Fool's Night Out
Fools Night Out comes from a song by Phil Wiggins | Moon photo courtesy Michael's Photo Gallery.

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Too Much of a Good Thing
© Scott Mitchell (2003/06/13)
Originally published in Gary Hayman's ZydE-Zine 2003/06/29

When I started dancing Cajun and Zydeco nearly ten years ago, the Washington/Baltimore area had a hopping scene. We would get several shows a week from a variety of performers. Roy Carrier nearly made the area a second home. He'd come up for a month or two and play several gigs each week.

In those days I was obsessed and ended up at almost every show. Needless to say I saw plenty of Roy. I was absorbing every bit of it. But eventually I had my fill. There was a period of about five years where I never made it to a Roy Carrier show. It was nothing intentional, I just couldn't muster the energy to see him again. Still I mustered the energy to go elsewhere.

To be fair to Roy Carrier, I like Roy and his music. I saw him while visiting a friend in Denver a couple years ago. Roy put on a good show that night as well as the couple times that I have seen him since. He also doesn't appear to be overplaying the area like he did in the past.

In recent years the young up and coming Zydeco performers have taken up the habit. They are averaging three or four gigs a week and no doubt a couple last minute shows or parties will be booked. These guys play more often than any local band... well, maybe less than Bill Kirchen. But they are having the same effect on me; I am going out to fewer and fewer of their shows.

With that many shows it sounds like things should be cooking here. But the scene is listless. People only end up going to the most convenient gigs. Honestly how many times in a week can you stand to see the same band? Do you see the problem? The existing crowd ends up spread over those shows.

I understand the bands would much rather play for something than to sit around spending money on an off night. But they are hurting themselves in the long run. It doesn't take too many lifeless shows before we find alternatives or we stay home and plop ourselves in front of the TV where there is no cover and the drinks are a damn sight cheaper. As a cultural outsider, what makes Cajun and Zydeco music special is the dancing and the devoted fan base. As the crowd thins, it isn't so special anymore.

Bands need to play enough to pay for the trip and make some extra. But as it is there are too many shows crammed into the same old venues one after another. It's Wednesday; this must be Talianos.

People ask where I've been. Well I've found alternatives. There is plenty of good music out there. You are more likely to find me out at a blues show... or a roots rock gig... or you get the idea. There are a lot of good local bands and touring acts coming through here. Let me get this straight, I am not swearing off Cajun or Zydeco music. I just pick my shows, and I will likely be elsewhere.

There is no 'right' answer to the problem. I believe the community and the bands would be best served with less quantity and more quality with reasonable promotion and more than a couple days notice. This is just my opinion; others differ. I would like to see a discussion get started about what is 'best'.

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