When I started my musical journey, faithful Reader, merch tables were not on my mind. In fact, Merch Tables that Worked was something I couldn’t even imagine. All I wanted to do was make music. I just wanted to write songs, get shows and play live.
That was it – nothing more than that.
When I finally got on the circuit, I was always playing with other people and I noticed after a while that show pay was ok, but selling stuff – “merch” – was a great way to add to your show revenue. The idea was at the end of your show you’d have whatever the house gave you, plus ticket sales and your merch table receipts.
I was always interested in assemblage and fascinated by “Calder’s Circus“. Making things with cardboard and bits of wood and string was of great interest. When I saw what people were using to make these displays and presentations, I was hooked.
Finding a decent suitcase was a constant activity – so I was always on the lookout for cases of all sorts, of any kind. Finally, I did find one in a thrift store.
The project was underway.
And now we’re underway with this post! And so glad you’re here, but take a moment and share a comment at the end, ok? If you like this stuff, say so and share your thoughts… it’ll make a difference!
I knew I wanted to display CDs, stickers, t-shirts, and pins, and buttons of various kinds, so I started by sketching it all out. I picked up yardsticks from Lowes and Wood Glue, plus a Hot Glue Gun. In all of this my aim was to create a few Merch Tables that worked!
I needed one of these table-top merch tables for the small shows, one for medium shows and one for larger outdoor Festivals. It seemed reasonable, and I put the plan into effect.
After several attempts over 6 months, I had a finished design. There was a lot of trial and error. The presentation was tested. And then it went out on a number of shows and we made a few adjustments.
6 months later, we had a finished merch table that worked. It drew fans and friends and our vision was now a reality. It generated between $75-$150 before the shows and $50- $235 after the shows in the lobby or the midway.
Then we stepped up in a big way and added lighting. These were battery-powered hardware store lights, strictly commercial. These were made for the home. They were designed to add lights to closets or kitchen drawers.
But they didn’t really have the throw or the power we needed. Then came Hollywood!
During a lull at the Johnson City Folk Festival, a friend of ours came in from Hollywood to help with lighting and stage sets. He took a look at the merch table I currently had with me. The Dude sat in the hotel room and wired it up with LED from Breaking Bad. You can see for yourself what a difference it makes!
Merch Tables that Work!
“If there’s a place for musical perfection, it’s wherever you’ll find Eric Sommer – A blistering acoustic style plus a variety of slide and open tuning formats will knock you for a loop…” wrote Studdie Burns, New Melody Maker/UK in 2013. “How one guy can do this so well is remarkable, but if you look a little deeper there’s a batch of road miles around this lad… and it all makes sense.”
Eric started his musical career in the Boston area under the eye of legendary promoter Don Law and was onstage at The Paradise Theatre in Boston for a record 40 appearances. He has been a regular player on many national and international tours and showcases, and worked in Europe for two years with Nick Lowe and acts Bram Tchaikovsky and Wreckless Eric; during this period Eric worked on Danish, German and British rock stages, returned to Boston and formed The Atomics.
As a founding member of Boston’s legendary pop/new wave cult trio “The Atomics”, who toured non-stop with Mission of Burma, Gang of Four and The Dead Kennedy’s and were on the leading edge of several musical transformations, Eric never lost sight of his acoustic roots, returning to his heroes and mentors often: David Bromberg, Steve Howe(YES), Duane Allman (Allman Bros.), Bert Jansch, Davy Graham, Robert Johnson. Mr. Sommer’s current project with power trio “The Solar Flares” shake up Chet Atkins and David Bromberg’s influences with those of Randy Travis and British Rocker Elvis Costello – a remarkable mix.
And to keep track of it all, Eric started keeping notes, which evolved from napkin scribbles to paper and pen efforts, writing stories, making poetry and capturing the roads and bridges as they went by, plus people, places and… more people which become his notes, then become characters for songs, stories, and prose.
Eric currently has four volumes of verse, 5 studio albums, a LIVE in AUSTIN DVD as well as an electronica project titled “The Smallest Particle” and more on the way… this blog is an attempt to keep track of it all…
You can reach Eric directly at ericATericsommer.com and see more of his projects here on this website. Red Chairs, Black Pancake and Blue Turtle are all available here, as well as all current releases. Please share and comment below.
Singer/songwriter Eric Sommer is an unbelievable intersection of improbable influences and experiences channeled into an amazingly diverse catalog and a résumé that reads more like a musical adventure novel than a series of career bullet points.