In the relatively, economically dead 70’s in SF, you could make a living playing music; clubs paid guarantees, you could afford to live, and my neighborhood was a “slum” — albeit not nearly as violent as it became after crack/meth took root. The more prosperity began rearing it’s ugly head in the ’80s the worse it got for musicians and pay. One club I performed at in the ’70s getting a $1,500 Saturday night guarantee had by the late ’80s gone to no guarantee and a tip jar, the slum became a hipster enclave, and the musicians all either had to live stacked like cord wood or move to Oakland.
Fast forward to NOLA…
In my 2 years (working in Nola) the relentless gentrification and “growth” is doing essentially the same thing, and the last town in America that has a “vocationally” self sufficient climate for musicians appears to be coming apart at the seams. Weaker guarantees, more amateurs willing to play for free, less respect, et cetera, rents skyrocketing: where’s the Oakland? In Chalmette? (I’m in Arabi…) Perhaps Metairie?
I suppose the logic, that greater prosperity should mean more for all, isn’t logic at all. And like so many other sectors of the economy, musicians and service industry folks — in general — are getting swallowed up by the wealth consolidation boom that has essentially destroyed the middle class and is driving a huge wedge into our increasingly fractured society.
So to paraphrase the Beach Boys in the ’60s, it’s apparently going be “Serfin’ in the USA” unless somehow the worm turns.