Published in the June 13 – 26, 2018 issue of Gilroy Life

Entourage, which kicked off the Friday Night Music Series in Morgan Hill June 1, will play at Fortino Winery from 6 to 10 p.m., June 22.
Photo courtesy Entourage

I got a call from a friend who is a band leader in a very good rock band. He called to ask about venues he could play in the Gilroy and Morgan Hill area. His band has played at GVA in Morgan Hill and at The District in Gilroy (now gone). But he was hoping he might have missed something and could play at other places he didn’t know about. It is difficult to get a band with seven members a gig that not only pays but finding a venue that is also conducive to handling a band that size.

Places like that just do not exist in this area. The Milia’s Restaurant is too small and quiet for a band like that, Old City Hall is mainly a karaoke bar and restaurant, wine bars can’t deal with bands that size due to space limitations and most of the wineries that have live music keep those shows as private events for their wine club members or they are already booked for the season. He also mentioned his band has a downsized acoustic version which adds to the possibilities of performing at other venues like restaurants and coffee houses.

We began discussing venues and came to the realization that there are just not enough live music venues in either town. I can really appreciate a walk down Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz on a sunny day where many musicians just show up to busk in the sunshine. There are often some extremely accomplished musicians entertaining the tourists that come out there. Unfortunately, there are no buskers in Morgan Hill or Gilroy due to city ordinances and laws prohibiting such activities.

It would certainly be nice to have a small theater such as the local playhouse in downtown Morgan Hill or even the Grange Hall open their doors to live music on a regular basis, sell cheap tickets, sell refreshments and possibly set these shows up as a fundraiser to donate all after-expenses profits directly to a designated nonprofit.

Even some of the senior living places may have a venue that they can open to the public and offer their residents free or deeply discounted tickets. This could be an effective way to get local bands some paying gigs and have ongoing fund raisers for local charities. Maybe even some of the local churches can open their doors to such events.

Of course, there is always a great deal of detail, organization and commitment involved in making events of this nature work for everyone. The reality of it all is that there would have to be a person that working full-time with the knowledge and ability to get large sponsors to help fund a project such as this, and then get the proper licensing and permits to hold such events.

Likely an impossible undertaking but musical food for thought! Larger bands have it rough and smaller bands need to keep pushing and get creative to play in places where music has never been before.

It is certainly a good thing that Gilroy has their Fifth Street Live series to offer work for bands and a place where people can go after hours to see free live music.

On another note, both Morgan Hill and Gilroy offer free large live weekly music events throughout the summer and Guglielmo Winery, Seeker Vineyards, Fortino Winery, Sarah’s Vineyard and Clos La Chance have many public music events that are free and on a consistent basis throughout the summer months. Check their individual websites for specific details.

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