If you are planning to perform in Lowell, MA, DO NOT contact Back Page.
The following is a lengthy post for my fellow musicians. This is not an angry rant, a cry for sympathy, or an attempt to publicly shame anyone. This is a public service announcement for the concern of working class musicians.
Back Page is a nice venue and the staff is friendly; but the owner Bob Ramirez is unprofessional, rude, disrespectful, and inconsiderate. He does not communicate properly with the club’s booker, and does not understand that a “guarantee" is to be paid to the musician(s) regardless of how many people are in attendance during their performance. Please allow me to explain.
I played at Back Page on Friday October 21, 2016 as part of a month long solo tour that I booked for myself. I reached out to them in July and after a few emails with the club’s booker, we confirmed the date and time and $50 guarantee that I would be paid to play an early set, opening for the headlining act. When I finished playing I went to settle up with the bartender. She walked back to the office, and returned to inform me that the owner, Bob Ramirez was only cutting one check that night for the headliner. Eventually, Bob came out from the office and angrily approached me about the money I was asking for. He was mad that I was expecting to be paid for an early set which was sparsely attended. He said that because there were not enough people in the room when I played, he should not have to pay me. (The booker and I agreed that it might turn out that way. Since it was my first time playing solo in Lowell, this would be more of an exposure gig.) I showed him my correspondence from the venue's email address that I exchanged with the booker, confirming my gig and guarantee. He said that he was not told about my performance in advance and was not going to pay me. (FYI: On the morning of the gig, I received an email from the booker saying that he informed the venue of my performance that night, and they were expecting me.) Bob texted the booker for more information, but did not receive a response (since the booker was out of the country at the time). I told Bob that the money was important to me since I was in the middle of a month long solo tour, but he still refused to pay me. I asked him a few times if he could give me the money, then work it out with the booker when he returned to the USA; but he still refused to pay me. I spoke to him calmly throughout the entire interaction, but he just continued to get more irate and belligerent. We went back and forth like this for at least 30 minutes, then I left without getting paid.
The next day, the booker emailed me to ask about the texts he received the night before, and I explained to him what happened. After a month of additional emails with the booker, he finally paid me out of his own pocket. The money did not come from Back Page or Bob Ramirez.
You may not think that $50 is worth all of this effort, but believe me that it’s a significant amount of money for an independent musician on a solo tour. Those funds would have gone towards essentials like food, gas, and lodging.
Why am I sharing this if I eventually received payment? Because I don’t want anyone else to go through this, and people should know what kind of person Bob Ramirez is and how he runs Back Page.
Please feel free to spread the word and share this post.
Thank you for your time.