By now, most of us are aware of City Hall’s latest attack in their sneaky and unpredictable War on Culture. A few weeks ago venerable Bywater institution Siberia ran into some permitting issues that caused them to suspend their expansive live music schedule, and just yesterday it appears a similar fate officially befell the similarly venerable Circle Bar. (And in a week fraught with confusion and misinformation, the Gambit’s Alex Woodward – as he is consistently wont to do – once again came through with the most complete, accurate and thoughtful assessment of a local happening.)
The initial reaction has been to wholeheartedly support the venues involved in the fight. To be sure, this is 100% the correct stance to take. Siberia and Circle Bar are still open for business, and while they find out exactly what the city is asking of them and try to respond accordingly given their modest resources, we should all make a concerted effort to see what they look like by day. Drop in for happy hour or while away a late weekend afternoon sampling their draft beer selections and feeding the jukebox – basically find any excuse you can to give them some business.
But that is only part of the equation. If you want to help – if you truly want to do right by the independent music scene to which you are pledging your support via online petitions and Facebook groups and social media status updates – go to a DIY show this weekend. Visit one of the myriad venues that is still hosting live entertainment; buy some merch from a struggling local artist, drink your ass off and generously tip your bartender, shake someone’s hand – the bar owner, the promoter, the sweaty bassist of college punk band – and say just how much you appreciate what he or she is doing to foster a diverse local music scene. Put your money but more importantly, your time, where your mouth is.
Like the bullshit proposed ordinance that sought to put an end to 18+ shows, we think this, too, shall pass. So the real question is not whether you take some cursory, symblic action when local independent music’s constant, inherent struggle is bestowed the honor of being the momentary cause célèbre of the city’s cultural frontrunners, but what you do every day to support the people and places that make the New Orleans music scene – and by proxy, the city as a whole – so amazing.
Get your ass out there and go see some live music.