Are Honky Tonks Making Big Money On Broadway
While Musicians Play their Hearts Out For “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie” Tips
Some of the Honky Tonks and restaurants that line Lower Broadway in downtown Nashville Tennessee have a very colorful past. Tootsies for example was the watering hole for such celebrities as Hank Williams Senior, Faron Young, Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings and a list that goes on and on. Lined up on both sides of the street are these establishments with their bright colored paint job or Las Vegas style neon signs. All of them has entertainment on stage. In front of the stage is a TIP jar that may or may not have any money in it. The musicians work long hours and sing their hearts out for whatever ends up in the jar at the end of their shift. Yes that’s right their shift. Because you see some of these bars have entertainment starting before noon and continue right straight through till closing time. All the while these singers, songwriters, and musicians entertain the crowd, they are hoping there will be enough money in the tip jar to pay their bills. Some bar owners give the band members their soft drinks for free but not all club owners are that generous. Very precious few bars give the musicians any form of alcoholic beverage for free in fear they will get drunk and not be able to perform. The friendly bar tenders serve up gallons of beer and what ever else they have on the menu to a rowdy class of people that don’t seem to mind the ridiculous prices they are paying for food and drinks. I recently heard a musician say, “I made $40 in tips today. Now I can buy a new set of bass guitar strings.” I thought sure he would have said he could buy a nice steak dinner somewhere but that was not the case. During CMA Music Fest recently one Honky Tonk ran out of beer 3 times in one day. Normal beer delivery is once a week but during this particular event they were having to get 3 deliveries a day to keep up with the demand. No one visiting Lower Broadway in Nashville for the very first time can walk away saying it was boring. From the street musicians working for tips, to the best hotels in town, you will find plenty of musicians ready to sing you a song for whatever they can get. This is the exact opposite of course to those artists touring and making millions of dollars a year. You don’t see acts like the Rolling Stones, Lady GAGA, or Taylor Swift singing for tips. So with that all being said, if you think by playing on Broadway in Nashville it is going to get you rich, then you better stay home and enjoy your air conditioning. At least you can have a cold drink when you want it and won’t have to pay $20 for parking.
– The Music City Ghost [File#9] 2015