Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Hi all,

Hope those across the pond can help us here in the UK.

We’re a 6-piece band who’d like to do a tour in Boston next year, probably March / April. I’ve been there once and know there are some big venues which are like huge pubs with a stage at one end. These sound ideal. We are hoping to arrange the trip ourselves and make it pay.

Does anyone have

1) Any names of good venues to try?
2) Any contacts in the audio world who we could employ to provide the PA equipment and do our sound mixing?
3) Any good leads on accommodation?
4) Any other info about stuff we should know, generally, about playing in the US? - such as whether visas are a problem if you’re going out there to "earn money".
5) Any people who’s done this?

For braodband users who want a taste of what we do (works in IE anyway) we’ve got some stuff on http://www.celtmusic.co.uk/harp/crossing%20the%20bridge.htm - however, we’ve got a DVD coming out shortly which was done in a TV sudio and which we could do an NTSC version for sending to potential bookers.

All answers (as long as they’re polite!) welcome…

Mark

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Whos all in the band and whats the line up Mark?

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Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Try "The Burren" in Cambridge. They have live gigs in the back room sometimes and sessions every night in the front of the bar.

I wouldn’t tell Immigration that you are out there to earn money….chances are they will send you home. Just say you are out there to learn some old-time/bluegrass while on holiday

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Hi = thanks Paul and Mike.

There are 6 of us - me on clarsach and wire harp, then a bouzouki / mandola / guitar player, a bass player (acou / electric), bodhran and lead vocals(am I allowed to mention the "B" word on The Session?), guitar / flute / banjo and lead vocals, and Scottish / Irish pipes, fiddle and whistle player. So quite a few combinations are possible! All of us do vocal harmonies.

We do ballads and lively Irish stuff plus one bluegrass number - but could do more.

PS Good tip about the immigration thing!

Mark

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

In addition to The Burren [www.burren.com], which is actually in Somerville, you should also try its "sister pub," The Skellig [www.theskellig.com/] — they’re both run by Tommy and Louise McCarthy, who are musicians themselves.

Johnny D’s, also in Somerville, has had Irish/Celtic/folk acts from time to time [http://www.johnnydsuptown.com/].

There’s also the venerable Club Passim [www.clubpassim.org] in Harvard Square.

You might want to check out the Music for Robin on-line concert calendar [http://www.music-for-robin.org/]: They list venues within 100 miles of Boston, so you could get some more potential contacts there.

I do have to qualify all this info by saying I have no knowledge as to how far in advance they book their acts or what their booking process is, but hey, it’s a starting point.

I don’t have leads on audio or accommodation help, but I do know some Boston-area performers who might. Can’t promise anything, though.

Hope you’ll find time to get out to a session or three while you’re in town, too!

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Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Hi Sts,

Thanks for all this - really good links. I’m sure that’ll be helpful to us! Here’s a bit more about us: http://www.celtmusic.co.uk/musicians.htm - when we do this, we’d love to find the sessions as well. Sounds like a lively scene out there

Mark

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Hmmm, one would probably the Narrows Art Center in Fall River, they have alot of people come by there, Teada came by there! ::Hearts Teada::

Cheers and good luck,
Armand

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Good luck, Mark. It occurs to me that the folks who run those venues are likely to have far better leads on audio help and accommodations in the Boston area.

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Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Heya Mark! So your hand must all better then? 🙂 Yay! Try contacting Matt and Shannon at eatsrecords.com on all questions. They’re off on tour right now, but they know most people around there and can probably help you carry your coals to Newcastle… ;)

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Matt ‘n Shannon would’ve been my first recommendation as well! Excellent people to know and play tunes with.

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Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

The tip about trying to sneak by Immigration is a very bad one. We all hate the way the Immigration people are making it difficult on musicians, but if you get caught, the consequences are probably more than you want to risk. First, they might deny you entry to the country, costing you six round-trip airfares. Instruments and CDs for sale will make them very suspicious. Second, if they turn you away, presenters who booked you will be left in the lurch. Third, if they catch you, it will be virtually impossible to get a visa in the future. Fourth, some presenters will require legal entry as a condition for booking.

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

There is no law on going on Holiday with some friends who play instruments, so you won’t be turned away unless you admit you are going to earn any money in the country. They won’t even get in the country at all if they say they are gonna play at paid gigs.

It IS legal entry….they will be on the Visa-waiver program, which allows them to stay in the USA for up to 90 days.

I went to the US for three months in February with my fiddle, and I had no problems with Immigration. I wasn’t even asked if I was gonna do any gigs, but I just mentioned in passing that I was looking forward to learning some american old-time music.

Tell me Gary, just how are they gonna ‘catch’ you when you get paid for gigs cash-in-hand?

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

A solo fiddler carrying no box of CDs, sure. Six musicians travelling together carrying two harps, bouzouki, two guitars, mandola, bass, flute, banjo, Irish pipes, Scottish pipes, whistles and probably a few dozen copies of the same CD is likely to arouse suspicion. I don’t know the law well enough to know what they are entitled to, but I do know that the Immigration people can be bastards.

Also, some gigs will not pay in cash.

People certainly do what you are suggesting, and they do get away with it, but it is illegal, and could be caught and have negative consequences.

Going the legal route is a long, hard, expensive process with no guarantee of success. It sucks. But it’s a fact. You just have to weigh the risks, costs, and benefits of abiding by the law or evading it.

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Probably the best idea is for them all to go through immigration seperately. I’m pretty sure they are not actually breaking the law when they go through immigration. Anyone is free to travel the world with their instruments.

The point where they may be breaking the law is when they get paid for doing the gigs, for which they would have to arrange for cash-in-hand (but they would never realistically be found out for this). And the law is really an ass sometimes anyway

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

It would be wise to check with the law itself, or ask a lawyer, as we’re both just speculating. My guess is that the violation would be in lying to the immigration officials when they ask the purpose of the visit.

I don’t know what non-US citizens are asked on those landing cards that they hand to the official at Immigration, but the ones US citizens fill out have a notice alerting you to the penalties for giving false information.

Again, as you point out, the chances are small that they would discover the lie, but some people like to gamble and others don’t.

And I’m totally in agreement that the law is an ass in this case.

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

HI all,

A belated thank-you to you all for your advice / comments etc. I’ve had a quick look at different visas and could investigate this more - so we’ll see! Thanks all for the support / links etc etc - and we’ll let you know if we’re coming your way - it could be a lot of fun if we can sort out the legalitites…

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

One more thought- if the USA doesn’t work out.. why not consider coming to Canada- Cape Breton, Nova Scotia? Let me know if you’d like more info on this- I’d be more than happy to help out 🙂

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Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

No worries really…..I didn’t have to lie (as such) on my Immigration form when I went over. However….if i remember rightly, I think there was some sort of declaration to sign which (amongst other things) says that I should not earn any money during the trip.

So I signed it and that was the end of that! A few days later I was earning reasonable money through busking in the street, with cops walking past all the time. They obviously didn’t care at all

A side-trip to Canada would be worth it i’m sure

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

lol

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

I’m glad Paul didn’t get caught. But most, if not all, of the towns and cities that make up the Boston area (Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, etc.) have some sort of regulations about busking, often requiring the busker to purchase a permit for a nominal fee. From time to time, presumably depending on how much free time the police have and whether they’ve received any complaints, there’s a bit of enforcement done. Maybe not often, but occasionally.

I imagine that if the police asked a busker to show that they had a valid busking permit, they would probably also ask for identification. From there it would be pretty easy to trace the visa status. Most of the time, I suspect they’ve got bigger fish to fry, but who knows…

I’ve been driving, and exceeding the speed limit, for 30 years without being caught, or even stopped. But I don’t deduce from that that nobody gets caught.

Re: Getting a tour together in Boston, USA

Regulations, smegulations!

Incidentally, I busked several times at the T-stops in Boston, and I was once told to move to a different spot….but as never given any hassle about not having a permit. The worst that would probably happen is they might move you on, that is assuming that you are a pretty good player.

There were loads of other buskers around….I think they were happy to have somebody different playing there actually, since it was the same old musicians playing there several times a week.

Basically you need to lighten up a bit here, Gary. There are small risks involved in going on such a musical adventure but I would definitely say that they are worth taking. Musicians are not criminals by definition, so should not run into any problems with the law.

Back to your original dismissive comment Gary….’First, they might deny you entry in to the country’ This is very unlikely to happen if you are ready for their questions when going through immigration, as I have explained.

I do in fact know an American banjo player who was due to play at a gig in Canada, but was refused entry because he hardly had any money with him. He (stupidly) told them that it was ‘okay’ as he was going to some busking while he was over there. Needless to say, they didn’t like that and sent him home!! But unless you act as dumb as that, and have enough money with you, it appears you can get through no problem and once you are through that’s it…..No worries. I even know a high profile Irish bouzouki player who was invited to teach at a certain Irish music camp in the states, and he also came in by this illegal (shock-horror!) method with no problems.