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Mr. or Mrs. Winery - Are you the Best Bar Band in the World?

When it comes to music, my taste tends to run very analogous to my taste in wine – I prefer the under-appreciated, below the radar, non-mass produced variety.

My musical muse of the moment is a Jersey punk band called The Gaslight Anthem who have channeled Springsteen into melodic, driving punk anthems that is impossible not to like.  With the release of their album last summer, The Gaslight Anthem graduated from bars and opening act to main stage at clubs, the next level in the pecking order.

Before The Gaslight Anthem, I had a two-year love affair with singer-songwriter Brett Dennen from the Bay Area who went from coffeehouses to clubs with his critically acclaimed album called So Much More.

Interspersed over the years have been many other folks, as I am always looking for an unknown gem, music being my passion after wine and being a lifelong learner.

Sometimes these bands make it to a bigger stage, sometimes they don’t, breaking up and moving on because they were chasing a big dream that was elusive, thereby left as a musical footnote.  Either way, it is never easy. 

Cowboy Mouth, a bar band if ever there was one, the best live band I have ever seen, a band so good in concert they make a simultaneous orgasm seem like a trifle, have never gotten past the club stage.

The Hold Steady, a Brooklyn band who has gained critical acclaim on their way to national attention call themselves the “best bar band in America.” 

For many bands, however, kind of like wineries, sometimes the breaks just do not come your way, the 95-point score from Parker is not delivered, or it was not meant to be.

But, that is not a reason to forsake what you are or what can be considered successful based on subjective qualifiers. 

As Americans, we are brainwashed to think big – if you are not growing, you are dying as the saying goes. 

Is this correct, though?

There seems to be a pecking order to bands on their growth ascent—it goes something like – local bars, regional clubs, national theaters, national amphitheaters, and then arenas.

Roughly speaking this is akin to a winery being tasting room only for a few dozen fans at a time or a winery distributing nationally in 40 states to hundreds of thousands of people.

Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against the vast majority of bar bands ascending the ladder to play the arenas. 

Life is fickle like that.

However, even if a band never makes it big, never scores critical acclaim, I am still loyal to them, keeping them as my “thing.”  I think a lot of people are like that.

My overall point is this – wineries do not have to graduate from bars to clubs to theatres to amphitheatres to arenas.

It seems like there are a thousand and one wineries going in a million different directions trying to grow.  Sometimes, maybe, the most obvious answer is the one right in front of them.  Growth for growth sake is not always the answer.

Doing 15 different things half-ass is not nearly as good as doing two things splendidly.

I hope The Gaslight Anthem never graduate from clubs, slaying audiences in every small club they play, and I hope they continue to put out great album after great album, vintage, year after year. 

Wineries, too, can just be a bar band, playing out of a tasting room to a small, loyal, devout group of fans.

Just make sure you are the best damn bar band around. 



Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (9) |


On 01/21, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

love this article.  keep em coming !  and let’s drink some vino soon !!

On 01/23, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

I love this article too!!  “Doing 15 different things half-ass is not nearly as good as doing two things splendidly”- completely agree.. and also talking about wineries there is a wine tasting event by Bottlenotes happening in the Crushpad winery… feb 19th

On 12/14, Lalith wrote:

Wow amazing article! But when we drink a vino Barolo 2001!

On 01/05, LED spot light wrote:

great, i like this"that is not a reason to forsake what you are or what can be considered successful based on subjective qualifiers”

On 01/29, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Intersting thread.  Would love to see a reality tv show about who is the best bar band in america.  there is a Southern WV band called Fallen Rock that is really stirring it up around here.  Unbelievable fun bunch of guys.  Bar bands are more about really getting to you musically and with personalities not so much polished shows.  These guys are raw and rough and keep dance floors crowded with their versions of older songs.  they have originals but are more concerned into giving us good memories and taking us back than promoting their own personal songs.  If you are ever around s. WV you need to find these guys.  guarentee one hot night of driving music.

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