Do you like playing music? Do you like drinking alcohol? Then Jess Wilson at Mango's can hook you up. Rocks Off was doing our weekly wade through Craigslist when we stumbled across the following ad:
I'm looking for bands to play regular gigs on Thursdays at Mango's on Westheimer. All styles of music will be reviewed, but I will likely be hiring a group on the mellow side. All types of music will be reviewed. Each band does a 1 to 2 hour set, and the first band starts around 7:30. I would prefer a band that is local and who has played gigs in Houston before. Each band member will get a couple of free drinks. Pay will depend on bar sales, I make no guarantees as far as payment.
Mango's has a nice PA and a really good sound guy. It has a great location and staff. It is located at 403 Westheimer on the corner of Taft.
Please send me links to any music you have posted online/gigs you have played or find a way to get some of your music to my ears.
The facts are these. Jess Wilson wasn't having any luck getting her band, The Jackrobats, booked by leaving a demo at clubs. So instead, she told Mango's she was a promoter and could bring in bands to play. That got their attention, and she now books two nights a month at the club.
While we admired the kind of outside-the-box thinking Wilson employed, Rocks Off was seething on the inside. Having been in bands before, the idea of trudging out on a weeknight for no pay sounded like the typical shenanigans that promoters use to get out of coughing up some cash. However, we decided to get down to the nitty gritty of the deal. What exactly was Wilson offering?
"Two drinks per member, everyone gets their drink vouchers as soon as they show up," Wilson says. "The two-drink thing applies if we have two-three bands. If you are a band and you come in a play the entire slot from 8-11:30 [p.m.], then we would probably give more."
The free drinks do not include tip, it should be noted.
Rocks Off's band had five members, so that would be ten drinks total if we took the deal. Three members preferred well drinks, and the other two preferred bottled beer. So we'll average the cost per drink at $4. That would bring the cash value of the pay out to $40, minus $10 in tips because not tipping bartenders is a mortal sin.
We asked Wilson if we could just take the $30.
"No one has ever asked to do that, but I do not think we would do that," she says. "The drinks are sort of complimentary, a gift from the venue, not me as the promoter. However, if you do not drink, then I would probably up their split of bar proceeds to reflect that."
Well, it's not the kind of deal Rocks Off would normally take, but in for a penny, in for a pound. Our next question was if we could deduct promotion expenses in the form of more alcohol. Anyone who has ever flyered for a show will tell you that the experience lends itself to one really needing a drink. Wilson's response:
If a band is willing to go the extra mile and promote their show, then I will work with them, so that they can walk away without losing money. However, I have to be very careful with this, because the effectiveness of the promotion is the key. The more people come, the more money we can make.
If a band does the legwork themselves, and it pays off, I'm going to pay them what I owe them. However, I can't pay for every band to go design and copy a ton of posters, poster ads just do not work like they used to. Most of the work is done online.
If a band lists the show with a music site like Pollstar, etc. then it will cost them some out-of-pocket money, but I can't guarantee that it is going to pay off.
The Jackrobats do not themselves have a Web site, it should be noted.
Most musicians reading this are likely rather turned off right now. There is a silver lining to Wilson's idea, though. You can practice for free drinks!
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Don't dismiss this as bullshit. Rocks Offs band was dealt a crippling blow when our practice space was lost in a land deal. Paying to rent at Rock Center or Fjardeson's was just not feasible; we all lived in apartments with neighbors, so our own domiciles were out.
Mango's has a sound man, is willing to liquor you up and, who knows, there might actually be people there to give you some feedback! Granted, it's no use for writing sessions, but as a space for dress rehearsals for bigger gigs you could do a lot worse.
Rocks Off won't be taking advantage of Wilson's offer, but interested parties should contact her at email@example.com. Jackrobats' next gig at Mango's is October 21.
Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.