MOUNT VERNON — Scheduling live bands for entertainment at local bars can almost be an art in itself. Bar owners are constantly faced with the dilemma of choosing which type of music to seek, which bands to contact and when to schedule the entertainment, all while keeping tabs on the financial impact of their decisions.
A variety of strategies was recently discovered after discussions with local bar owners about their methods of scheduling live entertainment.
Jeff Boucher, owner of Flappers Bar & Grille, said he often has bands drop off CDs for him to listen to. He chooses mainly Saturdays and sometimes Fridays to have bands come in for entertainment. “Every once in a while I may stray off with a different night. But not very often. It just doesn’t pay, and there’s no draw for it,” said Boucher.
Having a band for live entertainment can bring in different people, said Boucher. “Different bands have different followers, so you can get some new people coming in,” he said.
A guaranteed draw for Flappers would usually be The John Schwab Band, Gatlin, Kokosing River Surf Club or Katty Whomp Us, according to Boucher. “But it’s 50-50 with some bands. It just depends on the night,” said Boucher. “It’s unpredictable.”
Booking entertainment at Pub 36 in Howard can depend on the time of year. Co-owner Tony Cherri relies on the summer months to fill his weekends with live bands. “It’s much bigger in the summer than what you’ll have in the winter, especially in the Apple Valley area,” said Cherri about being able to draw large crowds of customers. “There’s a lot of people in Apple Valley that either don’t come out in the winter or they’re more of a summer crowd that have a summer home here.”
Cherri looks a lot at a particular draw certain bands may bring. “There are certain bands that have a decent following, and there are those who have none,” he said. Cherri will often ask bands how they promote themselves in knowing if they have a following. The bands often have a way of reaching a particular crowd that the pub may not be able to, said Cherri.
Pub 36 will at times use local bands for entertainment, although Cherri believes that out-of-town bands can often bring in bigger crowds. Local bands that he is usually inviting currently are Katty Whomp Us and, at times, Mad Gathering. Classic rock is the music of choice he says is the most popular. “This place is primarily a restaurant until around 9 p.m., then it becomes a bar,” he said. “I don’t want to discourage the Apple Valley residents from coming in with their families.”
And while a live band can be appealing to many, it’s not always financially feasible. “Right now I use DJs more than I use live bands. They’re less expensive, and I can make money,” said Cherri.
Bands playing at Honeybuckets are usually scheduled in February or March, according to owner Chad Long. “I try to break it up and do one week a certain style. This depends on the clientele, of course,” said Long. He will try to schedule a set for the younger crowd, one for the older generation, and then a mix of music in between.
Networking with certain bands is a way that Long builds his client base. “As soon as a couple bands like your establishment, they’ll starting coming and do their own networking which helps you out. It’s important to set good impressions and make them feel comfortable,” said Long. “You then have all kinds of opportunities on your hands.”
Friday is the night of the week for bands at Honeybuckets. Long chooses to stay away from Saturdays because so many other bars in the area are having bands on the same night. “We have awesome turnouts on Fridays,” he said.
Rock bands appeal to a large number of patrons, but Long tries to book bands that play a lot of current music, “which gets people dancing and having a good time,” he said. “There are some older bands that come in; but by 9:30 or 10, the clientele at that age is dwindling down and going home for the night. We make more money off younger crowds than older crowds.”
There is some loyalty to a few local bands which Long books numerous times throughout the summer. Bands he currently prefers to book are Chapter 13, Rare Bird and Yellow No. 5. “It’s easier to promote a local show. I have to do a lot more work for the out-of-town bands because not everybody may know who they are. But word of mouth in this town is huge,” said Long.