Yes, you read that right. After three (I think?) years, we must say goodbye to our Irish music nights. I would like to say this was a well thought out plan. Or a need for a change of venue. Or major musical success for our community musicians. Or anything, really, that had an element of local control to it. But, alas that is not the case. Instead, you are going to get a little innkeeper rant.
I’m guessing that if you are here reading this, you know me, or my Inn or my town, or all of the above. (In reality I’m guessing that about three people read these posts, but that’s OK, it’s lovely that you are here!) Back to my topic – so you get Shoreham. How small we are. What a perfect Vermont community we are (warts and all) Maybe you have been here on a Sunday night to hear some Irish music. This motley (said with the utmost fondness) group of local people who love playing Irish music together. One person in town had the idea that The Shoreham Inn would be a great location for these informal gatherings; ‘sessions’ in Irish speak. Musicians getting together, of all sizes, shapes and aptitudes, to make traditional music together. Perfect. They were right, the Inn was a perfect setting for this. Dominic didn’t get to hear the music much, as he’s slaving away in the kitchen, but when he did it would always spark the memory of being a young boy, made to go to bed in the room above the bar in his aunt’s pub, while the music and singing went on below him. Very soothing, the sound of Irish music through floorboards. If you came to any of these nights, you might have seen the young boy and his father playing together, there might have been singing, maybe you were here on one of the nights a world-class fiddler came along just for fun. I’ll stop, you get the idea.
So, why would we put an end to this magic? We’ve been contacted by the first of potentially three major music licensing companies, demanding that we pay them yearly royalties for the right to have live music on the premises. Royalties that they distribute to the songwriters of the songs in their catalog. Doesn’t seem to matter if they know whether these musicians play their songs or not, we must pay regardless. And, as I am told, the other licensing companies will be on my doorstep in moments, also demanding payment. I get the principle, I really do, but you would not believe the heavy-handedness with which they have been in touch with us here at the Inn. And the money they demand. Which, just isn’t feasible for what really feels like a tiny piece of community-building that we supported here at the Inn. I have had many conversations with other business owners and the resounding opinion is, don’t fight it, they are big and ugly and unfair and they will win. Apparently they shut down a coffee house’s music night in Rochester VT late last year. I am trying not to be too bitter but it really makes me want to stamp my feet and throw things. (Seriously, does this strike anyone else as EXACTLY identical to schoolyard bullying?)
OK, rant over. The important message for today is that we have to say a fond farewell to Irish music nights. Thank you for being such fun and putting smiles on so many faces. We wish all our musicians happy, happy playing wherever they land next.
Of course, all of this leaves me unsure as to what I’m supposed to do if someone wants to sing Happy Birthday on my premises……