Why do people bother going to places where there’s live music being played if they’re just going to talk all the time (football, weather, more football) and patently ignore the musicians?
Hmm. I’m not saying there should be reverential hush as soon as someone strums a guitar on stage, but paying a bit of attention would be nice. Today a jazz gig I went to comprised a lot of people apparently not the slightest bit interested in … er, jazz. Admittedly it was one of those lunchtime sessions where the music’s partially a background feature as people stuff themselves with unpleasant-looking portions of beef and Yorkshire pudding, but not that much a background feature. (This habit of programming jazz on Sunday lunchtimes is misguided if you ask me. It devalues the music. Turns it into aural wallpaper, a decorative accompaniment to the serious business of selling beer and food).
Today the worst moment came when a middle-aged man and his son asked some of the very few people who were paying attention to the music to move across so they could better see a TV showing football right across the other side of the pub. They were occupying the best two seats to watch the musicians yet had their backs to the music the whole time.
Later on I was at another gig where the promoter hushed people who were talking as a blues musician began a song. This is not right either. I’m not on the side of the hushers or the talkers. In a way the music has to “tell” people to pay attention, to command respect. It has to do the talking. But some places do all they can to sideline the music (a TV with football on at the same time!) and they frankly don’t deserve decent musicians playing at their tatty business emporia or the modest patronage of people like me.