It’s Small Business Saturday. It’s also Support Local Musicians Year. OK, the first one’s legit, and the second one is something I just made up. But if you go out to a locally-owned bar, restaurant, or club to see local performers, you’re supporting local businesses and you’re a patron of the arts.

Sure, you could drop a month’s pay on tickets to the next Taylor Swift stadium show. But for that same cash, you could support dozens of local musicians who are just trying to get by. Or doing what they love in the evenings while working a day job or three.

You don’t have to buy the merch… you can just drop some cash in the tip jar. Maybe it’ll help them put some gas in the van, or record their next release.

On Thanksgiving Eve, I went to Arnold’s Bar & Grill (Cincinnati’s Oldest Tavern) to see Maria Carrelli and her band play an album release party. The album was recorded live at Arnold’s back in the spring. The album artwork was done by my good friend Keith Neltner, who runs his own design studio. The record was pressed at MusIcol in Columbus. The record sleeve and jacket were printed at Otto Printing in Newport, KY. All small local businesses. (I need to note that the album giveaway was sponsored by Maker’s Mark, which is semi-local but far from small.)

“These aren’t just regular albums. There is a ton of work that goes into them. Releasing these Thanksgiving Eve albums for free has been a passion project for Arnold’s owner Chris Breeden and celebrated graphic designer Keith Neltner for over 5 years now,” the press release says. “They handle every aspect of this release from the vinyl pressing all the way to stuffing the records into the sleeves at the end. The project actually won multiple Cincinnati Addy awards over the years as well.”

From this article in CityBeat (a local news source)

The album went on sale yesterday at a bunch of local record stores:

Shake It Records, Everybody’s Records, Plaid Room Records, Torn Light Records, Phil’s Records, Hail Records and Oddities, Morrow Records, Black Plastic Records, Hey Suburbia Records, Three Feathers Records and Spiral Groove Records.

So before you go dropping a bunch of cash on “stuff”… think about spending some $ on the live, local music experience. It’s much more memorable, and much more rewarding.