Thursday, Feb. 19th, I attended the public meeting held in Columbus Council Chambers to learn more about the proposed change to local regulations which should have been of great interest to this music community. The proposal would add to establishments serving alcohol the category of "traditional restaurant," it removes the distance requirements currently preventing positive development in parts of Columbus, and it specificly forbids live music!

It wasn't a well-attended event considering how some locals are about serving alcohol. What REALLY blew me away, however, was that not a single musician was there to represent the needs of the local music performance community. This is nuts. These are jobs.

In the article on the meeting which appeared in Friday's LE, I'm the one who spoke up in favor of allowing live performance in "traditional restaurants." As it is clear many people in Columbus are concerned about crimes occuring around certain kinds of bars and clubs, I emphasized that live music has a positive place in family restaurants. Live background music adds atmosphere and enhances the dining experience. It means jobs for local musicians.

Columbus derives quite a bit of economic benefit from CSU, its Schwob Scool of Music and the Columbus Symphony. My point is quite simple: If we are so quick to brag about those, why would we fail to consider the importance of employment for the many musicians in this area?

I understand many of you may be underwhelmed at the thought of playing background music. It probably doesn't rank high on the egoboo and creative satisfaction scales. But let's be practical. Most of the City Council, the City Manager, and the various community/business groups are in favor of this regulation change, but under pressure not to allow anything which would create additional crime problems. Unfortunately, they equate certain kinds of live performance with those problems. They will not vote exactly the way you might prefer at this time.

You still have to eat, pay rent, put gas in the car, etc. The money a struggling musician might earn in pay and tips for such gigs is better than no money and no performance opportunity/experience. Changing this proposed regulation adding "traditional restaurants" serving beer, wine and mixed drinks to also allow live background or atmosphere music "opens the door" to potential work, and would show certain segments of the Columbus population that live music doesn't automatically result in crime, riots, gunfire and massive societal disruption.

There will be a first reading of this regulation still banning the performance of live music in "traditional restaurants" at 5:30 PM this coming Tuesday (Feb. 24th) at the evening City Council meeting. Each of us in Columbus has THREE City Councilors representing us, the one in whose district we live and the 2 At-Large members. Contact Mayor Wetherington, too. Their phone numbers can be found by going to www.columbusga.org. And a bunch of you need to show up at that meeting to speak out for yourselves and jobs for musical performers.

A career in musical performance has never been an easy road. Why, in this economy, would we close the door on potenial jobs? Whether or not you would personally choose to work such a gig, I urge everyone who is part of the Columbus music community to support those who need this opportunity for work.

(NOTE: I am not a musician, have nothing to do with CSU, or have anything to do with the restaurant business. Nor am I a member of any of the business & community groups here in town, ALL of whom have voted support for this proposed regulation which seems almost certain to pass WITHOUT jobs for musicians.)

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Thank you Susan. I've personally been engaged in discussions online about the awkwardly anti-music stance of this new ordinance that is supposed to increase opportunities for local restaurateurs.
Hi, Sean --

What has been the upshot of those discussions? Will this community take a public stand for music in "Traditional Restaurants?" Is the musical community calling their city councilors? Will musicians be attending and speaking at the first reading of this ordinance at 5:30 PM this afternoon at Government Center?

You are certainly correct about the "anti-music stance" of the new ordinance. The politicians are looking only at the narrow economic benefit of family-type restaurants without considering the needs of anyone other than some elements of the religious community in South Columbus. Unfortunately, the individuals speaking out against music (Rev. Gould and, I think, Rev. Flakes) have had the field to themselves because NO ONE from this area's extensive musical community has shown up to present a more realistic view.

After Thursday's meeting, I spoke with a couple of people from community/business groups working to pass the ordinance. They are all amenible to live background music, and all said the opposition to music was coming from just a couple of the black ministers. While I respect the ministers concerns, that does not mean I find those concerns to be valid for "traditional restaurants" as they are defined and regulated by this ordinance. Individuals wanting to get blasted don't head for the nearest Carrabas or Red Lobster. This new category of business simply will not be establishments where drunkeness and wild behavior occur.

In business, things always are an economic trade off. Many restaurants use paper napkins (cheap) instead of cloth (classier, but more expense); that calculation is a factor in whether or not any restaurant hires a musician. If you guys don't get your act together, the door will close on any live music jobs being available in these family establishments. You won't even get your toe in the door to prove just how out-of-touch these ministers' ideas are, nor move us closer to some future update of this ordinance to allow live music that is more than merely background. I'm hoping I've managed to move local musicians to invest some time and effort in order to reap the benefits of increased local job opportunites.

Am I making sense here?
Yes, Susan you are making sense. I've been in contact with the Mayor's office and local music leaders (who own businesses open at 5.30pm) and it seems tonight at 5.30pm IS the open time to speak on this subject. I appreciate your energy on this topic and if I can't find someone to speak as an advocate for musicians, I may awkwardly show up myself. (A first time for me. I'm much more of a preacher than a politician.)

Limited opportunities for entrepreneur musicians to work in a down-turn economy is hardly what the spirit of the ordinance intended. Yet, the way I'm to understand how this is written, it's the general effect.

I might just see you there.
Yes, Sean, you --as an involved member of the musical performance community in Columbus -- absolutely MUST be there! I'm still trying to decide...
Additionally, I do know that MIC representatives HAVE spoken to city councilors to express the concerns for the music community with regards to economic development. This may be a several step process to move Columbus forward.

This first step, to allow "Traditional Restaurants" to serve alcohol within 300 ft of churches, and later deal with the music issue.

Personally, writing an ordinance limiting live musicianship at a restaurant is a mistake in both economic and cultural development and a grand example of bad code writing. This is my argument.
I couldn't agree more, both in regard to the "mistake" and the "bad code writing" on this ordinance. But I feel strongly that allowing these few ministers to continue equating "alcohol + live music" with "crime, drunken debauchery and neighborhood disruption" is a serious mistake that could easily take years to undo. That's why I went with live "background" music, i.e. part of the inviting atmosphere rather than the Main Attraction. Musicians need more job opportunities now.

Family-friendly sit-down restaurants, which is exactly this new category is intended to be, will neither appeal to, nor tolerate, the kind of people whose behavior is causing problems at some clubs and bars. The business owners know where their bread is buttered: families, not drunks. Getting background music accepted in this ordinance will give the ministers some time to "chill" and become a bit more sensible.

I wish you'd been there to hear Rev. Gould. This idea that having a restaurant where alcohol is served inside and totally out of sight will somehow, by proximity, harm nearby children is decidedly off the wall. GGG>> Following that line of "reasoning" would suggest we not allow houses anywhere near schools or playgrounds. After all, someone might be having sex while the little dears were walking down the sidewalk!
Susan,

I spoke with Counselor Mimi today in-depth about the new ordinance. She comes from a musical family and is hoping she has 6 votes to pass this new measure. Here's my take on our conversation...

NOW: You could not open a restaurant with an alcohol license within 300ft of a church. And certainly, the restaurant owner could not provide live music. (Even though churches can have concerts in their parking lots.)

PROPOSED: South-side restaurant may fail without patrons being able to have a beer with their burger. So, if passed, these new traditional restaurants (80/20) within eye-shot of a church COULD have an alcohol license, but no live music outside. This also excludes live music on decks or patios. This is a step to loosening the laws -- an attempt to help the entrepreneurs of Columbus.

I'd personally be in favor of this action as long as music continues to become a bigger part part of our culture.


Next, of course, I'd want to loosen it up some more.
Sean,
Forgive my ignorance on this, but what was the final outcome of this issue?
Rusty
Let me check in on this.

Sean... this is a great site, a shame we can't get more people over here and involved with it.

Yes, and great to see this site back up and running, Sean!


So he can troll another site with his spam

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