Music industry night
Wednesday evenings are music industry night at St. James Infirmary. The bar offers a $2 discount on Brasserie Saint James beers, and the event draws a decent showing of faces from the local music scene. It’s a relatively new event, but the idea for it seemed like a no brainer to guitarist-vocalist and Saint manager Johnny Bailey and his friends.
Musicians, like people in the service industry, often find themselves in bars for work. “You’re playing,” Bailey said. “You’ve got to get on stage. You’ve got to get off stage. You’ve got to get all of the gear packed up.”
It doesn’t leave much time for socializing. And that’s something Bailey and his friends figured an industry night could fix. But they were thinking of more than just discounted drinks. And, eventually, the idea emerged as a question.
“What if there’s just one night every week where—if you’re not playing a gig—you come to hang out and talk about touring and talk about what shows were good?” Bailey recalled asking.
The first music industry night was held in October last year. And, Bailey said, it’s been gaining traction ever since.
“Somebody from, like, every band in town comes in every week, you know, if they can,” he said. “And then the blues night [at the Saint] will let out, and all those guys will come over here.”
It’s still an open-ended affair. Often, there’s nothing in particular planned.
“It’s kind of just a free for all,” Bailey said. “It’s mostly just getting everybody together in one room and just drinking.”
Of course, it’s not like nothing else happens at music industry night. A lot does—just spontaneously. The event has even been used for the very thing it was seeking to supplement in musicians’ lives—live shows.
“A few months ago, we brought the bands Weeed and Flaural, and they played a killer show here,” Bailey said. “Sometimes I’ll play guitar. If I have a guitar and I feel like playing, I’ll open up the stage, you know, open mic-style.”
“It’s also a vehicle for us to throw on all of the local music that’s come out—maybe debut an album,” Bailey added. “We debuted the Sextones’ new album a couple of days before it came out.”
Bailey thinks the event could also be worthwhile for both new musicians and musicians who are new to the area.
“They can meet everybody in the scene,” Bailey said. “Maybe if you’re trying to tour and you’ve never toured yet, you’ve got Greg Gilmore who can tell you about touring. … Also, if somebody wants to play here or the Saint, they can meet me, and we can talk about their stuff. We can put on their music, if they’ve got some. I can get an idea of where to throw them or what to book them for a show.”
In the end, he said, “It’s designed mostly for all the musicians to meet and just fuck around and come up with cool, new stuff.”
On a recent Wednesday evening, the bar was busy, and it seemed patrons were doing just that. Conversations ranged from new albums to old albums to forthcoming albums. Students preparing to graduate from music programs at the university discussed commencement and recitals. And, as participants in the Saint’s weekly blues night began to drift in later that evening, the event turned into a birthday celebration—complete with a rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” featuring accompaniment by local musician Davis Corl on the trombone.