazillion other bands that will do it for half - and bands that are just as good? Simple economics - law of supply and demand.
Restivo's comments are incredibly insulting...
all he talks about is exposure...if you've ever dealt
with him personally then you know that he is absolutely
insolent...I love that instead of offering to take this seriously,
perhaps makes some changes, etc. he says he'll "hire a booking agent and just let 'em do it themselves. And it's not going to be Stephanie Dalton."
what else do you need to hear?
Restivo has no business being close to musicians or the public
FIRE THIS GUY!!!!
thanks people very interesting reading here.
I"d also like to encourage all musicians in this area, regularly performing Jazz, Latin and R&B, to get to know Stephanie Dalton. Her efforts to make this public, and protect the interests of the friends, and music she loves, are nothing short of heroic.
She emails a weekly newsletter I think all gig warriors should check out.
email her to receive it!
As a 35-year veteran of nearly every large club and Musical Genre in the bay area, with four California music awards, and over 3500 gigs under my belt, and speaking on behalf of me and mine, I find it vastly offensive that any so-called "promoter" or "agent" would even consider attempting to pay musicians so little.
But it's out fault and the blame falls on none other
Musicians in this area, while being some of the most brilliant minds musically and artistically on the planet, are still some of the most bunker mentality, no-business understanding, most backbiting, and least organized musicians in the entire country.
"Promoters", "Agents" and "Managers", all know this well, and come here from around the country to take advantage of our scene, one that was paid for with the blood sweat and tears of over 7 generations of musicians, which include some of the founders of rock and roll itself, as well as Jazz, and Latin music, and the entire club music scene which has it's roots in SF' and Oakland's prohibition-era speakeasies.
We have pedigree and linage. and one that deserves some respect.
I have been exceedingly lucky myself in the music business, however many of my more talented brothers and sisters, have lived in a lifestyle of starving artist chic, because they did not want to embrace one hard, cold fact.
This. Is a business. Period.
The art you say? that's the spiritual part. the beauty, and sacredness of it, resonates through the world from this place, so famous for the musicians that have come from here, and the ideas that were spawned here.
But, the minute you take your art to market you become a businessperson.
Protect yourself. Learn about business, know who is behind gigs, do the math, ask about the numbers. Do your own gigs.
And remember, there is also a time to not gig.
When the machine is so odious, and so toxic, that it would take that which is a sacrament to us all, and make it fodder for carpetbaggers like Restivo, "Management" people like Ben Yonas, and outright thieves like Happy Sanchez, then that, is a time to really step back and take reality into account.
This is a time of change.
THE DAYS OF THE HAPPY GO LUCKY BRILLIANT FOOL MUSICIAN ARE DEAD.
Long live the NEW musician. (I believe we have a battle hymn)
Unbowed, with great love and admiration for those who came before, and and those who will come after me,
Piero Amadeo Infante
Hey There Adam,
I did write an article about the rejuvenation money that came into the Fillmore and how it was appropriated - click here to read - http://urbanmusicpresents.com/Urban_Music_…
I took the facebook conversation that started on your wall Adam and I sent it to the press and sent it to the Fillmore Merchants Association - where upon musicians who were getting $75 got bumped up to $100 - however the bandleaders who do 90% of the business dealings, chart arrangements and scheduling - received lower pay due the $100 bump increase. This was per Restivo - I have talked to two bandleader on this - thus there was not added funding from Restivo - band leaders took the hit - and they do three times the work as sidemen.
There is tons of money moving around in these festivals - and if a two day festival is not within the budget to afford than have a 1 day festival - but don't have it happen at the expense of musicians -
I want to comprise a committee to review this - my survey is giving me some informative information that hopefully will help structure a process to obtaining some by-laws event producers must adhere to -
Festivals and Venues are not the same - Festivals are BIG Business and Venues are small business - there are reputable venues and sleezy venues - the reputable ones will work with the artist to promote them, actually care about music, and give percentages according to draw and / or sales. The other venues who don't do this aren't worth a damn!
Restivo is effectively creating a sleazy venue out of the Fillmore Jazz Festival - and this should not be happening -
Carnaval is pretty bad as well - but hopefully by calling this out and drawing peoples attention to the problem and the fact that it is becoming pervasive hopefully an action plan can be developed to implement change that protects musicians, serves the public and provides away for spectacular festivals to exist.
What we have now is mediocre at best - and the musicians are being paid less than insulting compensation - the Fillmore Merchant's Association and most definitely Steve Restivo should be ashamed - further Restivo talks to people as if they are the *!*t on his shoe - just is not right - that one ass can and does control 80% of the San Francisco's Street Festivals - this is real --
Please visit my website to read all the articles and take the survey I have compiled and written.
I respectfully strongly disagree with "melody maker" "music professional"and "C notes" - Steve Restivo is not trying to make an honest living. If you read the over 100 comments that people form all over the Bay Area posted on my Facebook page 3 weeks ago, you will see that this is not just a few people who have a beef with someone over a low paying gig, it's about dishonesty, shady business and someone who has been a repeat offender for acting unprofessionally to dozens of the Bay's hardest working, most talented musicians.
Just because a festival is "free" doesn't mean the pay should be way below what a "Festival" should pay. If anyone doesn't know about the massive amounts of subsidies that the Fillmore District gets every year to promote "Jazz" then you must be living under a rock. Its been in the papers numerous times. I wish someone would do an article on all that stuff and where all the city and sponsorship money goes...Maybe I'd be proven wrong.
Anyway...My point is that when I first started playing this particular festival 10 years ago, I wasn't a headliner and I was getting paid AT LEAST 3 times what they are talking about here. This all changed for the worse when Restivo came in. My personal beef with him (which is what started this whole discussion about 3 weeks ago on my FB page) goes back over 2 years ago when he tried to cancel 3 of my bands he'd booked/contracted for the Fillmore Fest. When he delivered the bad news to me, he started right in with "but I can make it up to you by booking you at other Festivals I run like the Art and Garden Festival in blah blah blah...". I said "that's great but we have signed contracts and you need to pay us for the lost wages and that's when all hell broke loose and we've been at war ever since. I'll spare you the rest of the details but long story short I went to his boss behind his back and got paid, which made Steve Restivo even more angry with me and I just laughed and never said anything about it until now, over 2 years later.The reason why I finally spoke up is I don't want to see musicians treated like this - this is not "small stuff" it is one of the biggest (and only) festival events in the Bay Area that promotes BAY AREA JAZZ. We need to fight people like this guy from driving our scene into the ground.
All street fairs and festivals have very limited budgets for talent. They are free festivals after all. Having played many community events and street fairs over the last 20 years, I can honestly say that pay is not great. The trade off is being able to sell your merchandise and performing in front of hundreds (or thousands) of potential new fans who would otherwise not see you. I agree, with the post above. This is meat and potatoes issue. Focus on equitable pay across the board day after day. Festivals aren't your bread and butter!!
Bravo Stephanie . . .
Ah those demon promoters . . . Many years ago I formed a side "union" so to speak called "B.A.C.K." > "Bay Area Coalition of Keyboardists" because of hearing some good musician friends of mine were being hired for casuals for yes ~ the dreaded "$75" by agents/promoters and told "if you don't do it for $75 I'll get someone else for $60!" > while at the same time they were making fat money themselves, more than enough to pay everyone fairly and still make a good profit.
Grrrrrrr - into action. Organized meetings with as many local keyboard players as possible and agreed we should get a minimum of $125, and more for putting bassists out of work by kicking bass. How sweet it was to simply say no to ridiculous $75 offers and just refer them to other players knowing they too will just say no. It worked!!!! And can again if players come together rather than just complain and feel victimized.
Musicians are "creative" people ~ which should include being creative when it comes to getting paid appropriately for work, as well as in knowing how to maintain self respect, and in ways to avoid under cutting each other just so we can get that local exposure.
No doubt promoters too often take advantage of artists. But for an artist to then blame the promoters for "their own" acceptance of #### pay is misguided at best. To think it's fine for us to work our local festivals for next to nothing (that is to complain and then go ahead and do it anyway) with the promise of the "E" word, exposure ... is hurtful to the art community as a whole. Just think - with that attitude accepting that poor paying gig most likely "will" lead to more poor paying gigs - not just for you but for everyone.
$75 for a festival gig? Give a lesson or two to an eager kid instead. And maybe a few more for extra $ to put towards alternative ways to get "exposure."
One of the beauties of the Internet is free self promotion . . . and FREE EXPOSURE. Now go and expose yourself . . . :)
I don't think the issue is festival/special event work. As someone soad earlier, musicians regularly take his for $25 - 50 and meal. Why worry about a once-a-year event when you can't get a respectful wage the other 364 days of the year. The fight needs to be for meat and potatoes, not dessert!
First I want to thank Kathleen and East Bay Express for helping me spread the word on this very important issue.
My focus on Restivo is because he is so aggregious with his disrespect towards our local musicians and further jazz itself. He does control a major pool of the local festivals and is driving the value and quality down with his actions - this being said - HE IS NOT THE ONLY ONE!
My goal is to go to the Entertainment Commission and the Board of Supervisors and hopefully pass a set of by-laws that legislate a minimum standard of pay event producer must adhere to - this would raise the bar - to an even playing field - prevent musicians from cutting the market on each other - and prevent unscrupulous producers like Restivo from being able to take advantage of the musicians in the name of a bad economy!
It is a shame Restivo won't consider me for booking the Fillmore Festival - as I know the music would be slammin' and the musicians would be paid equitably - If you cannot afford a 2 day festival - then don't produce one - live within your means - but don't balance the budget on the musicians backs.
If we want to keep music thriving here in the bay area - we have to create a culture of respect and value - otherwise they will leave - they will have to in order to make their ends meet.
Up and coming musicians certainly have a right to play and get their start - but not at the expense of opportunities of veteran musicians who bring an expertise - you do not underbid the market forsaking the pros for the wannabe's just because they will play for nothing - there is no integrity in that - and also the wannabe's - some of which maybe become pro - and they are only serving themselves.
This is about respect of culture, liveliehood - this is about integrity.
Thanks for your support on this important issue.
Stephanie Dalton, Urban Music Presents
the reality is that to be a musician that feeds a family in this business means you have to work extremely hard and bust your ass for years. I don't know why everyone is making such a big deal out of this one particular person - get off his back. he's just trying to do his job and make a living like everyone else. I'm sure he answers to someone above him. please. the music business is in the toilet in every sense. to think that you should be paid the big bucks by a local street fair is just plain naive.
It's not just about the money - it's frankly the lack of respect shown to artists. Steve Restivo represents to the Merchants and community (and by the way, by serving al three of the big festivals, it does feel like a monopoly) that he will carefully jury and select the artists. Those cattle call letters which arrived a week before the event certainly calls this careful selection process into question.
I know all Festivals put their money first into the big name draw - and then fill in the smaller stages later. Of course, that's understandable...but those other stages can still be a wonderful opportunity to share fantastic local musicianship. Sending out an email at the last minute to whomever might not yet be booked on a holiday weekend is a slap in the face to the very superb local music available here, and also to the merchants and locals who believe in the strength of a Steve Restivo Brand. Those emails (I got them, too) for both Fillmore and Union Street said they had LOTS of slots available...heck of a way to run a railroad, if you ask me.
Especially when there is no pre publicity or advertising to garner you that promised EXPOSURE, Exposure is highly overrated by amateur promoters seeking cheap of free entertainment at a MUSIC FESTIVAL where the Primary reason for it's existence is INDEED the MUSIC , wake up and smell the roses Musicians. Especially guys like Passard who was silly enough to take a cut in pay to play the Festival.
You can actually pay your rent and feed your Family on Publicity if you actually GET IT and use it to your advantage, but in the case of this event it simply does not exist. I have a few friends who have played it for several years and they swear they do not work for $75.00 a musician, but I know better they Lie to attempt to look important to their peers. The problem is not the $75.00 to 100.00 fee per musician offered, all by itself, it is the fact that the Promoters do not know how to book the musicians in the first place.
Those same musicians often play local nightclubs for the same money for four hours a night and many of them for far less.
You mention the word Festival and the Bands who just played the night before for $50 to 100. a man seem to think they are worth two or three times as much just because it is a Festival in the daytime when they have no work anyway and feel they are suddenly worth more money for the same thing they just did the night before.
Many musicians shoot themselves in the foot daily, simply by not being very good business people.
WOW - I'm really happy to see some light being shed on this situation. Good article, I feel like you did a great job with the few people you were able to get info from, since most people didn't want to speak to specifics for fear of getting blacklisted or even worse, sued (which was why I declined for interview).
I really hope Restivo gets ousted and someone who REALLY CARES about music is put in the spot of being in charge of the music at Fillmore Jazz Fest.
Oh and I can guarantee that they won't be calling me : )
"Instead of cash, a big incentive for musicians to play events like the Fillmore Jazz Festival is the exposure, according to Restivo."
You know, people die of exposure.
You can't pay your rent and feed your family on 'publicity.'
I was just blogging about the death of the record store. Thanks for letting me know that Amoeba will still be around for the next five years. I feel like I should be wearing black.
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