CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (August 17, 2022) — For some of the numerous bars and restaurants across Diablo Valley that double as music venues on Friday and Saturday nights, the weekends have been starting a little earlier. For others, the Saturday shot now comes with a Sunday chaser.
Chris Bryant calls the increase in Thursday night live shows “the new Friday.”
“The competition is not yet as fierce. As more and more venues start offering music on Thursday, that will likely change. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wednesday added to the mix,” adds Bryant, founder of Martinez Music Mafia.
He went on to explain that there’s simply more live music today than there was just a few years ago, and that the larger Bay Area performance centers’ calendars are seeing this increase as well.
“Work-wise, we are getting slammed with events. I work in (live sound) production – backline – and we’ve had to hire several people to keep up with the schedule.”
After the long drought of live entertainment during the pandemic, it’s no surprise musicians are eager to fill the calendars of venues that will have them. Likewise, many local businesses that survived are eager to embrace anything that will bring people in after a rough couple years.
When WiseGirl Ristorante in Pleasant Hill reopened last spring, their weekend entertainment calendar was fully booked going into summer. Months later, they too have followed the trend by adding “Acoustic Thursdays” to the mix.
“Patrons are definitely calling for more nights of music,” says Sheila Cotruvo, who helps book entertainment for WiseGirl. “Thursdays are about single, duos and trios; it’s more of a listening crowd on Thursdays, unlike Friday and Saturday – when the crowds prefer to dance.”
Ending the weekend on a high note
Other venues are seeing Sundays fill up, often with performances in the late afternoon or early evening.
“My favorite slots to play are Sunday matinees,” shares veteran musician Jim Ocean. “It’s still the weekend, but you get home early enough to plan your week.”
That’s part of the inspiration behind “Indie Sundays,” a new weekly event at Vinnie’s Bar & Grill in Concord, spearheaded by Adam Dishart of the local rock band Books on Fate.
“Sundays just seem like a natural day to do a matinee show,” says Dishart. “The idea is to offer a casual, social thing where people can discover a new artist, have a nice evening with friends, meet new people and be back home at a reasonable hour before starting their work week.”
Keeping it fresh
While most would agree that more live music is a good thing, those doing the booking have expressed some valid concerns.
“I sometimes worry about oversaturation,” notes Bryant, who books for SlowHand BBQ in Pleasant Hill and Martinez. “I’d love to believe there’s no such thing as too much live music, but when you have too many choices, or venues too close together, problems can arise.”
“It’s hard to keep it fresh,” laments Cotruvo. “You might see the same bands playing different local venues just days apart.”
Both Bryant and Cotruvo have done a good job of keeping their calendar repeats to a minimum, which is no easy task when you’re booking three or four live acts a week. Of course, the depth of our robust local music scene helps to make that a little easier.
To keep track of who’s playing where and when, join the Facebook group “Marilyn’s Weekly Calendar.” The volunteer effort by retiree Marilyn Carver offers information about upcoming live music events in Solano and Contra Costa counties.
Contact Dave Hughes at MrDaveHughes@gmail.com.