BY SUZANNAH COUCH
For The Republic
On any given weekend night in Brown County, live music fills the air in most wineries, bars and restaurants.
Some managers and owners say live music helps them bring in locals and break even when tourists are not visiting in the slow months of January and February.
The rest of the year, live music helps to draw visitors and locals alike.
At the Brown County Inn, live music can be heard on Friday and Saturday nights in the Corn Crib Lounge.
It’s about consistency, too, when offering live music during the winter, said Courtney Gosser, one of the four Brown County Inn owners.
“This time of year it makes us break even, but it’s about the atmosphere and keeping things consistent and what people expect from your business,” she said.
“We have a small community here in Brown County so I think music is kind of a universal pastime, so I think that in a small town to have music is good. It kind of brings people together.”
From a business standpoint, it’s also important to offer live music from local and regional bands, especially in the slower winter season, Gosser said.
“Local people can bring in local customers. Those are people we absolutely want to cater to because it’s all about the locals in the offseason. We’re a small town. If you don’t have the locals on your side you’re not going to do really well all year round,” she said.
Gosser said the Brown County Inn receives many inquiries from bands and musicians wishing to play there, but the owners have to consider different factors when booking performances, which results in them turning some way.
“We’re looking for someone who we can hear beforehand. If we have a musician who doesn’t have any references or no music on the Internet it’s really hard for us to book bands like that because it’s kind of a gamble for us. We end up turning people away,” she said.
Offering performances by cover bands is something Gosser believes appeals to tourists.
“A lot of people on vacation, they want to hear what they know and they want to dance to something they’ve heard before,” she said.
Currently, the Brown County Inn gives “The Pickers,” or the musicians who gather together to play outside at the Village Green Pavilion during the summer, space to perform on Tuesday nights. The hope is to eventually add more performance opportunities for local singers and songwriters, Gosser said.
Bringing in money
This past summer, the Nashville Arts and Entertainment Commission had intern Anne Ellis conduct research regarding the economic impact of the arts and culture in Brown County.
The survey was part of Ellis’ Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs master’s degree program and came at no cost to the town.
According Ellis’ data, 12 percent of people she surveyed on the street and 10 percent elsewhere in the community were visiting for entertainment events.
Ellis’ report states that an average guest to Brown County spends $26 on arts and entertainment events, $106 on lodging and $55 on food/restaurants.
“Focusing more on live performances and music in the general, I think they’re appealing to younger crowd, and they’re doing a pretty good job of bringing in more business for the town by using music to draw people in,” said local musician Kenan Rainwater, of the band RAINWATER.
“What’s really cool about playing around here is that we have not only a great supportive local audience … and tourists. You can play in the same place to different people every night, especially in the spring, summer and fall, because we have such a great tourist industry,” he said.