The Music, the Sound or the Ambience?


Since I go out to hear music so often, I have learned there is no perfect place for music. Some are close to perfect and some are a train wreck. It seems as if I have mentally arranged places as good or bad for my listening enjoyment and it is a combination of the music, the sound quality and the ambience of the place. I am leaving out the large number of outdoor venues so available in the summer. I will be going to the Detroit Jazz Festival the first weekend in September since the music is so wonderful that it is a weekend of pure joy.

First, I look for music I like. There is a lot of great music that does not appeal to me but I want an evening that brings me some pleasure. However great music can be ruined both by a poor sound system or an ugly atmosphere. The poor sound can be a number of things. It can be too loud even to the point of distortion, uneven or just wrong for the style of the particular musicians. In one place that I go, the barkeep pulls men aside to point out women she thinks are easy…sort of a home grown pimp. I think she does it to increase business or possibly she wants to make herself look good by making others look bad. In some case she is just wrong and she makes the bar have an uncomfortable ambience. It is also so obvious that it is embarrassing and slightly disgusting. I do not go there as often as they have good music.

The sound is so important. There is one place that had a great sound person and the sound is right on. I go there frequently. Sometimes for music that is not that great since I know the sound will be the best for the band. They also have relatively good bar food. So, they have the combo of ambience and good sound. One place I go has great music and ambiance. It is the Diego Rivera Hall or the Kresge Court at the DIA. I can look around and see a place of great beauty. The food is really good. But, both room are bad for sound. In the Diego Rivera room, I have found that by moving around, I can find a seat with a sound ” sweet spot”. There is one club in town that also has bad sound and the sound guy must be deaf. I know I can hear good sound in one part of the place and that is where I sit in order to listen.

And the ambience can be a deal breaker. One place I go seems to draw large tables of very loud people who shout to be heard over the music. This is not a great place to go. The underlying reason is that so many do not realize that listening to music can be rewarding even in a bar.

When people listen at jazz concerts or at the DIA, the event is so much better and it seems that I’m heading in that direction.

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