Earlier start times recommended to strengthen London music scene

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The times, they are a-changing, or at least they should be, says a London music icon in the know.

Jim McCormick, founder of Allstage and member of the London Business Of Music Committee, not to mention drummer for the band Bender, thinks earlier start times for local shows would benefit both musicians and the fans who pay to see them play.

“The demographic that has supported live music for the past couple of decades, well, we’ve all aged, unfortunately,” he said. “Back in the ’70s and ’80s when shows went from 9 pm to 1 am, bars were packed when I played. People would go out for dinner and then go to the bar. Now that we’ve done this 10 to 2 thing, a couple of things have come into play.”

“People are getting Mondays and Wednesdays off as a weekend and Saturday and Sunday they’ve got to go to work.”

– Jim McCormick

McCormick noted the later start times “kind of takes the wind out of people. Some people just say the hell with it, go home and watch TV. We have so many options to occupy our time with the internet and TV and everything else, so that’s certainly had a harmful effect to it.”

Whether it’s his own shows or the many others he takes in, McCormick sees people streaming for the doors by 1 a.m. Changing times, which we mentioned earlier, are to blame.

“Back in the ’70s and ’80s, most people worked five days a week and had the weekend off. Now, whether it’s CAMI, an automotive plant, retail – it’s right across the board.

LDN_Reverb The times they are a-changing
Photo by Tommy Alcatraz / FCLMA

People are getting Mondays and Wednesdays off as a weekend and Saturday and Sunday they’ve got to go to work.”

He pointed out London as unique among many other Canadian cities. For example, millennials drive the live music scene in Halifax, but closer to home most young people start and end their evenings on Richmond Row leaving the boomers to crowd the shows. Problem is they’re leaving by midnight or so.

Another thing is the much-needed spotlight on drinking and driving. There wasn’t nearly the stigma attached to that 30 or 40 years ago. It wasn’t uncommon to have a few drinks and then get behind the wheel. Even police officers sometimes looked the other way.

“Sure, some of them back then would stop you, realize you had been drinking, and tell you to be careful and drive straight home,” McCormick said. “Now, thankfully, you can’t do that at all now. That’s not an option.”

That means earlier start times, earlier endings, and a DJ for those wanting to stay to the bitter end. It just might be what saves local live music.