This is the Justin Crouse interview that appeared in Issue 2 of Big Time Music Trade Magazine in July of 1997.    
              JUSTIN CROUSE
BIG TIME  :  What do you think of the local music scene?
JUSTIN  :  My background started in this area when I came down here in '90 to attend U.M.A.'s music program.  I went to the Wharf in Hallowell and that changed my life; as I saw Roger Sampson, Peter Johnson, Steve Jones, Bob Caldwell, Brad Pilsbury, Fred Hills, and other musicians perform.  A band that formed from a number of those guys is The Boneheads.  When I first started going there, at the time, Roger and Steve were in the Upsetters.  Roger was also in the Wavebreakers, and Bob was in the Inspectors.  I went to the Sunday night Jam, at the Wharf, as I was studying drums at U.M.A., saw Roger, Peter, Fred, and these guys, when I decided to play guitar.  It was more than that one experience that convinced me to make the switch, Taking three years to live at the Wharf, and learning really, really fast.
      I think that this area in particular has the most under-rated music scene.  I mean you take a band like the Boneheads, you ask anybody about them and they are going to say they are a Portland based band.  They are not a Portland based band!  They used to play every Tuesday at the Wharf when they started and 3/4 of them live here.  You can see at least one of them perform 3 nights a week at the Wharf, in different bands.  I took lessons from Roger, Steve, Fred Pillsbury, and Peter Johnson.  They all passed on any sort of wisdom they could possibly pass on, and that's a thing you don't see in any other music scene.  Another thing is, if I know I had a gig tomorrow, needed a P.A. ( Public Announcement System. ) of didn't have a P.A., I could call one of the people up from the music scene and say: " I need a P.A. can I borrow one?"  not a single one of them would say: "Sure you can borrow it...if I'm on the gig."  In other music scenes, that is exactly what they would ask.  You know it's all:  "ME, ME, ME, " rather than: "I'm not using mine, go ahead. "  It's so much of a family thing.  I mean when Fred Pillsbury died, you had about 5 nights at the Wharf when you had every Major Musician in the area.  I would almost venture to say in the state, come up to just play and just say:  "Hey, I knew Fred too, I know how much it means to ya."  It was in a mourning sense.  You had like a whole week of gigs that were open at the Wharf and everyone that was booked to play there that week, knew the guy was going to come in and probably want to sit in.  It wasn't even a matter of having to ask.  I've played the Portland music scene, gone to watch, almost gotten to the point to ask to sit in, and they're like, "No, we don't do that, I'm sorry."  At the Wharf you could book a gig, no matter what you play and all they care about is that you play it well.
BIG TIME    :  Is it because the Wharf in Hallowell, and because Tilbury Town Tavern in Gardiner, are owned by older people?
JUSTIN  :  I know 2 musicians who left the Hallowell music scene and went to Seattle Washington, and they just came back for a visit.  They said the three times that they came back, as far as "musically" goes, if that is even a word; this music scene is as good, if not better than the Seattle music scene.  They've been to Austin Texas, and they say it's as good as the Austin music scene.  I think the club owners are what builds up the case.
      In this area, you can have a band that looks good, and lets say can reproduce the record; that they think is going to be great.  In some cases it is, and it's because a certain amount of people in that area go out for live entertainment.  These are bands that are in it for the money, ladies, and the exclusive record contract.  If they do a weekend show, both Friday and Saturday nights; they will play the same exact set list of songs both nights, and in the same order.  They play the same order of songs every single weekend that they perform.  They've got their "smoke show" happening at the same exact time in the set, as they did the weekend before.  The lights are iin the same order, with the green lights and the red lights going on while playing Beth by Kiss.
     In all the band situations I've been in,there's "The Show."   What's the show?  That's the same set list, with your little "hooks," in every single song.  It's horrible, I mean it becomes a job.  Your playing gigs and constantly worrying from then on.  You can't concentrate and say: "O.K., I'm going to bare myself to these people tonight."  You can't do that because you got to think:  "O.K., in five measures, I've got to come up with my little guitar lick, to be exact with the bass players lick, and it's got to be right on with the drummer."  Is that music?  No, it's just your job and that's all it becomes.  Bands are a representative of where they started off, what they are allowed to do, what they are accustomed to  doing;  and if your area is about, "putting on the show," then music has become work for you.
BIG TIME  :  Well, it's not only that, but walking up to them saying:  "Good Show," and they cop an attitude like:  "Hey, your a chump, loser, scum bucket, and I'm outta here!"  While your like:  "What the heck is this?!"
JUSTIN  :  Right, I see where your coming from.  It all depends on if their, "show," has gone off right.  They treat you like, "Dog Doo on a shoe,"  because they think your basically there to worship them.  These are the people who will move to Boston, on a promise of a possible agent coming to see them at a gig.  The people in this music scene aren't here for that.  No one is looking to make the "Almighty Buck."  They probably have done the whole scene, where they want to get the contract, a long time ago.  There are musicians in this area who should be on the radio, and then there are The Spice Girls.  There are musicians who are here to play music, and have fun, which is what it should come down to.  That's why when you look over there at the Tilbury Town Taverns' stage, you won't see a light show.
     If you don't get paid very much, or at all for a gig, then you have no responsibility for keeping people there.  If I play here, and I see the tack that I'm taking isn't quite the tack I should be taking, then I'll play something different.  This happens a lot in this area, that I don't see happen in other music scenes:  If I got a gig tomorrow, I would get 3 other musicians, from 3 separate bands who would be here if they didn't have a gig.  I would guarantee, if you were in the audience, you would never know the difference, and it's because we do it all the time here.  For example; the guitar player I got at one gig I've played a couple of songs with him, here and there.  I known him him very well, and he's been in the country of Mexico for 6 months.  I haven't seen him since he came back, I called him the night he came back, and he agreed to do the gig.  I guarantee you ask anyone who saw us at the gig, they couldn't tell that we hadn't practiced ever, and never have as a group.  I introduced the guitar player to drummer, 5 minutes before we started.  We did everything from,  Sweet Jane,  to a couple of Chuck Berry songs.  We did a couple of Mexican folk songs that the guitar player learned down there.  For example:  He just said:  "It goes F# minor, to E and A."  That was it, he started playing it and we all joined in.  The four of us never played it before, and that happens a lot.  That comes from everyone sitting in together at gigs.
BIG TIME :  What do you think about non-musicians, who are Booking Agents?
JUSTIN  :  Myself, I've never had a booking agent, per se.  I don't do the agent thing, and this is a good example of why :  If I go to another club, sitting in every Friday night with people, and that place is an agent held place; the only way I would get a gig is through the agent.  If I play 2 songs at that club every Friday night, and get a following, or a bunch of regulars who know who I am; who has done the leg work if I want to get a gig there?  If I've done the work, why can't I go to the owner and ask for a weekend gig?  The club owner can know a lot about music, but they don't want to do the work.  It's a lot easier for the club owner to hire an agent and say:
"I'll give you 5%, if you give me good bands to fill the place.  The more people you get in here, the more money you'll make."  On the flip side of that, you have an agent saying to the band:  "I want 10% from each band."  So there it is on the record why I don't like the agent thing.
     I think agents are perfect for the band who want to get their show together, and doesn't want to rely on anyone else in the band to get a gig.  It's the band pulling in the people, not the agent.
         If people want to call me about gigs, my number is (207) 582-XXXX.  My E-mail is glxt16b @ XXXXXX

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