Stockton priced out of Chris Isaak’s tour. Again

Chris Isaak’s North American summer tour started Wednesday in Houston.
He and his band are visiting 29 cities. One of them is not his hometown.
The last two dates are Sept. 9 and 10. At the Red Lion Woodlake Hotel in Sacramento. What?
Then the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.
Stockton, where Isaak, now 60, was born and raised, was on his mind. As usual.
However, the Sacramento and Saratoga venue owners were willing ¬ and able ¬ to pay the price.
A member of Isaak’s management group said they tried to book a show in Stockton. The necessary money wasn’t there.
That’s really a shame. Embarrassing. Yet a harsh truth about the 21st-century music business. (The guarantees musicians get paid are guarded like details of a CIA opp….not app.)
Without attempting to apologize for Isaak ¬ this is a really old and tired topic ¬ musicians now have to make their money on the road. Their recorded creativity is being freely appropriated ¬ well, stolen, actually ¬ with impunity on the Internet.
So, the performing fees go up. Divide the guarantee by the number of seats and it’s a cold calculation. In today’s climate, it’s costing more and more to keep a show on the road. Even in Isaak’s beloved bus.
(Check out “Roadies” on Showtime. Still weak, but more stream-able than HBO’s disgusting “Vinyl,” canceled after one ugly and forgettable season.)
Typically, musicians truly do leave the business stuff up to their managers. Who wouldn’t? Like the hundreds of millions of dollars lavished on professional athletes/actors, et al, once musicians reach a certain financial plateau, they prefer not to drop back by making exceptions. It’s an industry thing. (Remember the 49ers and the Girl Scouts?)
Too often, it’s assumed that a musician should perform for free ¬ or for charitable organizations ¬ in their hometowns. That does happen (except for Stockton police during the bankrupted Asparagus Festival.)
Isaak’s manager was calling to find out how he could contribute to creation of a Vietnam veterans’ memorial in Stockton. He’d read about it online.
That’s vastly different than performing at the Bob Hope Theatre for half his established fee. There are six guys in his band. A half-dozen crew-members. Somebody gets paid to drive the bus, though Isaak probably would like to give it a shot. (His car still is a 1964 Chevy Malibu.)
Bottom line: While asking how Isaak could help Stockton by being charitable, his manager was bemoaning the reality of having to skip Stockton because no promoter was willing ¬ or able ¬ to pay him what he’s worth.
He’s done four shows here ¬ not including jams with brother Nick’s band during some summer Victory Park concerts ¬ in 31 years.
It’s a sadly recurring topic.

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