As you probably already know, if you've read my main site (Web Music Star - see above) I'm English but live in Spain. That means there are some barriers to performing at small live venues, which are usually local bars with the occasional biker clubhouse gig or private party thrown into the mix.
The main drawback that faces any foreign band in this country is the reluctance of the local authorities to embrace the culture of foreigners owning bars and hosting foreign bands. While I can't get into the heads of the town hall employees that have some kind of chip on their collective shoulders over this issue, I can make a pretty well educated guess.
Spain is not like Britain or the US and the people are not the same in their way of thinking either. There is still a problem of racism here where foreigners are viewed as people to be tolerated as long as they keep themselves to themselves.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of us living here, thanks to the open border policy of the EU, which is how it should be. The tearing down of borders is a good start to integrating different cultures across this continent but it will take a long time before it gets fully accepted by the average "man-on-the-street" people, especially the older generations.
Younger generations are much more open and accepting of the way things are changing and the greater level of freedom it offers. But I digress…
Back to performing in a band. I live in the autonomous region of Andalucia which gets the lion's share of tourism in this country thanks to its hot climate and plentiful Mediterranean beaches and vacation resorts that have populated them. On the Costa del Sol, there are lots of great places to play or at least there used to be.
Certain local ayuntameintos (councils) have become so anti-live music they have been systematically withdrawing music licenses from foreign owned bars over the years until it has become a bit of a live music dessert. Sure there are still some places that manage to keep going which is good.
It's a pity those anti-foreigner local politicians responsible for the decline in the diversity and number of suitable venues haven't weighed up the damage they've done an continue to do to the very tourist industry that is keeping them in jobs, paying for them to drive nice cars and live in nice homes!
It is foreign tourist Euros that keep the economy afloat and even booming but a lot of tourists want to be able to enjoy live music entertainment in bars. If you take that away, those tourists will go elsewhere.
It happened in Portugal 20 years ago when the major tourist spots closed all the foreign music bars. All their customers stopped going and switched to southern Spain, costing them millions in lost tourism trade!
Now we're heading full circle. The Portuguese authorities realized their error and backpedaled, allowing live music back into their bars. The tourists returned and all was well. But those tourists had to come from somewhere…
They were poached back from Spain. Now it seems our not so clever local authorities are making exactly the same mistake and will ultimately drive their lucrative tourist gravy train right back to Portugal, which will naturally welcome them with open arms and lots of live music bars!#
Well, that was a bit of a tirade, but it had to be said. Anyway, there are still advantages to being a performing musician here and this is pretty much how we're getting around the problems of finding places to play.
The biggest plus is of course being able to get together with the guys in the band, set up and play our own brand of original (self-written) music and songs to a relatively small but appreciative audience. It doesn't happen as often as we'd like, but we aren't doing too badly.
For a musician, being able to play in front of people and get appreciative feedback is an amazing buzz that I think only musicians will really appreciate what I'm saying here. That's because unless you've done (or are doing) it, you can't really know first hand what it feels like!
Next, getting around the problem of the lack of suitable venues isn't too difficult. We already have a small but loyal following of local biker clubs, so when we find a bar that will let us play, we can pretty well rely on a bunch of people to turn up and support us.
That's good for us, for the bar owner and for the people coming to see us. Win-win-win all round.
Then we have the biker clubhouses that like to put on bands every so often, which we get involved in. They're great venues and you couldn't ask for a better audience - bikers are just the best!
We just performed two weekends in a row (which is pretty busy for us), first at a local bar and last night at a private party at a local trike club. A good time was had by all!
That's all for this post. I'll be back…