the music scene.

in taking a look at some of the various smaller music scenes around the country, a possible conclusion to be drawn or point made in regard to outcomes, would be the construction of a somewhat complex formula, describing the interrelation of the componentry. it would appear to be a bit of a “soup” with different elements tossed in or available, and if one aspect is a little shy, compensation can be made by goosing one of the other variables. like a lot of small social constructs, there are a bunch of little factors added together or strung together somehow, that influence the result on the right side of the equation.


a + b xc………etc. = the trip

example: an interesting scenario to ponder is greenwich village through the 50’s and 60’s. {one of the first transmissions from outer space i got as a young man was the village voice.} not to suggest there weren’t difficulties and flaws and so forth, but there were several phenomena and features that contributed to that being an explosion of great music etc. here’s a rough list:

a. affordable housing

b. high population of master musicians

c. contexts with economic compensation

d. a diverse population

e. public transport or some way of getting around or other logistic ease

f. radio to educate and inform

g. knowledgeable journalists

h. an interested/interesting populace 

i. plenty of regular jobs to get in a pinch

j. availability of academia, museums, etc.

k. easily accessible nearby large cities with vibrant scenes of their own, to work in/with, interface with.

l. record companies looking for art, with the ability to distribute it.

m. non-chain entities.

n. many touring bands coming through. 


consequently a person of even limited means could go and see john coltrane and doc watson on the same night in the same neighborhood. and ride a bicycle. {the point in invoking the names of those two icons is a general one not a specific one. they are used as variables herein.}


now i’m not saying that time period and/or physical location was perfect or that what we find today/now is bad, or any of that type of reduction. the idea is merely to state that there’s a type of equation of music scenes that produce varying types of results. the variables are interdependent. {and as always, i could be wrong about the whole thing alphonse.}

some of the smaller less influential scenes have [or have had] very similar “builds” in various time frames. right now portland has a bit of a vibe. what are some others? why and why not?


perhaps if a person were to find themselves in such an equation/scenario, a good productive response is to do the very best you can and keep working on things because in a sense, when the “scene” does good, “you” do good. 


example: if a person was a dj on a local fm radio station, a good healthy response to this is a realization that they have a unique opportunity to make a huge positive impact. what are things to be played for the audience that will challenge them and inform them? what have they not heard? what events are coming up that can be talked about that bring all this together? {example: the punk rock show on a local radio station out of seattle is really good.}

let’s say i’m a musician. being a content creator can have a huge impact on this hypothetical equation. how can i get as good as i can possibly get on my instrument or in my writing? where are the smartest people i can find to study with? how can i challenge, uplift and empower my audience? what other art can i talk about that would benefit from some more attention? what local artists can i support and encourage myself? what are some other things outside of my discipline i can do a project with? 

and so forth. what “needs” to be done that others aren’t doing? where are things going? 


an audience member also has quite a bit of power here. depending on things, they can have a multiplication factor rather than addition so to speak. what’s the coolest thing i can find that is playing to an empty house? what/where is the pure vision?


club owners, sound guys, neighborhoods, weather, all these types of things are accounted for. record store owners. taste makers.


in my own job of traveling, i get to witness things like this: a person comes to a show and perhaps mention they are thinking of starting a coffee house, then the next time i came through they started it and their kids work there, then the next time i come through i play there and they are expanding the building and have a poetry night and open mic night. so some things are getting done by smart people that care. at least in the subset of my touring world. i see this energy all over the country thankfully. 

it’s not perfect, there are bumps and ebbs and flows of course. i’m not even sure if this kinda stuff makes a difference, if it’s pencilled all the way out. {a certain type of person would say “so what?” to the whole setup.} but it sure makes living in a place a lot cooler. man art is what makes all this life hassle worthwhile! {a conclusion my nine-year-old self came to.}


sometimes you play a little place or small event and they just don’t have a way to get the word out yet, or the method they had just went away or something. or perhaps they couldn’t get the day they wanted and now have to go up against another bigger event. the variables in the equation have slightly different values across time. sometimes there are big changes. but overall there are some cool things going on in the music scenes around the country. i’m proud to be a part of that. it takes a lot of work. and sometimes you kinda wonder. but i gotta say i’d prefer to swing the bat rather than try to crowd the plate and get hit by a pitch so to speak. you kinda gotta go look for yourself. i recently played at a small festival and every band i saw was interesting. that was really nice to experience. 


the older scenes are always ebbing and flowing, and new scenes are popping up. i’d say the trend is to more de-centralization. {not many new art ideas come out of places a regular person can’t afford to live in.} the four or five scenes that kind of defined american music for the last few decades still have interesting stuff especially if you dig around. it’s weird there’s lots of cool stuff, but you have to dig much harder. what other response can one possibly have other than to dig and to create?



awright back at it.