Last Wednesday, 1/30/2019, schools were closed in Western New York State because the Polar Vortex came calling. The temperature hovered around zero and the wind blew gales. We had pre-purchased tickets to hear The Canadian Brass perform at our world famous Kodak Hall Eastman Theater. I half wanted my husband to say we weren’t going. Instead we put on our fleece lined jeans, a couple of layers of shirts and wore our warmest winter coats. So did everyone else. In our glamorous theater there was not a suit or dress in sight, except on stage. The music did not disappoint. In fact it was fantastic, catchy, even awe inspiring. The performers were also entertainers and we went home with happiness in our hearts and a new knowledge of an instrument we found out was a contrabassoon. Neither my husband nor I had ever seen one. The lady next to me showed me one on her phone, during intermission. The Fox model 900 costs $28,995.00. That’s more than my present car. I digress.
The experience got me to thinking about the price we pay to hear good, sometimes, way above par, live music. In this case our tickets were only $35.00 each. At the same theater we pay $60.00 or more to hear our own philharmonic perform the soundtrack to a movie, as we watch the movie on a big screen. My grandson likes to go to those concerts. It’s not much more expensive than going to the theater and buying their concessions.
We are friends with a pianist, Andy Calabrese, who writes a lot of the jingles for local businesses to use in their television advertising. We go to dinner, or have a glass of wine in order to hear him play depending on where is he is performing on a given evening. We also go to local festivals to hear him when he plays with a larger band. Most of the time he plays jazz, but blues and rock emerge when the occasion fits.
Rochester has an almost world famous Jazz festival in June. There a bunch of shows that are $30.00, a bunch that are free and the headliners pull upwards to $100.00 a ticket. We buy a festival pass that gets us into everything but the headliners and we skip the headliners.
We also have a restaurant/club in town that charges a $10.00 per person cover charge and the price of dinner and drinks. They have good music, don’t get me wrong, but is it any better or worse than anyone else’s. No, it’s about the same quality.
I have had the good fortune to be able to spend five days in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I must say all the music I heard there was above par. Some we paid the inflated price of a too large beer to listen to; in Jackson Square I heard Jonah Tobias playing his self-made Kora for free, and I heard more than one wedding street band by just standing on a corner on Saturday night. (If you want to know what a kora sounds like ask Alexa to play Jonah Tobias.) I was so enamored with the music I came home and looked up real estate prices; all out of my price range.
So what am I getting at? I like music, some kinds much better than others. If you’ve a mind to hear some live, there are many avenues to do so, where I live anyway. I can tell you from experience, the quality doesn’t necessarily coincide with the price you pay for the enjoyment.
Note: the picture is Jonah Tobias with a band on a New Orleans street.